Newman on All Saints

In light of the recent announcement about the Church welcoming some Anglicans to the fold, I thought it appropriate to include in an extended meditation on All Saints Day a sermon by John Henry Cardinal Newman: Saintliness the Standard of Christian Principle.

Newman has a critique of his age that could have been written today to apply to our own culture. His words are quite poignant:

Even in countries called Christian, the natural inward light grows dim, because the Light, which lightens every one born into the world, is removed out of sight. I say, it is a most miserable and frightful thought, that, in this country, among this people which boasts that it is so Christian and so enlightened, the sun in the heavens is so eclipsed that the mirror of conscience can catch and reflect few rays, and serves but poorly and scantily to preserve the foot from error. That inward light, given as it is by God, is powerless to illuminate the horizon, to mark out for us our direction, and to comfort us with the certainty that we are making for our Eternal Home. That light was intended to set up within us a standard of right and of truth; to tell us our duty on every emergency, to instruct us in detail what sin is, to judge between all things which come before us, to discriminate the precious from the vile, to hinder us from being seduced by what is pleasant and agreeable, and to dissipate the sophisms of our reason. But alas! what ideas of truth, what ideas of holiness, what ideas of heroism, what ideas of the good and great, have the multitude of men? I am not asking whether they act up to any ideas, or are swayed by any ideas, of these high objects; that is a further point; I only ask, have they any ideas of them at all? or, if they cannot altogether blot out from their souls their ideas of greatness and goodness, I ask still, whether their mode of conceiving of them, and the things and persons in which they embody them, be not such, that we may truly say of the bulk of mankind, that “the light that is in them is darkness”.

May we always seek the light of holiness, guiding us to our true home and keeping our hearts and minds fixed on the eternal goal we seek.


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