By Father John Catoir
When you begin to think about the new adventures you’ll embark on during this New Year, try to make Jesus Christ the centerpiece. To accomplish this, I’d like to share some thoughts with you.
Cardinal John Henry Newman comes to mind. Cardinal Newman was born in England, and became an Episcopal priest in 1825. In 1841, he began having doubts about the Anglican Church, and eventually resigned his post. In 1845, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church and was ordained by the Catholic Church in 1847. This was a courageous move, one that brought him a great deal of grief, but he attributed his strength through it all to Jesus, whom he proclaimed as his Lord and Master.
One of Cardinal Newman’s main contributions was in the field of psychological self-analysis, rather than in theology. He saw doctrine as a living thing and compared it to the idea of human development.
It’s very important to understand him in the context of his devotion to the historical Jesus. Cardinal Newman believed that the incarnation, or what we understand as God becoming man, was the central truth of Christianity, and that Jesus constitutes the source of all spiritual power.
He died in 1890 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Another miracle is needed before he will be numbered among the canonized saints.
Cardinal Newman wrote the following prayer. It is one of various versions. But it is a beautiful expression of his total dependence on Jesus. Perhaps it will inspire you in making some New Year’s resolutions, as it did for me.
“Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of life – in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those whom I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied.
“Let me put myself aside to think of the happiness of others, to hide my little pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them.
“Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden and embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable; that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not haughty and overbearing.
“May no one be less good for having come within my influence, no one less pure, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow traveler in our journey toward Eternal Life.
“As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time a word of love to Thee.
“May my life be spent in the supernatural full of power for good, strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.”
Father John Catoir writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.