It's almost a year now since Pope Francis canonized a saint of the Church John Henry Newman. This Friday, 9th October will therefore be the first time we celebrate his feast day. In his day, John Henry Newman was viewed with suspicion by many of his colleagues because of his views on the role of lay people in the Church. So how were his views dangerous. He wrote:
'I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it'.
Here at 'The Hook of Faith' we salute St John Henry Newman's vision and hope to serve it by our mission to 'digitally proclaim the Gospel in the diocese of Ferns and beyond'. Our hope and desire is to form men and women who known their faith and what it offers to themselves and to the modern world. Without taking anything away from the mystery of our faith much less the mystery of God, we hope to offer a clarity around the issues of faith today so that people may know, in the words of Newman 'where they stand, what they hold and how to give an account of it when we need to'.
One great resource in doing this in our hands is 'YOUCAT' - the Catechism for young people. It breaks down the teaching of the Church in small sections and illustrates themes with the wisdom of the saints and great thinkers of history. On its publication in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said:
'So I invite you: Study this Catechism! That is my heartfelt desire. This Catechism was not written to please you. It will not make life easy for you, because it demands of you a new life. It places before you the Gospel message as the “pearl of great value” (Mt 13:46) for which you must give everything. So I beg you: Study this Catechism with passion and perseverance. Make a sacrifice of your time for it! Study it in the quiet of your room; read it with a friend; form study groups and networks; share with each other on the Internet. By all means continue to talk with each other about your faith.
You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.
If you are now going to apply yourselves zealously to the study of the Catechism, I want to give you one last thing to accompany you: You all know how deeply the community of faith has been wounded recently through the attacks of the evil one, through the penetration of sin itself into the interior, yes, into the heart of the Church. Do not make that an excuse to flee from the face of God! You yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church! Bring the undiminished fire of your love into this Church whose countenance has so often been disfigured by man. “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord!” (Rom 12:11). When Israel was at the lowest point in her history, God called for help, not from the great and honored ones of Israel, but from a young man by the name of Jeremiah. Jeremiah felt overwhelmed: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” (Jer 1:6). But God was not to be deterred : “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7).
May St John Henry Newman pray for the Church at this time so that the Spirit may be enkindled in the hearts and lives of young people so that they may know the love of Jesus Christ that fulfills their deepest desires and aspirations. Through the resources on this website and other resources such as YOUCAT help every baptized Christian to know their faith better and to 'always have an answer when someone asks us for the reason for the hope we have' (1 Pet. 3:15).
ST JOHN HENRY NEWMAN'S JESUS PRAYER
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine; It will be you shining on others through me.