BIRMINGHAM, England — The Oratories of England are organizing a novena next month leading up to the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman, in thanksgiving for his life and holiness and asking for his intercession.
“This is a time of special grace for us to join together and form links in a great chain of prayer, where we call upon the soon-to-be saint to crown our prayers with his intercession in heaven,” Newman Canonisation said on its website.
“We encourage you to form links in that chain by joining in our Novena With Newman.”
The Oct. 4-12 novena will precede Cardinal Newman’s Oct. 13 canonization.
The 19th-century theologian was a poet, priest and cardinal. Originally an Anglican priest, he converted to the Catholic Church in 1845. He was ordained a priest in 1847 and was made a cardinal in 1879.
His works are considered among the most important contributions to the thought of the Church in recent centuries. Among his writings are The Idea of a University, Loss and Gain and a Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.
He founded in England the Oratory of St. Philip Neri; the confederation now has three houses in the country, at Birmingham, London and Oxford.
The novena highlights each day an aspect of Cardinal Newman’s character: an example of humility, child of Mary, priest of God’s altar, man of prayer, guardian of conscience, counselor of converts, educator of the laity, servant of the Church, and model of friendship.
Each day of the novena includes an intention, an extract from his writings, a decade of the Rosary and this prayer: “O God our heavenly Father, we offer you heartfelt thanks for the life and holiness of John Henry Newman. In him you give us an inspiring example of priest and teacher, heroic and humble in his labor for the salvation of souls and the pursuit of holiness. Through his intercession we ask you to lead us by the kindly light of the Holy Spirit, and so grant us peace and joy, in the one fold of the Redeemer. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Father Ignatius Harrison, provost of the Birmingham Oratory, said that “Newman’s lifelong success in bringing others to Christ shows us that the apostolate of Christian friendship achieves much more by attracting people to the Lord than by aggressive polemic. Newman’s long and incremental spiritual pilgrimage shows us that God leads us to himself, step by step, in ways that he customizes to our individual needs and in his own good time.”
Cardinal Newman was beatified in Birmingham by Benedict XVI in 2010. At the Mass of beatification, Benedict said that his “insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.”
The first miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman’s intercession involved the complete and inexplicable healing of a deacon from a disabling spinal condition.
His second miracle concerned the healing of a pregnant American woman. The woman prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman at the time of a life-threatening diagnosis, and her doctors have been unable to explain how or why she was able to suddenly recover. Read her story in the Register here.