Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Pilgrimage to Littlemore

Last night I went, as has been my wont each year since my reception as a Catholic, on the annual walking Pilgrimage to Littlemore to commemorate Bl. Dominic Barberi's reception of Bl. John Henry Newman into the Church on October 8th-9th 1845.

The rather damp weather may have deterred some, but it was still a good sized group who set off from the Oxford Oratory led by Fr Richard Duffield Cong.Orat. to walk in silence or saying the rosary to various of the places associated with Newman and with his reception. At the various stops we paused for readings - this year the voice of Newman was Fr Guy Nicholls from the Birmingham Oratory - and for an appropriate Collect.

Bl. Dominic Barberi


Portrait of John Henry Newman

Bl. John Henry Newman about the time of his reception - a portrait at Keble College

Image: Oriel College website

The meeting of Bl. John Henry and Bl. Dominic
A bronze relief in Bl.Dominic Barberi church Littlemore

Image: tunbridgewells-ordinariate.com

At Littlemore we observed a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in the parish church dedicated to Bl.Dominic and the devotions included two readings drawn from one of Bl. John Henry's meditations, and chosen for their suitability for the Year of Faith :

Noli incredulus esse, sed fidelis.
Be not faithless, but believing

1. I ADORE Thee, O my God, who art so awful, because Thou art hidden and unseen! I adore Thee, and I desire to live by faith in what I do not see; and considering what I am, a disinherited outcast, I think it has indeed gone well with me that I am allowed, O my unseen Lord and Saviour, to worship Thee anyhow. O my God, I know that it is sin that has separated between Thee and me. I know it is sin that has brought on me the penalty of ignorance. Adam, before he fell, was visited by Angels. Thy Saints, too, who keep close to Thee, see visions, and in many ways are brought into sensible perception of Thy presence. But to a sinner such as I am, what is left but to possess Thee without seeing Thee? Ah, should I not rejoice at having that most extreme mercy and favour of possessing Thee at all? It is sin that has reduced me to live by faith, as I must at best, and should I not rejoice in such a life, O {362} Lord my God? I see and know, O my good Jesus, that the only way in which I can possibly approach Thee in this world is the way of faith, faith in what Thou hast told me, and I thankfully follow this only way which Thou hast given me.

2. O my God, Thou dost over-abound in mercy! To live by faith is my necessity, from my present state of being and from my sin; but Thou hast pronounced a blessing on it. Thou hast said that I am more blessed if I believe on Thee, than if I saw Thee. Give me to share that blessedness, give it to me in its fulness. Enable me to believe as if I saw; let me have Thee always before me as if Thou wert always bodily and sensibly present. Let me ever hold communion with Thee, my hidden, but my living God. Thou art in my innermost heart. Thou art the life of my life. Every breath I breathe, every thought of my mind, every good desire of my heart, is from the presence within me of the unseen God. By nature and by grace Thou art in me. I see Thee not in the material world except dimly, but I recognise Thy voice in my own intimate consciousness. I turn round and say Rabboni. O be ever thus with me; and if I am tempted to leave Thee, do not Thou, O my God, leave me!

3. O my dear Saviour, would that I had any right to ask to be allowed to make reparation to Thee for all the unbelief of the world, and all the insults offered to Thy Name, Thy Word, Thy Church, and the Sacrament of Thy Love! But, alas, I have a long score of unbelief and ingratitude of my {363} own to atone for. Thou art in the Sacrifice of the Mass, Thou art in the Tabernacle, verily and indeed, in flesh and blood; and the world not only disbelieves, but mocks at this gracious truth. Thou didst warn us long ago by Thyself and by Thy Apostles that Thou wouldest hide Thyself from the world. The prophecy is fulfilled more than ever now; but I know what the world knows not. O accept my homage, my praise, my adoration!—let me at least not be found wanting. I cannot help the sins of others—but one at least of those whom Thou hast redeemed shall turn round and with a loud voice glorify God. The more men scoff, the more will I believe in Thee, the good God, the good Jesus, the hidden Lord of life, who hast done me nothing else but good from the very first moment that I began to live.

Meditations and Devotions, 361-2

With acknowlegements to Newman reader - a very useful resource in itself.

File:Newmans College Littlemore 11 Feb 2007.JPG

The College Littlemore
Bl Dominic wrote of it as "the monastery established about three years back by Rev.John Henry Newman. There these Oxford men lead a penitential life much more severe than that usually led by Religious"

Image: Wikipedia

We concluded with prayers and veneration of a relic of Bl.John Henry Newman in the restored Chapel in the College where he and his spiritual companions were received into the One Fold of the Redeemer.

After that there was the usual generous hospitality of the Sisters of the Work, who administer the College as a place of prayer and welcome to Newman pilgrims, before our return to the cenre of Oxford. As always amoving and worthwhile evening.

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