Saint Martin and the Beggar, El Greco, 1597–1599, National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC).
Sirach 35:12–14, 16–18
October 27, 2019
John Henry Newman was canonized a saint of the Church two weeks ago. He was a leading member of the Oxford movement. This was a group of 19th century English Protestant clerics and academics associated with the University of Oxford who delved deeply into the history of the Early Church. They discovered that the church was based on the witness of the apostles and that it expressed itself in Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist, and in service to the poor. The movement’s adherents who thought that this apostolic origin meant obedience to the Pope left the Anglican (Episcopal) church and became Roman Catholics, but all those who were loyal to the movement celebrated the Eucharist with a belief in the real presence and served the poor. St. John Henry Newman joined the Oratorians after his reception into the Catholic Church and moved to the industrial city of Birmingham where he lived with working class people.
This was one of the great precursors of the Second Vatican Council which called for a “resourcement:” a return to the sources of the Scriptures and the early Christian Writers, usually called the Fathers. The council itself called the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian Life” and the Jesuit Order was inspired to make “the preferential option for the poor” the lens through which all things were viewed.
Sirach, from whom we read today, would have understood. Continue reading “30th Sunday Ordinary Time – Returning to the Source, Serving the Poor”