Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)
Newman and Covid-19.
What would he have said and done ?
Daithí Ó Muirneacháin.
When Newman was in residence at No.2, Mount Salus in Dalkey during his work on the development of the Catholic University in Dublin, there was an outbreak of cholera in England. This greatly affected those living in the slums in Birmingham to whom the priests of the Oratory ministered. Newman brought his priests from Birmingham and was delighted to see them renewing their health and spirits in the beautiful house overlooking the sea. Newman offered rooms to Fr. Faber of the London Oratory for any of the Fathers who might be invalided by the cholera outbreak in London.
Newman showed practical support for those suffering from illness received in the service of others. How relevant is this to these difficult times when Covid-19 is rampant?
If with us now, he would today support his priests who themselves care for those suffering from Covid-19.
To Newman “Conscience” was of prime importance. Today, he would have stressed that we all, must in conscience, obey the guidelines, rules and regulations to protect everybody and ourselves from the dreadful Covid-19. The requirement for social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, staying at home except in special circumstances would all have been observed by his priests and himself.
If with us now, he would have encouraged everybody to obey his conscience in regard to Covid-19.
“Positive Action” was very important to Newman. At various times in his life devoted himself to the care of the poor. He never doubted that this work was more important in God’s eyes than all his writings and lecturing.
If with us now, Newman would encourage us to get our priorities right and to be positively active.
“Hope” was central to Newman’s life. In part three of his “Meditations and Devotions”, the first meditation ‘Hope in God-Creator’ (6 March 1848) and the second ‘Hope in God-Redeemer’ (18 August 1849) are the source of many of the prayers contained in the wonderful small red Newman Prayer Book with which so many people are familiar.
If with us now, he would be very active in giving Hope to all those who are suffering in these terrible days of Covid-19.
So, Newman has left a legacy that is very relevant to us in the 21st Century.
Daithí Ó Muirneacháin: A retired scientist who studied in University College Dublin having attended the Catholic University School, Leeson Street, Dublin. Studied Theology at All Hallows and Mater Dei. Ecumenical in outlook and attended many of the Glenstal Ecumenical Conferences. Visited Lourdes often and many times with The Defence Forces at the International Military Pilgrimage.