Cardinal Newman on the Kingdom of God

Newman believes that Christ established the Catholic Church and after his Resurrection left it as his instrument under the authority of the Apostles to teach the truths he revealed, to govern and to sanctify it through the Sacraments. He wishes to obey the Church in all things, and recognizes he needs “the mind of the Spirit, which is the mind of the holy Fathers, and of the Church by which I may not only say what they say on definite points, but think what they think.”

1. MY Lord Jesus, how wonderful were those conversations which Thou didst hold from time to time with Thy disciples after Thy resurrection. When Thou wentest with two of them to Emmaus, Thou didst explain all the prophecies which related to Thyself. And Thou didst commit to the Apostles the Sacraments in fulness, and the truths which it was Thy will to reveal, and the principles and maxims by which Thy Church was to be maintained and governed. And thus Thou didst prepare them against the day of Pentecost (as the risen bodies were put into shape for the Spirit in the Prophet’s Vision), when life and illumination was to be infused into them. I will think over all Thou didst say to them with a true and simple faith. The “kingdom of God” was Thy sacred subject. Let me never for an instant forget that Thou hast established on earth a kingdom of Thy own, that the Church is Thy work, Thy establishment, Thy instrument; that we are under Thy rule, Thy laws and Thy eye—that when the {379} Church speaks Thou dost speak. Let not familiarity with this wonderful truth lead me to be insensible to it—let not the weakness of Thy human representatives lead me to forget that it is Thou who dost speak and act through them. It was just when Thou wast going away, that then Thou didst leave this kingdom of Thine to take Thy place on to the end of the world, to speak for Thee, as Thy visible form, when Thy Personal Presence, sensible to man, was departing. I will in true loving faith bring Thee before me, teaching all the truths and laws of this kingdom to Thy Apostles, and I will adore Thee, while in my thoughts I gaze upon Thee and listen to Thy words.

2. Come, O my dear Lord, and teach me in like manner. I need it not, and do not ask it, as far as this, that the word of truth which in the beginning was given to the Apostles by Thee, has been handed down from age to age, and has already been taught to me, and Thy Infallible Church is the warrant of it. But I need Thee to teach me day by day, according to each day’s opportunities and needs. I need Thee to give me that true Divine instinct about revealed matters that, knowing one part, I may be able to anticipate or to approve of others. I need that understanding of the truths about Thyself which may prepare me for all Thy other truths—or at least may save me from conjecturing wrongly about them or commenting falsely upon them. I need the mind of the Spirit, which is the mind of the holy Fathers, and of the Church by which I may not only say what they say on definite points, but think what they think; in all I need to be saved from an originality {380} of thought, which is not true if it leads away from Thee. Give me the gift of discriminating between true and false in all discourse of mind.

3. And, for that end, give me, O my Lord, that purity of conscience which alone can receive, which alone can improve Thy inspirations. My ears are dull, so that I cannot hear Thy voice. My eyes are dim, so that I cannot see Thy tokens. Thou alone canst quicken my hearing, and purge my sight, and cleanse and renew my heart. Teach me, like Mary, to sit at Thy feet, and to hear Thy word. Give me that true wisdom, which seeks Thy will by prayer and meditation, by direct intercourse with Thee, more than by reading and reasoning. Give me the discernment to know Thy voice from the voice of strangers, and to rest upon it and to seek it in the first place, as something external to myself; and answer me through my own mind, if I worship and rely on Thee as above and beyond it.

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