In this Easter sermon Newman explores the paradox of Christ’s presence and simultaneous absence from the world. Christ leaves us as far as a visible presence, but promises to remain with us and his Church:

“This, indeed, is our state at present; we have lost Christ and we have found Him; we see Him not, yet we discern Him. We embrace His feet, yet He says, “Touch Me not.” How is this? it is thus: we have lost the sensible and conscious perception of Him; we cannot look on Him, hear Him, converse with Him, follow Him from place to place; but we enjoy the spiritual, immaterial, inward, mental, real sight and possession of Him; a possession more real and more present than that which the Apostles had in the days of His flesh, because it is spiritual, because it is invisible.”

Christ, Newman continues, went away as a man because his Divinity is ubiquitous. “The separation of soul and body could not touch His impassible everlasting Godhead. When then He says He should go away, and come again and abide for ever, He is speaking, not merely of His omnipresent Divine nature, but of His human nature. As being Christ, He says that He, the Incarnate Mediator, shall be with His Church for ever.”

Christ comes to us through faith in the Christian Church by the action of the Holy Spirit. He is within us in a spiritual manner and through “the rites and ordinances of the Church.” Newman was not yet a Catholic; in this sermon he did use the word “Sacraments.”

With regards to the Holy Spirit, Newman writes: “But again: you may be led to explain His declaration thus; “He has come again, but in His Spirit; that is, His Spirit has come instead of Him; and when it is said that He is with us, this only means that His Spirit is with us.” No one, doubtless, can deny this most gracious and consolatory truth, that the Holy Ghost is come; but why has He come? to supply Christ’s absence, or to accomplish His presence? Surely to make Him present. Let us not for a moment suppose that God the Holy Ghost comes in such sense that God the Son remains away. No; He has not so come that Christ does not come, but rather He comes that Christ may come in His coming. Through the Holy Ghost we have communion with Father and Son. “In Christ we are builded together,” says St. Paul, “for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” “Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” “Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The Holy Spirit causes, faith welcomes, the indwelling of Christ in the heart. Thus the Spirit does not take the place of Christ in the soul, but secures that place to Christ.”

More to come during Easter Week


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