Saints for our time

Fray Leopoldo

Fray Leopoldo

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Cardinal John Henry Newman

The Papal visit Facebook group has been very busy lately, and also very interesting to read. A couple of days ago a Spanish group, Dalmanutá Grupo de Oración, posted a message there, wishing us well for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, and mentioning, by way of a link to their organisation, the Beatification of Fray Leopoldo, which took place in Granada, Spain, last Sunday. So what has the beatification of the ‘humble Franciscan Capuchin friar’ got to do with us, here in the UK?

For me the link is that Fray Leopoldo and Cardinal Newman are both saints of our time. It is wonderful that the communion of saints is forever growing. I am fortunate to have visited the tomb of Fray Leopoldo in Granada. There is something very special about the place. It is simple, plain, ordinary even. The day I visited there was just a small trickle of pilgrims, and the peace, and tranquillity of that little chapel left a lasting impression on me, so that I smile as I remember it. Apparently Fray Leopoldo used to say, when there was a particular problem to be faced, that all you need to do is say three Hail Marys and the problem is solved.

John Henry Newman was anything but a simple man. His vocation led him in a different direction from that of a Franciscan friar. But what both he and Fray Leopoldo have in common is their willingness to listen to God’s voice in their life. This is something we are all called to do, whatever our way of life, whatever nationality we are, whatever gifts we are blessed with.

A convert myself, I have long held John Henry Newman in high regard. Before I became a Catholic, while I was trying to discern if it was the right thing for me to do, I went to a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, in the Royal Albert Hall. The performance inspired me to read the poem, written by Newman, and it was these words that spoke to me particularly at that time.

And I hold in veneration,

For the love of Him alone,

Holy Church, as His creation,

And her teachings, as His own.

We are fortunate that we have three very lovely hymns whose words were written by Newman. Firmly I Believe and Truly, Lead Kindly Light and Praise to the Holiest in the Height. Next Sunday, in my Parish, and in many others up and down the land, we will sing all three of them.

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