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By Fr. Peter M. Stravinskas, Crisis Magazine, October 11, 2019
In his spiritual autobiography, Apologia pro Vita Sua, Blessed John Henry Newman informs us: “When I was fifteen (in the autumn of 1816), a great change of thought took place in me. I fell under the influences of a definite Creed, and received into my intellect impressions of dogma, which, through God’s mercy, have never been effaced or obscured.” We also learn that, at the same time, he perceived a vocation to the priesthood—and to celibacy, which was a rather uncommon conviction in the Anglicanism of his day. So began Newman’s path to the holy priesthood—and to sainthood, which reaches its apex on October 13 with his canonization in Rome.
As Newman was ever the realist, it’s well that we begin this study of his views on the priesthood with his Discourse 3 to Mixed Congregations, with its very realistic title, “Men, not Angels, the Priests of the Gospel.” He explains the divine rationale:
Had Angels been your Priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can… Therefore did [Christ] send you men to be the ministers of reconciliation and intercession. ….