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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Cardinal O'Brien celebrates Mass for beatification of Newman
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¬†Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, celebrated what he described as "an historic" Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit for the beatification of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, in the little chapel at Abbotsford, the former home of Sir Walter Scott, in the Scottish Borders, today. Newman himself celebrated Mass in the chapel when he went to Abbotsford during the winter of 1852, and later in 1872, when he stayed with his friend James Robert Hope-Scott, who built the beautiful oratory which is attached to the house. The Cardinal and Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause, wore the chasubles used by Cardinal Newman. The other two concelebrants were Fr Gregory Winterton, Vice Chairman of the Friends of Cardinal Newman, and Fr Jared Kaminski, a Polish priest, who is working for a few months in the Borders parish of Jedburgh. Deacon Duncan MacFarlane of Kelso, who has done so much to promote interest in Cardinal Newman throughout the Borders parishes, assisted at the Mass. This correspondent did the reading and his wife, Stella Jennings, read the psalm. During his eloquent and thought-provoking homily Cardinal Keith O'Brien said: "Here in this beautiful Borders countryside we see the rolling hills and the lush green fields surrounding us and the neighbourhood stretching into the distance. If any place is conducive to prayer and meditation, planning and rest, it is surely here. If any place is suitable for the confirmation of one's vocation in ministry, in priesthood, as a Cardinal - one could hardly find anywhere better. "Cast your minds back some 750 years - to approximately the year 1265. That is the year when it is believed that Blessed John Duns Scotus was born. He was born not so very far from here in the beautiful Borders town of Duns - hence his full name John Duns Scotus. As a young man he grew up in this Borders countryside conducive, as I have indicated, to prayer and meditation. He must have considered the wonders of God's creation, the power of God, and that call of God to him to enter the Franciscan Order and then to go forward for priesthood." Then turning to Cardinal Newman, Cardinal O'Brien said: "Newman was born south of the Border with England but visited Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, situated here by the River Tweed at Melrose within sight of the magnificent ruined Borders Abbey of Melrose. Here he met with and talked to his friend James Hope Scott and was influential among various Borders families and in their conversions to the Catholic Church. The fact that so many beautiful churches in these Borders towns were built is an indication of that influence of Cardinal Newman. "One could rightly say that like Scotus before him he must have been influenced by the beauty of the Borders countryside itself. Here I am sure was a place where he could indeed recharge his spiritual batteries. In this area he could grow closer to God while preparing for his more active ministry as a priest, as an intellectual, as a spiritual guide to his beloved brethren in the Oratory at Edgbaston in Birmingham." Cardinal Keith O'Brien concluded his reflections: "Two great men who were travellers for Christ. And if Scotus is called a 'Saint for Europe' so surely it would be our ardent desire and prayer that Newman be declared a 'Saint for Britain'. Thinking of the epitaph on the tomb of Scotus, the epitaph for Newman might be: 'England brought me forth; Ireland stretched me intellectually; Scotland gave me a place of rest'. "Holiness of Life based firmly in our faith and on academic learning were at the roots of the declared sanctity of John Duns Scotus and John Henry Newman. May that sanctity lead them both to being declared as Saints and worthy of us following in their example here on earth so that one day we may be united with them in the joys of Heaven." During lunch at the nearby Clint Lodge Country House, Cardinal O'Brien revealed that even though he had been a student and later Spiritual Director, at the former St Andrew's College, Dry grange, Roxburghshire, this was the first time that he had celebrated Mass in the chapel at Abbotsford. That evening, Fr Chavasse gave a lecture - "The Influence of John Henry Newman In His Times and Ours" - chaired by Cardinal O'Brien, at the Gillis Centre, in Edinburgh. Fr Chavasse explained that Newman's friendship with James Robert Hope-Scott, a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, began in August 1837. Ten years, in 1847, James Hope-Scott, married Charlotte Lockhart, the grand-daughter of Sir Walter Scott and through her inherited Abbotsford. He became a Catholic in 1851. A parliamentary lawyer for the railway companies, he stood by Newman during the stress of the Achilli trial in 1852 and gave him hospitality at Abbotsford. During the lecture Fr Chavasse emphasised that: "All the recent Popes, from Pius XII onwards, have understood the significance of John Henry Newman, have praised his writings and the example of his life, have held him up as a model of integrity and fidelity, as a master of spirituality." Fr Chavasse said: "It is for this reason that John Paul II and now Benedict XVI have taken an active interest in promoting his Cause for Canonisation, so that through the proclamation of John Henry Newman as an 'official' Saint of the Church of Christ his legacy might be seen to be part of the patrimony of all Catholics ≠ and indeed of many non-Catholics as well." The following morning, Fr Chavasse was the principal concelebrant at a special Votive Mass of Our Lady at the church of the Immaculate Conception in Jedburgh. At the start of Mass, he and Fr Winterton were warmly welcomed by the parish priest, Fr Jeremy Bath. After Mass Fr Gregory Winterton, former Provost of the Birmingham Oratory (1971-1992), who did so much to encourage popular interest in Cardinal Newman and his Cause following a request by Pope Paul VI in 1973, a gave a fascinating talk: "Newman in the Borders". Interest in the great English Cardinal, John Henry Newman (1801-1890), is now firmly established in the Edinburgh and the Borders parishes of Scotland.
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