Graces of John the Baptist

BLESSED JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN

John the Baptist had a most difficult office to fulfill; that of rebuking a king.

The Head of John the Baptist by
Aleksandr Andreevich Ivanov

Not that it is difficult for a man of rude arrogant mind to say a harsh thing to men in power — no, rather, it is a gratification to such a one; but it is difficult to rebuke well, that is, at a right time, in a right spirit, and a right manner.

The holy Baptist rebuked Herod without making him angry; therefore he must have rebuked him with gravity, temper, sincerity, and an evident good-will towards him.  On the other hand, he spoke so firmly, sharply, and faithfully, that his rebuke cost him his life.  We who now live have not that extreme duty put upon us with which Saint John was laden; yet every one of us has a share in his office, inasmuch as we are all bound "to rebuke vice boldly," when we have fit opportunities for so doing....

Aim at viewing all things in a plain and candid light, and at calling them by their right names.  Be frank, do not keep your notions of right and wrong to yourselves, nor, on some conceit that the world is too bad to be taught the Truth, suffer it to sin in word or deed without rebuke.

Do not allow friend or stranger in the familiar intercourse of society to advance false opinions, nor shrink from stating your own, and do this in singleness of mind and love.  Persons are to be found who tell their neighbors of their faults in a strangely solemn way, with a great parade, as if they were doing something extraordinary; and such men not only offend those whom they wish to set right, but also foster in themselves a spirit of self-complacency.

Such a mode of finding fault is inseparably connected with a notion that they themselves are far better than the parties they blame; whereas the single-hearted Christian will find fault, not austerely or gloomily, but in love; not stiffly, but naturally, gently, and as a matter of course, just as he would tell his friend of some obstacle in his path which was likely to throw him down, but without any absurd feeling of superiority over him, because he was able to do so.

 

 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

John Henry Cardinal Newman. "Graces of John the Baptist." excerpt from Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in June 2014.

THE AUTHOR

Blessed John Henry Newman was born in London, 21 February 1801, and died Birmingham, 11 August 1890. As Vicar of St. Mary's Oxford he exerted a profound spiritual influence on the Church of England. Joining the Catholic Church in 1845 he founded Oratories of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham and London, was the first rector of the Catholic University in Dublin, and was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. He was declared Venerable on 22 January 1991. John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

Copyright © This book is in the public domain




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