The Deep Mystery!

From “The Reverence Due to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Parochial and Plain Sermons, Volume 2 (1832).

In Mary the destinies of the world were to be reversed, and the serpent’s head bruised. On her was bestowed the greatest honor ever put upon any individual of our fallen race. God was taking upon Him her flesh, and humbling himself to be called her offspring — such is the deep mystery! She, of course, would feel her own inexpressible unworthiness; and again, her humble lot, her ignorance, her weakness in the eyes of the world…. God gives his Holy Spirit to us silently; and the silent duties of every day (it may be humbly hoped) are blest to the sanctification of thousands…. The day will come at length, when our Lord and Savior will unveil that Sacred Countenance to the whole world, which no sinner ever yet could see and live. Then will the world be forced to look upon him, whom they pierced with their unrepented wickednesses….We shall see our Lord, and his blessed mother, the apostles and prophets, and all those righteous men whom we now read of in history, and long to know. Then we shall be taught in those mysteries which are now above us. 

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was among the most widely influential English theologians of the nineteenth century. One of the principal leaders of Anglicanism’s Catholic revival at Oxford in the 1830’s, he became a Roman Catholic in 1845, and was an Oratorian for the remainder of his life. He was made a cardinal shortly before his death and was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 2019. His Parochial and Plain Sermons, first published in 1834, were written in his years as an Anglican priest, while serving as vicar of Oxford’s Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. He is commemorated on August 11 on the calendars of several Anglican churches and on October 9 by the Roman Catholic Church.


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