Saturday, May 4, 2019

Blessed John Henry Newman and the Liturgy

From Stephanie Mann:
After becoming a Catholic, Newman soon went to Rome for education and ordination as a Catholic priest, returning to England to establish St. Philip Neri’s Oratory in Birmingham and in London--and hoping for one in Oxford. While the Church of England had experienced many changes and controversies in liturgical practice since its founding in the sixteenth century, Catholics had not been able to practice their faith or worship freely from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I until Emancipation in 1829.
The Catholic Mass had been illegal; it was a felony to attend Mass; it was an act of treason for a Catholic priest to be in England and a felony for a layman or woman to assist a Catholic priest in any way—there are more than a hundred canonized or beatified martyrs to testify to the dangers of being a Catholic in England from 1559 to 1829. With the re-establishment of the hierarchy in England in 1850, Catholics began building cathedrals, churches and chapels and worshipping freely again. 
Newman’s Oratories contributed to this renewal of Catholicism in England—in both London and Birmingham they began the tradition of sung High Mass on Sunday with excellent choirs and musicians and of sung Vespers on Sunday evenings—traditions that are observed now also at the Oxford Oratory. Newman favored classical styles of architecture and music. In this he stands in opposition to one of the great architects of the nineteenth century, Augustus Welby Pugin who favored, nay required, the Gothic style of architecture and Gregorian chant. (Read more.)

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