It is nearly three years, as I write, since my reception into the Catholic Church. I think I have changed more in that time than in twenty before. Certainly some of this is natural. Our children are growing up and leaving home. Their own experiences have varied as their personalities differ. Some are struggling with various issues; one is engaged to a devout Catholic. They have far to go in their lives. My deepest joy is that I have been permitted to offer them the most precious heritage imaginable: the Body and Blood of their Saviour.
And Sue and I? I do not think we could have found remotely plausible, five years ago, that we would know such depth of joy, of love for Jesus, of fulfilment, as we now have. I am waiting for the honeymoon to end. So far there are no signs of its doing so. We are just ordinary members of our local parish, St Patrick’s of Pukekohe. I am (mirabile dictu) a catechist in this year’s RCIA programme. We have been greatly helped by the wonderful people of New Zealand’s fledgling Opus Dei.
And I have found a wealth of new material for reading and absorbing. So far, not much of it has been from Newman.
I do think that Newman has still a part to play in my life and formation. I have re-read the “Essay” a couple of times, likewise the “Apologia.” I have loved his novels. I have started several collections of short essays and sermons. Somehow these have not been what I needed at the time and put them aside for later.
But Newman’s writings remained dormant in my life from the time I first heard of them from Francis Schaeffer in 1975 or so until 1993 when the “Apologia” burst like a starshell in my sky. I do not think that the good Archbishop has finished with me yet.
When I entered the Reformed Church I knew that I had much growth to look forward to. I did not know that it would lead me out of the Reformed Church, but I do not think I would have thought it impossible. I cannot conceive of life apart from the Catholic Church. My Reformed friends clucked their tongues when I became a Catholic and asked “what next?” What next, I hope and trust, is what has been, is now and always shall be: Jesus.
One day, John the Baptist with two of his disciples saw Jesus walking. When the two disciples of John heard Jesus, they could not resist that Voice above all voices, and so they followed Him. The Scripture tells us (John 1:38-39):
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
“Late have I loved Thee!” I heard Jesus’s Voice only after I had fallen deep into the pit of my own sins. I heard and I followed. It took me nearly twenty-five years from then before I finally asked Him, “Master, where dwellest Thou?” “Come and see.” If it is the tenth hour of my life, let me dwell with Him the rest of this day – and always.