Seton Hall University

In the Core This Week: John Henry Cardinal Newman  

Newman 320 picYou may have noticed that "Inside the Core" for the latter part of the semester (i.e. modern period for both courses) will often indicate that "some students" -- not all -- will be doing the reading. This shift is a result of our allowing some choice in the readings for this portion of the course. For this week, many students will be reading one of these optional texts, a work by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Wisdom, as Contrasted with Faith and Bigotry."

In this very timely sermon, originally preached before the University of Oxford in 1844 while Newman was still a member of the Anglican church, he differentiates among three qualities -- Faith, Wisdom, and Bigotry. Faith and Wisdom, according to Newman, are both gifts of the Holy Spirit and linked importantly with reason.

Faith and Wisdom, Newman argues "are the two gifts which will be found to lie at the beginning and at the end of our new life, both intellectual in their nature, and both divinely imparted." Wisdom develops out of Faith, reasonably and analytically pursuing truths revealed through Faith. Faith starts us on the journey, and Wisdom perfects it and carries us forward. As Newman says, Wisdom enlarges the mind and heart. Beyond mere knowledge, which can simply multiply without touching the heart or changing one's life, Wisdom leads a believer, (i.e. one who has Faith) to "the whole counsel of God."

Bigotry, on the other hand, is narrow in its scope and rigid in its perspective. Newman says, "Narrow minds have no power of throwing themselves in to the minds of others. They have stiffened in one position, as limbs of the body subjected to confinement...." The bigoted so fear new ideas and different perspectives that they regard people of differing points of view with a lack of charity and no sense of the desire even to understand them. Instead, Newman advocates a different approach -- "that all prejudice and self-confidence, and hollowness, and unreality, and positiveness, and partisanship, may be put away from us under the light of Wisdom, and the fire of Faith and Love; till we see things as God sees them, with the judgment of His Spirit,and according to the mind of Christ." This kind of faith, instead of being closed to dialogue, welcomes it with respectful and loving attention to all others, whatever their beliefs.

Newman is linked to Seton Hall in that our own Msgr. Richard Liddy was intimately involved with the process of his beatification and attended the ceremony for this event, held in England in 2010, and presided over by Pope Benedict XVI, with Queen Elizabeth in attendance. Newman's logo, "Cor Ad Cor Loquator" -- "Heart Speaking to Heart" -- links intimately with our Core, which is rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition, broadly and deeply defined, expressed in reflective and intentional service to the world around us, and explored in meaningful dialogue among people from all perspectives.

Categories: Campus Life

For more information, please contact:

  • Nancy Enright
  • (973) 275-4847