In the last half of his article, Russell Sparkes points out that although Cardinal Manning was not a theologian to compare with Newman, the former’s vision of the holy calling of the priest makes him a model to follow even today.
One of the first sermons he gave as a young priest describes the standards that he always lived by, and which he expected from other priests:
“The mind of Christ must be transfused into our own. There must be somewhat of the same intense love of perishing sinners, of the same patient endurance of moral evil, and unwearied striving to bring the impenitent to God … What a mission, Brethren, is ours!”
In 1883 the cardinal wrote his greatest spiritual work: a practical guide to priestly ministry entitled The Eternal Priesthood which sets out his vision of the height of priestly vocation. “The offering of the Body and Blood of Christ,” he wrote, “requires of the priest a spirit of self-sacrifice and of self-oblation without reserve. The obligation of charity, which binds all Christians, when the need may arise, to lay down their lives for the brethren, and pastors to lay down their life for the sheep, is in an especial way laid upon every priest in their self-oblation of the Holy Mass, which is the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
Nobody would claim that Manning was a deep philosopher or theologian like Newman – few people are. But The Eternal Priesthood has been praised by modern theologians like Edward Norman for its “great spiritual depth”, while Sheridan Gilley notes how influential was “its uncompromising otherworldly demand that the priest live a life of utter dedication and holy poverty like his Lord”.
The poet Aubrey de Vere knew Manning well, and a few years after his death he wrote:
“The intensity of his nature … could not be doubted by anyone who had seen him in Church or at prayer … I could see a word written on the forehead of that man, and that word is sacerdos [priest].”
I think that de Vere was right, and I would be delighted if the Church were to institute the cause of Henry Manning for the highest honour of all.
This article was first published in The Catholic Herald on Friday 17th February 2012.
Cardinal Manning and the Birth of Catholic Social Teaching by Russell Sparkes, is available from CTS priced £2.50
|Fulton Sheen – He lived a public life, constantly promoting the Faith through his work as a professor, through his books and articles, his radio and television programmes, his lectures, his classes for converts, his service as a National Director for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and as a Bishop.|
|Dorothy Day – Many believe Dorothy Day, who died in 1980, to be a modern day saint. An American journalist and political activist who converted to Catholicism following a profound existential crisis in her late twenties, Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement and Newspaper, and dedicated her life to the cause of peace, opposition to nuclear weapons and service of the poor.|
|Margaret Sinclair - Margaret could well be described said Pope John Paul II, ”as one of God’s little ones, who through her very simplicity, was touched by God with the strength of real holiness of life, whether as a child, a young woman, an apprentice, a factory worker, member of a Trade Union, or a professed Sister of religion.|