The Portal April 2017 - Page 10

THE P RTAL April 2017 Page 10 Thoughts on Newman Two Lungs: Newman on East and West Dr Stephen Morgan relates this to the modern world S peaking in Czestochowa on the Solemnity of the Assumption in 1991, Pope St John Paul II suggested that as the Iron Curtain (remember that?) had now come down, the Church could now breathe freely with both lungs once again. Although it seems likely he was as much referring to the Latin Church across the former Warsaw Pact countries as anything else, it has been taken to imply that the Church needed to breathe with her Greek East lung as well as her Latin West. From the time of his adolescent conversion, Newman had been fascinated by the question of holiness. He came to understand that the largely Calvinist answers, which had dominated Anglican theology since the sixteenth century, simply did not cohere with the pastoral realities he encountered as he served his title in the parish of St Clement, just over Magdalen Bridge. It seemed to St John Paul II to be unarguable that the Nor did they answer the question of how, once justified loss of the different but complementary perspectives by grace, we could live lives pleasing to God despite of of the Greeks left Catholicism the poorer. This is not the persistence of our sin. to ignore the many blessings that have come with In the notion of grace as the indwelling of the Holy the reconciliation of many Eastern Churches since the seventeenth century but the wider impact of the Ghost, he began to plot a course towards an answer that Melkite, Ukranian and Syro-Malabar Churches, to came to understand justification and sanctification as name but three, has been limited.   It is rare, indeed, to being a continual dynamic between the shared Divine find an Orthodox hierarch who would admit that they life and our human imperfection. might gain from a Western lung. The route that began in St Clement’s ran through the The renewed Western interest in the Greek East can Chapel of Adam de Brome in St Mary the Virgin, where claim many midwives but it certainly gained impetus Newman delivered his Lectures on Justification, those in an Anglican attempt to establish a real connection arguments forged and refined in correspondence a with historic, pre-reformation Christianity which the French Catholic priest, the Abbé Jager, were taken wasn’t Roman. The “anywhere but Rome” school will up in the Aula of St Peter’s during the Second Vatican be familiar to many readers of T he P ortal and has Council. led to some exotic claims and still more exotic inter- ecclesial pilgrimages. If the Church is once again to breathe freely with both its Greek East and Latin West lungs it will Newman’s own fascination with the Greek fathers – be invigorated by other discoveries. Imagine for a and especially with his beloved Athanasius – can be moment, the Christian East drawing in deeply the air seen, at least in its origins, as part of this same attempt. of Augustine or even Aquinas. Howsoever it was sown, it came to full-flowering in his discovery of the notion of Grace as the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Christian, brought about in Baptism. To live is to change, and to The distinct approaches to the way the Church prayed and thought in East and West, which – as much for political as theological reasons – had grown steadily further apart from the eighth century onwards, reached the point of definitive breach with the mutual anathemas pronounced in Hagia Sophia in July 1054. The idea of grace as a share in Divine life enabled Newman to approach the sixteenth century debates about how grace works, debates that had led to an effusion of much ink and even more blood, from a new, more ancient angle.   ‘ ’ be perfect is to have changed often. Bl. John Henry Newman