Newman and Vocation

We will be hearing even more about the Venerable Cardinal Newman Blessed John Henry Newman in the next few months. Already he is familiar to many through his writings, if only through the more famous ones. Some passages are so famous as to approach cliché, and some lose their power when they are quoted out of their full context. One such is Bl John Henry’s meditation on vocation, or personal mission. It is indeed a beautiful passage but read in its fuller context it has an even greater resonance.

So before you read it take note that it is part of a meditation on God as our Creator and thus the object of our hope. Since God has created us, he knows us through and through, knows what is best for us and knows our individual purpose, for it was he who gave it to us and fitted us for it, and so made us a part of his plan for the universe. On the second day of his meditation on this subject, 7 March 1848, he wrote:

God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory—we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.

O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I—more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

5 thoughts on “Newman and Vocation

  1. While not discenring a vocation — Thank you for finding the picture of Blessed John Henry Newman as a Cardinal among much else on your blog — I am very fond of his (JHN’s) expose of the dangers of moral relativism — and I hope to use that picture with any little comments about that. MPHP Jun 26 2012


    1. Salve! You are very welcome to use the picture, as it is not really mine. It is a lovely one though: cardinal’s zucchetto, Oratorian hoabit, serene countenance.

      Thank you for dropping by – you’re always welcome.



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