Canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.  J.H. Newman

 

Today is the Canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman. In this occasion, we remember our seventh Congregational Leader Sister Mary Thomas Aquinas Lee, Newman’s cousin.

 

Agnes Lee, the youngest of four children, was born April 21, 1909 into a "very English and staunchly Anglican family, living in north Burma at the time." Her father was principal of a school, and functioned in the education branch of the British colonial service, specifically in education. Therefore, her childhood was spent in Burma. In 1922, her father retired and the entire family, parents and children, returned to England.

 

For health reasons, when about 16, Agnes was sent to a convent school in France. By then her eyesight was limited, and she was not allowed to read. Consequently, she had to learn by ear and the learning included the French language.

 

At her convent school, Agnes literally fell in love with Roman Catholicism and religious life.  This was not as contrary to the family mores as might be expected, for her "staunchly Anglican" family had Roman Catholic ties. Their cousin John Henry Newman had become a Catholic, and her grandparents (the grandfather was a bishop eventually) entered the Church. Within the first couple of years after Agnes and her family returned to England, they all, one by one, were received into the Catholic Church...

 

To celebrate the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, let us read this Poem, which surely Sister Thomas Aquinas Lee heard and loved.

 

Lead, kindly light

 

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on;
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene: one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose, and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost a while.

 

Lead, Kindly Light is a hymn with words written in 1833
by John Henry Newman as a poem titled "The Pillar and the Cloud".