As we bid farewell to 2009, what greater comfort can we have than knowing that as we look upon this new year and decade, that Our Lord and His Rock are by our side. It seems to me a fitting time that I have just completed Jaki's second longest book - Newman to Converts - a work among father's best, which truly lives up to its billing as a "theological blockbuster" and serves as an excellent introduction to Newman and father's works on him.
In a recent conversation with friends I asked, Who is Peter? And why should we listen to what he has to say? Well, gather around and listen to John Henry Newman provide the answer:
~ Jakian Thomist
Deeply do I feel, ever will I protest, for I can appeal to the ample testimony of history to bear me out, that, in questions of right and wrong, there is nothing really strong in the whole world, nothing decisive and operative, but the voice of him, to whom have been committed the keys of the kingdom and the oversight of Christ's flock. The voice of Peter is now, as it ever has been, a real authority, infallible when it teaches, prosperous when it commands, ever taking the lead wisely and distinctly in its own province, adding certainty to what is probable, and persuasion to what is certain. Before it speaks, the most saintly may mistake; and after it has spoken, the most gifted must obey.
Peter is no recluse, no abstracted student, no dreamer about the past, no doter upon the dead and gone, no projector of the visionary. Peter for eighteen hundred years has lived in the world; he has seen all fortunes, he has encountered all adversaries, he has shaped himself for all emergencies. If there ever was a power on earth who had an eye for the times, who confined himself to the practicable, and has been happy in his anticipations, such is he in the history of ages who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles, as the Vicar of Christ and Doctor of His Church.
It was said by an old philosopher, who declined to reply to an emperor's arguments, "It is not safe controverting with the master of twenty legions." What Augustus had in the temporal order, that, and much more, has Peter in the spiritual. When was he ever unequal to the occasion? When has he not risen with the crisis? What dangers have ever daunted him? What sophistry foiled him? What uncertainties misled him? When did ever any power go to war with Peter, material or moral, civilised or savage, and got the better? When did the whole world ever band together against him solitary, and not find him too many for it?
All who take part with Peter are on the winning side. The Apostle of Christ says not in order to unsay; for he has inherited that word which is with power.
Excerpt from J.H. Newman Cathedra Sempiterna (1853)
Reprinted in full p.509-511 Appendix to Newman to Converts: An Existential Ecclesiology.