Newman on Faith, Holiness, and Imagination

By Elizabeth Huddleston
Published in New and Noteworthy
December 10, 2019
1 min read
Newman on Faith, Holiness, and Imagination

Imagination is a significant part of Newman's theology in both his Anglican and Catholic years. In his recent article, Nicolas Steeves, SJ narrates how faith, holiness, and imagination work together in Newman's theology. Particularly, Steeves notes "that Newman with his life and writings helps us to understand what credible holiness is today. Rather than a clichéd, 19th-century romantic heroic holiness, the beautiful but troubled life path of Newman shows us that holiness can and must be reimagined today in the light of Easter. Only in this way will the world be able to return to listen to the Gospel of Christ." In what he deems an "evangelical, imaginative holiness," Steeves explains that "holiness, according to Newman, does not concern first of all the good works completed, but an inner disposition, a series of virtues that arise from a fundamental vision (Weltanschauung) or, to put it in Thomas Kuhn's words, from a certain imaginative paradigm.[1] The holiness that Newman outlines is a way of imagining God, oneself, others and the cosmos." As Steeves notes, for Newman, "'the heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination.' His motto as a cardinal, cor ad cor loquitur, takes us from the Heart of Christ to our heart, and from one human heart to another. If our hearts allow themselves to be touched and wounded by the Heart of Christ and by the hearts of others, as happened with Newman, we will set out into the Church toward an imaginative holiness. With Newman, and in many ways, we can affirm that 'holiness is the most attractive face of the Church.'"

DOI: La Civiltà Cattolica, En. Ed. Vol. 3, no. 12 art. 5, 2019: 10.32009/22072446.1912.5
[1] Cf. T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1970.

For the entire article entitled, "Saint John Henry Newman: Faith, Holiness, and Imagination."

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Newman's Visit to Rome in 1833: Part IV
Elizabeth Huddleston

Elizabeth Huddleston

Associate Editor, Newman Studies Journal

Elizabeth Huddleston is Head of Research and Publications at the National Institute for Newman Studies and is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Catholic Studies at Duquesne University.


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