Letter from Birmingham, England.
Just posted to the main site: “Bus to Birmingham: What I Saw at Newman’s Beatification,” by William D. Wood. Here’s how it starts:
Way back in the twentieth century, when I decided to pursue doctoral work in theology, I never imagined that I would one day teach in an Oxford college. Neither did I imagine that John Henry Newman, of all people, would come to loom large in my day-to-day life. It goes without saying that I never imagined that I would find myself boarding a bus to Birmingham in the middle of the night to attend his beatification Mass. But there I was, on the road to Birmingham, along with other representatives from Oriel College, where Newman was a fellow for twenty years.
According to our invitations, the members of the Oriel delegation were “invited pilgrims.” We had been asked to attend because Oriel was the place where Newman did some of his most important intellectual work, the epicenter of the Oxford movement in the nineteenth century—and, of course, the place where Newman decided to leave the Anglican Church for good. The pace of change is slow in Oxford, so Newman’s presence still permeates Oriel. (For example, our chaplain lives in Newman’s rooms. What in other places would be a shrine is, in Oxford, just another bedroom suite.) On the other hand, the close association between Newman and Oriel is somewhat ironic, since his conversion to Catholicism brought his official association with Oriel to an end. His very last act as an Anglican was to resign his Oriel fellowship, just before his conversion in 1845. At the time, he could not hold it as a Roman Catholic.
Read the rest right here.