Sounding like a Victorian ‘weatherman’, St John Henry Newman remarks that “frost, and cold, rain and gloom befall us.” Swiftly adding “spring, summer and autumn have brought their gifts”. Before we wallow in winter, he enthusiastically presents the outlook for the forthcoming weeks of the “Advent Christ”:
“Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that it would soon see the King in His beauty.” (Parochial and Plain Sermons V, l)
Poetically, Newman advices us to “watch” for the Lord’s arrival as he “moves upon the deep harmonies of truth and love and draws us to become holier the closer he comes”.
(Parochial and Plain Sermons IV, 22)
Advancing in Advent grace, for Newman, means that we “aim at forming judgments about persons, events, rank, fortunes, changes, (and) objects” as “God looks at the world”.
(Parochial and Plain Sermons V, 3)
St John Henry invites us to be what he calls “consistent Christians” who, while looking forward to his return, recognise that Jesus entered our history, is present in the mystery of the Eucharist and with us, always, to the end of time. Our response, as missionary disciples, is to pray, according to Newman, for “what scripture calls an honest and good heart”, or “a perfect heart”, and, without waiting begin at once to obey him with the heart you have…” (Parochial and Plain Sermons IV, 22). Then, amidst any short-term spiritual clouds, chill and showers our horizon will remain clear-sky bright.