Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(1) February 2019
The Book Review
Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman. Available from Amazon.co.uk
The Book Review is a new regular column in Semper Idem, written by a Junior Doctor (Pen Name): Gregory Scriptorum
Whilst at university I attended mass at the Birmingham Oratory, the home of the national shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), an Anglican clergyman who would later convert to Catholicism. I started to read about Newman’s life and his contributions to theological thought especially the development of doctrine and the authority of conscience. Therefore it seemed fitting to read his famous autobiography ‘Apologia Pro Vita Sua’.
Apologia Pro Vita Sua is a defence of Newman’s religious belief. It details how his theological thought developed but is also immensely personal and honest. Newman’s relationship with Jesus Christ is always apparent; as highlighted by his motto cor ad cor loquitor or heart speaks to heart. Above all I was most touched by Newman’s search for the Truth. This search, which led to his reception into the Catholic Church in 1845, was slow and methodical. Apologia Pro Vita Sua is a genuine account of someone wanting to know God more fully. I was amazed at how Newman’s faith in God persisted amid his questions and doubts: “Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and borne in upon our minds with most power.” (Part VII: page 150)
There is much confusion in today’s society and the secular world has influenced medical practice in many ways. Today’s young doctors and healthcare professionals ought to take much encouragement from Newman’s resolve to choose the Truth above all else simply because it is the Truth. After all “truth cannot contradict truth” (Pope Leo XIII).