Newman Studies Journal:
Fr. Peter Conley
Exploring Blessed John Henry Newman’s Bereavement Letters
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This series examines an often neglected area in Newman studies. Its purpose is not to provide an exhaustive analysis of his wide and complex theology of bereavement. What its articles aim to do, however, is succinctly introduce to readers various avenues for further research.The next two articles in this series are intrinsically linked by the implications of Newman’s Sacramental Principle. They also act as a bridge to a future theme of significance, namely, how he reflected upon Victorian funeral customs per se. Although Newman does not refer to his Sacramental Principle in his bereavement letters by name, their theology clearly presupposes it- as the first article will show. The second paper, in a complimentary way, illustrates that at the heart of this Principle lies Newman’s interpretation of grief as a personal encounter with the wounded and risen Christ. He, in turn, through the power of the Holy Spirit, brings our loved ones to us wherever we happen to be. Thus, for Newman, bereavement is an experience of the union between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven.