“He is not past, He is present now.” – John Henry Newman on the Eucharist
It would be both fascinating and rewarding to follow the development of Newman’s belief in the Real Presence and to show how it is central to the development of his understanding of the nature of the Church. Such a scholarly piece of research on Newman’s thinking on the Eucharist would have to start with a discussion of it in the context of the Oxford Movement as a “eucharistic movement”1, and as such opposed to the rationalism and liberalism in religion at Oxford University, which the Tractarians called the religion of the day, and then show how Newman’s understanding of the Eucharist changed and how he was finally led to embrace the full Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist together with the full doctrine on the Church, before characterising his later preaching on the Eucharist.
Expect here something much simpler! Pope John Paul II was called home in the middle of the Eucharistic Year, which began on 7th October 2004. We now recognise it as his last wonderful gift to the Church. Newman the pastor can help us, as he helped his contemporaries – expressed with the late Holy Father: “to contemplate, praise and adore in a special way this ineffable Sacrament … the incomparable treasure which Christ has entrusted to his Church.” (Mane Nobiscum Domine 29) It had been Newman’s aim – as that of Pope John Paul II – to “encourage a more lively and fervent celebration of the Eucharist, leading to a Christian life transformed by love.” (Ibid.)