Wounds of the Spirit Which Never Close

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A Letter of John H. Newman
To Edward Heneage Dering on the Death of His Wife in 1876

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My Dear Mr. Dering,

I have felt for you very much. There are wounds of the spirit which never close, and which are intended in God's mercy to bring us nearer to Him, and to prevent us leaving Him by their very perpetuity. Such wounds, then, may almost be taken as a pledge, or at least as a ground for humble trust, that God will give us the great gift of perseverance to the end. As she has now passed the awful stream which we all have to ford, and is safe, so in the fact of having been taken from you, she seems to give you an intimation that you are to pass it safely also, when your time comes, and you are to meet her again then for ever. Your losing her here is thus the condition of your meeting her hereafter.

This is how I comfort myself in my own great bereavements. I lost, last year, my dearest friend unexpectedly.* I never had so great a loss. He had been my life, under God, for thirty–two years. I don't expect the wound will ever heal, but from my heart I bless God, and would not have it otherwise, for I am sure that the bereavement is one of those Divine Providences necessary for my attaining that Heavenly Rest which he, through God's mercy, has already secured.

So cheer up, and try to do God's Will in all things, according to the day, as I pray to be able to do myself.

Yours most sincerely,
John H. Newman

* Father Ambrose St. John of the Oratory.


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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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