The recent news that the Bishop of Northampton has declined to move forward with the cause for the canonization of G. K. Chesterton was not well received in the United States. At this year’s annual conference of the American Chesterton Society in Kansas City, the news was met with disappointment by the 500 Chestertonians in attendance. The general consensus was that it would take nothing less than a miracle to overcome the hierarchichal indifference and inertia with respect to Chesterton’s cause. Thankfully, Americans believe in miracles and are not averse to praying for them. It was, after all, the two confirmed miracles in answer to the prayers of Americans that paved the way for John Henry Newman’s beatification and canonization. First, in 2001, there were the prayers of Deacon Jack Sullivan, from Massachusetts, beseeching Newman’s intercession, which led to the miraculous healing of Deacon Sullivan’s spinal injuries. Then, in 2013, there was the miraculous healing in Chicago of Melissa Villalobos, which saved her life and that of her unborn child.
It is no mere coincidence that the prayers of Americans have played such a crucial role in Newman’s cause and in his being raised to the altar. The practice of the Faith is vibrant in the United States and devotion to Newman widespread. His influence on new converts to the Faith is well-documented, especially in the numerous testimonies given on The Journey Home, a weekly show focusing on converts on EWTN. One of the most prominent converts in recent years, Thomas Howard, paid tribute to Newman’s influence on his own conversion in the title of his book Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome, which alludes to the famous hymn which Newman wrote. Another prominent recent convert, Holly Ordway, cites Newman’s Grammar of Assent as being an important marker on her own conversion from atheism.
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