Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defence Of His Life) by Cardinal Newman offers a marvellous insight into the mind of a devout Christian, a colossal figure of the nineteenth century. It is, moreover, one of the greatest spiritual autobiographies ever written in the English language, laying out the development of John Henry Newman's religious opinions up to the year 1845 when he finally converted to Roman Catholicism.
It was Charles Kingsley's withering and defamatory attack which prompted its writing, giving Newman 'ten weeks of anxious work', as he pieced together the evolution of his beliefs. Newman's beautiful prose has rightly been described as 'regal', the scholarly arguments are crystal clear and the structure reassuringly chronological; his utter demolition of Kingsley's accusations (especially that of untruthfulness) at the end of the Apologia is meticulous, inexorable and truly awe-inspiring. It is read by Greg Wagland.
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Apologia and more besides
The lucid and self-revealing Apologia is read as it should be, unaffected, sympathetic, and clear.
I'd compare it to The Dark Night Of The Soul (John of God) or The Interior Castle (Teresa of Avila), and on a less mystical level The Story Of A Soul (Therese Lisieux) or All For Jesus (Fr F W Faber).
The incomparable Greg Wagland allows the author room to speak, gives sound readings of odd English place names, moreover he avoids making himself the point of the reading.
Yes - and so much more besides.
Many more of these wonderful devotional works of Catholic - and indeed any Christian - faith, please. They are not for Catholics alone, nor even for believers in God, but alone with Chesterton, Belloc and Knox etc they speak of, from and to the human heart. There is now what seems to be a lost world revealed in these writers of English spiritual life, and their unapologetic relationship with their communion throughout the nations, over millennia, and even today with us ..
- N. Hammond