The Corner

The Joys of Understatement


Newman certainly appreciated them. On the subway a few minutes ago, I was reading his sermon on the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. He writes that “we must not suppose that [St. Thomas] differed greatly from the other Apostles. They all, more or less, mistrusted Christ’s promises when they saw Him led away to be crucified.” Yes, there was indeed a certain degree of mistrust in the air, what? St. Mark put it rather more bluntly: “They all fled.” Or, as some older folks of our own time might have put it: Feets, don’t fail me now! 

Anyone, by the way, believer or non-believer, who delights in excellent English prose would do well to read Newman. (That particular quote is from the Parochial and Plain Sermons.The Ignatius hardcover is a beautifully produced volume; but at $19 the Kindle version is a great bargain, and easier to carry too!)

PS. Some wag once suggested that the incident in which all the Apostles fled was the last occasion on which the entire episcopate was united on a particular issue. Many people have even pointed to the success of Christianity over the last two thousand years, in spite of the weaknesses of its leaders and adherents, as an evidence of its divine origin. It’s not an argument that most people find persuasive — many bad things of human origin can persist for long periods of time — but I personally think there’s something to it. . .


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