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Frederick William Faber’s Sermons on the Spiritual Life: 1847-1863

  • Melissa Wilkinson (a1)

Abstract

Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) became a Roman Catholic priest in 1847. He founded the London Oratory and was its Provost between its foundation in April 1849 and his death. This article explores Faber’s public role as spiritual director to his congregation, through an examination of his sermons concerned specifically with private spirituality and which mention spirituality within the context of a broader sermon. Faber’s major preoccupations within these sermons will be explored, and the devotions which he encouraged his parishioners to practice, both in private and in public will be highlighted.

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Thanks are due to the anonymous reviewers of British Catholic History for their valuable suggestions. An embryonic form of this article was read to the Essex Recusant Society, Brentwood, Essex, in September 2007.

Footnotes

References

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1 See Wilkinson, M., Frederick William Faber: A Great Servant of God. (Leominster: Gracewing, 2007), 107-125 .

2 The site is now occupied by Charing Cross Police Station. [http://www.arthurloyd.co.uk/Toole.htm (Accessed 1 August 2018)].

3 Faber, Sermon, F.W., The Tears of Jesus. After ye battle of Inkerman. Man is never so like God as when he is consoling ye afflicted, MS, London Oratory [Hereafter LO] , Packet 1, No. 56.

4 The church of St Wilfrid’s, Cotton, designed and built by AWN Pugin (1812-1852), stands on the now derelict site of Cotton College, which closed in 1987. The church was abandoned in September 2011 to dry rot and decay, despite its importance to Faber, Newman and the English Oratory.

5 Bowden, John, (ed), Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, 2 Vols., 3rd edn., (London: Burns and Oates Ltd. 1866) , (Hereafter NDS1 or NDS2).

6 This article is based on a study of a printed copy of NDS1 and 2, and photocopies of the original MSS, which were made during doctoral research: ‘An exploration of the Intellectual and Spiritual Development of Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)’ (PhD, University of Wales Lampeter. 2005).

7 NDS1. vii.

8 NDS1, viii.

9 NDS2, 122-267.

10 Lord John Manners, Journal, 22 July 1838, quoted in Whibley, C., Lord John Manners and His Friends (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1925), 65 .

11 For the contemplative aspect of Faber’s spirituality see, Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, 244-5.

12 Letter F.W. Faber to JH Newman, LO, Vol.2, No. 158, 3 December 1849.

13 See, F.W. Faber, Sermon, For the Poor Schools, NDS2, 308-310.

14 For Newman’s sermons: John Henry Newman Sermons 1824-1843, vol. 1, ed. Dom. Placid Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991); John Henry Newman Sermons 1824-1843, vol. 2, ed. Vincent Ferrer Blehl (Oxford University Press, 1994); John Henry Newman Sermons 1824-1843, vol. 3, ed. Dom. Placid Murray and Francis J. McGrath FMS (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); John Henry Newman Sermons 1824-1843, vols 4-5, ed. Francis J. McGrath FMS (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011-12). For one of many recent publications on Newman: Frederik D. Aquino and Benjamin J. King eds., The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

15 F.W. Faber, Sermon, On Protestantism 6: The Character of Protestant Devotion, MSS, LO, Packet 3, No. 39.

16 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90.

17 St Gregory’s Library is open, to members only, every day from 11.00-12.30 and 4.30-6.30. [https://www.bromptonoratory.co.uk/all-parish-organisations/ (Accessed 28 January 2019)].

18 NDS2, 193.

19 St Philip Neri, quoted in F.W. Faber, Sermon, Putting hand to the plough and looking back, NDS2, 210.

20 See, Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, 19.

21 They may have been a birthday present to himself, as the book is dated 27 June 1843, the day before his twenty-ninth birthday. For a discussion of Faber’s use of St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises as a member of the Church of England, see Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, 82. Also Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, footnote 60, 99.

22 See, Spiritual Exercises, The, in F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone eds, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd Edn., Revised 2005), 1541. (Hereafter ODCC).

23 FW Faber, Sermon, On the Influence of Catholic Priests over their congregations, NDS2, 75.

24 Ibid., 76.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid., 77.

27 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lecture on Conversion. Conversion of St Paul, St Wilfrid’s 1848, MSS LO, Packet 3, Part 4, Section 3, No. 40.

28 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Fruits of a Good Communion, NDS2, 72-3.

29 Ibid., 73.

30 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Extreme Unction, NDS2, 77.

31 Ibid., 78.

32 Gospel of John 17:14.

33 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Sacred Heart, London 1848, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 51.

34 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How to Confess Well, NDS2, 55.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid.

38 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Purpose of Amendment in Confession, NDS2, 58.

39 Ibid., 59.

40 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Obligation of Restitution, NDS2, 60.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., 61.

43 Ibid.

44 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The view ye Saints take of the world as a howling wilderness compared with the view ordinary good men take of it, New Year’s Eve 1849, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 30.

45 Ibid.

46 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Scandal, NDS2, 61.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid., 62.

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid., 63.

51 F.W. Faber, Sermons. The Four Last Things, NDS2, 333-52.

52 F.W. Faber, Sermon. The Awfulness of Sin, NDS2, 250.

53 Ibid., 251.

54 Ibid.

55 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Tenderness in Religion, NDS2, 218.

56 Ibid.

57 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The tenderness of Jesus, NDS2, 219.

58 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How to gain it, NDS2, 220.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid., 221.

61 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Closing of the Oratory in King William Street, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary [September] 1853, NDS2, 305.

62 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Opening of the Oratory at Brompton, NDS2, 307.

63 F.W. Faber, Sermon, God so Little Loved, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 18. See also, F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Eye of God, Brompton 1853, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 55.

64 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How is it that life is short? Brompton 1854, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 57, 1.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid.

67 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Loss of God, 1850, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 122.

68 F.W. Faber, Sermon, God so Little Loved, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 18.

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 Ibid.

72 Ibid.

73 Ibid.

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid.

76 Ibid.

77 F.W. Faber, Sermon, A Taste for God, Brompton 1859, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 21.

78 Ibid.

79 F.W. Faber, Sermon, God so Little Loved, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 18.

80 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Devotion to the Omnipotence of God, Brompton 1860, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 3.

81 The Spirit of the Age is discussed in Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, 30.

82 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Strangeness of God’s Love for Us, LO, Packet 1, No. 16.

83 Ibid.

84 Ibid.

85 Ibid.

86 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Horrible Condition of a man who leads no inward life – between whom and his God there is no privacy, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 91.

87 Ibid.

88 Ibid.

89 Ibid.

90 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lent: a Call to Penance, Brompton 1859, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 61.

91 Ibid.

92 Jeremiah 13: 14.15. [Faber may have meant Jeremiah 13:15.16].

93 ‘Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’ Heb. 3:13. Bible, NRSV (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

94 F.W. Faber, Sermon, To-day, NDS2, 215.

95 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Horrible Condition of a man who leads no inward life – between whom and his God there is no privacy, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 91.

96 Ibid.

97 Ibid.

98 Ibid.

99 Ibid.

100 F.W. Faber, The Management of Our Grace, NDS2, 131-152.

101 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Knowledge of Our Grace, NDS2, 145.

102 See Pelagianism, in, ODCC, 1257.

103 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Knowledge of Our Grace, NDS2, 144.

104 Ibid.

105 Ibid.

106 Ibid.

107 See Forty Hours Devotion, ODCC, 628.

108 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Business of our Sanctification, Lent Quarant ‘ore, Brompton 1855, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 49. This idea is also expressed in FW Faber’s Sermon, Personal Holiness, in NDS2, 205.

109 Ibid.

110 Ibid.

111 Ibid.

112 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Holiness is an Inward Silence, NDS2, 225.

113 Ibid., 226. II.

114 Ibid.

115 Ibid., 225.

116 Ibid.

117 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Jealousy of Grace, NDS2, 141.

118 Ibid.

119 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, NDS2, 213.

120 F.W. Faber, Sermon, God so Little Loved, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 18.

121 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Devotional practices in Honour of our Guardian Angel, NDS1, 325.

122 Ibid.

123 Ibid.

124 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Church in Intercession, NDS2, 32-4.

125 Ibid. 33.

126 Ibid.

127 Underlining is Faber’s emphasis. F.W. Faber, Sermon, Personal Holiness, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 59.

128 Ibid.

129 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Sacraments a Fountain of Happiness, NDS2, 53.

130 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Little Discouragements, NDS2, 125-127.

131 Apophatic theology: ‘A way of approaching God by denying that any of our concepts can properly be affirmed of Him.’ ODCC, 88.

132 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Little Discouragements, NDS2, 127.

133 Faber’s ill-health is discussed in depth in Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber. Illness as a Roman Catholic can be found at 109, 120-1, 123, 127, 130-31, 133, 136-9, 143-5, 147, 149, 153-4. 159-60, 163-4.

134 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Hints for Valetudinarians, n.d. MS, LO Packet 3, No. 89.

135 Ibid.

136 Ibid.

137 Ibid.

138 Ibid.

139 Ibid.

140 Ibid.

141 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Hardening of the Heart from Slovenly Communions, NDS2, 73-5.

142 Ibid., 74.

143 Ibid., 73-5.

144 Ibid., 74.

145 Ibid.

146 Ibid.

147 Ibid.

148 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Little Encouragements, NDS2, 124.

149 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90.

150 Ibid.

151 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. NDS2, 262.

152 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90.

153 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Setting up the Stations, NDS1, 266-7.

154 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Pain of Jesus from our Little Devotion to His Passion, NDS1, 267.

155 Ibid., 269.

156 Sacraments are also mentioned in, F.W. Faber, Sermon, Inward Peace, Brompton, 1859, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 74.

157 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, [St John’s Church] Islington, n.d. NDS2, 298-300.

158 Ibid.

159 Ibid., 299.

160 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Business of our Sanctification, Brompton, 1855, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 49.

161 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90; F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Church Making Saints, NDS2, 45.

162 Ibid.

163 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Fear of the Saints, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 101.

164 Ibid.

165 Ibid.

166 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Church Making Saints, NDS2, 45.

167 See, F.W. Faber, Notes on Community Life in the Oratory, n.d. Packet 2, Part 1, No. 9.

168 See, Wilkinson, Frederick William Faber, 246-7.

169 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Childishness, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 81.

170 Ibid.

171 Ibid.

172 Ibid.

173 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How is it that life is short?, Brompton 1854, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 57.

174 F.W. Faber, Sermon, On Frittering, NDS2, 216; F.W. Faber, Sermon, How is it that life is short?, Brompton 1854, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 57.

175 Ibid.

176 F.W. Faber, Sermon, On Frittering, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 65, Part 1.

177 Ibid., Part 3.

178 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Jealousy of Grace, 1858, NDS2, 138.

179 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How is it that life is short?, Brompton 1854, NDS2, 202; F.W. Faber, Sermon, The jealousy of Grace, 1858, NDS2, 141.

180 F.W. Faber, Sermon, How is it that life is short?, Brompton 1854, MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 57, Part 2:1.3.

181 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Childishness, n.d. MS, LO Packet 3, No. 81.

182 Ibid.

183 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi, NDS1, 145.

184 F.W. Faber Sermon, God so Little Loved, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 18.

185 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Thoughts for Active Men, NDS2, 259.

186 F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Business of our Sanctification, Brompton, 1855, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 49.

187 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Self-Denial the Essence of Religion, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 58; F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90; F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Business of our Sanctification, Brompton, 1855, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 49.

188 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Self-Denial the Essence of Religion, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 58.

189 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO, Packet 3, No. 90; F.W. Faber, Sermon, The Business of our Sanctification, Brompton, 1855, MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 49.

190 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO Packet 3, No. 90.

191 F.W. Faber, Sermon, On Frittering, MS, LO, Packet 3 No. 65, Part 2.

192 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Lay Piety, n.d. MS, LO Packet 3, No. 90.

193 F.W. Faber Sermon, The View which ye saints take of ye would as a howling wilderness compared with ye view ordinary good men take of it, New Year’s Eve 1849-50. MS, LO, Packet 1, No. 30.

194 F.W. Faber, Sermon, Hearing Sermons, NDS2, 233.

195 Ibid.

196 Ibid.

197 Ibid., 234.

198 Ibid.

199 Ibid.

200 Ibid.

201 F.W. Faber, Common Things Not Realised Sufficiently, NDS2, 267.

202 Ibid. Formatting as it appears in the original.

* Thanks are due to the anonymous reviewers of British Catholic History for their valuable suggestions. An embryonic form of this article was read to the Essex Recusant Society, Brentwood, Essex, in September 2007.

Keywords

Frederick William Faber’s Sermons on the Spiritual Life: 1847-1863

  • Melissa Wilkinson (a1)

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