Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

On losing one’s wife
January 31, 2015, 11:50 am
Filed under: Devotional

ManningI have been an admirer of Cardinal Manning ever since I read the biography of him by Robert Gray in 1985. As a young Anglican clergyman he married Caroline Sargent, and was devastated in 1837 when she died of consumption at the age of only twenty-five. He coped by throwing himself into his work. He later wrote, “I doubt if anything else would have made me so love and yearn for the unseen world as to counterpoise the stifling hold with which the world we see and act in weighs one down.”

Nearly fifty-five years on, dying as Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and attended by Herbert Vaughan who was to succeed him, as he neared the end he reached under his pillow and drew out a small, worn volume. “I know not to whom to leave this,” he said to Vaughan, “I leave it to you. Into this little book my dearest Wife wrote her prayers and meditations. Not a day has passed since her death on which I have not prayed and meditated from this book. All the good I may have done, all the good I may have been, I owe to her. Take precious care of it.”

Gray notes that Vaughan, from whom the story derives, was the soul of honour and truth. I have never been able to read this story without being moved. It moves me more than ever today, though I have been so fortunate as to have, not just a book, but my dear wife herself at my side for nearly forty-three years.


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Fr. you remain in my prayers at this time. May she rest in peace until that day when He makes all things well and we are reunited in His great love. Gwyn

Comment by Gwyn Owen

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