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Watching: A Reflection by Cardinal John Henry Newman

“Now I consider the word ‘watching,’ first used by our Lord, then by the favored Disciple, then by the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, is a remarkable word; remarkable because the idea is not so obvious as might appear at first sight, and next because they all inculcate it.  We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simple to love, but to watch; not simple to obey, but to watch; to watch for what?  For that great event, Christ’s coming…

I conceive it may be explained as follows: Do you know the feeling, in matters of this life, of expecting a friend, expecting him to come, and he delays?  Do you know what it is to be in unpleasant company, and to wish for the time to pass away, and the hour strike when you may be at liberty?  Do you know what it is to be in anxiety lest something should happen which may happen or may not, or to be in suspense about some important event, which makes your heart beat when you are reminded of it, and of which you think the first thing in the morning?  Do you know what it is to have a friend in a distant country, to expect news of him, and to wonder from day to day what he is now doing, and whether he is well?  Do you know what it is so to live upon a person who is present with you, that your eyes follow his, that you read his soul, that you see all its changes in his countenance, that you anticipate his wishes, that you smile in his smile, and are sad in his sadness, and are downcast when he is vexed, and rejoice in his successes?  To watch for Christ is a feeling such as all these; as far as feelings of this world are fit to shadow out those of another.

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