Even during his Anglican years, John Henry Newman felt that the popular exhibitions of devotion that so scandalized Church of England visitors to the Continent - even with what he conceded might be corruptions of “excess” or “superstition” - were preferable to the arid indifference he found among English laity and clergy. After all, said Newman, these devotions to Our Lady derived from the real (versus notional) idea that she was the Mother of God
Nowhere does Newman express himself more beautifully on the true Christian attitude towards Our Lady than near the end of his famous “Letter to the Rev. E.B. Pusey, D.D., on his recent Eirenicon" (1866). In fact, some regard the following as the most brilliant passage in the whole of his work:
“Did not the All-wise know the human heart
when He took to Himself a Mother?
Did He not anticipate our emotion
at the sight of such an exaltation
in one so simple and so lowly?
"If He had not meant her
to exert that wonderful influence in His Church,
which she has in the event exerted,
I will use a bold word,
He it is who has perverted us.
"If she is not to attract our homage,
why did He make her solitary in her greatness
amid His vast creation?
"If it be idolatry in us
to let our affections respond to our faith,
He would not have made her what she is,
or He would not have told us
that He had so made her;
but, far from this,
He has sent His Prophet to announce to us,
‘A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Emmanuel,’
and we have the same warrant
for hailing her as God’s Mother,
as we have for adoring Him as God.”