Last year, many Americans discussed and debated how much they should trust the news.  They talked about standards for truthful reporting and how to become an informed citizen.  In a culture seemingly too timid to make hard claims about truth, they showed they care deeply whether a matter is true or false.  

The differences between true news and false news mirror the differences between the two main types of Christians: “consistent Christians” and “nominal Christians.”  In both cases, they look similar on the outside, but they are an ocean apart on the inside.  What makes a Christian true or false is the subject of Blessed John Henry Newman’s sermon, “Sincerity and Hypocrisy.”

These two types of Christians are hard to tell apart.  Both still sin regularly, both repent, both are sorry for their sins and wish they were better, and both feel as though only God can help them become righteous.  What separates them, Blessed Newman explains, is their sincerity.  The consistent Christian has “an honest, unaffected desire [sic] of doing right,” while the nominal Christian has a double mind and pursues “other ends besides truth.”  A double mind is a hypocritical one.

Blessed Newman provides several Biblical references praising sincere and unhypocritical faith and love.  He quotes St. Paul’s desire for his spiritual children to have “‘faith unfeigned [sic],’” which in Greek translates “‘unhypocritical faith.’”  In other places, St. Paul speaks of the Apostles having love unfeigned and urging others to let their love be “‘without dissimulation.’”  

A sincere or consistent Christian “has a ruling sense of God’s presence within him.”  He senses God’s presence, not simply externally as one sees God’s providence in his life or in the beauty of creation, but “in his innermost heart, or in his conscience.”  He is wide open before God from whom he hides nothing nor wishes for anything to be hidden.  He is aware of his faults and the ugliness of his sin, but shame and fear do not repel him from God.

“He alone admits God into the shrine of his heart; whereas others wish in some way or other, to be by themselves, to have a home, a chamber, a throne, a self where God is not, – a home within them which is not a temple, a chamber which is not a confessional, a tribunal without a judge, a throne without a king; – that self may be king and judge.”

When the consistent Christian faces God with his sin, he does not seek to excuse or justify his behavior.  He knows he is without excuse and begs only of God’s mercy.  Blessed Newman says that to this man, “God is too near him to allow of argument, self-defence, excuse, or objection.”  He simply says, “Lord, you see me.”  

We have a beautiful witness of this attitude in the Psalms.  Time and again we hear the Psalmist say, “‘O, Lord, Thou hast searched me out and known me’”, or “‘Into thy hands I commit my spirit’”, or “‘When I wake up, Thou are present with me.’”  The man of a double mind is not open.  He approaches God with reasoning and excuses, just as the unjust servant did in our Lord’s parable.  He hides from God, as Adam did after he sinned.

The differences between these two types of Christians, apparently small and hardly detectable by men, are clear and bare before the eyes of God.  We must be able to tell the difference, not for the sake of judging others, but for the sake of examining ourselves.  Newman asks, “Do you, then, habitually thus unlock your hearts and subject your thoughts to Almighty God?  Are you living in this conviction of His Presence…?”  Today, if we can accept this Mystery of His Presence within us, to lay before Him all that He already sees and knows, and to do so without argument and excuse, we will attain the sincerity indicative of a saint.  We will keep our Lord close and will be able to witness to ourselves and others that we are sons of God.

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Newman lays down a firm rule in the light of life's abundant blessings: the Christian is not allowed to be gloomy.

Newman wrote, “I have been accustomed to consider the action of the creator on and in the created universe, as parallel in a certain sense to that of the soul upon the body.”

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We need to remember our mortality, so that we may be ready to meet Our Lord each and every day. Lent and lenten mortifications have a role in this preparation. We must die to self daily, so that we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection. 

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About Cardinal John Henry Newman

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A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

Review by Catherine Maybanks
(Catholic Herald, April 1, 2023)

Review by Serenheed James
(Antiphon, April 2023)

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Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.

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Endorsement by Neyra Blanco (Amazon)
I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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What is a Classical Liberal Arts Education? Why is it so important for the development of a person?

Fr. Juan R. Vélez answers these and more questions you might have about University Education in the 21st century. This book is aimed for parents, prospective University students, and educators. It will help you discern why adding Liberal Arts electives to your education will help it form it better, and help the student learn to reason, and not just learn.

He also explains how many Universities have changed the true meaning of Liberal Arts, and the subjects, and gives advise on how to choose College Campus, Subjects, and Teachers.

A wonderful book that every parent should also read way before your children are College bound. A Liberal Arts education can start earlier in life, even from home.

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Endorsement by Christopher Moellering (Goodreads, September 14, 2019)
In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman, endorsement by Illow M. Roque (Amazon, September 3, 2010)
“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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