Sunset, Delray Beach

The history of Abraham and his nephew Lot seems very old, yet it is also modern and real: it is a warning about attachment to material goods and comforts. Blessed John Henry Newman writes it is a lesson “ …that nothing but a clear apprehension of things unseen, a simple trust in God’s promises, and the greatness of mind thence arising, can make us act above the world—indifferent, or almost so, to its comforts, enjoyments, and friendships; or in other words, that its goods corrupt the common run even of religious men who possess them.”

Abraham and Lot left their country “by faith in God’s commands.” They had become  wealthy in the land of Canaan but were forced to separate to provide land for their herds and herdsmen. Lot chose the rich land of the plains where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located. He was drawn by the riches of immoral people – “ To look toward Sodom was to go the way of the world, and to make wealth the measure of all things, and the end of life.” Abraham was left without an earthly portion but was promised an inheritance greater than the grains of sand on the earth.

In a revolt by Sodom and neighboring cities from the king of Elam, Lot was captured and his property seized. Abraham gathered his men and rescued him. Whereas he could have excused himself from rescuing Lot, it was a characteristic of Abraham’s faith to care for others. Nor did he take for himself any spoils, trusting that God would reward him.

Although Lot was thus warned about living with sinners he returned to Sodom. But God spoke to Abraham through Melchizedek, a figure of Christ. “And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, and he was the priest of the most High God; and he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram of the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth and blessed be the most High God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.”

Soon after, God decided to punish Sodom and Gomorrah, but he let Abraham know of his intention, which allowed him to intercede for the righteous in those cities. But ten good men could not be found. When God sent his angels to destroy these cities he remembered Abraham’s petition and saved Lot who had now been warned and spared a second time.

Referring to Lot, Newman draws the following conclusion: “(W)ithout forming harsh judgments concerning one whom Scripture thus honours, we may at least draw from his history a useful lesson for ourselves. Miserable will be the fate of the doubleminded, of those who love this world so well that they will not give it up, though they believe and acknowledge that God bids them do so. Not that they confess to themselves that their hearts are set upon it; they contrive to hide the fact from themselves by specious excuses, and consider themselves religious men.”

Newman then invites his listeners to examine themselves:

“Now, as to the temper of this country, consider fairly, is there any place, any persons, any work, which our countrymen will not connect themselves with, in the way of trade or business? For the sake of gain, do we not put aside all considerations of principle as unseasonable and almost absurd? … Is there any speculation in commerce which religion is allowed to interfere with? … Do we care what side of a quarrel, civil, political, or international, we take, so that we gain by it?”

Newman asks if religion would be overthrown for political or civic considerations and securing peace between all parties in a nation. We can easily place these and other considerations before God and religion. Despite his failings, Lot was called “a just man” by St. Peter and referred to as “hospitable” by St. Paul. Newman comments that he was a confessor of truth among the wretched inhabitants of the cities in which he dwelt:

“Still, after all, who would willingly take on himself Lot’s sins, plain though it be that God had not deserted him? Surely, if we are to be saved, it is not by keeping ourselves just above the line of reprobation, and living without any anxiety and struggle to serve God with a perfect heart.”

The Christian must learn to detach himself from the world’s pleasures, comforts and honors. “No one, surely, can really be a Christian, who makes his worldly interests his chief end of action… He may have many faults and defects but his reasoning and ruling faculty must be turned heavenward if he is to be a Christian.”

Enticed in daily life by possible investments, stock options, travel and endless comforts, we must take a serious look at ourselves to see if we find that our hearts are set on earthly treasures. We must look with hope to Christ and ask for his forgiveness.



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The world which sees only appearances cannot comprehend the hidden reality of a heart captive to Christ. 

With this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the indwelling of Christ in our souls. Christ is born in us. The Holy Spirit makes us children of God, crying out Abba Father, and restores in us the likeness of Christ.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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“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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