256px-Blake_-_angel_of_revelation

(William Blake, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

It will soon be October and time to celebrate St. John Henry Newman’s liturgical feast day. The time for this feast – which falls on the day of his conversion to the Catholic Church – is also appropriate because Newman liked the season of autumn and the beauty of the changing leaves. He often remarked on the beauty of nature because he saw the created visible world as a reflection of the invisible world. For St. John Henry, the world is filled with angels, our own guardian angels, whose feast we celebrate October 2nd, but also the angels which are all around us. He shows us his love and appreciation for angels in the short poem, “Angelic Guidance.” Note the beautiful image he used for angelic clothing as “skirts of light.”

ARE these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,

    His foot prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,

    Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright

Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend

With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend

    My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might

    Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night

Figures the scope, in which what is, will end?

Were I Christ’s own, then fitly might I call

That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind

That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;

But, when on earth-stain’d souls such tokens fall,

These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,

Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace. 

(Whitchurch. December 8, 1832)

Newman’s thoughts regarding angels can be found in his sermons, for example “The Powers of Nature”(PPS Vol. 2, 29) and also in the Apologia where he writes, “ . . . I viewed them, not only as the ministers employed by the Creator . . . but as carrying on, as Scripture also implies, the Economy of the Visible World. I considered them as the real causes of motion, light, and life, and of those elementary principles of the physical universe, which, when offered in their developments to our senses, suggest to us the notion of cause and effect, and of what are called the laws of nature. . . .” 

And so this poem read in the light of St. John Henry’s understanding of angels shows that these marvelous beings not only protect us, but help us to understand people around us, help our thoughts at night, and give us the grace to see God in the created world all around. In his sermon for Michaelmas, 1834, he wrote:  “Every breath of air and ray of light and heat, every beautiful prospect, is, as it were, the skirts of their garments, the waving of the robes of those whose faces see God.” 

Newman remarks in the final lines of this poem that those whose understanding of the world is dimmed by sin will not see these angelic tokens which are everywhere.  

“But, when on earth-stain’d souls such tokens fall,

These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,

Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.”

So all is not lost because of God’s boundless grace which can open the eyes of the blind that they might see. St. John Henry Newman, help us to see these angelic tokens from God that fill our life with beauty, these hints of the wonders which await us in our heavenly home.

 

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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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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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