Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Blessed Dominic, Faith and Good Humor

Blessed Dominic, Faith and Good Humor

Blessed Dominic Barberi was Beatified in 1963.  He could well be the patron saint of school classroom or workplace jokers everywhere.  His humour, of course, made him a real handful for teachers, superiors, Bishops, priests, religious and parishioners!!  He was always in trouble for breaking his vow of silence and admitted to being “addicted” to clowning.

Whilst, at times, Dominic doubtless irritated people because of his ready wit and penchant for practical jokes, the gift of his laughter also drew them to him and, ultimately, to Jesus.  Dominic drew upon family origins as farmers, his photographic memory, amazing powers of concentration and ability as a story teller to get a church, lecture room or hall brimming with the joy of life.  He lived ‘at a run and’ even wrote letters and sermons so quickly that the ends of his sentences could be found on his writing desk!

Dominic joined an order called the Passionists who were named after Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  He always wanted to come and work as a priest in England, with the long-term aim of uniting all Christians through his gentleness and peace-making disposition. He is famous for receiving St John Henry Newman into the Church.

Despite his broken English, Dominic had a charm-filled holiness that shone through and many people became Catholics because they were attracted to him and the Gospel he preached.  Dominic worked “like a donkey” as he put it, giving missions and retreats.  Sometimes in the Aston area of Staffordshire crowds of up to 500 people came to hear him.  He also met with real opposition.  At Stone he was rejected, ambushed and earth and stones were thrown at him.  Witnesses who were the gang members who attacked him recalled how Dominic picked up the first stone and kissed it because it was the means by which he was able to bear the sufferings of Christ.  As a result, one of the gang leaders eventually became a Catholic.

Dominic also worked tirelessly in Wolverhampton, Rugeley, Bilston, Princethorpe and Cotton.  His reputation came to the attention of John Henry Newman and he asked Dominic to receive him into the Catholic Church at Littlemore in Oxfordshire on 9th October 1845.  Even in this most poignant moment the Passionist’s God-inspired humour came surging through.  Alfred Wilson, Dominic’s biographer, records that during his meeting with John Henry “he perpetrated one of his most atrocious puns…  In his natural homely way, he remarked: “let us wait a little more and a little more will be done for the glory of God.”  (Wilson, Supernaturalized Briton, p.299).

Newman would doubtless have appreciated the joke and enjoyed Barberi’s descriptions of the natural world, his bright mind, passion for the Bible and great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Both had so much in common.  They shared a huge capacity for pastoral work and were devoted to their students as lecturers.  Dominic and John Henry, after a ‘heart to heart’, recognised in each other the divine flame of holiness lit from baptism’s paschal candle.  They were united in their mutual quest for the virtues of personal humility, charity and good humor.

Fr Peter Conley

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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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