Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Can We Celebrate Easter During Times of War?
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In two weeks we will attend Easter Mass, celebrate with family and friends over dinner, and welcome the warmth and sunshine we have longed for after many months of winter. Light and cheer are ahead. Yet the newspaper headlines remind us that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—with its brutal and vicious attacks on innocent men, women and children—continues unabated. It may seem an inopportune time to celebrate. Can we rejoice while others are suffering?

St. Paul tells the church in Rome to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We cannot read about, listen to or watch others suffer without extending our compassion to them, doing what we can, praying at the very least. But we must also rejoice with those who have good news. It seems we will always know people who celebrate or suffer, just as we ourselves swing between the two throughout our days. 

In fact, we are capable of maintaining both states of being at the same time. In St. Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, he writes of his role as an apostle “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” We may struggle to understand how this is possible, but it’s certainly reasonable. We cannot deny the personal suffering we face daily, from something as unfortunate as a flat tire to as terrifying as a diagnosis of cancer, or the difficulties and pain we see in the lives of our family, friends and coworkers. But we also know this life is but a fraction of eternity, that in the next life God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” 

We have much work to do. There are many people out there suffering and rejoicing. There are many who need our gentle touch, words of encouragement, financial support in hardship or unsolicited help. There are some who just need our company on their birthday or other special day, our presence so they can share some wonderful news or a fun activity. And all of us need the real Good News, especially at a time like this.

 

The Good News, the Gospel, is always timely. In the same epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” It must not be put off by work or play, sunshine or rain, war or peace. The Gospel is news that alters everything – working and playing, crying and laughing, fasting and feasting. Those who are tempted to silence it or mute it have either forgotten its message or have never truly heard it. It is not just words; it is the “power of God for salvation.” St. John Henry Newman explains how Easter teaches us how to think about the world, not the other way around: “It is the death of the Eternal Word of God made flesh, which is our great lesson in how to think and how to speak of this world. His Cross has put its due value upon every thing which we see … It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. It is the tone into which all the strains of this world’s music are ultimately to be resolved.”

What is the good news of Easter? Like children, we desire to hear it again and again. God chose to become Man and suffer the cross in order to rescue us. He has rescued us from selfishness, sadness, depression, disease, war, loneliness and death itself. He has done this despite our best attempts to thwart him. If we know ourselves, we will admit that we have gone kicking and screaming against His every effort, and we still do. God is not surprised and he doesn’t give up. He won’t ever give up, thank God.

Yes, we can celebrate Easter, we must celebrate it, in times of war as in times of peace. We must remind ourselves and others that this life is not all there is, that God will make right all that is wrong, that there is no bad news that can ruin us more than the Good News can save us. It is the good news we must cling to, because it brings meaning to all other news and events. As Newman enjoins us: “They alone are able truly to enjoy this world, who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it, who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.”

Let us turn to God in this time and ask him for the grace to be sorrowful, but always rejoicing. Then let us turn to those God has put within our reach and serve them as He calls us to do. Newman said we all have something to give because whatever good we have is from the same source: Christ Himself. “All the wisdom of the Doctors, and the courage and endurance of the Martyrs, and the purity of Virgins, and the zeal of Preachers, and the humility and mortification of religious men, is from Him, as the beginning of the new and heavenly creation of God.” Let’s get to work then.

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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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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