pentecost
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Christ, Manifested in Remembrance
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Pentecost is a feast day for us, but it didn’t start that way for the disciples, who had just lost their teacher and Lord. He was carried up in the clouds, He who was with them day in and day out for three and half years, who called them His friends, who loved them to the end. They didn’t yet have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. But when the Holy Spirit descended upon them later that day, the veil over their understanding was removed. They understood who Jesus truly was and how it was better that He ascended to heaven, just as He had said.

Like the disciples, we see the grace of God in our lives only after moments have passed, sometimes many years afterward. However, appreciating God’s presence in these moments by faith is part of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. In “Christ, Manifested in Remembrance” St. John Henry Newman explains how spiritual hindsight works and how we can serve God now, even if we can’t see Him at work.

It doesn’t matter whether something pleasant or painful occurs to us, Newman says, we don’t typically see God’s hand at work in either case. Scripture is replete with examples of God’s miraculous interventions in the lives of His followers, but His work remains invisible to them. The life of Joseph is instructive: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was separated from his father and family. Despite rising to a respectful position in his master’s household, he was later wrongfully accused of sexual assault and thrown in prison. When Joseph interprets the dreams of other prisoners and then Pharaoh himself, he is released and promoted to the second highest post in all of Egypt. It is doubtless Joseph was able, in each of these traumatic downs and triumphant ups, to see how God was working in him and through him for Joseph’s good and the good of others. 

But later on Joseph would see how God led him every step of the way, even as we are able now to see the little ways in which Christ led us to himself. Speaking of these perhaps seemingly insignificant moments, Newman says: “Let a person who trusts he is on the whole serving God acceptably, look back upon his past life, and he will find how critical were moments and acts, which at the time seemed the most indifferent: as for instance, the school he was sent to as a child, the occasion of his falling in with those persons who have most benefited him, the accidents which determined his calling or prospects whatever they were. God’s hand is ever over his own, and He leads them forward by a way they know not of. The utmost they can do is to believe, what they cannot see now, what they shall see hereafter; and as believing, to act together with God towards it.”

These ordinary moments that fill our day actually define our day – they are not incidental. They are where God meets us. Yet how easy it is to see them – getting ready for work, driving to the store, talking with a coworker or neighbor, eating dinner and so many others – as means to some other end. We have in mind some destination, some financial position, some status, some level of comfort, etc. that we will finally arrive at if we can get past these interruptions. That place is where life begins. But it isn’t. That place is ever out of reach, and meanwhile we let slip the short time we have. 

To use this time well and to meet Christ in each moment is a hallmark of sanctity. In a few weeks, we will celebrate the feast day of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei. Escrivá urged everyone to offer their work (whatever occupies us) to God, “seeing ourselves as his instruments, and acting accordingly, so that we may co-redeem with him [Christ], and of offering up our entire lives in the joyful sacrifice of surrendering ourselves for the good of souls.” Each moment, as banal as our banter with the grocery store clerk or our time spent in the car by ourselves waiting for the stoplight to change, can be an encounter with the living Christ, who alone can make these moments fruitful. Newman says bluntly, “Let us profit by what every day and hour teaches us, as it flies.” And he adds, “Let us beg of Him grace wherewith to enter into the depth of our privileges,—to enjoy what we possess,—to believe, to use, to improve, to glory in our present gifts as ‘members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.’”

In other words, let there be no wasted moments, no time spent as a means to reach some future time that we expect to fulfill us. And no time for sorrowing over lost time. As Scripture enjoins us, now is the acceptable time, today is the day of salvation. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to make every moment a holy one, if we only ask Him.

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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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