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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Consolation
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How frequently these words of Christ from St. Matthew’s gospel come to mind, so often repeated by our beloved Pope St. John Paul II: “Be not afraid”! The power of these three words bring both reassurance and hope, remembered as they are in the times we need them. Christ, who was walking on water towards the frightened disciples said these words, “It is I!” Likewise with this comforting poem of Blessed John Henry Newman, echoing the same words. The poem is aptly named, “Consolation,” which reminds us of that peace which passeth all understanding. The first stanza, with an a,b,a,b rhyme scheme along with regular metered lines, iambic tetrameter alternating with iambic trimeter, adds to the soothing sound of the poem.

Consolation

“It is I; be not afraid.”

 

WHEN I sink down in gloom or fear,

    Hope blighted or delay’d,

Thy whisper, Lord, my heart shall cheer,

    “‘Tis I; be not afraid!”

The first stanza speaks to the universal experience of all humans, living as we do in a fallen world, and that is a feeling of gloom or sadness, which sometimes comes upon us seemingly from nowhere; likewise, an irrational fear may spring up, especially when we waken in the middle of the night … seized with a bewitching anxiety. At these moments, hope may seem to be “blighted,” that is,  frustrated or slow in coming, that is, “delay’d.” But then the reassurance: “Be not afraid,” a whisper from our Lord, will cheer our hearts.

The second stanza with a c,d,c,d rhyme scheme and the same regular metered lines as the first stanza, continues with these human experiences which have the capacity for making us fearful:

Or, startled at some sudden blow,

    If fretful thoughts I feel,

“Fear not, it is but I!” shall flow,

    As balm my wound to heal.

Almost without warning, when we are perhaps tired or otherwise vulnerable, a fretful thought, or sublimated fear, will pop up into our consciousness, almost like a physical blow. But then, the whisper comes again, the healing balm of Christ’s words wash over us: “Fear not! It is I!”

And in the third stanza, also with regular rhyme and meter, is the bold assertion that these very words from Christ will bring us strength, no matter the foe or challenge we may meet:

Nor will I quit Thy way, though foes

    Some onward pass defend;

From each rough voice the watchword goes,

    “Be not afraid! … a friend!”

In the final stanza comes the most important reassurance of all, the cause of our hope and joy, and that is the victory over that final “blow,” death; even the thought of death should bring neither gloom nor fear, for we only sleep, and will awake to that same familiar voice which has been whispered to us throughout our days: “Tis Christ!”

And oh! when judgment’s trumpet clear

    Awakes me from the grave,

Still in its echo may I hear,

    “‘Tis Christ; He comes to save.”

At Sea. June 23, 1833.

It is fitting to conclude this reflection on Blessed Newman’s poem, “Consolation,”  with these words of Pope Saint John Paul II: “I plead with you, never, ever give up hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid!”

 

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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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