Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
The Dream of Gerontius, Part 5


icon-of-our-lordIn The Dream, John Henry Newman continues a dialogue between the soul and its angel. The soul wishes to have conscious communion with its angel, but the angel replies:

“You cannot now

Cherish a wish which ought not to be wish’d.”


The soul replies:

“Then I will speak. I ever had believed

That on the moment when the struggling soul

Quitted its mortal case, forthwith it fell

Under the awful Presence of its God,

There to be judged and sent to its own place.

What lets me now from going to my Lord?”


The angel explains how the soul is about to meet Christ, and it suggests a new way of measuring time after death:


“Thou art not let; but with extremest speed

Art hurrying to the Just and Holy Judge:

For scarcely art thou disembodied yet.

Divide a moment, as men measure time,

Into its million-million-millionth part,

Yet even less than that the interval

Since thou didst leave the body; and the priest

Cried “Subvenite,” and they fell to prayer;

Nay, scarcely yet have they begun to pray.


For spirits and men by different standards mete

The less and greater in the flow of time.

By sun and moon, primeval ordinances—

By stars which rise and set harmoniously—

By the recurring seasons, and the swing,

This way and that, of the suspended rod

Precise and punctual, men divide the hours,

Equal, continuous, for their common use.

Not so with us in the immaterial world;

But intervals in their succession

Are measured by the living thought alone,

And grow or wane with its intensity.

And time is not a common property;

But what is long is short, and swift is slow,

And near is distant, as received and grasp’d

By this mind and by that, and every one

Is standard of his own chronology.

And memory lacks its natural resting-points

Of years, and centuries, and periods.

It is thy very energy of thought

Which keeps thee from thy God.”


Gerontius’ soul asks the angel about its lack of fear before the judgment:


“Dear Angel, say,

Why have I now no fear at meeting Him?

Along my earthly life, the thought of death

And judgment was to me most terrible.

I had it aye before me, and I saw

The Judge severe e’en in the Crucifix.

Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled;

And at this balance of my destiny,

Now close upon me, I can forward look

With a serenest joy.”


Here, in the angel’s reply, Newman echoes for us St. John’s teaching on how perfect love casts out fear :


“It is because

Then thou didst fear, that now thou dost not fear,

Thou hast forestall’d the agony, and so

For thee the bitterness of death is past.

Also, because already in thy soul

The judgment is begun.


Newman reminds us of the particular judgment of the soul which anticipates the final judgment.


“The judgment is begun. That day of doom,

One and the same for the collected world,—

That solemn consummation for all flesh,

Is, in the case of each, anticipate

Upon his death; and, as the last great day

In the particular judgment is rehearsed,

So now, too, ere thou comest to the Throne,

A presage falls upon thee, as a ray

Straight from the Judge, expressive of thy lot.

That calm and joy uprising in thy soul

Is first-fruit to thee of thy recompense,

And heaven begun.”

Here, as St. Paul teaches us, Blessed Newman bids us work out our salvation with fear and trembling now, so that at our own particular judgment we may approach our Just and Loving Savior and Judge without any fear.

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The true light of Christ’s divinity was made visible to the Apostles at the Transfiguration.

We call His presence in this Holy Sacrament a spiritual presence, not as if ‘spiritual’ were but a name or mode of speech.

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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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