Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Faith and the World

St. John Henry Newman preached and wrote throughout his life about the loss of faith and indifference of the world to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This indifference he observed all around him, even in his own family since his brother, Francis, left the faith for Unitarianism and eventually became an agnostic. In one of St. John Henry’s  most pointed sermons regarding this reality, he begins with a verse from Proverbs 11: 21: “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” In the very first line of the sermon text, “Faith and the World” (1838) he specifies the problem, that is, the improper understanding many have of “wicked,” those wicked who will be punished. Most individuals usually conjure up someone outside of themselves, evil people who have done bad things causing pain and suffering. But the truth, Newman teaches, is much less dramatic than these obviously evil people. And the truth is frightening: the wicked in the world are those who live as though there is no Jesus Christ, not denying Him outright necessarily, but ignoring Him. Newman writes:

“The one peculiar and characteristic sin of the world is this, that whereas God would have us live for the life to come, the world would make us live for this life. This, I say, is the world’s sin; it lives for this life, not for the next. It takes, as the main scope of human exertion, an end which God forbids; and consequently all that it does becomes evil, because directed to a wrong end.”

This is a hard truth. People in the world, even the well meaning, see the world and believe that this world they see and live in is all there is. The life they live, day in and day out, even when they are striving to “do good,” they do not realize that this good they do must have the proper end. Newman explains:

“It is not that they profess to run counter to God’s Word, but they deny that He has said that they must live directly for the next world.” The problem of wickedness is in the people who live as though the good they do is enough, forgetful of their Creator and their place as His creatures. The process of unbelief has begun.

“ . . . This unbelief you see in a variety of shapes. For instance, many persons openly defend the aim at rising in the world, and speak in applause of an honourable ambition; as if the prizes of this world were from heaven . . . Others, again, consider that their duty lies simply in this,—in making money for their families. The soldier thinks that fighting for his King is his sufficient religion; and the statesman, even when he is most blameless, that serving his country is religion. God’s service, as such, as distinct from the service of this world, is in no sense recognized. Faith, hope, love, devotion, are mere names; some visible idol is taken as the substitute for God.”

And the result of this loss of understanding of our true end on earth, “to know, love, and serve God so that we live happily with Him in the next” is that it gradually moves from living forgetful of this end, to forgetfulness of religion and God all together. For if we live for this world only, and the world rewards us, what use do we need of other happiness? The tragedy of this way of living is indicated by surveys which show that the fastest growing religion in the world is actually no religion at all, the so-called “Nones.”

Because of this, it behooves us who would witness to this true meaning of our lives to allow God’s truth and love shine through us so that others might glorify God through us. As an Anglican, Newman gave great importance to the coronation of a Christian monarch to defend the faith. Yesterday, at the Coronation of King Charles III, millions around the world watched what was in essence, a Christian ritual, hearing, “Christ is Risen.” Would that all who heard or said these words so believed and lived according to this truth! 

Newman ends this challenging sermon with words of hope:

“Let us put off all excuses, all unfairness and insincerity, all trifling with our consciences, all self-deception, all delay of repentance. Let us be filled with one wish,—to please God; and if we have this, I say it confidently, we shall no longer be deceived by this world, however loud it speaks, and however plausibly it argues, as if God were with it, for we shall ‘have an unction from the Holy One,’ and shall ‘know all things.’”


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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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