God shines through his saints. If we think of ourselves as participants or “players” on God’s “team,” then saints are like the best players on the team, the pride of the owner and the coach. On October 13, 2019, Pope Francis will declare five as saints of the Catholic Church: Cardinal John Henry Newman, along with four women: Giuseppina Vannin, Mariam Thresia Mankidiyan, Irmã Dulce Pontes and Marguerite Bays. The first three were each founders of religious congregations and the last a Swiss seamstress. The pope, with a consistory of cardinals on July 1, 2019, set the date for the canonization.

This announcement is the official recognition of the holy lives of these five. For those who have studied and learned about John Henry Newman, it is an acknowledgment of what has already been recognized: that his life serves as an example of Christian holiness for men and women today. His canonization is the seal on his teaching as a part of the great tradition of the Church.

What is this holiness, without which no one will see God? (see Heb 12:14) Holiness is living as God’s children with complete dedication or earnestness, as Newman would say. The soon-to-be saint invites us to live with a deep faith in God who moves us to risk all that we have in his service. The parable of the rich young ruler is an example of how one may fail. The rich young man, though he had been bid by Christ himself to give up his all for the Lord, refused and, “went away sorrowful.” The young man “had not faith to make the venture of this world for the next, upon his word” (Ventures of Faith in Parochial and Plain Sermons).

Saints, then, give us real-life examples of the practice of faith, hope and love. God shows us through them what his will for us is in our earthly life: that we are pleasing in his sight (Eph 1). The saints are not figures of marble; they are real human beings with strengths and weaknesses, with victories and defeats, with feelings and desires. As St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote, ‘they fought and won, they fought and lost but they always got up.’

The coming canonization of these new saints is a powerful reminder that God still lives in his Church, that he does not abandon it, but rather continues to give new signs of holiness. When we see the bad behavior of many Christians, including Christian leaders, we can easily become discouraged. But we must always look to Christ, our hope! He is our champion and shepherd of souls (see 1 Pet 2:25). For this we thank and praise the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Church invites us to read the lives of the saints and their writings. To learn more about the life of Newman, the biography I wrote: Passion for Truth, the Life of John Henry Newman, is one place to start. There are also other biographies about the future saint. The Church wants us to learn from them, and also to seek their help before God. A good time to learn more about Newman is in preparation for his canonization.

The date providentially chosen for the canonization is October 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the anniversary of her last apparition to three shepherds and the people of Portugal. In that appearance the Virgin Mary taught her sons and daughters to pray the rosary and to offer sacrifices for their sins and those of the world. She warned of the repercussions for offending God who loves us so much. October 13 is also symbolically significant for John Henry Newman, who struggled in his youth to understand marian devotion, but eventually developed a strong love for Mary, Mother of God.

Mary, too, traveled on a pilgrimage of faith. She was the “first to believe” in her Son. She brings us before her Son, and teaches us how to live with faith. Newman compares faith to the risk a trader takes with his property on some real estate speculation, and has us ask a difficult question:

“Consider for an instant. Let every one who hears me ask himself the question, what stake has he in the truth of Christ’s promise? How would he be a whit worse off, supposing (which is impossible), but, supposing it to fail? We know what it is to have a stake in any venture of this world. We venture our property in plans which promise a return; in plans which we trust, in which we have faith. What have we ventured for Christ? What have we given to Him on a belief of his promise?”

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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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