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Have you prayed for the in this Season of Allhallowtide? This season consists of three days: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. November 2 is All Souls’ Day, or the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, the souls of Christians who have died. It follows All Saints’ Day, which follows All Hallows’ Eve.  In the Catholic Church, “the faithful” refers specifically to the baptized; “all souls” commemorates the church penitent, those souls in Purgatory – whereas “all saints” commemorates the church triumphant, those saints in Heaven. Those of us still on earth, the church militant, are given this important work of mercy to pray for “the poor souls,” since after death, the soul cannot pray for itself, and especially as there are many souls who have no one to pray for them.

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote an uplifting poem about this beautiful doctrine of purgatory, which teaches as it delights. By the name itself, The Golden Prison, Newman lets us know his feelings about purgatory as something of great worth.  The poem, composed during Newman’s years at the Oratory, was written to be a hymn. As is the case with his other hymn-poems, the meaning is straightforward and the meter regular. The hymn meter for this poem is, referred to as common meter. The numbers refer to the syllables in the lines: the first line has eight, the second six, and so on. Many well-known hymn tunes are written for common meter. One tune in particular that matches this hymn-poem well is “Martyrdom” by Hugh Wilson (link below)


The Golden Prison

WEEP not for me, when I am gone,

Nor spend thy faithful breath

In grieving o’er the spot or hour

Of all-enshrouding death;

Nor waste in idle praise thy love

On deeds of head or hand,

Which live within the living Book,

Or else are writ in sand;

But let it be thy best of prayers,

That I may find the grace

To reach the holy house of toll,

The frontier penance-place,—

To reach that golden palace bright,

Where souls elect abide,

Waiting their certain call to Heaven,

With Angels at their side;

Where hate, nor pride, nor fear torments

The transitory guest,

But in the willing agony

He plunges, and is blest.

And as the fainting patriarch gain’d

His needful halt mid-way,

And then refresh’d pursued his path,

Where up the mount it lay,

So pray, that, rescued from the storm

Of heaven’s eternal ire,

I may lie down, then rise again,

Safe, and yet saved by fire. (The Oratory 1853)


           In this poem, Newman reminds us that purgatory is to be a temporary place, where souls bear “willing agony” in order to be cleansed and purified before ascending to heaven. It is a place not to be feared but to be desired, and all the while, our guardian angel will be by our side.  Newman composed this verse as a Catholic, having resolved the difficulties he saw in the Roman Catholic teaching. Purgatory, he came to believe, involves a necessary purification; it is a “holy house of toll,” but he compares it to “a golden palace bright.” As he would write in his famous poem The Dream of Gerontius: “the fire that purifies transforms the soul: the flame of the Everlasting Love Doth burn ere it transform …” The soul obtains forgiveness for the temporal faults forgiven in the sacrament of Confession but not fully expiated before death.

For this reason,  Newman requests in the first line that he not be wept for after he dies. Because of this, The Golden Prison was read at his anniversary masses, before he was declared blessed.  The lines of this poem were as though Blessed Newman himself was leaving instructions on how he wished to be prayed for. Now, instead, we can request his prayers. Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Beyond the triduum of Allhallowtide – throughout the month of November- the Church invites us to pray for the deceased. Let us offer Masses for them, in addition to many small sacrifices for all the faithful departed who even now are being purged in that saving fire.



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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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