Nicodemus with Christ

To use a musical metaphor, Christmas and Easter are celebrated in the chorus of Lent. Saint John Henry Newman notes that all of these seasons celebrate “two great sacraments”. For him, Jesus’ birth makes us appreciate our baptismal call to be missionary disciples who recognize that “to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Saint John Henry was very familiar with the Carol O little Town of Bethlehem which invites Christ “to cast out our sin and enter in-be born in us today.” Newman taught that Lent offers an opportunity to grow in this desire- as we respond to the spiritual themes of conversion, reconciliation and adoration. We
are challenged to become living Gospels through prayer, penance, holy communion and the gift of our time, talent and treasure, to  those in need.

Saint John Henry believed that the Easter light of Christ’s risen presence, in every Mass, shines through us to those we meet – if we are willing to faithfully reflect its rays through goodness:

The more numerous are our acts of charity, self-denial, forbearance, of course, the more
will our minds be schooled into a charitable, self-denying temper. The more frequent our
prayers, the more humble, patient and religious are our daily deeds, this communion
with God, these holy works, will be the means of making our hearts holy, and of
preparing us for the future presence of God. Outward acts done on principle, create
inward habits. I repeat, the separate acts of obedience to the will of God, good works as
they are called, are of service to us gradually severing us from the world of sense, and
impressing our hearts with a heavenly character. (Parochial and Plain Sermons I, I).

Saint John Henry is insightful in his approach to Lent. Penances must be carried out in a spirit of love – rather than a gloomy face and complaining look. He advises us to set challenging, but achievable, targets. If we fail to do this, we will become downhearted and, eventually, be led into the temptation of giving up on our chosen aims to honour Christ at this time of year. As Newman says:

It is by going on quietly and steadily, with the thought of Him in our mind’s eye, that by
little and little we shall gain something of the warmth, light, life and love. We shall not
perceive ourselves changing. It will be like the unfolding of the leaves in spring. You do
not see them grow; you cannot, by watching, detect it…so it is with our souls; not indeed
every morning, but at certain periods we are able to see that we are more alive and
religious than we were, though during the interval we were not conscious that we are
advancing. (Parochial and Plain Sermons VI, 4).

Let us ask Saint John Henry Newman to pray with, and for us, this Lent and Easter. May we grow in the grace of what it means to live like Jesus each day.

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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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