Date: 1928Place: Description: HM carving at 3 Grove Studios, HammersmithScan with biog_1928_0000062Photographer:

The sense that contemporary education must be reformed is pervasive. But reform is often misconstrued as unfettered change. John Henry Newman shows us, in his first Discourse, titled “Introductory,” in The Idea of a University, that true educational reform means paying close attention to what forms students. The word educare itself means “to draw out of,” and reform means to re-shape, restoring to an original likeness or quality. Thus, education is like the art of sculpting, seeing the true shape of a sculpture beneath the inert marble, and bringing it to life by chipping pieces away. Education is an art reflective of the needs of particular places, times, and peoples, aimed at leading them to the fullest truth of their existence, the fulfillment of human potential. Newman lays out, in section 3 of Discourse 1, a simple assertion, albeit with much explanation to clear up confusion and rebuttal: sound philosophy of education is based in “common sense.” In other words, the principles dictating excellent education are sensible, discernable, and accessible to human reason in a natural state–they are common to humanity by virtue of reason, or the natural law. Newman says these principles arise “almost from the nature of the case.”

While the Holy Spirit’s divine revelation through the Scriptures and the Church guides the faithful into all truth (John 16:13), the concept of a University, the pursuit of knowledge with excellence, and the meaning of education are not foreign to those outside the Church’s fold. Newman says he will base his arguments “simply on the grounds of human reason and wisdom,” using the best methods, practices, and theories found in the human sphere to piece together something uniquely Catholic. Therefore, Newman wants an “abstract” starting point, without direct appeal to history or Divine Revelation. These will come into play; however, Newman wants to start with the principle that, in a certain sense, excellent education is a fundamental good accessible to reason and natural virtue: to” common sense.”

In contrast to opposition he has experienced, he wants to show the practicality of his methods and aims. He clarifies that he is concerned with questions “ … not simply of immutable truth, but of practice and expedience.” The complexity of starting a University, however religious it might be, has no abstract solution, but must be engaged based on the necessities of place, time, and peoples. He even says that “the system of what is called secular Education may, in a particular place or time, be the least of evils.” For instance, Newman cites the early years of the Church, when Catholic children attended “heathen schools for the acquisition of secular accomplishments.” This is not at all to mitigate in any way the lofty ideal of a fully Christianized society or University, but is merely to assert, with historical warrant, that Catholics must make the best of the time and available resources. Good educators must know the particular texture of the culture and peoples they aim to educate.

So, Newman’s central point remains: “ … the principles on which I would conduct the inquiry are attainable by the mere experience of life … they are dictated even by human prudence and wisdom, though a divine illumination be absent, and they are recognized by common sense.” This assertion should refresh and comfort us, not disturb us, because it confirms an essential and too-neglected fact: good education is based in principles not primarily derived from wealthy bureaucracy, professional degrees, or powerful rhetoric. Good education is a highly familial, local, and particular phenomenon. Sound human formation—intellectual and otherwise—implies principles that are open to everybody, and are not determined by top-down governmental, bureaucratic, or administrative authorities, as important as these authorities might be for administering and securing the space, time, and possibility for education to occur. Principles of a sound Liberal Education, in Newman’s thought, may be held by anybody, Protestant, Catholic, or otherwise. However, as we will see in the next post, Newman admits that the  fullest assistance to human endeavors, such as that of excellence in education, derive from the grace of Divine Revelation. Through the Holy Scriptures and the teaching Magisterium of the Church, it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, miraculously keeping St. Peter’s barque from error as she traverses down the floods of time (John 16:13).

 

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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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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