Alcuin

John Henry Newman seeks, in his first Idea of a University discourse, an appeal to common sense. This is in part to defend against what he found to be a common objection, that Catholic education is religiously exclusive. However, in Discourse 1, he concludes with a lengthy reflection on the absolute necessity, historical fact, and ultimate triumph of the Roman Catholic Church. Since the fullness of Divine Revelation is entrusted to the Church, she performs in the world an oracular office, guiding the faithful, and all humans, into the fullness of truth, of which she is the “pillar and bulwark” (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15). He makes this abundantly clear: “Ecclesiastical authority, not argument, is the supreme rule and the appropriate guide for Catholics in matters of religion.” Therefore, any sound education system that strives for Catholicity, as his does, will ultimately need to seek guidance from the Church if it hopes to steer its course aright. In the highest sense, Newman conceives of a Catholic University as employing secular means toward a sacred end: cultivating the seeds of faith into a civilization founded on truth. In this sense, the University is within the stream of the Church’s Apostolic mission, although it may employ methods and practices derived from the surrounding cultural landscape.

 

Newman responds to fears of religious exclusivity on the one hand, and on the other fears that a Catholic University that appealed to secular principles and reason would be “chimerical.” He insists that Catholicity is the fundamental principle, under whose purview is the fullness of truth as dictated conjointly by Reason and Revelation. Hence, Newman asserts both the intellectual freedom of the University, and its dependence on the Divine Revelation entrusted to the Church. Given the specific challenges of time and place, the University is in the world, as it devotes to perfecting human knowledge and reason, but not of the world, as it is truly Catholic, truly submissive to the aegis and prerogatives of the Vicar of Christ, the See of St. Peter, whose guidance of the faithful is definitive and heavenly, not prevailed upon by the gates of hell (cf. Mt. 16:17-19).

 

Then, without qualification, Newman reminds that St. Peter, speaking through the Holy See, “… for eighteen hundred years has lived in the world… seen all fortunes… encountered all adversaries… shaped himself for all emergencies.” And he clarifies that formulations of the spiritual authority of the “Chair of the Apostles, the Vicar of Christ, and the Doctor of [Christ’s] Church” are not “words of rhetoric… but of history.” As a simple matter of historical fact, all those “… who take part with the Apostle, are on the winning side.”

 

Therefore, the Church does not shy away from matters of expedience and practicality when attempting to root Catholicity in a given culture. Newman locates his own project in Ireland within the entire Apostolic history of the Church’s mission, recounting a hall of fame of zealous saints on a mission to the ancient Celts and Saxons. Catholic university education is within the same stream of Apostolic mission that brought the Church from the ancient evangelization of Sts. Patrick, Wilfrid, and Cuthbert to the high medieval cultivation of learning and rule in Alcuin and Charlemagne. Newman sees himself on the same mission, in which “ … the See of Peter [gives] first faith, then civilization,” binding “ … them together in one by the seal of a joint commission to convert and illuminate in their turn the pagan continent.”  The Church aims to educate the nations in the fullness of truth–to give them first faith, then civilization. The Church’s … “zeal, charity, mission, [and] gifts … ” are always the same. All nations share in “ … the joint work of teaching … ” given by the Church,  and this mission continues into the present and future, when “ … we shall become one again, while we zealously and lovingly fulfill [her mission].” Behind all human education is a greater Divine Education. God gives to the Body of his Son, the Church, the mission to beckon, cultivate, and teach all nations His truth. In Him they realize in themselves the fullness of charity, the image of Christ, by the power of our supreme Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Newman leaves no doubt, in Discourse 1, that this fundamental reality undergirds his search for sound principles and practices with which to found and sustain his University.

 

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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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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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