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In the last post on Idea of a University, Discourse 3, we saw an important principle in Newman’s philosophy of education: all diverse knowledge forms one whole. God and his creation, the visible and the invisible, physics and metaphysics, mathematics and poetry, are all connected. Therefore, theology does not only bear upon other branches of knowledge by necessity, but is the essential connection between them. These are statements of fact and reality, not idealism or speculation. 

Newman says that “knowledge is power;” not brute animal force, but intellectual apprehension. To be a fully formed human being is to know in order to act—to be in tune with reality through rational awareness in order to know how to effectively behave in that reality. I can use a hammer appropriately in reality—to hammer nails-—if I know what it is. If I try to use a hammer otherwise—say, for trimming fingernails–I have faulty knowledge about the hammer. But a Supreme Being, God, is supremely important to know about, because he relates to everything in reality, especially our selves, as Creator. If God exists, and man does not know this God, then he will fail to act in accord with reality, and his power will be severely limited. But why is this relevant to education? Newman thinks, for two reasons. First, it means that monotheism (and, Newman would add, the whole of God’s Revelation and Christ’s teachings entrusted to the Catholic Church), is a plausible and reasonable object of scientific knowledge; in other words, learning about God in school is appropriate and essential. Second, to deny the first reason–to leave objective inquiry about God out of schools–is not just a random avenue in private or cultural opinion, but is a fundamental error in knowledge of a fundamental reality. Schools exist to teach students about reality that they might act in reality. Knowledge about God is fundamental to knowing anything else. God is supremely real. Therefore, to fail to teach about God—a widely accepted trend—leads to a demise in the ability of the student, and eventually a whole society, to know, act, and participate in reality.

Today’s Western culture is in an advanced stage of a cancerous toxin Newman identified over a century and a half ago. Newman sought to redeem theology from the whimsical winds of private judgment and subjective interpretation, which would lead, and has led, to removing true theology from schools entirely. Studying God, by definition, is objective; either God exists or he does not; God has either spoken, or he is utterly mute and dumb. Newman concludes Discourse 3 with an important challenge: a “positive denial” of the truth of monotheism is the only true option besides upholding theology as an objective science. Relativism cannot broach theology, even on its own terms. A strict repudiation, a philosophical and scientific proof against the reality of an intelligent Creator and supreme monotheistic being, should be required to dethrone theology from her historic seat as the “queen of the sciences.” And even if this could be done, history would not be on the side of the detractors. Newman asks about the objective truth of monotheism: “When was the world without it? Have the systems of Atheism or Pantheism, as sciences, prevailed in the literature of nations, or received a formation or attained a completeness such as Monotheism? We find it in old Greece, and even in Rome, as well as in Judea and the East. We find it in popular literature, in philosophy, in poetry, as positive and settled teaching.” Newman would not be surprised to have seen in the course of the 20th century that Atheism and Pantheism do not prevail as systems of settled truth, but grow and squirm like tumors into the brute tyrannies of autocrats like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. 

Newman makes it abundantly clear: “ … to withdraw theology from the public schools is to impair the completeness and to invalidate the trustworthiness of all that is actually taught in them.” Without theology our children are not prepared for reality, our society filled with misguided, lost, and hurting people. To learn, on the other hand, that one can objectively rest one’s mind and being on the settled truth of a benevolent God who is love and who guides history, is to learn that “Religious truth is not only a portion, but a condition of general knowledge … To blot it out is nothing short … of unravelling the web of University teaching.” Without theology, our schools are like mere rhetoricians with no substance, our teachers are like words with no meaning, and students like dramas with no central plot. Without theology, the web of our hearts, minds, and relationships unravel and we become, in C.S. Lewis’ phrase, “men without chests.”

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For forty days we are in ‘spiritual circuit training’, with the goal of joining St Peter on his morning run to Christ’s tomb.

But our Lord is clear: He said “to all” that “if any” man, and in doing so both offers Himself to every man and leaves no room for half-hearted disciples.

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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.

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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.

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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.
Fr. Peter Conley

For forty days we are in ‘spiritual circuit training’, with the goal of joining St Peter on his morning run to Christ’s tomb.

David Warren

But our Lord is clear: He said “to all” that “if any” man, and in doing so both offers Himself to every man and leaves no room for half-hearted disciples.

Robert Kirkendall

Newman encourages us to be more of what we are: courageous Christians who do all we can, to our utmost, for His Kingdom.

Prof. Barb H. Wyman

In this ingenious poem, “Candlemas,” Saint John Henry Newman weaves together the entire liturgical year using the theme of light as the thread

Scott Goins

Newman approached his teaching from an obviously Christian anthropology. He saw every young person from the start as a being in the image of God.

David Warren

Do we treat time, which is always slipping through our hands, as the precious resource it is?

Fr. Peter Conley

Dominic abundantly shared with John Henry the gifts inspired by the Saints he admired, who are recorded in his spiritual journal.

Robert Kirkendall

The contemplation of Him, and nothing but it, is able fully to open and relieve the mind, to unlock, occupy, and fix our affections.

Fr. Juan Velez

Merry Christmas to all! In the following video from Colombia, I send you a warm greetings for Christmas. May God richly bless you and your families, and may St. John Henry Newman continue to be a source of inspiration for