When St. John Henry Newman was a young man, his father died. Looking at his father’s corpse brought home to Newman the reality of the soul. In the sermon, ”The Individuality of the Soul,” Newman reflects on this truth which strikes a person perhaps for the first time on encountering the remains of a loved one. He writes:

“In the case of all men, the soul, when severed from the body, returns to God. God gave it: He made it, He sent it into the body, and He upholds it there; He upholds it in distinct existence, wherever it is. It animates the body while life lasts; it returns again, it relapses into the unseen state upon death.”

The human soul is individual; it is the soul of a unique living being. As Newman writes, we fail to grasp this: “We class men in masses, as we might connect the stones of a building. Consider our common way of regarding history, politics, commerce, and the like, and you will own that I speak truly.”

We think of individuals as parts of a group, but each one is a separate immortal being. Each person is unrepeatable and responsible for himself. St. John Henry writes:

“No one outside of him can really touch him, can touch his soul, his immortality; he must live with himself for ever. He has a depth within him unfathomable, an infinite abyss of existence; and the scene in which he bears part for the moment is but like a gleam of sunshine upon its surface.”

Newman considers the immortality of each soul. “Every one of those souls still lives. They had their separate thoughts and feelings when on earth, they have them now. They had their likings and pursuits; they gained what they thought good and enjoyed it; and they still somewhere or other live, and what they then did in the flesh surely has its influence upon their present destiny. They live, reserved for a day which is to come, when all nations shall stand before God.” In other words, each human being will come before his Maker at the end of his life and will have to account for his life.

Since the soul is spiritual or nonmaterial, it does not have parts, and thus does not sustain damage like material things and cease to exist. Newman affirms the Christian belief that the souls of the departed live on, and will be judged:

“Let us call to mind those whom we knew a little better, though not intimately:—all who died suddenly or before their time, all whom we have seen in high health and spirits, all whom we have seen in circumstances which in any way brought out their characters, and gave them some place in our memories. They are gone from our sight, but they all live still, each with his own thoughts; they are waiting for the judgment.”

Newman teaches that the individual souls of the departed are either in a state of favor (grace) or enmity with God (wrath), and he adduces various texts of Scripture in support of this doctrine, such as in Jesus’ words: “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

He comments: “What makes this thought still more solemn, is that we have reason to suppose that souls on the wrong side of the line are far more numerous than those on the right. It is wrong to speculate; but it is safe to be alarmed. This much we know, that Christ says expressly, ‘Many are called, few are chosen;’ “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;” whereas “narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be who find it.”” 

In this month during which the Church invites us to pray more for the souls of the faithful departed, the thought of personal judgment at the moment of death should move us to greater earnestness in the struggle to obey God’s commands and to live as His children. Belief in a personal and final judgment also leads us to more generosity in praying for those who die in a state of grace but are in need of purification to behold the face of God. 

St. John Henry Newman elaborates on this purification, purgatory, in his most famous poem, “The Dream of Gerontius” He, having lived a long life and experiencing the deaths of so many of his family and close friends, is a trusted guide to teach us about the “last things.” St. John Henry Newman, pray for us! 




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

We call His presence in this Holy Sacrament a spiritual presence, not as if ‘spiritual’ were but a name or mode of speech.

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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
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Review by Serenheed James
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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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