Sacristy crucifix, Torreblanca

In the sermon titled “Intercession,” St. John Henry Newman reminds  Christians of their privilege and duty to intercede before God on behalf of others.

Yet he points out that … “(…)our first prayers ever must be for ourselves. Our own salvation is our personal concern; till we labour to secure it, till we try to live religiously, and pray to be enabled to do so, nay, and have made progress, it is but hypocrisy, or at best it is overbold, to busy ourselves with others.” Newman explains that this does not mean that prayer for others must always come after praying for oneself; on the contrary. He explains that in order to pray for others more effectively, we, who may be in an habitual and deliberate state of sin, must pray for ourselves in order to pray for others. It would be incongruous and unlikely to pray well otherwise. 

This is corroborated by scripture: St. James says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Likewise, St. John says, “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” [James v. 16. 1 John iii. 22.]

This is the teaching of Our Lord. Jesus promises us that if we abide in Him, what we ask of the Father will be done for us — the condition for this being our “obedience, mature, habitual, lifelong holiness.” Through our friendship with Christ we have, so to speak, “power” over Him. Newman reminds us of examples of intercessory prayer in the lives of Elijah and Moses, and refers to the mediatorial prayer of Jeremiah, Moses and Samuel. 

In particular, Newman writes of Abraham’s faith as a condition for an answer to his prayers. He wishes to set before us that faith is the foundation for a person to practice intercession for others:

“Abraham is our spiritual father; and as he is, so are his children. In us, as in him, faith must be the foundation of all that is acceptable with God. ‘”By faith we stand,”’ by faith we are justified, by faith we obey, by faith our works are sanctified. Faith applies to us again and again the grace of our Baptism; faith opens upon us the virtue of all other ordinances of the Gospel—of the Holy Communion, which is the highest. By faith we prevail ‘”in the hour of death and in the day of judgment.’”

 Above and beyond Abraham and the patriarchs, our model for intercession is Christ Himself. Newman explains: “Christ died to give us a share in his divine life: ‘“He died to renew him after His own image, to make him a being He might delight and rejoice in,’ to make him ‘”partaker of the divine nature,’” to fill him within and without with a flood of grace and glory.’” And He bestows on us the privilege of intercession which makes us resemble Him. A century later, in this same line, St. Josemaría Escrivá would say that the Christian is called to be another Christ, Christ Himself.

 Regenerated by Baptism and receiving grace through the sacraments we grow in the likeness of Christ. “[The Christian] is made after the pattern and in the fulness of Christ—he is what Christ is. Christ intercedes above, and he intercedes below.” Rather than ask ourselves if we are holy enough to intercede for others we should concern ourselves with exercising the gift of intercession and becoming worthy of this gift. 

Newman argues that much depends on our generosity to pray for others, the results of which we shall not know in this life. We cannot complain of national or personal difficulties if we have not done our part in prayer. In Romans chapter 12, we are encouraged to love one another with brotherly affection, and this includes prayer. Prayer needs not a special building or a certain time, but can be done throughout each day, even from a sickbed or a crowded grocery store aisle.

 As so many individuals and families face the suffering and death of loved ones, our faith in God’s power and attention to our prayers can be tested.

We may ask ourselves, “How might God’s answer to our prayers for the end of the Covid-19 pandemic materialize?” The answer may come in some miraculous manner, but most likely it will be through the untiring work of healthcare professionals and researchers — including development to new treatments and vaccines — and the charity of many persons with the help of our prayers.

 But how much are we praying? And are we praying to God with faith? It is hard when church buildings are closed and we cannot attend Mass, but we believe that we can really unite ourselves to Jesus in the Mass that priests are offering. He who is our Mediator offers himself to the Father for the world. We can watch the Mass online each day and make a good spiritual communion praying for our world and especially those who are suffering most.

 

 

 

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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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