Palm Sunday
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Jesus, the Author and Finisher of Faith
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(From Stpaulslutheran.net)

Christians throughout the world on Palm Sunday  participate in the reading of the Passion; this year, Cycle C, is from the Gospel of St. Luke. This is a moving tradition in which we, the congregation, proclaim, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” No matter how many times we may have done this, each time those words bring sorrow and perhaps tears, with the realization of our own sinful nature and of how the world lives as though Christ does not exist.  We return home and look about us at this glorious world which He has created for us, and we try to make sense of how it is that so many lack eyes of faith.

In his sermon “The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World,” St. John Henry Newman observes, “A great number of men live and die without reflecting at all upon the state of things in which they find themselves. They take things as they come, and follow their inclinations as far as they have the opportunity. They are guided mainly by pleasure and pain, not by reason, principle, or conscience; and they do not attempt to interpret this world, to determine what it means, or to reduce what they see and feel to system.” 

In other words, many people have no idea how to interpret the world or what their purpose in it might be. Furthermore, some never even think about the topic at all. How do we consider these people among whom we live and work, who seem to have no interest at all in Our Crucified Lord? Those multitudes who enjoy successful lives, without thinking of what their lives mean “sub specie aeternitatis”  that is, from the standpoint of eternity. And then there are others who are openly hostile to belief in Christ. Reflecting on this in “Jesus the Author and Finisher of Faith” one of his “Twelve  Meditations and Intercessions for Good Friday,”  Newman invites us to pray: 

“Let us pray for all the scorners, scoffers, and unbelievers, all false teachers and opposers of the truth, who are to be found in this land. O Lord Jesus Christ, upon the Cross Thou didst say: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And this surely, O my God, is the condition of vast multitudes among us now; they know not what they might have known, or they have forgotten what once they knew. They deny that there is a God, but they know not what they are doing. They laugh at the joys of heaven and the pains of hell, but they know not what they are doing. They renounce all faith in Thee, the Saviour of man, they despise Thy Word and Sacraments, they revile and slander Thy Holy Church and her Priests, but they know not what they are doing.”

In Newman’s time and more so in the current age, agnosticism and atheism have increased. Newman refuted the errors of those who held such positions, but with understanding and respect for those who acted in good conscience or had doubts of faith. 

In his Oxford sermons, the future saint explained that faith is an act of reason, but reason enlightened by grace. This act of reason is thus supernatural, that is, it goes beyond the power of reason alone. And it requires the right disposition, namely the humility or openness to believe. He taught that faith in God is perfected by love because it inclines us to see reality as it is, rather than in the way distorted by our ego.

In the same meditation for Good Friday, Newman continues with a prayer:  “O Lord, we urge Thee by Thy own dear words, ‘Lord and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Teach them now, open their eyes here, before the future comes; give them faith in what they must see hereafter, if they will not believe in it here. Give them full and saving faith here; destroy their dreadful delusions, and give them to drink of that living water, which whoso hath shall not thirst again.”

This is a powerful aid St. John Henry has suggested to us when we are tempted to sadness over family members or colleagues or neighbors who have so little interest in the author and creator of the universe. We can say this prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And then we can strive through Him to be that salt and light which might help to open their eyes, so that they too one day will claim Him as their own. Bolstered by the sacraments, we can be Christ Passing By, never letting our sorrow rob us of the cheerfulness that marks us as Christ’s own. 

 

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Newman lays down a firm rule in the light of life's abundant blessings: the Christian is not allowed to be gloomy.

Newman wrote, “I have been accustomed to consider the action of the creator on and in the created universe, as parallel in a certain sense to that of the soul upon the body.”

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We need to remember our mortality, so that we may be ready to meet Our Lord each and every day. Lent and lenten mortifications have a role in this preparation. We must die to self daily, so that we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection. 

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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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