20240502_105854
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Many Called, Few Chosen
Loading
/

Catholics pray an act of contrition during the Sacrament of Confession which states that the penitent is “heartily sorry” for having offended God … because God is “all good” and “deserving of all our love;” however, penitents also admit that they are sorry for their sins because of fear for “the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.” Each person who prays this prayer is admitting that hell is real, it is painful, and that the loss of heaven is a possibility. One who contemplates this cannot help but consider salvation and one’s own soul, remembering the many Biblical verses which warn that “wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,” and we should “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” but especially the passage which states that “many are called but few are chosen.” What are we to make of this? St. John Henry Newman does a masterful job of explaining this difficult concept in his sermon entitled, “Many Called, Few Chosen.”

After recalling the places in the Bible that refer to this “remnant” of the “chosen,” Newman teaches that dangerous misconceptions may arise from improper understanding of this teaching: He states:

“Now, first . . . . because the elect are few, serious men have considered that this took place in consequence of some fixed decree of God. They have thought that they were few, because it was God’s will that they should not be many. Now it is doubtless a great mystery, why this man receives the truth and practises it, and that man does not. We do not know how it comes to pass; but surely we do not tend to solve it, by saying God has so decreed it.” On the contrary, continues Newman, “we are solemnly assured in Scripture that God ‘hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked;’ that He is ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [Ezek. xxxiii. 11. 2 Pet. iii. 9.] 

This teaching regarding the few should not lead us to a mistaken notion of God because He is a most loving Father. Newman does not explain this difficult reference to the fact that few are chosen nor does he quote another passage of St. Paul in which the Apostle teaches that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tm  2:3-4). Newman wishes to point out that if some or many are not saved, it is man’s doing, not God’s will. In other words, the invitation of the gospel message is to all people. God’s offer is extended to everyone, and the call to faith in Christ is universal. 

The second error comes, according to St. John Henry, from those who hold the idea of predestination, that one can know absolutely that he is one of the few, one of the chosen. This danger is great because it leads men to a sort of false sense of security. Men often use this pretext to indulge in sinful behavior, ignoring St. Paul’s warning of not using freedom to do evil. 

The solution to this, teaches Newman, is to remember that St. Paul “speaks as if the Christian course were a race . . . [when he declared] ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.’  . . .[Therefore even St. Paul was far] from security and self-satisfaction, though he, if anyone, would have had a right to feel easy about his state. And the exhortation he gives his brethren is, ‘So run, that ye may obtain.’” 

The last danger which Newman recognizes is regarding those who misinterpret this Biblical text and become isolated and extreme in their opinions of what is right and wrong and what one must do to be saved. Because if “true Christians are few [this] leads men to isolate themselves in their own opinions, to withdraw from the multitude, to adopt new and extravagant views, and to be singular in their conduct, as if what the many held and did could not be right.”  These people risk the danger of becoming judgmental, deciding for themselves who is or who isn’t saved. They often put forward their own standards of right and wrong. 

So what are we to believe? How should we consider this notion of the few and the many and salvation? Newman responds that we must look to the saints who have gone before, whose outward way of life showed forth their inner desire to please God. They have been made our teachers and sure guides. They have withstood the ridicule of the false prophets of their times.   

Though the invitation is open to all, not everyone responds to it in faith. Those who accept the call, embrace Christ, and live according to His teachings; they are the chosen ones. They are selected by their faith and obedience to God’s will, like the many saints of the Catholic Church. In the parable of the wedding feast, the guest without the proper garment symbolizes those who claim to accept the invitation but do not live a life in accordance with God’s commandments. The wedding garment represents the righteousness and holiness that should accompany true faith. We have teaching and the guidance of the one Holy Catholic Church, our Mother, so, “let us pray God to make [this faith] live in us; so that at the Last Day, when all veils are removed, we may be found among those who are inwardly what they seem outwardly.” 

In this race to reach the goal, God often grants us his graces through the intercession of the saints. We should invoke often our favorite saints and our guardian angel. St. John Henry Newman would pray to his patron saint, St. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory, and to his guardian angel. He would also ask the help of the Virgin Mary. For us the month of May provides us with a daily reminder of her motherly help, now and at the hour of our death.  

 

Like this article?

There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.

Leave a comment

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."

Our Books

About Cardinal John Henry Newman

Purchase Book


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)

Purchase Book

 
Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.
 

Purchase Book


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.  

Purchase Book


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.

Purchase Book


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.

Purchase Book


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.
Sermon Blog
David Warren

Newman, Education and Sport

There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

Read More »
Sermon Blog
David Warren

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity

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.”

Read More »
About Newman
Fr. Juan Velez

The Eucharistic Presence

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

Read More »