IMG_0162Yesterday, June 26, was a momentous and sad day for our nation: the highest court “legislated” that states within the United States cannot ban same-sex marriages. This is an attack on natural law as well as on the democratic process. How this will affect society we can only imagine. One dissenter, Justice Samuel Alito, wrote: “The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women.”

Justice Alito noted: “At present, no one—including social scientists, philosophers, and historians—can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be. And judges are certainly not equipped to make such an assessment.” He argued that for millenia Marriage has been linked to procreation, the only thing that an opposite sex couple can do. States have formalized and promoted this institution because it is the one that provides the best atmosphere for raising children.

Christians can draw inspiration from the first Christians: their teaching on marriage and their readiness to forfeit their lives to uphold morals. St. John the Baptist was beheaded under the instigation of Herodias for criticizing the adultery of Herod. A few centuries later, the Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, was exiled for denouncing Empress Eudoxia, wife of Emperor Arcadius, for her extravagances in dress and comportment, in particular for having a silver statue of herself erected on a high porphyry column and its accompanying semi-pagan dedication. Eudoxia was allied to Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who wished to have control over the See of Constantinople.

The next few posts will be on St. John Chrysostom. Newman liked the saints of the third and fourth centuries because “they have given us their own histories, their thoughts, words, and actions, in a number of goodly folios, productions which are in themselves some of their meritorious works.” He was not satisfied with biographies of modern saints. Biographers often ascribe motives to their actions: “I want to trace and study what is the real, hidden but human, life, or the interior.” In their letters, which are of many different types such as commentaries on Scripture, replies to questions, counsels to writers, controversy with others, etc., the early Church Fathers tell us their thoughts, concerns and struggles. “St. Chrysostom’s (letters) are for the most part crowded into the three memorable years in which the sufferings of exile gradually ripened into a virtual martyrdom.”

The Oratorian did not like the work of spiritual writers who present the life of a saint arranged by virtues but fail to paint a picture of the whole person including his struggles and victories.[1]

Newman noted that saints have similar virtues, but often stand out for one virtue or another: “Saints, as other men, differ from each other in this, that the multitude of qualities which they have in common are differently combined in each of them. This forms one great part of their personality. One Saint is remarkable for fortitude; not that he has not other heroic virtues by concomitance, as it may be called, but by virtue of that one gift in particular he has won his crown.”

St. John (349-407), known for his holiness and eloquence, was called Chrysostom (“mouth of gold”). When he approached the age of sixty, after having been a great preacher for close to twenty years, first at Antioch and later at Constantinople, was exiled from the latter.

“He had made an Empress his enemy, more powerful than Antipater,—as passionate, if not so vindictive, as Fulvia. Nor was this all; a zealous Christian preacher offends not individuals merely, but classes of men, and much more so when he is pastor and ruler too, and has to punish as well as to denounce. Eudoxia, the Empress, might be taken off suddenly,—as indeed she was taken off a few weeks after the Saint arrived at the place of exile, which she personally, in spite of his entreaties, had marked out for him;—but her death did but serve to increase the violence of the persecution directed against him.”

In successive posts we will recount Newman’s description of the character, suffering and endurance of the Archbishop of Constantinople, punished for upholding Christian morality, and due to envy for his spiritual authority. This story of envy and intolerance is repeated throughout history. In particular, in our contemporary Western society which is intolerant of any teaching on sexual morality and marriage that differs from it, and will not stop short of punishing such dissent.

In later centuries other men have died for their belief in the Church’s teaching on these matters. Saints John Fisher and Thomas More were executed by King Henry VIII when they refused to take an oath recognizing him as Head of the Church of England, all on account of his desire to divorce his lawful wife. The king would not accept their refusal to condone his immoral behavior. They paid with their lives. In every age Christians will face persecution for their beliefs. These saints like St. John Chrysostom invite us to stand firm before an unbelieving and intolerant world.





[1] Newman, in particular, disliked hagiographical work: “Facts are omitted in great histories, or glosses are put upon memorable acts, because they are thought not edifying, whereas of all scandals such omissions, such glosses, are the greatest.”

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The world which sees only appearances cannot comprehend the hidden reality of a heart captive to Christ. 

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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
(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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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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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.

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John Henry Newman calls the Holy Mass the Gospel Feast and takes us through numerous biblical passages that prefigure this great Sacrament.

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