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In the month of May, dedicated to special devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, we can learn a great deal from the saints’ love for her as shown in their writings. In one poem, St. John Henry Newman called her the Pilgrim Queen, ‘coming to rescue her home and her reign.’

Newman, even when he was an Anglican, showed veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In particular he considered the writings of early Church Fathers who called Mary the New Eve, the one who untied the knot tied by the first Eve.

After he became Catholic, Newman reflected on the many titles given to Mary, with regard to  the special meaning of each. In one meditation Newman brings out how the title Mother of Christ places us before all the hope and expectation the Jewish people had in the coming of a messiah.

“Our Lord was called the Christ, or the Messias, by the Jewish prophets and the Jewish people. The two words Christ and Messias mean the same. They mean in English the ’Anointed.’ In the old time there were three great ministries or offices by means of which God spoke to His chosen people, the Israelites, or, as they were afterward called, the Jews, viz., that of Priest, that of King, and that of Prophet. Those who were chosen by God for one or other of these offices were solemnly anointed with oil—oil signifying the grace of God, which was given to them for the due performance of their high duties.” Jesus fulfilled all three roles; he is the “one true Christ.”

St. John Henry Newman suggests that with this expectation in mind, the Jews must have asked Who was to be His mother? It had been foretold after the fall that the messiah would be the seed of the woman; he would bruise the serpent’s head. Later it was further prophesied that the Christ would be born of one particular tribe and from a virgin.

Newman notes: “From that time every woman of that tribe hoped to have the great privilege of herself being the Mother of the Messias, or Christ; for it stood to reason, since He was so great, the Mother must be great, and good, and blessed too. Hence it was, among other reasons, that they thought so highly of the marriage state, because, not knowing the mystery of the miraculous conception of the Christ when He was actually to come, they thought that the marriage rite was the ordinance necessary for His coming.”

We are brought here to consider how for the Jews, the desire for marriage was not only an important natural inclination and need for society, it held the hope of being the mother of the messiah. Although paling in comparison, we might compare it to a mother wishing to be the mother of the next president. Next, Newman writes that although Mary knew of this promise, she was too humble to even imagine becoming the Mother of the Savior. She desired to serve God as a virgin, so that she was surprised by the Angel Gabriel’s message that she would bear a child. The English saint does not speculate if the Virgin Mary had previously received a special grace to choose virginity, but he notes that it was a “better way of serving God which had not been made known to the Jews.” She declined the maternity expected by so many pious Jewish women, but gained it instead by a much higher grace. She was thus both Virgin and Mother. The mystery of the virginal conception is at the service of the mystery of our redemption.

Another saint, Pope St. John Paul II, writes in his Apostolic Letter, ”The Holy Rosary of the Virgin Mary”: “The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer.” Mary always points to Christ. Though many misunderstand devotion to Mary as a type of idolatry, nothing could be further from the truth. Devotion to Mary is foremost devotion to Christ, the Messiah. And this holds true throughout the ages. Even though Christ has already come to save man, each person and the world as a whole needs to desire and embrace the salvation that He offers. The world needs Christ! Only He – no science, philosophy, other religion, or material goods – can save man.

The same pope teaches us that when we pray the rosary we “meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord.” When we pray the rosary, let us ask the Virgin Mary to see with her eyes the awaited Messiah and welcome Him into our everyday lives.

 

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

With this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the indwelling of Christ in our souls. Christ is born in us. The Holy Spirit makes us children of God, crying out Abba Father, and restores in us the likeness of Christ.

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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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