Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Newman and Creation's Glories

Newman’s childhood memories, in his letters and diaries, included hearing grass being cut, the first cuckoo in Spring and seeing the donkeys at the seaside.  He owned a pony called Charlie and a lively Irish horse “Klepper” who threw him off, breaking his glasses!

John Henry loved his daily, solitary, walking or being joined by others to chat, think through problems and, while riding, compose homilies and addresses.  He described the holiness of nature as a “Temple” or “vast Cathedral”:

Does not the whole world speak in praise of God?  Does not every star in the sky, every tree and every flower upon the earth, all that grows all that endures, the leafy woods, the everlasting mountains, speak of God… (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V: 21).

Newman was full of excitement when visiting the Victorian Zoo(logical) Gardens in London with close friends Rogers and Wood and in Birmingham and Dublin, accompanied by his Oratorian confrere, Ambrose.  Remembering this particular trip, John Hungerford Pollen, who designed the University Church at St Stephen’s Green for Newman, comments upon his “wonder at and speculations on the design of beasts; their ferocity; their odd ways; birds especially.” (LDXVII, p.230).

Newman, a keen gardener, laments to Mrs Maxwell-Scott that, in the grounds of the Oratory house in Rednal:

The chestnut and lime leaves are just a quarter out – and the Sycamore shows just a few beautiful pink buds where there should be a burst of full rejoicing verdure… We excel in rhododendrons, camellias and arbutus – but our soil is not the best. (LD XXVIII, p.62)

Whereas, he celebrates the glory of creation, in its fulsome late summer bloom, when commenting to W.J. Copeland, from the same setting:

The green is of a thousand hues, as the corn begins to turn – the heather is purple and the mountain berries are in profusion. (LD XX, p.262)

Newman also found, in nature, a fruitful source of analogy to describe the development of virtue in different people:

The soul which is quickened with the spirit of love has faith and hope…one and all exist in love, though distinct from it; as stalk, leaves and flowers are as distinct and entire in one plant as in another, yet vary in the quality, according to the plant‘s nature. (Parochial and Plain Sermons IV, 21)

In his advancing years, Newman, with poignancy, humanity and wit, compares himself to a variety of wild life!

Writing to Mrs T.W. Allies he says:

You asked me what bones I am cracking? The bones of old jackals and hyenas, or foxes, rats and mice, in some ancient paleontological cave. (LD XXI, p.22)

Then, after Richard Stanton enquires, Newman replies:

You kindly ask after my health. I have nothing the matter with me, but I am feeble…I have had several falls – I walk, read, write, speak at a snail’s pace, and my mind gets confused, especially my memory. Thus I may call myself emphatically in God’s hands, unable to move day by day except He wills it. (LD XXXI, p.100)

Newman viewed his frailties as an invitation to engage with the cross. He recognized hints of the paschal mystery in the cycles of birth, death and rebirth in creation and concludes:

As on a misty day, the gloom gradually melts and the sun brightens, so have the glories of the spiritual world lit up this world below. The dull and cold earth is penetrated by the rays. All around we see glimpses of reflections of those heavenly things, which the elect of God shall one day see face-to-face. (The Heart of Newman, Erich Przywara, p.307).

Fr. Peter Conley





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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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