The Church has recommended to us many prayers and devotions that should be frequently on our lips and hearts as we adhere to Christ in this time. As we turn to prayer, one central treasure for our meditations is the life of the Holy Family—of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary—both on earth, and as they are in heaven. The Holy Family knows what it is like to live in this world and do battle against temptations to value worldly things above Christ. The sufferings of the Holy Family on earth can inspire us in our own trials; and the reality of their place in heaven, interceding for us and inviting us to holiness, can give us substantial spiritual power as we endure through this “valley of tears.”


Newman’s devotional writings show a profound awareness of the power of meditating on the Holy Family. Here, we will look at just one: his “Triduo to St. Joseph.” Newman wrote many of his own unique devotions—his own re-workings, in beautiful English, of traditional prayers. He wrote many of these after his conversion to Catholicism; some of them he simply wrote for friends to help deepen their prayer life, giving them spiritual exercises and examinations of conscience in his own specific style. 


What is revealed in Newman’s beautiful meditations and devotions is a sort of ‘expertise’ in the faith, similar to those of many other saints before him, that shows just why it is so appropriate for him to also be a saint. Like many doctors, mystics and saintly scholars before him, he shows a masterful intuition about the teachings of Scripture and the Church, and applies them skillfully to pursuing individual holiness through contemplation. Reviewing these writings and using them for prayer will be a valuable practice in these coming weeks. Perhaps, also, reviewing these writings will give more reason to argue, as some are, that Newman should be a Doctor of the Church! 


For example, let us briefly look at one of his devotions: his Triduo to St. Joseph. This is invaluable in deepening a relationship with Newman and with Christ and the Church whom he so ardently loved. 


Although St. Joseph’s feast day is already past, Newman’s “Triduo to St. Joseph” shows why this saint is important for our time, who is called the “Hope of the Sick,” the “Patron of the Dying,” “Terror of Demons,” and the “Protector of Holy Church.” Like many saints before him, Newman intuits St. Joseph’s supreme importance on earth and in heaven: he was a virgin like Mary, and must have been a man of eminent sanctity in order to fulfill such a high calling as espousal to the Blessed Virgin and earthly father of Christ. 


Take some of these beautiful passages as examples: 


[Joseph] was the true and worthy Spouse of Mary, supplying in a visible manner the place of Mary’s Invisible Spouse, the Holy Ghost. He was a virgin, and his virginity was the faithful mirror of the virginity of Mary. He was the Cherub, placed to guard the new terrestrial Paradise from the intrusion of every foe.”


Like many saints before him, Newman thinks that Joseph and Mary both lived a consecrated, virginal life. 


Here is another: 


“[Joseph] was our Lord’s father, because Jesus ever yielded to him the obedience of a son.”


Again, like many other saints, Newman sees a mystical reality in the fact that Jesus obeyed his earthly father (Luke 2:51), which is why, still in heaven, St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor—because the Son of God is humbly willing, still, to obey him! 


And again, Newman shows us how his own theological and spiritual intuitions are in line with those of the most powerful doctors, saints and scholars of the Church, but bring out a profound reality about the supreme Sanctity of the Holy Family that can nourish our own prayer life:


“HE is Holy Joseph, because according to the opinion of a great number of doctors, he, as well as St. John Baptist, was sanctified even before he was born. He is Holy Joseph, because his office, of being spouse and protector of Mary, specially demanded sanctity. He is Holy Joseph, because no other Saint but he lived in such and so long intimacy and familiarity with the source of all holiness, Jesus, God incarnate, and Mary, the holiest of creatures.”


The mystery of the Incarnation demands holiness—Mary and Joseph, together, could not not be holy! Let us ask the Holy Family for “intimacy and familiarity with the source of all holiness, Jesus,” as the surest defense against temptation in this time of trial. Like St. Joseph and Holy Mary, with the assistance of St. John Henry Newman’s profound devotional insight, let us empty our self-love and strive to love God with our whole hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves.


Here can be found the full “Triduo to St. Joseph:”


May Newman’s heartfelt prayers, written for the benefit of the faithful, inspire us to use this time, and all times, to grow closer to the Heavenly Persons who call us into eternal communion: the saints, Our Lord, Our Lady and the Blessed Trinity. 

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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."

The true light of Christ’s divinity was made visible to the Apostles at the Transfiguration.

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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."

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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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