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It seems natural to begin each day with the expectation that our day will go according to our plans, that we will finish the work we have on our desk, that our conversations with our families and coworkers will be sweet, that none of our equipment will break down, and so on. By the end of the day, we wonder how we could have been so foolish to think this way, and yet we do it again the next day. It is our Lord who tells us in the Gospel that we will have tribulations in this world, and it is Blessed John Henry Newman who echoes His words in his sermon, “Obedience the Remedy for Religious Perplexity.” In this message he suggests that we accept the fundamental state of confusion, doubt, and suffering in our lives and so urges us to develop the patience and trust that can only come from a life of obedience.

Obedience is an act of trust, because we do not understand fully, and sometimes barely at all, what God asks us to do. St. Joseph’s decision to marry the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of complete surrender, despite confusion. The icon in this reflection shows St. Joseph puzzling over God’s words to Him. Like St. Joseph, if we let it, obedience can deliver us from doubt, which many fall into through overconfidence, overvaluing others’ opinions, and despair.

We need to have a clear vision of ourselves if we are to make sound judgments, especially those involving trust in God. Blessed Newman explains how often this isn’t the case: “Many are misled by confidence in themselves. They look back at the first seasons of their repentance and conversion, as if the time of their greatest knowledge; and instead of considering that their earliest religious notions were probably the most confused and mixed with error, and therefore endeavouring to separate the good from the bad, they consecrate all they then felt as a standard of doctrine to which they are bound to appeal…” Just like we naively believe our day will go as planned, we do not look at the reality of our faith. If all could be easily understood and confusions dissolved, then there would be no need for faith. A man of mature faith is careful not to boast in his knowledge and is aware of how little he knows. Obedience helps us trust in God, not in ourselves.

Blessed Newman points out another way doubt creeps into our lives: “But, leaving the mention of those who err from self-confidence, I would rather lament over such as are led away from the path of plain simple obedience by a compliance with the views and wishes of those around them…They begin religion at the very end of it, and make those observances and rules the chief means of pleasing Him, which in fact should be but the spontaneous acts of the formed Christian temper.” What looks like obedience is really a clinging to set rules that help this type of believer resolve the tension that comes with a living, fluid relationship with God. We were not given a manual of how to please God, but the very Word of the Father Who is communicated to us in a relationship. Here again, obedience is an opening of ourselves to God, Who is not a task; He is our beloved.

Finally, obedience can deliver us from despair. Blessed Newman points out that there are some who see how far they have fallen from grace and despair of God’s mercy. They do not have any hope, so they remain agitated, anxious, and depressed. This is a very sorry state, because who can go on without hope? Newman argues that when we obey, we see a way through this state. He argues, “Supposing their state to be as wretched as is conceivable, can they deny it is their duty now to serve God? Can they do better than try to serve Him?” Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” [Job xiii. 15.].” By moving our minds from our state of being to the acts of loving God, there is a way to move forward. We will not resolve the questions of our eternal destiny by thinking anxiously about them. Instead, let us look to love God and we may begin to see Him as the merciful, gracious God that He is.

The uncertainties and difficulties of life are here to stay. Now is the time to abandon ourselves to the God who is greater than our doubts and lack of knowledge. If we get to know Him, perhaps beginning again after a bout of overconfidence or despair, we will be able to trust Him in the midst of these trials. To love Him is to know Him, so let’s get on with it.

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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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