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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Our Heavenly Friends
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Our Heavenly Friends

Have you ever wondered, or heard it asked by others, whether our departed loved ones know what is happening to us, and how we are feeling, as we continue on the life-long journey of grief?

St John Henry Newman would reply with a definitive “Yes”.  The risen Christ is able to be everywhere on earth and he gathers up those who have died and carries them with him; always.  Therefore, Newman says:

We naturally love places which remind us of friends; and sights and sounds (and scents) change in our estimate of them by our associating them with those we love – and thus pain loses its acuteness, and bereavement its heartache, and worldly anxiety no longer dries up the spirit, when we by faith regard them as memorials of Him who once was a man of sorrows for us and acquainted with grief. (Sermons, 1824-1843, Vol II, p.183).

Newman taught that all created things can leads us to encounter Christ and the faithful departed who have died in Him.  We can, therefore, be said to ‘meet’ them with, through and in Him – because of his incarnation, redemption, resurrection, ascension and the sending of the spirit at Pentecost.  When shaping his ideas, Newman acknowledged Joseph Butler’s writings on religious metaphor, John Keble’s poetic Christian Year and the Alexandrian Fathers.  The emerging influence of what is known as his sacramental principle, can be seen in a series of observations he makes after the death of his youngest sister Mary: “Here every thing reminds me of her.  She was with us at Oxford, and I took a delight in showing her the place – and every building, every tree, seems to speak of her.  I cannot realize that I shall never see her again.” (Autobiographical Writings, p.213).  Newman also shares with Jemima that: “Dear Mary seems in every tree and hid behind every hill.  What a veil and curtain this world of sense is!  Beautiful but still a veil.” (Letters and Diaries Vol II, p.43).

The Oratorian scholar Louis Bouyer comments:

And this invisible world is essentially a world of personal presences.  Therefore it is by a linking of person with person that we come to it.  Thus, Mary is now a supernatural guide.  Here on earth she was loved with a love that was stronger than death; therefore, now, when she has passed beyond the veil, she is not lost to the hearts that cherished her but draws them on to follow her to the place where she abides.  Thus is memory, quickening like a seed through which life has forced a mysterious passage, raised to the level of a mystical experience. (Newman, His Life and Spirituality, p.107).

Newman highlighted the importance of uniting ourselves with the Angels, Saints and the faithful departed through prayer and the celebration of Mass.  He placed memorial cards of friends and family all over the wall of his private chapel beside the altar.  He pointed out that it is the role of our loved ones to intercede before God for us.  It follows that we ought to take note of how we are being helped, as well as requesting further assistance from them.  Six years before his own death, Newman writes to Mrs Maxwell-Scott on the loss of her brother-in-law and uncle:

You have indeed accumulated sorrows.  One’s consolation under such trials, which are our necessary lot here, is that we have additional friends in heaven to plead and interest themselves for us.  This I am confident of – if it is not presumptuous to be confident – but I think, as life goes on, it will be brought home to you, as it has been to me, that there are those who are busied about us, and in various daily matters taking our part.  (Letters and Diaries XXX, p.67).

I find Newman’s insights very consoling in my own grief.  He captures the essence of his teaching in a letter to James Stewart, a recent widower, whose daughter has just passed away, when he says: “Yet you have not lost her.  She has joined her Mother in heaven, to watch over you all and to bring you to her.” (Letters and Diaries XXIII, p.318).

This is the cherished vocation of our loved ones too.

 

Fr. Peter Conley

 

  

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There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.

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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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