After presenting some highlights of the evangelization of Ireland and England in the sixth, seventh and eight centuries especially noting the roles played by the popes he jumps to the nineteenth century when Pope Pius IX established the Catholic University of Ireland (1854). He first paints a picture of the foreign relations between Pius IX and various European powers.

In the 1848 revolution Pope Pius IX did not appeal to the “coat-tails of Austria” subjecting the Church to Josephinism. Instead he went to exile in Gaeta, but in the end the Church gained freedom in Austria.

Neither did he accept the proposal by some for him to be the political head of Italy. “He steadily refuses to accept the insidious proposal; and at length he is driven out of his dominions, because, while he would ameliorate their condition, he would do so as a Father and a Prince, and not as the tool of a conspiracy.” France, which restored him to Rome also wishes to exert its power on the Papacy but the Pope would not bend.

Newman writes: “The Pope refuses to subject himself to France, as he had refused to subject himself to Austria.” In the end Catholicism also experienced growth in France.

During his exile in Gaeta the Pope studied the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception meeting with ridicule by some ‘that he had given up politics in disgust.’ Their astonishment was great when they saw his intense international influence summarized by Newman: “But soon they heard of other acts of the Holy Father; they heard of his interposition in the East; of his success in Spain; of his vigilant eye directed towards Sardinia and Switzerland in his own neighbourhood, and towards North and South America in another hemisphere; of his preachers spreading through Germany; of his wonderful triumphs, already noticed, in Austria and France; of his children rising as if out of the very earth in England; and of their increasing moral strength in Ireland, in proportion to her past extraordinary sufferings; of the hierarchies of England and Holland, and of the struggle going forward on the Rhine; and then they exchanged contempt for astonishment and indignation, saying that it was intolerable that a potentate who could not keep his own, and whose ease and comfort at home were not worth a month’s purchase, should be so blind to his own interests as to busy himself with the fortunes of Religion at the ends of the earth.”

Newman notes that in an age of professed light and liberalism ridicule gave way to anger and even fear against Catholics. He asserts that despite the political emancipation of Catholics in England, sixty years earlier it was believed in religious circles that Napoleon would annihilate the Pope. “In proportion to the weakness of the Holy See at home, became its influence and its success in the world. The Apostles were told to be prudent as serpents, and simple as doves. It has been the simplicity of the Sovereign Pontiffs which has been their prudence. It is their fidelity to their commission, and their detachment from all secular objects, which has given them the possession of the earth.”

Newman lists some popes who endured political crisis acting with wisdom and detachment from secular power.  They “have had a gift, proper to themselves, of understanding what is good for the Church, and what Catholic interests require. And in the next place, I find that this gift exercises itself in an absolute independence of secular politics, and a detachment from every earthly and temporal advantage, and pursues its end by uncommon courses, and by unlikely instruments, and by methods of its own.”

Reflecting on an age of transition in Europe with the rising power of England the extension of the English language, he notes that this language which is Protestant had been adopted by a Catholic race: “The English language and the Irish race are overrunning the world.”

Once again Newman praises the vision of the future, independence in policy and vigor in action characteristics of the Popes. With this in mind he is reassured by the Pope Pius IX choice of Ireland as “the seat of a great Catholic University, to spread religion, science, and learning, wherever the English language is spoken.” He is confident that despites difficulties, disappointments and delays the work begun at the Catholic University of Ireland will bear good fruits.

Newman, who was rector of the University for only a few years until 1858 could not foresee that it would be incorporated by a National state university in 1911. Nonetheless the vision of Catholic education of Pope Pius IX and Newman’s achievements in Ireland, are praiseworthy and continue to inspire many, particularly through Newman’s writings on university education.

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Newman lays down a firm rule in the light of life's abundant blessings: the Christian is not allowed to be gloomy.

Newman wrote, “I have been accustomed to consider the action of the creator on and in the created universe, as parallel in a certain sense to that of the soul upon the body.”

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We need to remember our mortality, so that we may be ready to meet Our Lord each and every day. Lent and lenten mortifications have a role in this preparation. We must die to self daily, so that we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection. 

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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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Fr. Peter Conley

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