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Hardly any secrets remain hidden for long these days.  The private conversations of politicians, the conduct of criminals, the personal thoughts in the diaries of authors, all rise to the surface of the pages of newspapers and social media sites.  “The truth will out,” as they say, and it outs much sooner now than ever before. Now, as ever, we are fascinated when the two – the private and public – contrast, when men are exposed as hypocrites.  In “Profession without Practice,” Blessed John Henry Newman explains how wide and common hypocrisy is, how blind we can be to it, and how we can escape it.

We tend to believe hypocrites are rare.  Most of us have met religious characters who remind us of the Pharisees, who intentionally show their religious piety so they will receive praise from men.  But most of us are decent Christians, right? On the contrary, Blessed Newman reminds us that the first words of Christ to his disciples in his discourse in Luke 12 are to be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees; and if Christ is beginning with this warning, the temptation to hypocrisy is strong.  Hypocrisy is an easy and common trap.

If we are wrong about how regularly it occurs, perhaps we do not understand hypocrisy.  Newman explains, “This then is hypocrisy;—not simply for a man to deceive others, knowing all the while that he is deceiving them, but to deceive himself and others at the same time, to aim at their praise by a religious profession, without perceiving that he loves their praise more than the praise of God, and that he is professing far more than he practises.”

In other words, hypocrites deceive themselves as much as they deceive others.  “There was a time doubtless, when in some measure [the Pharisees] knew themselves, and what they were doing. When they began (each of them in his turn) to deceive the people, they were not, at the moment, self-deceived. But by degrees they forgot,—because they did not care to retain it in their knowledge,—they forgot that to be blessed like Abraham, they must be holy like Abraham; that outward ceremonies avail nothing without inward purity … They became ignorant of their own spiritual condition … ”

This is why Christ warns his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.  Blessed Newman translates his words, “ … as if had said, ‘What is the chief sin of My enemies and persecutors? not that they openly deny God, but that they love a profession of religion for the sake of the praise of men that follows it. They like to contrast themselves with other men; they pride themselves on being a little flock, to whom life is secured in the midst of reprobates … All this delusion may come upon you also, if you forget that you are hereafter to be tried one by one at God’s judgment seat, according to your works.’”  

Much was asked of these Jewish believers, but how much more is asked of us Christians?  We – who are the recipients of more grace, who are the children of God, co-heirs with Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, partakers of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ – fall farther when we fail to fulfill our Christian duties.

Do we live up to our Christian calling?  Do we Practice what we profess? Blessed Newman says bluntly, “…what I am asking you, my brethren, is, not whether you merely regard man’s opinion of you (which you ought to do), but whether you set it before God’s judgment, which you assuredly should not do,—and which if you do, you are like the Pharisees, so far as to be hypocrites, though you may not go so far as they did in their hollow self-deceiving ways.”  When we return to Part II of this reflection, we will allow Newman to walk us through a more thorough examination of ourselves that we may not be deceived.

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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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