ascension

In his ninth Lecture on Justification (1838), Newman describes the Ascension as an integral aspect of Christ’s mission to redeem the world. He who promised to not leave us as orphans ascended to His throne at the Father’s right hand in order to send us His Spirit (John 14:16-18). Interestingly, Newman’s lecture “Righteousness the Fruit of the Resurrection” refers often to the Ascension as integral to our redemption, because it is the necessary condition for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Newman argues that justification—being made righteous by God’s grace—is not a mere decree or imputation, but is substantially becoming righteous through union with God, through the abiding and real presence of God with man, in fulfillment of the prophets: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14); “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh…” (Joel 2:28). 

Fittingly, Newman’s sermon “Rising with Christ” invites us to keep our minds fixed on the Ascended Lord, to lift our hearts and minds up to him and away from what is worldly. He ascended in order to send us the Holy Spirit, whose gifts include the ability to cry out Abba (Papa) to the Father through Him (Romans 8:15). Newman reflects on how the sacrifice of the Mass begins with an invitation to “lift up [our] hearts,” (Latin, Sursum corda) to which we respond, “We lift them up to the Lord!” (Habemus ad dominum). The hearts of the faithful are already “hid with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:3), from whom springs a new life that cannot be seen with worldly eyes. Therefore, Newman seeks to stir us up to be mindful of higher, heavenly things, and to detach ourselves from things of the world.

But this detachment is neither withdrawal from the world, nor is it mere intellectual assent, nor quietist inaction. It is practical. It must be cultivated and exercised by spiritual discipline: “Prayer and fasting have been called the wings of the soul, and they who neither fast nor pray, cannot follow Christ. They cannot lift up their hearts to him.” If our treasure is to be in heaven, we cannot store up treasure in this world, and must begin, in small and gradual ways, to deny ourselves the treasures of this world in practice so that our hearts may be truly set on Christ and where He dwells.

Scripture makes it clear that the measure of our sacrifice in Christ is the measure of our glory with Him. Immediately after telling the Collosians to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God,” St. Paul commands, “Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth” (Col. 2:2-5). Setting our minds up, aloft, on high with Christ, requires practical discipline to detach ourselves from an earth-ward gaze—“Set your affection on things above, not on the things of earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Doing so unites us to the suffering and glory of our Lord: “It is then the duty and privilege of all disciples of our glorified Savior, to be exalted and transfigured with Him.” But this does not mean we glitter in the eyes of the world; only spiritual eyes can see by faith the glory that awaits those who suffer now, who are conformed to Christ as the “least of these” but are nonetheless first in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those whose lives are hid with Christ in God, whose minds are fixed on the Ascended Christ, still “look like other men,” are “busy like other men,” are “passed over in the crowd of men.” They are hiding yet in plain sight, strangers in this world but citizens of heaven, who have “a secret channel of communication with the Most High, a gift the world knows not of.” The world will misunderstand them—it might grant that religion can “influence” an otherwise worldly life, but cannot imagine that such Christians are “governed” by religious truth and actually “live” by it in a totalizing way. The world which sees only appearances cannot comprehend the hidden reality of a heart captive to Christ. 

Newman warns us to not lose our fixed gaze on Christ in the midst of the business of the world, but to “redeem the time,” to use the things of the world for the things of heaven, to retain a higher orientation while going about our affairs, yet to humbly “live more strictly” by taking up Christ’s yoke, living by His “rule.” In this way, the heavenly mind of the one fixed on the Ascended Christ anticipates Newman’s famous spirituality for the laity in the world: to live within the world and sanctify it by our hidden hearts on fire with love for God and zeal for the Gospel. May we heed Newman’s wise Christian counsel as we strive to really be the Church in the midst of the modern world: to “stir up the great gift of God which is lodged deep within” us,  to be more of what we are by the gift of God’s abiding presence in us, to open our hearts wide to the Holy Spirit who will direct our gaze more and more deeply upon our true dwelling in God with Christ.

We must progressively become more of what we already are—other Christs, as notable saints like St. Josemaria Escricva have said. The Holy Spirit, the sanctifier, molds us to be the image of the Son. In this way, by our example and our word we “redeem the time,” and walk with others towards our heavenly home. Let us lift up our hearts on high with the Ascended Christ, renew our minds by diligent prayer and Christian discipline, and find ourselves ever more deeply bearing the image and likeness of Him who wondrously created us and even more wondrously redeems us.

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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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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.

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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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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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