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On Thursday, February 21, we celebrated Blessed John Henry Newman’s birthday into this world. While all birthdays, feast days, and celebrations of different kinds are occasions of joy, they also make us aware that most days are not holidays; that many are painful and difficult, that Monday follows Sunday.  Some people, in search of happiness, attempt to make every day a holiday of some kind to avoid ever landing hard on the ground of daily existence. In “Scripture A Record of Human Sorrow,” Blessed Newman explains how we might live rooted in reality without succumbing to despair.

Human history is a record of human sorrow, but Christians might be inclined to think Scripture is a record of joy and good news.  It is truly good news, but this news punctuates the pages like the occasional exclamation point in a novel, with the same surprise as the arrival of spring.  Blessed Newman says there is more written in Scripture of suffering, curses, and judgments, than of joys and pleasures. Newman explains, “We know it also abounds in accounts of human sin; but not to speak of these, it abounds in accounts of human distress and sufferings, of our miserable condition, of the vanity, unprofitableness, and trials of life.”  Please do not turn away, the Scriptures seem to say, from the condition of man in the world. Do not ignore it, do not cover it up, do not dress it as something more tame than it is. Scripture says this for the only reason worth our attention: it is true.

 It is God’s hope, Newman writes, that by speaking to us so truthfully, by warning us, we won’t have to learn, painfully, from experience.  We won’t walk through our days expecting everything to go as planned, or for all our dreams to come true in this life. Most importantly, we won’t be fooled into thinking this world is enough.  Our hearts ache for God, and how quickly we forget Him when all is well! In His wisdom, God knows we have a tendency to overvalue pleasures, not undervalue them, if we are not reminded that they are temporary and fleeting.

Wont awareness of the dreariness of life “make a man melancholy and gloomy?” Not so long as his gaze is fixed on Him who planted every desire in man, and will bring them to fruition.  Newman explains that such a view does not reject pleasure, but puts it in its proper place: “The true Christian rejoices in those earthly things which give joy, but in such a way as not to care for them when they go.”  A good meal cannot be made any better by eating too much of of it. If we are to enjoy the comforts of this life, we must be able to enjoy the temporary cheer they bring, because they will taste bitter if we try to make them ultimate. G. K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy that Christians should “drink life like water, and death like wine.”  There is incredible unwavering faith at the bottom of such an attitude, a willingness to throw oneself into the arms of our loving Lord who sustains us.  This attitude does not admit of some Victorian prudishness, or the lust of the glutton, for it takes pleasure and pain as they are because it is not rooted in its own comfort, but in the God Who is the source of our very life.

Robert Frost once wrote, “The best way out is through.”  Not over, under, around, avoiding what stands between us and our destination, but right through the center of it.  “The great rule of our conduct is to take things as they come,” not as we wish they would be. Then and only then, Newman says, will you be able to “realize the paradox of making merry and rejoicing in the world because it is not yours.”

Think on these things, for our understanding of reality forms our approach to each and every day.  Tomorrow will bring us both pain and pleasure; the former should not frighten us, nor should we attach ourselves to the latter.  We will fear nothing if our hope is in the Lord Who never leaves our side if we but receive His presence. If God be for us, who can be against us?

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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.
About Newman
Fr. Juan Velez

The Indwelling Spirit

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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The Fellowship of the Apostles

Preaching the truth means Jesus Christ is the goal in our conflicts with others – not winning the argument. This is why we can approach everyone with understanding, respect and patience, in other words, in a Christ-like way.

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About Newman
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Many Called, Few Chosen

Though the invitation is open to all, not everyone responds to it in faith. Those who accept the call, embrace Christ, and live according to His teachings; they are the chosen ones.

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The Gospel Feast

John Henry Newman calls the Holy Mass the Gospel Feast and takes us through numerous biblical passages that prefigure this great Sacrament.

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