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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Shrinking from Christ's Coming
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If a famous person visited your home tomorrow, you might feel a mixture of surprise, excitement, fear and anxiety. Even with warning, you would be both overjoyed at his or her coming and worried that you and your home wouldn’t be worthy to receive such a guest. How much more will Christ overwhelm us when He comes again? His arrival will elicit joy and relief, but we will also fear his judgment, the judgment of our Creator who knows what is in man, every thought of every person. 

That mixture of emotion, St. John Henry Newman says in his sermon “Shrinking from Christ’s Coming,” is natural. In fact, he wonders how we can even desire that Christ come quickly, given that we would be hastening this terrible judgment? But It’s no inconsistency that draws us to pray for the return of our Lord, even knowing what we will face, Newman says, as long as we know Whom we are addressing when we pray.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we are enjoined to pray to our Father for Christ’s coming (“Thy Kingdom Come”). That command does not come from man, but from Jesus Himself: “though we could not at all reconcile our feelings about ourselves with the command given us, still it is our duty to obey the latter on faith.” And that faith is directed toward God, Who alone we can trust with abandonment. But we so often forget what God has done for us, our faith faltering, as happened to the ancient Israelites. That’s why their leaders insisted that each generation pass on the stories of God’s miraculous interventions, so that no generation would forget God and his unfailing mercy. Today, we inherit the entire story of salvation history and its culmination in the Cross. What Christ demonstrated in His total sacrifice on the Cross must shatter every doubt.  No more should we doubt whether we can trust God to take care of us. We can repeat confidently with Job, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

The story of salvation that we know so well should uphold our faith in the one attribute of God we most rely on during His judgment: mercy. Again and again our forefathers in faith forgot or failed to follow God’s plan for their salvation, and again and again God forgave, filled and fortified them with his grace. Are we any different? Do we not fail our Lord daily, often straying from his commands, seeking him half-heartedly while He seeks us with a burning intensity emanating from His Sacred Heart? 

King David, a man after God’s own heart, well understood the mercy of God. He committed some of the gravest sins man can commit, yet he turned toward his Lord Whom he sinned against, not away. In II Samuel we read of David’s disobedience toward God and David’s coming punishment. In this case, God gave David a choice among three punishments. Of the options, David chose a plague from God, rather than the penalty of having enemies pursue him. Why? David says, “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 

We face the same choice. We have sinned against God, yet God is the only One who can spare us, who understands us and has mercy on us. Newman puts it this way: “I place myself under His pure and piercing eyes, which look me through and through, and discern every trace and every motion of evil within me. Why do I do so? First of all, for this reason. To whom should I go? What can I do better? Who is there in the whole world that can help me? Who that will care for me, or pity me, or have any kind thought of me, if I cannot obtain it of Him? I know He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; but I know again that He is All-merciful, and that He so sincerely desires my salvation that He has died for me. Therefore, though I am in a great strait, I will rather fall into His hands, than into those of any creature.”

Do we shrink back at the thought of Christ’s coming? If we take a good look at ourselves, we should do so. Yet we beg Him to approach us quickly, for He is our salvation. Remember that no saint has anything to boast of before God. Rather, his or her sanctity consists in having nothing, being nothing, relying so fundamentally on Christ as to be known as “little Christs.” We too can do that, each and every one of us. Nothing can hold us back from being that small except ourselves. Each day, let’s pray “Maranatha” with the confidence of little children—what Christ Himself said we must be to enter His kingdom—and ready ourselves to receive our Merciful Guest.

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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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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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