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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Sins of Ignorance and Weakness, Part 2

Christians have the same sinful nature as the Jews in the Old Testament. Like them we are subject to Original Sin and need to have our guilt forgiven.


Color on treesSins of Ignorance and Weakness, Part 2

Blessed John Henry Newman continues his sermon with thoughts on the subject of our sinful condition. He notes that many think the Jewish Law as something of the past. Although it is necessary to distinguish between the moral law which still holds true, and the ritual Jewish laws which for Christians no longer binds them, Newman explains that the latter impresses on the mind man’s guilt and feebleness, in other words, the doctrine of Original Sin

“Those legal sacrifices and purifications which are now all done away, are still evidence to us of a fact which the Gospel has not annulled,—our corruption. Let no one lightly pass over the Book of Leviticus.”

The reason is that we are not better than the Jews. We have the same ‘unbelieving, sensual and proud nature’ for which we need repeated expiation. Like the Jews who, once circumcised, considered they were saved, so Christians may wrongly consider that once baptized they are pardoned once and for all, or worse, they doubt that man has ever fallen into a curse, and trust idly in God’s mercy.

Newman describes how a High Priest was selected from a holy tribe and chosen to represent the people by offering sacrifice to God every year following minute instructions. Furthermore the Mosaic Law specified sacrifices for all types of sins, including sins of ignorance and ordinary thoughts and deeds. He asserts that “our corruption is not merely in this act or that, but in our nature.”

Newman explains that from the fall of Adam legal ceremonies to satisfy for sin imply “that it is our very nature which is sinful.”  This is the important doctrine of Original Sin which holds that our race is degenerate. Men may admit that they commit sin or that they are imperfect but they do not like to hear that their nature is damaged. He writes that:

Even the indolent have pride here. They think they can do their duty, only do not choose to do it; they like to believe (though strangely indeed, for they condemn themselves while they believe it), they like to believe that they do not want assistance.

No man likes to be told that he has the taint of corruption in his imagination and deeds. Newman comments:

We know how ashamed men are of being low born, or discreditably connected. This is the sort of shame forced upon every son of Adam. ‘Thy first father hath sinned:’ this is the legend on our forehead which even the sign of the Cross does no more than blot out, leaving the mark of it.

St. Paul was the first to deal with this doctrine in his Letter to the Romans, and later, St. Augustine in his Confessions. More recently G. K. Chesterton quipped that this doctrine “is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” We have but to read the newspapers to see plainly the evidence for the doctrine of Original Sin.

Thus, in the face of all this teaching how should a Christian react? Newman presents this truth, not so much as a humbling thought, but as a reminder of our repeated need to remove the guilt from our consciences by earnest prayer, by deliberate acts of faith and by celebrating the great sacrifice of the Mass.

In the next segment we shall see why Blessed Newman fails to mention the Sacrament of Confession.



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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
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Review by Serenheed James
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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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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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“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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