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401Today Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan and founder of nine of the twenty-one California missions in the 18th century, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at a solemn Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C. The canonization of Junipero Serra is a call to personal holiness and evangelization. The saints brought the Catholic Faith to these lands and they taught us by their example of charity and self-sacrifice how to plant the seed of the Gospel.

St. Junipero respected and loved the indigenous people. He spent himself in their service. He founded nine of the missions of Alta California for various Indian tribes. He gave up his university teaching on the island of Mallorca to evangelize the New World teaching the simple and poor the Good News. This is what St. Francis Xavier would challenge the university professors of Paris to do, and he himself did in India and Japan.

In the 20th century St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the University of Navarre (not far from Xavier, the hometown of St. Francis), spoke of the apostolate of intellectual life. He wrote: “… the study of religion is a fundamental need. A man who lacks religious formation is a man whose education is incomplete. That is why religion should be present in the universities, where it should be taught at the high, scholarly level of good theology. A university from which religion is absent is an incomplete university.”

Vatican II reminds us of the universal call to holiness and apostolate. The Lord continues to call us in the 21st century to be his apostles. Many people are waiting for us to share with them the truth about God, man and the world. We must hear God’s call and respond generously, putting aside laziness, human respect and fears.

Each one must consider where God has placed him and what he asks; some are asked to leave their professional calling to serve God, but most of us, instead, must serve God through our profession, and especially in the education of young people. St. Junipero faced countless privations, but did not hold back from his mission. On foot, despite his trouble walking, the heat and dangers of paths, he traveled up and down California.

Today’s canonization Mass presided by Pope Francis was in various languages including a reading in an indigenous tongue but with a predominance of Spanish, the tongue of this brave and selfless saint. The Holy Father began the homily using St. Paul’s words: rejoice in the Lord always. Although the pope looked tired, speaking in Spanish he invited us to seek true happiness; his very presence is a wonderful testimony of joy for us.

The pope invites us to be careful that our hearts not become anesthetized, becoming accustomed to the Gospel. Jesus told the disciples of yesterday and today: Go and announce the Gospel. We find joy by giving, giving of ourselves. The source of our joy is based on our experience of God’s infinite mercy. The joy of the Christian is found by announcing the Gospel. We experience sin, sorrow and weakness but God wants us to go and announce the loving embrace of the Father, the madness of a Father who wishes to anoint with the oil of hope.

The pope tells us that the mission does not arise from a perfect plan but from having experienced God’s healing and love. The faithful people of God must go out of itself. We are here because of a chain of witnesses. Today we recall one of those witnesses. He is part of the Church that knows how to travel the paths of the world. Junipero left his land to do this, and he protected and served the Indians. He was moved by the maxim: siempre adelante (always forward). He did not allow his heart to be anesthetized. He went forward. The pope invites us to the same.

We await the day the Church will also raise Blessed John Henry Newman to the list of saints. He was called to sanctify the world of secondary and higher education. Today so many universities throughout the world are places where youth lose their faith and morals. Newman’s teaching helps students to discover the harmony between faith and reason, and to pursue the truth with honesty, spending their lives in God’s service.

Each one of us, working like St. Junipero Serra with simple people, or like Blessed John Henry Newman and St. Josemaría Escrivá with university students, must heed the Lord’s call to announce the Gospel.

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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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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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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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