Ascension

The Church rejoices at Christ’s ascension into heaven with celebration of this feast, professing  that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. St. John Henry Newman rightly gave importance to this solemnity of the Lord by dedicating four separate reflections to this most glorious feast day.

In the first reflection,  Newman joyfully considers Jesus’ ascent:

  “O memorable day! The Apostles feel it to be so, now that it is come, though they felt so differently before it came. When it was coming they dreaded it. They could not think but it would be a great bereavement; but now, as we read, they returned to Jerusalem ‘with great joy.’ O what a time of triumph!”

For the disciples, Jesus was “the glorious Captain of their salvation, the Champion and First fruits of the human family, this crown of His great work.” And the Ascension constitutes “the triumph of redeemed man … the completion of his redemption.”

 In the second meditation Newman reminds us that  heaven is man’s real happiness. He praises Jesus as the only True, Beautiful, and Good for which all men yearn. And implores Him to “have my reason, affections, intentions, aims, all penetrated and possessed by the love of Thee, plunged and drowned in the one Vision of Thee.” Jesus is the only Way to the Father, and He not only guides us there but gives us the strength to scale the mountain, for His rising upwards into Heaven proves that He is no longer bound by the laws of the natural world, for He is master of all.

The third meditation of St. John Henry is about Jesus as our Mediator before God. Newman begins the reflection invoking Jesus:  “I ADORE Thee, O my Lord, as is most fitting, for Thou art gone to heaven to take my part there, and defend my interests. I have one to plead for me with the Lord of all. On earth we try to put ourselves under the protection of powerful men when we have any important business on hand; we know the value of their influence, and we make much of any promise they make us.” Christ, who became Man for us, is all-powerful and He lives to make intercession for us in heaven. For He, though divine, is also fully human, and knows first hand what it is to toil on earth.

 Newman notes that the angels and saints also pray for us who have so many faults, weaknesses, temptations and sins. He then claims the Virgin Mary’s help on account of Christ’s words on the Cross: “If Thou hast given me Mary for my Mother, who, O my God! is Thine, cannot I now establish, as it were, a family interest in her, so that she will not cast me off at the last?” What a consolation for us on earth!

In the final reflection, Newman once again considers the role of Jesus as our Advocate in heaven. He acknowledges how many graces each person is granted in order that we might reach heaven one day; but he confesses his own selfishness which can be also our own:

 “How slack am I in praying to Thee for my own needs! how little have I thought of the needs of others! How little have I brought before Thee the needs of the world—of Thy Church! How little I have asked for graces in detail! and for aid in daily wants! How little have I interceded for individuals!”

The Holy Spirit who was promised by Christ will transform and fill us with charity for others. On one occasion of this solemnity, St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote: “Jesus has gone up to heaven, as we have seen. But a Christian can deal with him, in prayer and in the Eucharist, as the twelve Apostles dealt with him. The Christian can come to burn with an apostolic fervour that will lead him to serve, to redeem with Christ, to sow peace and joy wherever he goes.” This fills us with great hope.

 Newman’s sorrow for past sins of selfishness is turned into this hope at the thought of the prayer of Our Immaculate Mother and the saints, and into a desire to strive to live as God’s children here on earth. “There is no meriting in Purgatory.”

St. John Henry concludes with a prayer to Jesus that we can make our own as we celebrate this joyous feast:

 “Thou art my Advocate at the Throne of the Highest. As the dial speaks of the sun, so will I be ruled by Thee above, if Thou wilt take me and rule me. Be it so, my Lord Jesus. I give myself wholly to Thee.” 

And we, as did the men of Galilee, will imagine our Lord’s ascension and marvel, for Our Lord promised, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (St. John 16:33)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.
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