Christ the King
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
The Christian Church an Imperial Power

Picture this: A certain nation has an embassy in most major countries; maintains soldiers, tanks and aircraft on military bases inside those countries’ borders; boasts companies conducting business within those countries; and has such a grip on the entire world that this nation’s language is the most commonly spoken of any language. No, I’m not referring to the United States of America; I’m referring to the Church. When He came, Jesus Christ brought the Kingdom of God to earth, and it is still present today. Understanding that we who belong to Christ are citizens of this Kingdom will help us to live authentic Christian lives in the middle of the world.

Some people bristle at the idea of the Church as a world power, in the same way the Incarnation is not to their taste. There is something off-putting about God getting involved in human affairs. But Jesus speaks frequently and clearly about His kingdom throughout the Gospels and declares at His Ascension, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” St. John Henry Newman says that while most Christians acknowledge Christ’s heavenly authority, they are likely to “grudge Him His power upon earth.” This way God can be kept at a comfortable distance. But for us who want to follow our Lord closely, we must take Him at His word.

Apart from Scripture, our eyes should give witness to God’s kingdom on earth. Though our King is invisible, His Kingdom is already visible. Christians live in every country, participating in every aspect of society, acting as the hands, the feet and the heart of Christ in their offices, schools, churches, hospitals, grocery stores and so on. In each of their activities, with their whole selves, they testify to Christ and carry out His work, acquiring more lands and subjects for His name. In fact, the Kingdom of God operates just like human kingdoms in certain primary ways: “Kings are within their palaces, yet their power is in the public world. It is seldom they rule by themselves; they rule by instruments. Such is Christ’s mode of governing…[God] resembles earthly sovereigns, not only in having a kingdom, but in His mode of governing it.” 

It is not just a kingdom, Newman says, but an empire: “Thus, the kingdom of which we are subjects is small, consisting of two islands; but the empire vested in that kingdom extends all over the earth, consisting of our colonies, dependencies, fortified places, subject and tributary nations, and such allies as are materially under our influence and authority. It is the peculiarity of an imperial state to bear rule over other states; and it is another peculiarity …. that it should be always in movement, advancing or retiring … Conquest is almost of the essence of an empire, and when it ceases to conquer it ceases to be.”

Newman first delivered this sermon in 1842, when the British empire still spread far across the seas, but he had in mind a spiritual kingdom. The Church is a fulfillment of the promises made through the prophet Isaiah that God’s light and glory has risen upon it; it would become a light to all the nations and all the kings would come to it.

We are subjects of this Christian empire, and also its soldiers. To us has been entrusted the vocation of conquering souls for Christ and of transforming society. How will we do it? Not by our own power, for “apart from me” Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, “you can do nothing.” We’ll begin in the smallest way possible, allowing Christ to reign over our minds, our hearts, our attitudes, our passions, our habits, our wallets, our entertainment. Then we will start to do Christ’s work in our world, beginning with our home and work. Of course, there will be setbacks, lost battles, dead ends and many reasons for giving up. But we will get up again and keep going, because we will hear the voice of our Lord saying, “Begin again, I am with you.” Today we can ask Jesus, our King, to always remind us of our identity and our vocation, to accompany us on every mission and to help us get up again after every fall. For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

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Newman wrote, “I have been accustomed to consider the action of the creator on and in the created universe, as parallel in a certain sense to that of the soul upon the body.”

For a Christian, death is no longer defeat nor something to fear, rather it is the sign of Christ’s victory.

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We need to remember our mortality, so that we may be ready to meet Our Lord each and every day. Lent and lenten mortifications have a role in this preparation. We must die to self daily, so that we may be brought to the glory of His resurrection. 

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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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