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The danger of riches is so often mentioned in the Scriptures that we have become accustomed to this warning, and ignore it. This is the way in which St. John Henry Newman begins a sermon “The Danger of Riches,” first preached on the feast of St. Matthew in 1835.

In Luke vi.24 we read: “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” Newman invites us to think of the full force of the word “consolation” and to realize what we lose by seeking earthly wealth. What we forfeit is the Holy Spirit, the Gospel promise, who is also called the Comforter.

The same doctrine is implied in our Lord’s words in the parable of Dives and Lazarus: “Son, remember thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” [Luke xvi. 25] Often this passage is dismissed by some who hold that Our Lord is reproving those who place their trust in riches since He Himself said: “How hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God;” but as Newman points out in another passage, Christ also speaks of those who “have riches,” not only those who “trust in riches.” By contrast the Lord praises those who give alms to the poor.

“The most obvious danger which worldly possessions present to our spiritual welfare is … ” according to Newman “ … that they become practically a substitute in our hearts for that One Object to which our supreme devotion is due. They are present; God is unseen.” Possessions give us the false notion of power and security. Even religiously minded people can repress pride and lust, but “ … they cannot easily rid themselves of a secret feeling that it gives them a footing to stand upon, an importance, a superiority; and in consequence they get attached to this world, lose sight of the duty of bearing the Cross.”

People lose spiritual zeal and begin to see risking all for Christ as extravagant. They desire to serve God but are lacking in noble enthusiasm and greatness of soul. In the parable of the Sower we are warned about the thorns which are ” … the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches;” and more clearly in the parable of the Great Supper where the guests excuse themselves for things of the world. In his letter to St. Timothy, St. Paul repeats the Old Testament teaching that the love of money is the root of all evil. [Matt. xiii. 22. Luke xiv. 18, 19. 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.]

Newman reminds us that Christ’s disciples should do everything for God’s glory – not for men, the world, or self. When we do things with an object other than God, even if it be pure, we expose ourselves to temptations. “And therefore, we call all such objects excitements, as stimulating us incongruously, casting us out of the serenity and stability of heavenly faith, attracting us aside by their proximity from our harmonious round of duties, and making our thoughts converge to something short of that which is infinitely high and eternal.” Still most persons cannot, and should not, withdraw from worldly occupations.

Newman thus considers gaming a great offense because it fixes the heart on objects of this world. He also warns against amusements which draw people from their ordinary duties. “To get up day after day to the same employments, and to feel happy in them, is the great lesson of the Gospel; and, when exemplified in those who are alive to the temptation of being busy, it implies a heart weaned from the love of this world.” Christians are soldiers at war, but in a war to obtain peace. We may be engaged in worldly business, without pursuing worldly objects; “not slothful in business … ” yet ” … serving the Lord.”

He explains further that concern for gain becomes all consuming. It includes the fear of losing money, and the fear of parting with it. In addition, there is often the temptation to deceit and unjust wealth. This effect on individuals is the same as for the nation. Instead,  we Christians must trust in God’s providence and seek first His kingdom.

In the fourth  century Pope St. Leo the Great asked: what kind of blessedness is poverty? And he replied: “The kind that is not in love with earthly things and does not seek worldly riches: the kind that longs to be filled with the blessings of heaven.”

In our society today, which takes for granted the abundance of riches available, how do we apply both St. John Henry and Pope St. Leo’s teachings? Let us think about the many natural disasters which have recently befallen our country: wild fires, floods, and most recently, a devastating hurricane that hit a state with a high rate of poverty. How would we respond if everything we owned were taken away? Let each one of us examine our own heart to see if it is set  on things and ambitions of this world or rather on God’s kingdom.

 

 

 

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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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.

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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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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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