Blessed Trinity

The Holy Sacrifice, the Food of the Soul
Sitivit in Te anima mea (For Thee my soul hath thirsted

Every year the Church celebrates with great honor the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi. What is this heavenly food, “the bread of angels,” that God gives us when we approach the Holy Eucharist? Blessed John Henry Newman has a special gift of presenting complex matters in such a way that, through his words, he helps us understand the complex more simply; yet the profundity of the subject remains. He helps us to understand the awesome gift of the Eucharist through his straightforward meditation.This is the ability of a great teacher, such as Blessed Newman.

Newman begins a meditation (found in his Meditations and Devotions) with something even young children understand: that, through nature, God provides for the beasts of the field which He created:

“In Thee, O Lord, all things live, and Thou dost give them their food . . . To the beasts of the field Thou givest meat and drink. They live on day by day, because Thou dost give them day by day to live.”

But these beasts are not eternal beings or made in the image and likeness of God, as we are. Humans are eternal creatures, and therefore need more than the natural food of beasts. Eternal creatures need supernatural food. Newman writes:

“ But, as to us Thy children, Thou feedest us with another food. Thou knowest, O my God, who madest us, that nothing can satisfy us but Thyself, and therefore Thou hast caused Thy own self to be meat and drink to us. O most adorable mystery! O most stupendous of mercies! Thou most Glorious, and Beautiful, and Strong, and Sweet, Thou didst know well that nothing else would support our immortal natures, our frail hearts, but Thyself; and so Thou didst take a human flesh and blood, that they, as being the flesh and blood of God, might be our life.”

In other words, the only food for immortal creatures is immortal food, which can only be God Himself! Only God can provide this supernatural food … and this is the Mystery of Corpus Christi, the feast we celebrate today. But how can we, sinful creatures, be worthy of receiving this immortal food? How do we, stained by sin, dare to receive God Himself? Newman teaches that we need faith:

“Who can save me but Thou? Who can cleanse me but Thou? Who can make me overcome myself but Thou? Who can raise my body from the grave but Thou? Therefore I come to Thee in all these my necessities, in fear, but in faith.”

Thus, Newman writes that it is God’s grace that brings this faith, unworthy though we may be:

“I come to Thee, O Lord, not only because I am unhappy without Thee, not only because I feel I need Thee, but because Thy grace draws me on to seek Thee for Thy own sake, because Thou art so glorious and beautiful. I come in great fear, but in greater love. O may I never lose, as years pass away, and the heart shuts up, and all things are a burden, let me never lose this youthful, eager, elastic love of Thee. Make Thy grace supply the failure of nature. Do the more for me, the less I can do for myself. The more I refuse to open my heart to Thee, so much the fuller and stronger be Thy supernatural visitings, and the more urgent and efficacious Thy presence in me.”

When our human senses fail, we pray for the grace to receive His Body and Blood in faith so that, by so doing, we are transformed from within by this Bread of Angels. Do you make frequent acts of faith when in the presence of the Holy Eucharist? When at work or at home, are you aware of where Jesus is closest in the tabernacle in your area? Do you devoutly cross yourself when passing Catholic churches as a physical reminder of Christ’s presence? All these actions will help us become more fully filled with the reality of this supernatural food. And in consequence our love for Jesus will become more “youthful, eager and elastic,” making us much better children of God.

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Newman lays down a firm rule in the light of life's abundant blessings: the Christian is not allowed to be gloomy.

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.”

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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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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)

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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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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.

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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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