Nativity

NativityTonight we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The Incarnation is the great mystery that reveals God’s wonderful love for mankind.

In this sermon from the Parochial and Plain Sermons Newman draws from texts throughout the Scriptures to describe Jesus the Son of God, foretold in the prophets and revealed in the flesh.

He begins commenting a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Heb. ii. 11.

As He was born, so are we born also; and since He was born, therefore we too are born. As He is the Son of God by nature, so are we sons of God by grace; and it is He who has made us such. This is what the text says; He is the “Sanctifier,” we the “sanctified.” Moreover, He and we, says the text, “are all of one.” God sanctifies the Angels, but there the Creator and the creature are not of one. But the Son of God and we are of one; He has become “the firstborn of every creature;” He has taken our nature, and in and through it He sanctifies us. He is our brother by virtue of His incarnation, and, as the text says, “He is not ashamed to call us brethren;” and, having sanctified our nature in Himself, He communicates it to us.

After the fall of Adam the birth of a Savior was prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah and later in Genesis. And at last it was announced by an angel to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Joseph. To Mary the angel says: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” [Matt. i. 20, 21. Luke i. 28-35.]

Newman comments:

This is the great Mystery which we are now celebrating, of which mercy is the beginning, and sanctity the end: according to the Psalm, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” He who is all purity came to an impure race to raise them to His purity. He, the brightness of God’s glory, came in a body of flesh, which was pure and holy as Himself, “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish;” and this He did for our sake, “that we might be partakers of His holiness.”

He continues, insisting as at the beginning of the sermon, that through the Incarnation God communicated his divine life to our human nature:

He came in that very nature of Adam, in order to communicate to us that nature as it is in His Person, that “our sinful bodies might be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood;” to make us partakers of the Divine nature; to sow the seed of eternal life in our hearts; and to raise us from “the corruption that is in the world through lust,” to that immaculate purity and that fulness of grace which is in Him.

In the rest of the sermon Newman narrates the life and redemptive death of Jesus and invites us to meditate on the mystery with wonder and gratitude:

Let us at this season approach Him with awe and love, in whom resides all perfection, and from whom we are allowed to gain it. Let us come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let us come to Him to learn our duty, and to receive grace to do it. At other seasons of the year we are reminded of watching, toiling, struggling, and suffering; but at this season we are reminded simply of God’s gifts towards us sinners. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” We are reminded that we can do nothing, and that God does everything. This is especially the season of grace. We come to see and to experience God’s mercies.

Pope Francis has just led the Church into the celebration of a Year of Mercy. In the Season of Christmas we will begin to fathom God’s mercy with his children. And in doing so we will grow in desires to imitate the holiness of his Son. In this light Blessed Newman closes his sermon biding us: “May each Christmas, as it comes, find us more and more like Him, who as at this time became a little child for our sake, more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full 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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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)

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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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