Young Newman

“The Patient Church” is one of several poems written by Blessed John Henry Newman which is both didactic and autobiographical. The lesson in this poem is helpful for us today, since it sometimes seems as though church leaders make accommodation to the world instead of persisting in the so-called “hard teachings” of the faith. But the poem ends with a message of hope which we would do well to consider, lest we grow distraught hearing the latest disturbing events in the news.

Newman begins this poem with the admonition to “BIDE thou thy time!” – speaking not only to the beleaguered Anglican Church which seemed to be faltering, giving in to the tides of the time; but perhaps also to himself, in a time of turmoil in his own heart, as he was on his Mediterranean voyage where he not only became severely ill, but also struggled with his convictions regarding the problems he discerned in the Anglican Church.

This intriguing poem contains a reference to the famous Old Testament cities of Bethel and Dan, where King Jeroboam built golden calves – idols for his people to worship in the place of the One True God. This sin of Jeroboam fascinated Newman because, later, he wrote a sermon entitled “Jeroboam.” Newman contrasts this king with the “patient” Shepherd, the Child Jesus, whose divinity, “his heaven-told fate” was for a time, cloaked, but who, in the right time, would “loose the chains” of sin.

BIDE thou thy time!

Watch with meek eyes the race of pride and crime,

Sit in the gate, and be the heathen’s jest,

Smiling and self-possest.

O thou, to whom is pledged a victor’s sway,

Bide thou the victor’s day!

 

Think on the sin

That reap’d the unripe seed, and toil’d to win

Foul history-marks at Bethel and at Dan;

No blessing, but a ban;

Whilst the wise Shepherd hid his heaven-told fate,

Nor reck’d a tyrant’s hate.

 

Such loss is gain;

Wait the bright Advent that shall loose thy chain!

E’en now the shadows break, and gleams divine

Edge the dim distant line.

When thrones are trembling, and earth’s fat ones quail,

True Seed! thou shalt prevail!

(Off Algiers. December 20, 1832).

In the later sermon entitled “Jeroboam” Newman writes:

Jeroboam’s sins, in regard to religious worship, were not single, or inconsistent with one another, but depended on this principle—that there is no need to attend to the positive laws and the outward forms and ceremonies of religion, so that we attend to the substance. In setting up these figures of gold, it was far from his intention to oppose the worship of the One True God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Saviour of Israel. The words he used on the occasion, and  the course of the history, show this. He thought he was only altering the discipline of the Church, as we should now call it, and he might plausibly ask, ‘What did that matter?’ as he was but putting another emblem of God in the place of the Cherubim. He made merely such alterations as change of circumstances and the course of events rendered indispensable. He was in difficulties, and had to consider, not what was best, or what he himself should choose, had he to choose, but what was practicable.

How contemporary this sounds! It could be written about the Church today! And so Newman’s admonition to bide our time, echoes through the centuries.

This compelling poem ends on an optimistic note: that is, if we realize that much of what we must endure on earth, whatever loss we might have, this loss is gain, considered in the light of eternity, for, as Newman exults in the last stanza of this poem, “E’en now the shadows break, and gleams divine/ Edge the dim distant line.” In other words, we can look ahead and discern, even in the distance of the future, that God will be victorious … and earthly kings will “quail” or falter, and their thrones tremble. We, the true seed, will prevail, and must not dwell on disturbing news and give up. But – are we willing to hope in Christ and not despair?

 

 

 

Like this article?

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.

Leave a comment

Our Books

About Cardinal John Henry Newman

Purchase Book


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)

Purchase Book

 
Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.
 

Purchase Book


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.  

Purchase Book


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.

Purchase Book


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.

Purchase Book


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.
About Newman
Fr. Juan Velez

The Indwelling Spirit

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.

Read More »
Sermon Blog
David Warren

The Fellowship of the Apostles

Preaching the truth means Jesus Christ is the goal in our conflicts with others – not winning the argument. This is why we can approach everyone with understanding, respect and patience, in other words, in a Christ-like way.

Read More »
About Newman
Prof. Barb H. Wyman

Many Called, Few Chosen

Though the invitation is open to all, not everyone responds to it in faith. Those who accept the call, embrace Christ, and live according to His teachings; they are the chosen ones.

Read More »
Sermon Blog
Fr. Juan Velez

The Gospel Feast

John Henry Newman calls the Holy Mass the Gospel Feast and takes us through numerous biblical passages that prefigure this great Sacrament.

Read More »