In today’s world, there are many types of media platforms. Internet news, newspapers, magazines bring us news and opinions. In this world of news and social media, Christians with a good knowledge of the faith, history, and literature can do a great deal of good. St. John Henry Newman encouraged his friends to write for publications and to maintain the right tone in controversial matters. The story of the Rambler Magazine is a good example of this.

Newman had been a writer from a young age and had edited different publications. He knew that ideas influence people’s way of thinking and acting. At the university in Ireland he had started and edited a university newspaper and together with a professor of chemistry, the Atlantis, a university journal on both literary and scientific topics.

Many of Newman’s friends were converts to the Catholic faith from the Anglican Church. They were intellectuals with knowledge and opinions about history, religion, and politics.

When Newman left the university, he became involved with the Rambler, a periodical, started by one such friend.  Newman wrote verses that were published and served as an unofficial advisor on theological questions for the publication. He advised the editor to avoid controversy with the competing publication, the Dublin Review, under the aegis of Cardinal Wiseman, the Archbishop of Westminster.

 Soon after, the Rambler changed hands and the new owners and editor came into collision with Church authorities. Lord Acton, an influential Catholic with liberal ideas, was part owner and Richard Simpson, a married man and convert, was the editor. These men were good Catholics and accepted authority in the Church but they did not hesitate to criticize scandals which in those times English Catholics did not hear about. Both men favored the liberal attitude towards the then burning question about the Pope’s Temporal Power. Cardinal Wiseman and other Catholics in London such as Fr. Faber thought strongly that papal sovereignty was necessary.  Newman did not think it was necessary but thought the question was a complicated one and did not just side with the liberals.

 Newman was not afraid to say what he thought after studying some matter, and he considered that laymen had a right to express their views, for example on the government’s policies on education. At the same he advised Acton to keep theology out of the Rambler, and stick to literary subjects which had been the original intent of the periodical. He thought that theology subjects could not be treated well in magazine articles. He also felt the tone of the articles should be respectful, especially with regards to the bishops.

 In that state of affairs, Simpson, the new editor, made things worse by attacking the educational policy of the bishops. It appeared that the magazine was going to be censured by the bishops and it would lose its readers. Newman did not wish to be the editor but in the end he took up the editorship to save the magazine. He thought it was important for Catholics to express their ideas in cultural, literary and educational matters.

Newman was editor for only three months because of a storm over an article he wrote. His bishop asked him to resign and he promptly obeyed. The bishop was right that things may be said in books that are not safely said in periodicals. But it was a blow for Newman who in the words of Meriol Trevor, a biographer of Newman, who wrote: “All his ventures were undertaken to assist the formation of a truly Catholic mind – the University, the School, the Magazine itself were all part of his campaign; so was the Oratory, since it was meant to mediate to the people an understanding in the practice of their faith” (Newman, Light in Winter, p. 201).

I would venture to say that if Newman were alive today he would certainly write other books, but also articles, and occasionally post shorter pieces on the web, and encourage educated Christians to do likewise, and when engaging in controversy to do so in a respectful way.

Furthermore, on a related note, Newman would encourage others to stay informed in order to separate the wheat from the chaff when choosing which things to read online. Although it is easy to waste time with the Internet, when used prudently, there is fertile ground for sowing the faith. Even if one is not a writer, a judicious posting of articles on Facebook or sharing educational posts like the ones on this blog with friends can go a long way towards leading others closer to Our Lord.


Like this article?

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.”

Leave a comment

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. 

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. Peter Conley

Slopes, Popes and Newman

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.”

Read More »
Sermon Blog
David Warren

Endurance, the Christian’s Portion

Today, on Good Friday, we remember our Lord’s crucifixion, not as though it was a wrinkle in His otherwise peaceful earthly life, but rather as the focus and the pattern of His life.

Read More »
About Newman
Fr. Juan Velez

Fasting and Holy Week

In Fasting a Source of Trial, Newman reminds that we must not forget its main purpose: to unite ourselves with Christ.

Read More »