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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
The Testimony of Conscience

When all is said and done each person faces his conscience resulting in peace or guilt, satisfaction or remorse depending on his thoughts and actions before God. In a great sermon titled “The Testimony of Conscience,” St. John Henry Newman comments on the words of St. Paul: “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you.” 2 Cor. i. 12.

Newman comments on the meaning of simplicity and sincerity of heart, and offers St. Paul as an example of one who lived in this manner.

“You know that it is a frequent account of the kings of Judah in the Sacred history, that they walked or did not walk with God, with a perfect heart. In contrast with this phrase, consider what our Saviour says of the attempt made by the Pharisees to serve God and mammon, and St. James’s account of a double-minded man.” Furthermore, Newman continues: “A man serves with a perfect heart, who serves God in all parts of his duty; and, not here and there, but here and there and everywhere; not perfectly indeed as regards the quality of his obedience, but perfectly as regards its extent; not completely, but consistently.”

The one with a perfect heart contrasts with the one who is a hypocrite, ”the one who, though his heart would tell him, were he honest with it, that he is not serving God perfectly, yet will not ask his heart, will not listen to it, trifles with his conscience, is determined to believe that he is religious.”

Newman offers various instances of this insincerity of heart:

-Some who act “shrinking from the absolute surrender and sacrifice of self to God.”

-Others who “dare not profess in God’s sight that they will serve Him. They dare not promise; they dare not pray to Him. They dare not beg Him to make them wholly His.”

-Others like the rich young man who “flattered himself that he was perfect in heart when he had a reserve in his obedience.”

-“Still others who, although conscious of doing wrong “from pride, or other wrong feeling, they shrink from going close to it, and, as it were, embracing it. And so again, if they have been in fault, they will make excuses, or half confess.””

-“Lastly may be mentioned, the case of persons seeking the truth. How often are they afraid or loth to throw themselves on God’s guidance, and beg Him to teach them!”

In the season of Advent the Church puts before us the figure of St. John the Baptist. He lived with a perfect heart. He surrendered himself completely to God. Rather than boast of his mission, he acknowledged not being worthy to untie the sandals of the Lord. When imprisoned he was steadfast in his confession to God and was given the fortitude to die a martyr. He rejoiced in the testimony of his conscience.

We are weak and yet often rely on our strength. We fail to give ourselves wholly to God and to ask for his grace. When we decide to turn to God wholly everything begins to change. The ice becomes a flowing stream. God blows with his wind and waters flow.

“So is it when God prevails on a heart to open itself to Him, and admit Him wholly” writes Newman.  Man really gives himself up to God, “when he gets himself honestly to say, “I sacrifice to Thee this cherished wish, this lust, this weakness, this scheme, this opinion: make me what Thou wouldest have me; I bargain for nothing; I make no terms; I seek for no previous information whither Thou art taking me; I will be what Thou wilt make me, and all that Thou wilt make me…” Then we have peace in our conscience.

As we approach the Child in the crib, let us tell Him with the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph that we wish to love him with simplicity and sincerity of heart, serving Him with a perfect heart.

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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.

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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)

Review by Serenheed James
(Antiphon, April 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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