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(Photo by Francisco Malavolta of strollers left by Polish women for women arriving with their babies in trains from Ukraine).

War is a great tragedy. It brings with it death, illness and destruction of civil and religious life of countries, of families and institutions, with lasting religious, psychological and physical wounds and all types of impoverishment. It is the end result of many personal sins and injustices. As we hear of wars, and see images of its devastation in Ukraine, we feel sadness, anger and helplessness. What does this all mean? And can we do anything about this?

From 1853 to 1856, the Crimean War raged between Russia under Nicholas I and the Ottoman Empire with the support of France and Britain. Newman wrote to a friend that the British should have thought twice if the cause of the war was just and war unavoidable. He noted that on the whole this war was like other wars, but now even worse because the instruments of destruction were such that war was even more hideous than before at Agincourt or Blenheim, and that those soldiers who returned home were covered with scars and mutilations.

In light of the war in Ukraine, over the next few weeks we will consider different aspects of suffering and their relationship to the Cross of the Lord. Various texts by St. John Henry Newman, especially a series of meditations which he wrote for Good Friday, will help our reflection.

The history of Ukraine is one of great suffering. Many people are alive who remember the starvation of millions of family members under the collectivization of farms by Stalin and communist rule in the early 1930’s. The communist attempt to dominate people and deprive them of their religious and civic freedoms is repeated once again. The population of Ukraine (43 million) is in great majority Christian (63% Orthodox, 8% Catholic and 2% other Christians) and a very small minority Jewish and Muslim. The people of Ukraine are experiencing in the flesh the effects of sin and evil. (Many people in Russia are also suffering from this war imposed on it by its rulers).

God, our Creator and Father, created men and women in his likeness. He wishes that we live in peace as his children. During Lent we consider our sins which led his Son Jesus Christ to give his life for us.

In his first reflection for Good Friday, Newman puts before us the truth that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He reminds us of the words of the prophet Isaiah of the innocent lamb who is sacrificed for the sins of men.

In chapter 53 we read: “He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearers” (v. 7); and all this because “He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; … by His bruises we are healed” (v. 5).

Newman invites us to pray for the conversion of pagan nations and unbelievers. 

“Behold, O Lord, but a portion of mankind has heard of Thy Name—but a portion even professes to adore Thee—and yet thousands upon thousands in the East and the West, in the North and the South, hour after hour, as each hour comes, are dropping away from this life into eternity.”

Newman’s prayer is in keeping with the petition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917 where she asked for prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of Russia. In her apparitions she asked for the consecration to her Immaculate Heart which Pope Pius XII, and later John Paul II, did.

These popes and others, as well as St. John Henry Newman, St. Josemaría Escrivá,  Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and other saints have taught us to pray with faith the holy rosary. God who is All Powerful and wishes peace, hears our petitions. Let us voice our prayer for peace in Ukraine going to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Let us ask family and friends to pray many rosaries and offer sacrifices for this intention. Like the three shepherds, we should pray to Our Lady of Fatima to crush the evil serpent that moves men to pursue unjust wars, and to obtain peace for her children.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In the words of St. Paul, Christ “is our peace” (Eph 2: 14). He alone can bring about the longed for peace. He asks us to be peacemakers, putting an end to war. Some days ago in a town or city of Ukraine the Blessed Sacrament was taken in procession through the streets while many people knelt along the way. Let us ask Christ, as these people did, to bring about peace in Ukraine, and think about ways of helping those who flee their homeland for safety. (Here you can read article about the way that laity, priests and religious in Ukraine and neighboring countries are doing to help those with urgent needs).

 

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There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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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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