Three Minutes with Newman
Three Minutes with Newman
What is the Church and can we Trust it?

The present crisis in the Church is a crisis of the Church, that is, its members. Some have left or are leaving, and some remain but with little trust. And many are returning to the foundations of the faith and asking the simple but essential questions we all need to revisit, like, “what is the Church and can we trust it?”

The Church is too profound to be captured in a single image, but the word “church”  itself translates “to call out of“ and means “a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose” (Catechism). The Church is the people of God, as foreshadowed in the children of Israel, and now fully expressed as the Body of Christ. The Church is the sheepfold, the cultivated field, the building of God, of which Christ is the cornerstone.  She is mater et magistra – our mother and teacher – who cares for us.  She is also the Bride of the Christ: “It is she whom he unites to himself by an unbreakable alliance, and whom he constantly ‘nourishes and cherishes’” (Catechism).

The Church is not an inanimate institution, nor is she a clerical service organization; she is the community of believers who are incorporated into Christ through Baptism  When we say she is the people of God, we see that she is us – ordinary men and women trying to sanctify ourselves through our work; sinners in need of daily forgiveness. Moreover, the Church administers the sacraments, the visible signs that communicate an invisible grace, by which Christ gives supernatural life to men and heals their sins. Christ is truly present in the Holy Sacrament, and before this mystery of faith and love, Blessed Newman exclaims: “O my God, holiness becometh Thy House, and yet Thou dost make Thy abode in my breast. My Lord, my Saviour, to me Thou comest, hidden under the semblance of earthly things, yet in that very flesh and blood which Thou didst take from Mary.”

When we say she is our mother and teacher,  we see that she is the men and women the Holy Spirit has chosen to be a conduit for His words, words that never fail even when the voices speaking do.  In these uncertain times, when shepherds have failed to protect their sheep, many wonder if they can trust the Church. While individuals will fail, Christ has promised us that the Church will not fail. St. Matthew quotes our Lord as saying that He will build his Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (16:19).  This indefectibility (inability to fail) He ensures especially to the Seat of Peter, the See of Rome: “Among the prerogatives conferred on His Church by Christ is the gift of indefectibility. By this term is signified, not merely that the Church will persist to the end of time, but further, that it will preserve unimpaired its essential characteristics” (1917 Catholic Encyclopedia).

Yet the history of the Church is replete with trial.  There have been times, in the fourth century for example, when there were more heretics than Christians in the Church.  She has endured schism, anti-popes, and the Reformation. But we have faith in Jesus’ promise: the gates of hell shall not prevail against her, because she is not merely a natural institution; she is a supernatural body, upheld by the arms of God. This indefectibility is not a promise that relies on one person or group of people, but to the Church as a whole. Popes and bishops can err, but the Church remains the pillar of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

Blessed John Henry Newman explains how secure is our faith in the Church: “In such texts [1 Tim. 3:15] the Faith committed to the Church is represented, not as a secret and difficult doctrine, but as clearly proclaimed, indefectibly maintained, and universally acknowledged. Whatever errors and corruptions there may be in the Church and in her children, so far, it may be argued, is clear, that the true Faith, the one way to heaven, the one message from the Saviour of sinners, the Revelation of the Gospel, will be plain and unequivocal, as the sun in the heavens, from first to last; so that whoever goes wrong within her pale, will have himself to blame wholly, not his defective light.” We must remember that the infallibility of the Church does not extend to its members or leaders; and only in very limited circumstances – as when a pope speaks together with all of tradition and the body of bishops to define a doctrine, do his words enjoy the privilege of infallibility.

For our faith in the Church to hold fast, it must be rooted in our faith in God through Christ.  He is the faithful One, and the Amen (Rev. 3:14) whose words are spirit and life, whose words we can fully trust. God will preserve his Church, but men and women will still commit evil.  Through this current great trial and absolute purification, He will do justice, bring healing, and prune and purify His Church, that she may be the spotless Bride He has called her to be.

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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)

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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