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Tag Archives: Bl. John Henry Newman

THE GOSPELS, WHICH CONTAIN THE MEMORIALS OF THE WONDERFUL GRACE, ARE OUR PRINCIPAL TREASURES

Our Lord and Saviour

“To know Christ is to discern the Father of all, as manifested through his only-begotten Son incarnate… And thus the Gospels, which contain the memorials of this wonderful grace, are our principal treasures. They may be called the text of the Revelation; and the Epistles, especially St Paul’s, are as comments upon it, unfolding and illustrating it in its various parts, raising history into doctrine, ordinances into sacraments, detached words or actions into principles, and thus everywhere dutifully preaching his person, work and will.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman; The very life of personal religion lies in a knowledge of the Gospels, P.S. II, 154-155

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Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ARTILLERY TO DEFEND THE FAITH

“Five hundred years ago this month, our holy father St Philip Neri was born in the early hours of 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. Just hours later the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity were infused into his soul in Baptism. In the wretched heat and humidity that afflict Florence in high summer it was prudent to administer the Sacrament without delay.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard which when it is sown is the tiniest seed in the field, but when grown it becomes a tree in the branches of which the birds of the air come and make their nests. The seed that was planted in St Philip’s heart in the famous Baptistery of St John, and which germinated and took root during his childhood in Florence, would eventually flourish into a mighty tree in Rome. His own room was the nest (he actually called it his ‘nido’) in which the fledgling first Oratory would become the base for an apostolic mission that would earn him the glorious title Apostle of Rome.

The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation

As other Oratories began to be established, it was St Philip’s wish that each house remain autonomous, and this status is preserved to this day in the Church’s law. Nevertheless, every Oratory is to be like a branch that stems from and is animated by that supernatural life that was nurtured in St Philip’s ‘nido’ half a millennium ago. The purpose of an Oratory in the plan of salvation is to give encouragement and direction to anyone who seeks spiritual refreshment in the shade of its bough. An Oratory is supposed to provide a spiritual home, usually in an urban context, in which friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured under the gentle guidance of St Philip and the protection of Our Lady.

…where friendship with Our Saviour is nurtured

Mention of the Counter Reformation conjures up images of the Church rolling out all the engines of war. Established religious orders were to be reformed or suppressed; new congregations would be equipped with spiritual and intellectual artillery to defend the Faith and reclaim territories lost to schism. Jesuits were to be deployed around Europe to engage heretics in public dispute, or despatched to risk life and limb recruiting converts from the heathen New World. In contrast to this, St Philip’s mission within the Church Militant took place entirely on the home front. In the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘He put away from him monastic rule and authoritative speech as David refused the armour of his king… His weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpretending love. All he did was to be done by the light and fervour and convincing eloquence of his personal character and his easy conversation. He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him.” In other words, it was through personal contact and friendship that St Philip contributed to the success of the Catholic Reformation.

The Christian/spiritual meaning of friendship

Under the tyranny of sentimentalism that reigns supreme today, there is a danger that friendship can take on a shallow meaning and be understood mainly in terms of feelings and utility. To understand how friendship was so effective in St Philip’s apostolate, it is necessary to appreciate the classical and Christian traditions in which he had been formed by the Dominicans at San Marco, and through his later studies in Rome. In the Aristotelian understanding, friendship is a ‘settled disposition’ – a habit, based on virtue. It involves the recognition of an intrinsic good in the other, and a reciprocated commitment to serve that good and make it flourish. In a truly virtuous friendship, the parties will also work together for the common good. Whereas for Aristotele such friendship is only possible between equals (he said that the one good we must never desire for our friends is that they become gods because if our wish were fulfilled then we should immediately forfeit their friendship), St Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on Sanctifying Grace makes even friendship with God a reality, because God actually shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism.

The infectious spirit of generosity and charity

Saint Philip excelled in making men’s hearts receptive to this vocation to live as friends with God. His joyful influence fostered an ambience in which his spiritual children found pleasure in each other’s company and came to assist each other in living virtuously. A shy cobbler whom St Philip spotted sitting at the back of the Oratory was summoned to the front and hugged like a long-lost child returning to a family that included cardinals and princes. A watch-seller on the verge of bankruptcy found himself suddenly overwhelmed by eager customers at the Oratory, where St Philip’s friends had been primed to come to his assistance. This infectious spirit of generosity and charity was fostered by visits to attend to the poor in the Roman hospitals. Even those who came to the Oratory with unworthy motives were eventually captivated by the ‘Winning Saint’, and some found themselves taking Holy Orders or religious vows as a result.

This school of Christian friendship was the magnificent mustard tree which developed from that seed of the Kingdom planted in St Philip’s heart at his Baptism on 22nd July 1515. By his intercession, and under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin, may it continue to flourish in the Oratory today and in the years to come.”

– From: “The Oratory Parish Magazine – From the Provost”, London Oratory, Vol. 92, No. 1130 (subheadings in bold added afterwards)

 

 

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THE CHURCH IS A COLLECTION OF SOULS, BROUGHT TOGETHER IN ONE BY GOD’S SECRET GRACE

What we see is not the whole of the Church, but the visible part of it

“The Church is a collection of souls, brought together in one by God’s secret grace, though that grace comes to them through visible instruments, and unites them to a visible hierarchy.

What is seen, is not the whole of the Church, but the visible part of it. When we say that Christ loves his Church, we mean that he loves, nothing of earthly nature but the fruit of his own grace… in innumerable hearts.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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WITHOUT FAITH, EVERY HUMAN LABOUR IS EMPTY

“Jesus says to his friends in the boat who were terrified at the storm, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’ Let us prayerfully reflect on what some holy people have written about faith:

• Faith is the ear of the soul. (St Clement of Alexandria)

• Just as the mere memory of fire does not warm the body, so also faith without love doesn’t produce the light of knowledge in the soul. (St Maximus the Confessor)

• Without faith, every human labour is empty. (St Fulgence of Ruspe)

• I may love by halves, I may obey by halves; I cannot believe by halves: either I have faith, or I have it not. (Blessed John Henry Newman)

• The spiritual quest is a continuous act of faith, a faith that spiritual experience is the most real thing in human life and that all other categories of experience are subordinate to the fact of God. (Martin Israel – priest and spiritual director)

• Faith is the union of God with the soul. (St John of the Cross)

• What is required of you is faith and a sincere life, not loftiness and intellect of deep knowledge of the mysteries of God. (Thomas a Kempis – spiritual writer)

• Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. (St Augustine of Hippo)

• Faith is a beam radiating from the face of God. (St John Dudes)

• God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ increase us in faith and truth and gentleness. (Prayer of St Polycarp)”

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris” / June 2015

 

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WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE OF LIFE, THE SECRET ORIGIN OF EXISTENCE?

One and the same unseen spiritual principle

“This then is the special glory of the Christian Church, that its members do not depend merely on what is visible, they are not mere stones of a building, piled one on another, and bound together from without, but they are one and all the births and manifestations of one and the same unseen spiritual principle or power, ‘living stones’, internally connected, as branches from a tree, not as parts of a heap. They are members of the Body of Christ. That divine and adorable form, which the Apostles saw and handled, after ascending into heaven became a principle of life, a secret origin of existence to all who believe, through the gracious ministration of the Holy Ghost… So that in a true sense it may be said, that from the day of Pentecost to this hour there has been in the Church but one Holy One, the King of kings, and Lord of lords himself, who is in all believers, and through whom they are what they are; their separate persons being but as separate developments, vessels, instruments, and works of him who is invisible.”

(Bl. John Henry Newman; from ‘We are members of Christ and members one of another’, P.S. IV, 170)

 

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“I AM CONTEMPLATING CATHOLICISM… AS A MORAL DUTY” (BL. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN)

“A mere shadow, as dust and ashes”

“The Church aims, not at making a show, but at doing a work. She regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul. She holds that, unless she can, in her own way, do good to souls, it is no use her doing anything; she holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse.” (Deliberately to offend God is the greatest of all evils; Diff. I, 239-40)

I am contemplating Catholicism… as a moral duty

I am contemplating Catholicism, chiefly as a system of pastoral instruction and moral duty; and I have to do with its doctrines mainly as they are subservient to its direction of the conscience and the conduct. I speak of it, for instance, as teaching the ruined state of man; his utter inability to gain Heaven by anything he can do himself; the moral certainty of his losing his soul if left to himself; the simple absence of all rights and claims on the part of the creature in the presence of the Creator; the illimitable claims of the Creator on the service of the creature; the imperative and obligatory force of the voice of conscience; and the inconceivable evil of sensuality.” (Apart from me you can do nothing”; Idea, 133)

– Bl. John Henry Newman

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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FREEDOM FROM EVERY TIE WHICH BINDS THE SOUL TO THE EARTH

Detachment, surrender and joy

“To be detached is to be loosened from every tie which binds the soul to the earth, to be dependent on nothing sublunary, to lean on nothing temporal; it is to care simply nothing what other men choose to think or say of us, or do to us; to go about our own work, because it is our duty … without a care of the consequences; to account credit, honour, name, easy circumstances, comfort, human affections, just nothing at all, when any religious obligation involves the sacrifice of them.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, ‘Ready to sell everything in order to buy the pearl of great price’, H.S. III, 130

 
 

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