Recently in John Henry Newman Category

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)
I am visiting the Benedictine Abbey of St Anselm (Washington, DC) to get away from "stuff" where I normally live. Life there is particularly tense these days. A topic for another time. Time in quiet, time in prayer, time to think, to ponder bigger questions, time to read and to enjoy life in a different key for a short time. Life is fine. It won't last long, don't worry. I have friends here. Yesterday I was trying to understand happiness. Newman gave perspective. Today, I am trying to understand my place is a world of utter chaos, not exclusively my own chaos but more importantly the world's.

At breakfast another guest at the abbey said he thought the US was heading to another civil war. I received an email and later texts that the two year old son of a friend is in the hospital with a serious ear infection, an acute illness that has made itself a longtime, and unwelcomed guest in this person's life; there is also the fact that we are working toward the conclave but problems that need discussion, and the list goes on. This afternoon I sat for an hour with my friend Aidan, the abbot-emeritus of this abbey, who is just a delight to speak converse with, and who is living with the grace of Parkinson's. (Blessed John Paul II, pray for Aidan!) Aidan can track a conversation for the most part; he loses words and can be side-tracked; but he's capacity for friendship is great.

BUT what am I supposed to do? How do I approach the reality of life? Where is God leading me, why, and for what reason? Do I have a part to play in life? Newman has a helpful answer...

1. God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory--we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.

2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission--I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his--if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

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English: Portrait painting of John Henry Newman
Discernment of God's will difficult, and living with the gift of happiness God hasgiven each of one us is a challenging thing. We can get in the way and obscure what is real and what is fantasy. I was speaking with a friend yesterday and our conversation at one point turned to John Henry Newman. Newman knows all! (So does Balthasar, Ratzinger Giussani, to name a few people). My friend and I are trying to locate happiness: what it is, what it is not, how do I experience it, and where, etc. Happiness is not easy to categorize, accept, give, reverence, promote, etc. What is clear is that true happiness involves God and life in God; what is less clear are the contours of that happiness and even lesser is knowing how my participation in happiness is supposed to be as God wants. If you find theway to happiness that is coherent, let us know. In the meantime, Newman makes sense especially in pointing to the fact that we have to have a level of abandonment to the will of God. 

On this day in 1848 Newman wrote the following:

1. GOD has created all things for good; all things for their greatest good; everything for its own good. What is the good of one is not the good of another; what makes one man happy would make another unhappy. God has determined, unless I interfere with His plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness. He looks on me individually, He calls me by my name, He knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and He means to give it me.

2. God knows what is my greatest happiness, but I do not. There is no rule about what is happy and good; what suits one would not suit another. And the ways by which perfection is reached vary very much; the medicines necessary for our souls are very different from each other. Thus God leads us by  strange ways; we know He wills our happiness, but we neither know what our happiness is, nor the way. We are blind; left to ourselves we should take the wrong way; we must leave it to Him.

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Liana Marabini is the Director of "The Unseen World," a film exploring the life of Blessed John Henry Newman and the vocation to the priesthood. Newman is being played by Murray Abraham who is the Oscar winning actor in "Amadeus" (1984). "The Unseen World" is due out in 2011.

JHN icon.jpgO God, the source of wisdom's fire,

Who formed the mind of man

In complex and mysterious ways

Within Your loving plan,

We thank You now for calling forth

This priest who praised Your Name

By teaching and exalting you

In words of living flame.


John Henry Newman, England's son,

Was formed in Oxford's halls,

Endowed with tow'ring intellect

To answer all the calls

Which Church and University

Gave forth in times of doubt,

A rebirth of the ancient truths

As rain for minds in drought.


He served the Church of England well

With scholarship and grace,

Restoring ancient roots of faith,

Removing error's trace.

But scorned by leaders of his time,

He left his Oxford home,

In search of kindly, leading light

Which led him on toward Rome.

Blessed John Henry Newman

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Bl John Henry Newman.jpgO God, who bestowed on the priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow Your kindly light and find peace in Your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of Your truth.


"God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another" (JH Newman, Meditations on Christian Doctrine).

Blessed John Henry's feast day today is the anniversary of his conversion to Catholicism and not the date of his birth into eternal life (death), as most of the saints are honored. 

The other Propers for Mass and the Office of Readings for Newman's feast day can be found here.

Many Catholics and Christians of good will are genuinely interested in the formula the Church uses to beatify someone, thus identifying a person a "blessed." Notice who does/says what in the formula. The following is the rite (with a brief biography) used today by Pope Benedict XVI:

The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley requests that the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman be beatified

The Vice-Postulator of the Cause for the Canonisation of Cardinal Newman reads a biography of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

Bl Dominic Barberi.jpg
John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801. He was for over twenty years an Anglican clergyman and Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. As a preacher, theologian and leader of the Oxford Movement, he was a prominent figure in the Church of England. His studies of the early Church drew him progressively towards full communion with the Catholic Church. With his companions he withdrew to a life of study and prayer at Littlemore outside Oxford where in 1845 Blessed Dominic Barberi, a Passionist priest, received him into the Catholic Church.

In1847 he was himself ordained priest in Rome and, encouraged by Blessed Pope Pius IX, went on to found the Oratory of St Philip Neri in England. He was a prolific and influential writer on a variety of subjects, including the development of Christian doctrine, faith and reason, the true nature of conscience, and university education. In 1879 he was created Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. Praised for his humility, his life of prayer, his unstinting care of souls and contributions to the intellectual life of the Church, he died in the Birmingham Oratory which he had founded on 11 August 1890.

Declaration of Beatification

Pope Benedict XVI: 

JH Newman, Card.jpg

Acceding to the request of our Brother Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, by our apostolic authority we declare that the venerable Servant of God John Henry, Cardinal, Newman, priest of the Congregation of the Oratory, shall henceforth be invoked as Blessed and that his feast shall be celebrated every year of the ninth of October, in the places and according to the norms established by Church law.

In the name oft he Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Acclamation at the Beatification

Praise to the Holiest in the height, and in the depth be praised: in all his words most wonderful, most sure in all his ways. (Cardinal John Henry Newman)

The Archbishop of Birmingham thanks the Holy Father: 

Bernard Longley.jpg
Most Holy Father, I, the Ordinary of Birmingham, give heartfelt thanks to your Holiness for having today proclaimed Blessed Henry Newman.+The Archbishop and the Postulator of the cause of Blessed John Henry Newman receive the kiss of peace from the Holy Father.Procession of reliquary including members of the Newman family and the Oratorians, to greet the Holy Father
A remarkable event in the Church will happen in less than a week's time: the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God Cardinal John Henry Newman, easily the best known cardinal and thinker we have.

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, head of Canada's Salt and Light Television invests us with an excellent sense of who John Henry Cardinal Newman was as a person and as a priest in a video presentation. Watch Father Rosica's fine introduction to Newman or read the transcript here.

In the days before the Cardinal's beatification on September 19th, perhaps we can get to know the value of friendship with Christ and with others through the life and work.
Papal staging at Cotton Park.jpgThe UK Bishops' Conference will be providing the Holy Father --and the Church universal-- this sanctuary for the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rite of Beatification for Cardinal Newman. The the only possible thing to say is: OMG!!!! What rubbish.

If this is in fact what Britain's Bishops are approving for the papal ceremonies it is, in my mind, a complete disregard (a slap in the face) for the liturgical leadership of Pope Benedict and the renewal he's asked for in recent years. Why spend so much money, time and energy on such stuff.

Architecture is only one piece of the liturgical ac of prayer ... I pray the music, flowers, and ritual actions, vestments are not so churlish. Two things we can be certain of: the papal homily will be exceptional and the papal presence will be superior.

2010 Newman Conference August 5-7, 2010
National Institute for Newman Studies

This year's conference theme is "A Reflection on the Life, Thought, and Spirituality of John Henry Newman in Celebration of His Beatification."

JH Newman.jpg
Over 25 speakers will deliver papers on such varied topics as "Principles of Newman's Theological Reading of the Fathers," "Newman and Twentieth-Century Literary Converts: Lowell, Merton, and Day" and "Holiness in the Parochial and Plain Sermons: Its Nature, Aids, and Obstacles." 

Keynote addresses will be given by Fr. Ian Ker, of Oxford University, Dr. Terrence Merrigan, of the Catholic University of Leuven, and Dr. Cyril O'Regan of the University of Notre Dame. 

The August conference in Pittsburgh will begin with a Mass celebrated by Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik. Deacon Jack Sullivan, the man who was healed through Newman's intercession, will offer the homily.

Conference details and registration information is available on the Newman Association's website.

Zeal and Meekness

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CHRIST bade His followers take the sword;
And yet He chid the deed,
When Peter seized upon His word,
And made a foe to bleed.

The gospel Creed, a sword of strife,
Meek hands alone may rear;
And ever Zeal begins its life
In silent thought and fear.

Ye, who would weed the Vineyard's soil,
Treasure the lesson given;
Lest in the judgment-books ye toil
For Satan, not for heaven.

John Henry Newman
Off Sardinia
June 20, 1833
Verses on Various Occasions, 170
Britain's Catholic Herald reports today that John Henry Newman's beatification ceremony, conducted by the Holy Father himself, will happen at Coventry Airport, while the pope is visiting England and Scotland from 16-19 September 2010. As we all know, the Pope is dispensing himself of his own rule for beatification ceremonies. Newman's beatification is a great grace not only for the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians) but for England and the theological world.

It was announced this morning by the Holy See that Pope Benedict XVI will beatify John Henry Newman on 19th September 2010, during his visit to the U.K., in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The Cause of Newman's Canonisation has released the following statement:

Newman in cappa.jpg

The Fathers and many friends of the English Oratories are delighted by the official announcement that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will beatify our founder, the Venerable John Henry Newman, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during his visit to Britain in September. Newman made his home in the Archdiocese for all his adult life, first in Oxford, where he lived as an Anglican and was received into the Catholic Church, and later in Birmingham itself where he founded and worked in the Birmingham Oratory for over forty years.

The Holy Father's life-long devotion to Newman has made a profound contribution to understanding the depth and significance of our founder's legacy. His decision to beatify Newman in person confers a unique blessing upon the English Oratories and all who have drawn inspiration from Newman's life and work.

We joyfully look forward to welcoming the Holy Father, as well as the many pilgrims and visitors who will come to the Beatification ceremony and visit Newman's shrine at the Birmingham Oratory.

We also look forward to the challenging work of preparing for the Beatification in conjunction with Church and civil authorities. We pray that the Beatification will fittingly reflect both Newman's significance for the Universal Church and the honour paid to our Archdiocese and our country by the Holy Father's presence among us.

Very Rev. Richard Duffield

Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor of the Cause of John Henry Newman

Additionally, the Procurator of the Congregation of the Oratory, Very Reverend Father Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, CO, has written to the all the Oratories of the world on this great gesture of Pope Benedict XVI in personally beatifying the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman. The letter is here: Letter-of-the-Procurator-General-of-the-Oratory-Confederation-March-2010.pdf

JH Newman2.jpgThe Holy Father recognized the 2001 healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan as a miracle by way of the Venerable Servant of God Cardinal John Henry Newman's intercession. This was the final step in the beatification process of the English cardinal; of course, the canonization process will continue to its natural end. Now the details of the beatification ceremony are pending which is likely to be England.

We rejoice with the Congregation of the Oratory and the 82 Oratorian Houses --indeed with the entire Church in the Pope's decision to beatify Newman because it gives us another authentic guide to Christ.

At the Birmingham Oratory you can read

Some of his works can be found here.
JHN detail.jpgThe commission of cardinals approved of the miracle presented to them for the dossier proposing John Henry Cardinal Newman as a "beatus" (blessed).

The next step is for the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, to prepare a document for the Holy Father to study the case. Read the Times Online story of the recent events.

The recent article in the UK's Catholic Herald of John Henry Newman's biographer who takes on the gay revisionists who try to rewrite the life of the late convert-cardinal-now-saint-hopeful. Father Ian Kerr defends Newman by trying to understand the meaning of the man's life and words. I think the 19th century priest Father St. John is correct: we've lost a concept of affectionate friendship that's not sexual.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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