Beatifying Newman, Neri & More

One of the books I’ll be trying to read while in Rome is John Henry Newman; Prayers, Verses and Devotions, from Ignatius Press.

Just as it seems like St. Philip Neri, my Patron for this year, may have had a hand in making Rome a suddenly reality (when I discovered that our lodgings are very near his Oratory, I could almost hear him laughing), finding this book–in perfect condition–in the “used book” bin at church seemed like a gift, too. Since Pope Benedict will be beatifying Newman on September 19, during his UK visit, I figured I ought to get to know a little about him.

Before I even opened the book, it suddenly hit me: Newman was an Oratorian. And who founded the Oratorians? Who pestered me all year until I finally constructed an oratory in my home, and then brought a second-class relic of his to rest upon it?

Why, that would be Neri, again.

In my prayers, each day, I always turn to Philip and say, “teach me what you know…”

You may think all of this means nothing, but after spending most of a year under Philip’s tutelage (I am a very poor student, but he is a most patient, cheerful and ironic master), discovering the brilliant Newman’s strong affection for the clever Neri, and learning that the Rome seminar includes a two-hour class on Newman’s beatification, well…call me foolish, call me silly, but I am increasingly feeling like I am being led around here by the nose.

To what end, I have no idea, but I am sure it is for my good, so I am willing to be led.

The Newman book is precisely what it purports to be; it is not a biography, it is simply excerpts from his writing in all forms. What better way to get to know a man, than following his thoughts? I like this, written as he traveled through Italy, very much:

When Heaven sends sorrow,
Warnings go first,
Lest it should burst
With stunning might
On souls too bright
To fear the morrow.

Because Neri is teaching me to laugh, I did chuckle a little, considering sorrow bursting with “sudden might” and my dislike of flying.

It’s an oddball life I lead, I know.

Our Passionist Nun friends in Kentucky (producers of one of the most charming invitations to religious life I’ve ever seen) have posted their own bragging rights about Newman, with The Man Behind Newman’s Conversion. Seems it was a Passionist that received Newman into the church!

Also, be sure to check out Sr. Mary Ann Walsh’s piece on Newman

Newman’s Feastday will be October 9

Don’t forget to check the Word of the Day!

Lord, Don’t Trust Lizzie

When Children Love Saint Benedict!
The Worth and the Witness of Women Bloggers
Holy Martyrs of Egypt, pray for us and for your ISIS killers
No Nuns Stuck in Elevators!
About Elizabeth Scalia
  • RecklessProcess

    I did not think Paul had that much hair left. Does he still race?

  • Elizabeth

    Hi! I sent you an email some time ago, but I’m not sure if it went through. I’m the blogger at Little Flowers; you’ve been kind enough to link to me for some time. I’m an avid reader of yours, and I know you are a fan of the Little Sisters of the Poor. I volunteer at their home in Washington, D.C. A young lady who works at that home, Elise Maloney, has been accepted to enter the congregation in October. The only thing standing in her way is college debt. The Little Sisters are having a bake sale this Saturday to help raise money, and Elise has a website: where she talks about her calling and her fundraising efforts. I know Elise personally can attest that this cause is a worthy one. Thank you for allowing me to draw attention to her efforts!

    [I do recall that and lost site of your email, sorry; I can't always keep up as I'd like. Thanks for mentioning it here, and I will also tweek and facebook about it! I do love my Little Sisters of the Poor. Between them, my Passionist Nun friends and my gals at Summit, I am always happy to help out! I hope she has also applied to Mater Ecclesiae and the Laboure Society for assistance! -admin]

  • F

    ” I am increasingly feeling like I am being led around here by the nose.

    To what end, I have no idea”

    Shepherdess ‘Lizzie’, its so that we, your little flock will continue to be guided by you in even better form. Even if you feel lost, that lamp at your feet is lighting the way for many others. Do NOT forget that.

    I love the way the saints reach through the veil and lead us around like little tots. If the world only knew how delightful it is to be Catholic…the lines for baptisms would be around the corner and down the block for weeks!

    [Oh, heavens, if I'm a shepherdess, I am as lost as anyone...but yes, these saints do have a way of poking and pulling one along! -admin]

  • Sal

    The constant warning I got before I entered the Church (as a high-church Episcopalian) was “Well, you know, Newman was never happy as a Catholic.”
    So? He was, apparently, a saint…

    Have a safe and lovely trip.

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  • M

    I’m afraid I’m way less saintly than your usual readers. Do you know what that animal is and why St. Philip is holding it in the icon?

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    It’s a dog. Neri decided to take it from a cardinal (or a bishop)…I don’t know if you’d call it stealing, exactly, but he took it. He would make prideful seminarians walk the dog publicly as a humiliation. When they would put it on a leash, he’d lntell them no, they must carry the dag to walk it…in other words, they were lower than the dog. I think that’s the story if I remember rightly!

  • Jeanne

    The Hindu masters have a saying: when the student is ready, the teacher appears. It’s very likely your guardian angel is leading you by the nose to what you need…it happens more often than people like to talk about, but it’s real. Good luck on your studies and on your trip!

  • Marie

    While you’re at it, check out Fr. Frederick Faber’s book, “Conferences.” It’s a real surprise that this great Oratorian hymn writer (“Jesus is God, the Solid Earth…”; “Faith of Our Fathers,” etc.) was also a most inspiring preacher.

    Bless you.

  • Nora

    One of my favorite quotes comes from that Newman book you just found:

    The planting of Christ’s cross in the heart is sharp and trying. But the stately tree rears its head aloft and has fair branches, and rich fruit and is good to look upon.

    That image has always stayed with me, and it does seem a good description of some of the most holy people I have met. There are lots of little gems like that in the book. Hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it can calm some nerves on the flight over?

  • Luke

    Isn’t it correct that Newman was “beatified” long ago when he was declared venerable, and is now to be “canonized,” i.e. declared to be a saint?

    [Cardinal Newman is to be beatified on September 19th during the papal visit to the UK. A "Venerable" is a Servant of God whose life is considered one of heroic virtue. Beatification comes after this, upon further examination and after a true "miracle" has been attributed to the intercessory prayers of the Ven. In Newman's case, the deacon who was miraculously healed via Newman's intercession will be proclaiming the Gospel at Newman's beatification. -admin]

  • dymphna

    Is that a Pomeranian?

    [I believe it is. -admin]

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  • Brigid Elson

    Neri’s disciples had to carry his cat.

  • bt

    I have the book, The Life of St Philip of Neri. There is an amusing passage at the end of the book (page 207, chapter XVI, section 182):

    “At the very moment that Philip expired, he was seen by many. There was a certain virgin who was noted for the piety of her life, to whom he appeared in a dream as soon as he died: this woman engaged him in a long conversation about some trivial point, till he said, ‘Let me continue on my journey, you have delayed me quite long enough, and so have they (meaning his disciples).’ And saying that, he was lifted up and disappeared. At the same hour, indeed at the same instant, another virgin, consecrated to God, saw the holy Father while she was asleep. He was dressed in white clothing, glowing with celestial light, with two youths on either side of him; he said to her, ‘As you can see, I am being carried up to heaven to receive the reward of my labours: you must therefore do all you can to persevere until death in the way of life you have undertaken. If you do that, you will come to share in my joy, and you have nothing to fear, for I will pray to the Lord for you continually.’ And having said that, he vanished from her sight.