Hard on the heels of the announcement that the second miracle has been approved for the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman, the National Catholic Register has published my review of a new book of devotions for Advent and Christmas, Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas:
Believing that it is “better for Newman to be read in part than not at all,” Christopher Blum of the Augustine Institute has excerpted passages primarily from Blessed John Henry Newman’s Anglican Parochial and Plain Sermons for daily readings during the Advent and Christmas seasons, from Nov. 30 through Jan. 6. To remove any obstacles for readers concerned about Newman’s Victorian eloquence, Blum has also shortened some sentences by replacing semicolons with periods; he has also updated spelling and replaced scriptural quotations from the King James Bible with the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.
Readers unfamiliar with Newman’s sermons will discover his spiritual depth, devotion to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and firm belief in the providence of God. Catholics preparing during Advent to celebrate Christmas will benefit from his consistent concern that his flocks, Anglican and Catholic, took their faith seriously, knew and understood what they believe, and lived according to those beliefs. These same goals can provide a framework for our four-week spiritual journey to Bethlehem. In the selection for Dec. 11 from “Unreal Words,” for example, Newman exhorts us:
“Aim at seeing things as God sees them. Aim at forming judgments about persons, events, ranks, fortunes, changes, objects, such as God forms. Aim at looking at this life as God looks at it. Aim at looking at the life to come, and the world unseen, as God does. Aim at ‘seeing the King in his beauty.’ All things that we see are but shadows to us and delusions, unless we enter into what they really mean.”
The closing sentences of “Watching” (Dec. 13) combine in a powerful reminder to prepare for the coming of Christ:
“Life is short. Death is certain. The world to come is everlasting.”
Speak those words aloud — for Newman read these sermons to his congregation — and you will feel the impact.