Sunday, October 19, 2014

Newman the Prophet on the Doctrine of Religious Liberalism

At the culmination of my Newman series last week at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, I presented some passages of Blessed John Henry Newman's "Biglietto Speech", made when he received the letter from Pope Leo XIII announcing his appointment as Cardinal Deacon.

We noted that many people reading this today would say the situation Newman describes is just as it should be: religion should not be the bond of society; Christianity should not influence the "goodly framework of society", there is no one true religion; religion should be just a private luxury; a secular, government-controlled education is better for forming a well-ordered and respectable population, etc. We even agreed that many Catholics would say that what Newman describes is an acceptable situation:

And, I rejoice to say, to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as it is, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often.

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man's religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.

Hitherto the civil Power has been Christian. Even in countries separated from the Church, as in my own, the dictum was in force, when I was young, that: "Christianity was the law of the land". Now, everywhere that goodly framework of society, which is the creation of Christianity, is throwing off Christianity. The dictum to which I have referred, with a hundred others which followed upon it, is gone, or is going everywhere; and, by the end of the century, unless the Almighty interferes, it will be forgotten. Hitherto, it has been considered that religion alone, with its supernatural sanctions, was strong enough to secure submission of the masses of our population to law and order; now the Philosophers and Politicians are bent on satisfying this problem without the aid of Christianity. Instead of the Church's authority and teaching, they would substitute first of all a universal and a thoroughly secular education, calculated to bring home to every individual that to be orderly, industrious, and sober, is his personal interest. Then, for great working principles to take the place of religion, for the use of the masses thus carefully educated, it provides — the broad fundamental ethical truths, of justice, benevolence, veracity, and the like; proved experience; and those natural laws which exist and act spontaneously in society, and in social matters, whether physical or psychological; for instance, in government, trade, finance, sanitary experiments, and the intercourse of nations. As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

Another challenge of these paragraphs is to read them as positive, not negative, statements--to find the truth, reverse the errors that Newman outlines:

There is one true religion; one creed is true and the others are not; God has revealed His truth and He has founded a Church to teach it; it is miraculous and real; those who follow it base their devotions, their worship and prayer, upon its doctrines and teachings, etc. One who follows the true religion will act in public matters based upon its doctrine (including morality). It does matter what religion a man follows. The true religion should be the bond of society; it should inform the common good and influence education, commerce, diplomacy, etc.

When we turned Newman's definition of the spirit of liberalism around, we recognized how even professing Catholics, influenced by our culture's emphasis on toleration and acceptance, can feel uncomfortable with these positive statements about the truth of Christianity and the fullness of that truth in the Catholic Church. As Newman says later in the speech, "There never was a device [the spirit of liberalism in religion] of the Enemy so cleverly framed and with such promise of success." For note, as Newman began the discussion, that "Liberalism in religion is the doctrine"--it is a teaching that establishes truths that make claims as clear as those in the paragraph immediately above. This religious liberalism has in some ways become the divisive bond of society and it attempts to influence not just the public, but the private practice of religion by individuals--note the attempt of the city of Houston to subpoena the sermons of ministers opposed to a city ordinance. Usually the claim of those urging a secular society is that religion, a private affair, should be practiced within the walls of one's church, but now it's reaching inside those walls--a definite chilling affect on free speech and exercise of religion, as obtrusive and annoying as it condemns religion for being.

The Married Martyr: St. Philip Howard

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops features St. Philip Howard on their website about marriage, citing his conversion and return to his wife as crucial:

In 1970, St. Philip Howard was named by Pope Paul VI one of the “Forty Martyrs of Wales and England.” Yet as with many martyrs, St. Philip’s early life was little indication of the supreme honor he would one day receive, dying for the sake of Christ.

Philip Howard was born in 1557 in an England that was still reeling from King Henry VIII’s establishment of the Church of England. During Philip’s childhood, “Bloody” Queen Mary was on the throne, a Catholic ruler who rejected the Church of England. Accordingly, Philip was baptized as a Catholic by the archbishop of York. He later pursued his education at Cambridge.

However, times were soon to change. Queen Elizabeth I succeeded Queen Mary, and the country once again became Protestant; more than that, Catholicism was strictly forbidden. As with so many Englishmen at the time, Philip’s father took the family with him back into the Church of England. Change was also happening in Philip’s home: his father remarried a woman with three daughters. At the young age of 14, St. Philip was given in marriage to one of these daughters, Anne; his other two brothers married the other two daughters.

St. Philip’s early years as a husband were none too pious. Climbing the career ladder was forefront in his mind, while family and faith fell by the wayside. His young wife, Anne, stayed admirably devoted to her inattentive and often moody husband, even as he spent more and more time at the Queen’s court, seeking to build his prestige and affluence. And yet it was here at Court that the seeds were sown for Philip’s later years of discipleship.

Read the rest there. The post includes this prayer:

St. Philip Howard, husband and martyr, pray for those who are persecuted because of their faith in Jesus and their love of His Church. Give strength especially to those husbands and wives who are separated from each other under difficult circumstances. Pray in a particular way for the faithful of England, that they may stay rooted in the love of Christ.

St. Philip Howard, pray for us!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vestiges of Mary's Dowry: Reformation Iconoclasm

Once I Was A Clever Boy continues his series on English Reformation Iconoclasm, focused the destruction of Marian shrines and chapels:

Nothing so encapsulates English iconoclasm in the Reformation period and in subsequent centuries than the attack on the cult, on the veneration, on almost even the name, of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary's Dowry appeared more than anxious to expunge her from its collective life and worship.
I have already mentioned the 1538 burning of several famous statues of her as well as other devotional images, and in the first years of the Elizabethan settlement there were similar scenes - what I wonder did the good people of Sleaford in Lincolnshire think in 1560 when the Crucifix was taken out from their parish church of St Denys and burned in the market place outside?

Lady Chapels in churches attracted the attention of zealous reformers. At Ely cathedral the wondrous fourteenth century Lady Chapel lost all its glass and every statue in the canopy work around the arcades was meticulously decapitated. . . .

The English liturgy was purged of virtually all Marian devotions in 1548, and little survived beyond the feasts of her birth and, surprisingly perhaps, conception. In Oxford University the feast of the Assumption survived as a lesser commemoration, and as it still exists in the University Calendar.

In Oxford the University Church of St Mary the Virgin had a new porch built in 1636-37 by the mason Nicholas Stone at a cost of £230. This was adorned with a statue of the Virgin and Child, and in 1644 this was one of the capital charges brought against Archbishop Laud by the Parliamentarians, on the basis that Laud as Chancellor of the University had sanctioned this. The statue had attracted the respect and indeed devotion of some University students and was blasted by a Parliamentarian musket when the army left the city at the beginning of the Civil War. A modern replacement now occupies the niche.

Read the rest there.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saint Richard Gwyn, Troublemaker and Martyr

In 2011, The Catholic Herald featured St. Richard Gwyn as the Saint of the Week on its website. He put up quite a fight against the Elizabethan authorities who tried to force him to worship as the state dictated:

Richard Gwyn (1537-1584) was a victim of Queen Elizabeth I’s persecution of Catholics, conducted with increasing intensity after 1581.

Born in Llanidloes in central Wales, Gwyn matriculated at Oxford before removing swiftly to Cambridge where, at St John’s, he lived by the charity of Dr Bullock, the college’s Catholic Master.

After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, however, Bullock refused to take the oath of supremacy administered by Elizabeth’s government and was ejected from the Mastership.

Gwyn fled to the continent, spending some time at Douai. Around 1562 he returned to Wales and for the next 16 years worked as a schoolmaster, mainly in Wrexham and Overton. He was much loved, not merely for his excellence and dedication as a teacher, but also for “other good partes known to be in him”. . . .

When his persecutors laid him in heavy shackles before the pulpit of a Protestant church in Wrexham Gwyn “so stirred his legs that with the noise of his irons the preacher’s voice could not be heard”.

Placed in the stocks as a punishment, he was taunted by an Anglican priest who claimed to possess the keys of the Church as surely as St Peter did. “There is this difference,” Gwyn riposted, “namely that, whereas Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the keys you received were obviously those of the beer cellar.”

Indicted for high treason, Gwyn was eventually condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at the Beast Market in Wrexham in October 1584. “I have been a jesting fellow,” he told the crowd from the scaffold, “and if I have offended any that way, or by my songs, I beseech them for God’s sake to forgive me.”

The execution was hideously bungled, so that Gwyn remained conscious throughout his disembowelment. His last words, in Welsh, were: “Iesu, have mercy on me.”

It is clear that he did nothing to oppose the reign of Elizabeth I but practice his Catholic faith. For that he was harassed, mistreated, tortured, and brutally executed. As a beloved teacher, his Catholicism made him liable for accusations of trying to bring pupils or families to the Catholic faith. Wikipedia has these details about his trial:

Richard Gwyn, John Hughes and Robert Morris were indicted for high treason in 1583 and were brought to trial before a panel headed by the Chief Justice of Chester, Sir George Bromley. Witnesses gave evidence that they retained their allegiance to the Catholic Church, including that Gwyn composed "certain rhymes of his own making against married priests and ministers" and "[T]hat he had heard him complain of this world; and secondly, that it would not last long, thirdly, that he hoped to see a better world [this was construed as plotting a revolution]; and, fourthly, that he confessed the Pope's supremacy." The three were also accused of trying to make converts.

Despite their defences and objections to the dubious practices of the court Gwyn and Hughes were found guilty. At the sentencing Hughes was reprieved and Gwyn condemned to death by hanging, drawning and quartering. 

His relics are venerated and he is remembered at Wrexham Cathedral in North Wales, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows and elsewhere, with a high school named for him. Mary's Dowry has produced a documentary of his life and death. While he was executed on October 15, his memorial is observed in Wales today, since St. Teresa of Avila's memorial is on October 15.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Biography of Lafayette

Frederick Brown reviews a new biography of the Marquis de Lafayette in The Wall Street Journal:

In 1824, at President James Monroe’s invitation, Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, took a triumphal tour of America. In New York, 6,000 guests walked through a Roman arch at Manhattan’s Castle Garden to assemble in his honor under a canopy decorated with the flags of the world and surmounted by a bust of George Washington. More galas awaited him in other cities. Every town paraded for the general; artillery salutes punctuated his journey; musicians composed adulatory songs; eulogists wrote odes. The 67-year-old reveled in his enshrinement, as he had every reason to do.

Lafayette’s reputation at home had been subject to more vicissitudes. During the French Revolution, he had championed constitutional monarchy and in due course found himself obliged to flee the Terror. Despised as an aristocrat by regicides loyal to Robespierre and as a traitor to his class by aristocrats loyal to the Bourbon dynasty, he was more often caricatured in hostile journals than idealized in civic sculpture. Laura Auricchio deals admirably with this trans-Atlantic career in her well-written, well-furnished biography, “The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered.” Her subject straddled not only two continents but two centuries. Born in 1757, at the end of Louis XV ’s reign, he died in 1834, four years after the July Revolution, which brought a constitutional monarch to power in France.

From the excerpt on line at Random House, it appears to be a very well written book:

If pleasure-loving Parisians enjoyed the novelty of these New World republicans, many military men saw the Americans’ cause as an opportunity for revenge. The army had been nursing its wounds since 1763, when the French and Indian War (known in France as the Seven Years’ War) had ended with France ceding its Canadian colonies to Great Britain. By helping to wrest thirteen valuable colonies from British control, a humiliated French officers’ corps hoped to redeem itself. So pervasive was enthusiasm for the American fight that the economist and author André Morellet—an astute social observer who often accompanied Franklin on his rounds—quipped in 1777 that “there is more support for American independence in Paris than in the entire province of New York.”

Yet there was something uncommon about Lafayette’s commitment to America. His devotion was deeper than his countrymen’s, his drive more intense. While other Frenchmen sailed for the New World seeking riches or retribution, Lafayette sought nothing short of a new life. Earnest, enthusiastic—as optimistic as Voltaire’s naïf Candide—Lafayette was out of place in the glittering Parisian world of wit and cynicism that the urbane Franklin so effortlessly mastered.

Lafayette had married into one of the best-connected families of the French court, but he hailed from the Auvergne region of south-central France, and the uncontrived manners of that rural area marked him as a stranger in the refined circles of his in-laws. At Versailles, even Lafayette’s rugged appearance counted against him. The young marquis was large for his time: five feet, nine inches tall and endowed with a broad frame that one contemporary described as “decidedly inclined to embonpoint.” In other words, he tended to be stout. As Lafayette grew older, his bold features would be called distinguished, but as a youth he was not widely perceived as handsome. He had a long, oval face with a prominent aquiline nose, gray-blue eyes that peered out from a pale complexion, and a shock of unfashionably red hair atop a high, sloping forehead. Friends and admirers saw Lafayette’s open and frank expression as a window to his soul, but this transparent credulity placed him at a disadvantage in the dissimulating games of intrigue that passed for sociability at Versailles. 

Having visited Lafayette's grave in Cimitiere Picpus, with the U.S. flag so proudly waving, I think that Auricchio is correct when she speaks of Lafayette as being naive about not only Mesmerism, but about the French Revolution. His wife's family suffered greatly, and when I toured Cimitiere Picpus to see the place where the remains of the Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne were dumped after their executions, I pondered the significance of the site of his grave--right outside the wall that divides the tombs from the mass graves. His mother-in-law and sister-in-law are buried behind the wall, while he and his wife, the great Adrienne de Noailles rest together--she certainly deserves her own updated biography, that brave, faithful Leonore!

Even in Fiction, the Queen Dies

From Modern Library Classics:

Paris, 1793, the onset of the Terror. Brave Republican Maurice rescues a mysterious and beautiful woman from an angry mob and is unknowingly drawn into a secret Royalist plot—a plot revolving around the imprisoned Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and her enigmatic and fearless champion, the Knight of Maison-Rouge. Full of surprising twists, breakneck adventure, conspiracies, swordplay, romance, and heroism, The Knight of Maison-Rouge is an exhilarating tale of selflessness, love, and honor under the shadow of the guillotine. Dumas here is at the very height of his powers, and with this first and only modern translation, readers can once again ride with the Knight of Maison-Rouge.

On October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette was beheaded by the guillotine at what is now Place de la Concorde in Paris. Elena Maria Vidal provides details of her death here.

Alexandre Dumas' The Knight of the Maison-Rouge (1845) tells the story of an attempt to save the queen by substituting an impostor in the Conciergerie. Dumas used the attempt of the Chevalier le Rougeville to communicate with Marie Antoinette with a message hidden in the petals of a carnation as a detail in the novel. Dumas does not contradict history by having the plot succeed, and the queen rides from the left bank to the right bank to die--with a most pathetic scene of her poor little dog Thisbe, following her cart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Rome, 250 Years Ago Today

Donald S. Prudlo writes about Edward Gibbon's inspiration to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for Crisis Magazine's The Standard Bearers series:

Two hundred and fifty years ago, on the 15th of October 1764, a young traveller from the north mounted the aggressively vertical steps of the ancient Franciscan Church. As many had done before him, he reclined on the top after his severe climb. This wanderer had received the classical education that used to be the crowning glory of the West. He had been steeped in the Greek and Latin classics, and was a denizen of the empire that was poised to inherit the mantle of Rome. Saturated in such a world, Edward Gibbon sat upon the steps of Ara Coeli. He could just look over the crest of the hill where there spread out the expanse of the Roman forum, the domain of Cato, Cicero, and Caesar. He would not have had to face the brooding monstrosity of the Victor Emmanuel monument, a towering oversized expanse of white marble, charitably called by Romans “the dentures.” Its absence made for a clear view to the Basilica of San Marco and the Cancelleria, next to the tenements of the contemporary Piazza Venezia. To his left was the marvelous Campidoglio of Michelangelo, echoing for Gibbon the attempt to rescue the city from its medieval torpor, and bring pagan Rome back to life.
Just at that moment the Franciscan friars began one of the hours of the Divine Office. Their chants echoed out to Gibbon. Here were these Catholic religious in sole possession of this monument of Western humanity. Why had the magnificent civilization fallen, which Gibbon prized so highly? The concatenation of chant and ruin bore powerfully on the young man. Gibbon was an archetype for his own generation. His outlook was that of the Enlightenment, at one with men like Voltaire, straining against the forces of tradition which they considered to retard social development. Chief among these was the Catholic Church. Though the young man had a yearlong dalliance with Catholicism a decade before, it ended with a desultory reconversion to Protestantism, perhaps a factor in his later writing.

Gibbon began to turn over the matter in his mind. These chanting friars behind himwere the cause of the fall of Roman dominion, for they had exchanged the spirited pagan search for glory for an otherworldly promise of salvation. In short, the Roman Empire had died of Christianity. It was a febrile religion, which had unmanned the ancient world. Rome became terminally ill when it converted to the Church because, to use his famous term, it suffered a “loss of nerve.”

Read the rest here.

Richard Crashaw's Hymn to "The Name and Honour" of St. Teresa of Avila

As today is her feast, it seems appropriate to post Richard Crashaw's poetic tribute to St. Teresa of Avila. As Robert T. Petersson notes in his book, The Art of Ecstasy: Teresa, Bernini, and Crashaw, St. Teresa was one of many leaders of the Counter Reformation in Spain. Petersson states that Spanish reformers led the way, in fact, from St. Ignatius of Loyola to St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross, in the efforts to renew and revive the Catholic Church after the Protestant Reformation.

LOVE, thou are absolute, sole Lord
Of life and death. To prove the word,
We'll now appeal to none of all
Those thy old soldiers, great and tall,
Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down
With strong arms their triumphant crown:
Such as could with lusty breath
Speak loud, unto the face of death,
Their great Lord's glorious name; to none
Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne
For love at large to fill. Spare blood and sweat:
We'll see Him take a private seat,
And make His mansion in the mild
And milky soul of a soft child.
Scarce has she learnt to lisp a name
Of martyr, yet she thinks it shame
Life should so long play with that breath
Which spent can buy so brave a death.
She never undertook to know
What death with love should have to do.
Nor has she e'er yet understood
Why, to show love, she should shed blood;
Yet, though she cannot tell you why,
She can love, and she can die.
Scarce has she blood enough to make
A guilty sword blush for her sake;
Yet has a heart dares hope to prove
How much less strong is death than love....

Since 'tis not to be had at home,
She'll travel for a martyrdom.
No home for her, confesses she,
But where she may a martyr be.
She'll to the Moors, and trade with them
For this unvalued diadem;
She offers them her dearest breath,
With Christ's name in 't, in charge for death:
She'll bargain with them, and will give
Them God, and teach them how to live
In Him; or, if they this deny,
For Him she'll teach them how to die.
So shall she leave amongst them sown
Her Lord's blood, or at least her own.

Farewell then, all the world, adieu!
Teresa is no more for you.
Farewell all pleasures, sports, and joys,
Never till now esteemed toys!

Farewell whatever dear may be--
Mother's arms, or father's knee!
Farewell house, and farewell home!
She 's for the Moors and Martyrdom.

Sweet, not so fast; lo! thy fair spouse,
Whom thou seek'st with so swift vows,
Calls thee back, and bids thee come
T' embrace a milder martyrdom....

O how oft shalt thou complain
Of a sweet and subtle pain!
Of intolerable joys!
Of a death, in which who dies
Loves his death, and dies again,
And would for ever so be slain;
And lives and dies, and knows not why
To live, but that he still may die!
How kindly will thy gentle heart
Kiss the sweetly-killing dart!
And close in his embraces keep
Those delicious wounds, that weep
Balsam, to heal themselves with thus,
When these thy deaths, so numerous,
Shall all at once die into one,
And melt thy soul's sweet mansion;
Like a soft lump of incense, hasted
By too hot a fire, and wasted
Into perfuming clouds, so fast
Shalt thou exhale to heaven at last
In a resolving sigh, and then,--
O what? Ask not the tongues of men.

Read the rest here.

Richard Crashaw was a Catholic convert from Anglicanism at a dangerous time--during the English Civil War. After being born the son of a most anti-Catholic, Puritan, father, William Crashaw, he had attended Pembroke College at Cambridge, a High-Church Anglican college and been a fellow at Peterhouse College, but was too Catholic for that oldest of Cambridge colleges. He fled to the Continent in 1644 and, destitute, was introduced to Queen Henrietta Maria in exile at St. Germain-en-Laye by a friend Abraham Cowley. From St. Germain he went to Rome and died soon after becoming sub-canon the Cathedral of Santa Casa in Loretto. He is  not only one of the Metaphysical Poets, but he is a Baroque poet. The St. Austin Review featured Crashaw in the September/October 2013 issue as "English Poet; Catholic Exile"; the cover is pictured above.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blessed John Henry Newman, Part Two: Conscience

Tonight at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas, I'll be presenting Part Two of this mini-series on Blessed John Henry Newman. The session tonight is dedicated to his teaching on conscience and I will also recount some details and events from the second half his life--the Catholic half.

The first session last week went well from my view: I didn't make a major mistakes, fall over, or spill my glass of water. I maintained eye contact, presented good content, with some humor, and engaged the participants in discussion with good Q & A. My husband rounded out the small group and we were most happy to see a priest friend whom we knew in college at WSU through our activities at the St. Paul's Parish-Newman Center!

Tonight's topic is challenging: many Catholics do not understand the real meaning of conscience. Newman is persuasive in his explanation of conscience's rights and duties, however, and his life demonstrates how he both formed and obeyed his conscience, which included being obedient to his superiors in the Catholic Church, even when he had hoped to accomplish things for the laity and their formation in England after centuries of neglect and obscurity. Also, many today read his defense of the rights of conscience as an attack against the teaching authority of the Church and Papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals--selective reading of his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk!

At the end of tonight's class, I'll have copies of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation available to sign and sell.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Making Blessed John Henry Newman Better Known

Father Juan Velez wrote last week on the Memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman about making him better known, and he has some suggestions:

The writing and promotion of short biographies of Cardinal Newman will make him more accessible to people. My biography Passion for Truth, the Life of John Henry Newman is an attempt to fill this gap. Short articles in journals and websites will also foster interest and awareness of his life and contribution. These types of articles have become more common in the last decades. Conferences on Newman and his thought such as those sponsored by the Newman Studies Institute will continue to help Newman scholars in their research. The participants in these meeting will need to continue to find creative ways to teach people in general about Newman. To this effect there should be many more talks and seminars in parishes and diocesan centers on Newman’s life and ideas.

There are two others measures that will bring Newman to a much larger number of Catholics. The first, which applies to the United States, is for university Newman Centers to develop and put into effect a comprehensive study plan on Newman’s contributions to doctrine and spirituality, and to foster devotion to him. The second refers to the liturgical celebration of Newman’s memorial in the dioceses of English speaking countries. A petition to the Holy See of one or more conferences of bishops from English speaking dioceses to include the memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman as an optional memorial in their liturgical calendars would most likely be well received and result in the liturgical observance of this memorial. In consequence the faithful would hear about Blessed Newman and many would wish to learn about him.

There are understandable reasons for ignorance of Newman:

People in general, Catholics included, do not read a lot of books; instead they watch television or movies and read news articles. Newman’s English flows in elegant and articulate sentences with rich and nuanced vocabulary. Unaccustomed readers are easily turned off after reading a few lines or unable to comprehend them. Furthermore given his depth of historical knowledge Newman’s writing refer to historical events, peoples and ideas; without some knowledge of these the reader finds himself at a loss. As for the Church going Catholic he will rarely hear about Newman because pastors know little about him and thus will not explain what he taught and quote from his works.

I made some other suggestions in a comment, as this blog post coincided with my preparation of a list of suggested reading for my Newman class at the Spiritual Life Center tomorrow night:

For those who can’t undertake a systematic study of Blessed John Henry Newman, I think works like your Five Minutes devotional, or excerpts from his sermons (Scepter Publishers has a nice collection, The Rule of Our Warfare: John Henry Newman and the True Christian Life) or Sophia Institute Press’s Everyday Meditations are good places to start. They will promote devotion to him, intercession to him, and canonization for him!

And it's also nice to think that I have made small contributions along the lines Father Velez mentions: articles (here and here) on Newman and conscience; presentations; and even radio interviews.