Thursday, May 5, 2016

Newman Readers Club Offers Spiritual Growth

by Rodrigo Llorente

The Newman Readers Club is a meeting with the goal of knowing more of the works of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Each Wednesday afternoon, a group of seminarians get together at the Mount Angel Abbey retreat house to read and discuss one of Newman’s sermons.

Hot cocoa, some snacks, a warm and cozy room plus a homily written by John Henry Newman are some of the ingredients of the club.  Each meeting starts with a short prayer after everyone has taken his spot. A shared reading is followed by some questions and discussions in a friendly environment. The attendance at the meetings has varied between seven to twelve participants.

The Newman Readers Club gathered in the retreat house.

Andy Ruperto, a student from Theology 3 and the Diocese of Fresno, said that he came to the meetings because of two reasons: “The content of the homilies was very powerful and the insights of the other seminarians helped make the message more real in my life.”

This is the fourth year the Newman Reader Club has been held by members of the St John Society. The coordinator this year was Nicolas Facile, a student of Theology 3. Facile shared, “We wanted to offer something to those seminarians that were seeking for more. Reading Newman trains intelligence, provides theological criteria, and helps understanding and meditating upon reality. It illumines daily life with faith.”

The homily read last week was “Christ manifested in remembrance,” and it deals with the ways God bestows his blessings on us. We do not perceive them until afterwards, when we remember the events. Newman writes, “Such is God's rule in Scripture, to dispense His blessings, silently and secretly; so that we do not discern them at the time, except by faith, afterwards only.”

John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest that converted to Catholicism in 1845, after leading a movement of renewal in the Church of England. His works have been influential for specific areas of theology such as the development of dogma and the role of the laity in the church. Some of his ideas played a great influence for the Second Vatican Council.

Newman’s writings are characterized by a great faith, a rigorous historical research and great literary quality. Among his prolific works it’s possible to find sermons, novels, poems, prayers and theological investigations. He has been characterized as one of the best English prose writers of the 19th century.

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