Monday 11 May 2020

Meditations on Mary, Our Mother - Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman

Meditations on Mary, Our Mother
St. John Henry Cardinal Newman
TAN Books
eISBN 9781505116458

This is one of three new editions of works from this saint, available from Tan Books in new editions. The other two volumes that were released at the same time are Stations of the Cross and Prayers Before The Eucharist. The first was a reprint in new format, and this is a new volume.  It is drawn from four different volumes published between 1900 and 1909. The books the selections are drawn from are:

Essay on the Development of Doctrine
Difficulties of Anglicans
Parochial and Plain Sermons, 
Meditations and Devotions

The chapters are:
Mary The Mother Of God
Mary, The Second Eve
The Dignity Of Mary
Sanctity Of Mary
The Immaculate Conception
The Assumption
Intercessory Power Of The Blessed Virgin
Devotion To The Blessed Virgin

With the Canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman in 2019 there has been a great resurgence of interest in him and his works. And these new volumes from Tan are excellent. We are tol in the introduction:

“Apart from the Papacy, devotion to Mary is perhaps the greatest stumbling block for the majority of Protestants. Yet, Newman had already developed a devotion to Mary and a defense of some Catholic doctrines on the subject even while he was still a Protestant.”

And also 

“His acceptance of the Incarnation is the most important for his developing views on Mary. Christ became incarnate in time through a woman—who was this woman? Could she really be an insignificant figure? Moreover, as a student of history, Newman was well aware of early Christological controversies and early heresies in regard to the Incarnation. He was able to see clearly that they all received their death-blow when the Council of Ephesus had declared her to be Theotokos—Mother of God.”

And finally:

“As his Marian doctrine and devotion grew, Newman ran up against a great road-block. In general, as the Tractarian controversy raged, and he was dissatisfied with the rejection of what he saw as historic Christianity by his own Church. He began to have a greater love, even longing for Rome, the mother of English Christianity. He felt, however, that whereas he had a logical, dogmatic based view of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholics went too far and said too much. Time, reading and prayer, however, would convince him otherwise,”

This volume is compiled from a mix of letters, sermons, meditations, essays, and other works. It is a wonderful collection. It is a volume I have read and will read again. Each chapter is made up from several entries of the various formats. It is a great read for a wide audience. If you already have a devotion to Mary, it will help you understand her better. If you wonder what all the fuss about Mary is, it will make that clear. I am very grateful to have read this book during Holy Saturday this year. It is a volume I have read and will read again. The introduction ended with these words:

“In honor of his canonization, this present volume draws together Newman’s Marian writings into an anthology, and organizes them topically. We have drawn both from works that are doctrinal and apologetic, as well as devotional meditations, so as to show both sides of Newman’s character. On the one hand, his profoundly logical, deep, and intellectual bearing, and on the other, the profound love that permeated his heart. Together, they show the great depths of Marian doctrine from the Church’s treasury with which Newman has so powerfully permeated his own pages. In some places we have made minor edits for archaic language, as well as to tailor the readings for the purpose of this anthology.”

And it delivers on that goal. Another excellent volume. And one well worth picking up. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Reviews of other books by John Henry Newman:
Stations of the Cross

Meditations on Mary, Our Mother 
Prayers Before The Eucharist

CTS books about Newman:
John Henry Newman: Lead Kindly Light -Dr. Raymond Edwards
Newman His Life and Legacy – Fr. Ian Ker
John Henry Newman Apostle to the Doubtful - Meriol Trevor and Leonie Caldecott
Newman Prayer Book - The Birmingham Oratory (ed)
The Mind of Cardinal Newman: From His Own Writings - Charles Stephen Dessain 

CTS Books by John Henry Newman:
Meditations on Stations of the Cross
Christ upon the Waters - CTS Onefifties Book 3

Reviews of other books about Newman:
Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman -  Mike Aquilina and Juan Velez

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