Monday 22 June 2020

The Mind of Cardinal Newman From His Own Writings - edited by Father Charles Stephen Dessain

The Mind of Cardinal Newman: From His Own Writings
Charles Stephen Dessain (Editor)

John Henry Newman
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784694425
CTS Booklet 

Over the last few years, I have read many books from the Catholic Truth Society. This is one of a few either by or about Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman that I have read from the CTS. With his canonization in 2019 there has been a resurgence of interest in the man and his works. There are new editions of older books, and new works being published frequently. This volume was originally published in the early 1970’s. It was revised in 1994, and the eBook was released in 2017. Many of the CTS books by and about Newman are back in print in new editions. But this one is currently only available as an electronically.

The description of the book is:

“John Henry Newman's writings are one of the greatest treasures of the Church in Britain, and deserve to be better known. These short passages from Cardinal Newman's writings are organized under twenty themes, and give a short introduction to the Christian message, as expressed by one of the Church's greatest minds. In his inimitable style he explains the Gospel and shows its relevance for today. In our world in which the truth is becoming ever more obscured, Newman's call for a clearer teaching and an informed laity is as relevant today as ever.”

The chapters in the book are:

Preface to the Second Edition
1. The Experience of Conscience
2. Conscience Leads to God
3. We are Made for a God Who Loves Us
4. Our Need of Clearer Teaching
5. The Way to Faith
6. The Purpose of Creeds and Dogmas
7. The Church Protects the Revealed Message
8. The Church, Visible and Invisible
9. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God
10. Our Lord and Saviour
11. The Gift of the Spirit
12. The Mass and the Sacraments
13. The Reality of sin
14. Detachment, Surrender and Joy
15. The Prayer of Christians
16. Purity and Influence
17. The Blessed Virgin Mary
18. Life in the World and Love for Others
19. The Two Cities
20. The Last Things

We are told in the introduction that:

“Father Stephen Dessain died unexpectedly on 31 May 1976. His death was a sad loss to students of Newman. Father Stephen was lavish in the amount of time he gave to assisting scholars with their books and theses. Newman scholars the world over also stand indebted to him for his editing of the Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman. Twenty-one volumes covering the whole of the Catholic period of Newman’s life saw the light of day under his editorship.”

And concludes with:

“It is hoped that this little volume of Newman extracts selected by Fr Dessain will continue to help to guide men and women in the English-speaking world to a surer hold on their Faith - and be a Kindly Light in the encircling gloom.”

We are informed that all but one of the extracts in this volume come from the uniform edition of Newman’s works. The excepts are drawn from 24 different works. And most of the chapters contain excerpts from multiple sources. Some sample extracts are:

“To understand that we have souls, is to feel our separation from things visible, our independence of them, our distinct existence in ourselves, our individuality ... at first this outward world prevails. We look off from self to the things around us, and forget ourselves in them, Such is our state - a depending for support on the reeds which are no stay, and overlooking our real strength - at the time when God begins his process of reclaiming us to a true view of our place in his great system of providence ... and we begin, by degrees, to perceive that there are but two beings in the whole universe, our own soul, and the God who made it.
Ultimate realities. P.S. I. 19-20”

“ (In) the Catholic Church ... I recognized at once a reality which was quite a new thing with me. Then I was sensible that I was not making for myself a Church by an effort of thought; I needed not to make an act of faith in her; I had not painfully to force myself into a position, but my mind fell back upon itself in relaxation and in peace, and I gazed at her almost passively as a great objective fact. I looked at her; at her rites, her ceremonial, and her precepts; and I said, ‘This is a religion’.
Cardinal Newman’s reaction on becoming a Catholic. Apo. 339-40”

“It is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble.
In the Mass we offer the victim of Calvary, now glorified. L.G. 328”

I hope those few examples pulled from the many I highlighted while reading the book will whet your appetite for this wonderful little volume. If you pick this up I am sure it will be of benefit to your spiritual life. 

Another great volume in the canon of Newman works. And another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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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