Aquinas Learning

ALJ Vol. 3, Issue 1, Fall 2019

Living the Liturgical Calendar: John Henry Cardinal Newman (October 2019)

John Newman by Emmeline Deane, oil on canvas, 1889, used with permission from the British National Portrait Gallery

John Newman by Emmeline Deane, oil on canvas, 1889, used with permission from the British National Portrait Gallery

One of the noteworthy church feast days this fall is the October 9 feast day of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (the date of his conversion). Less than a week later, on October 13, 2019, he will be canonized and is expected to be named a Doctor of the Church. (As a side note, Rosario Reilly will be at the canonization, praying for all Aquinas families!) A 19th-century leader in the Anglican Oxford Movement, John Henry Newman converted to the Roman Catholic faith and became an influential champion of faithful Catholic education and the laity, opponent of secularism, and groundbreaking theologian on Mary, the nature of conscience, and the development of doctrine.

Recommended resources: For Newman's vision for Catholic education, read A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School by Paul Shrimpton and The Idea of a University by Newman. Newman's semi-autobiographical novel Loss and Gain is about a university student's conversion. Conscience Before Conformity describes Newman's influence over Sophie Scholl and the anti-Nazi resistance movement.

—Patrick Reilly, president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, inspired by the same!

How can you celebrate Cardinal Newman’s life and learn more about him at your center or home?

  • Mark your calendar for the canonization on October 13 and watch live at Papal TV or ETWN.

  • Eat Together! Share a meal at home of some easy good old British food like Bangers and Mash (brats and mashed potatoes with gravy), or go out for of fish and chips for a treat. Any type of trifle or Trinity Cream (England's creme brulee) fits the cuisine as well.

  • Host a center or family coloring contest using images of Blessed Cardinal Newman. See here for the beautiful images created for Aquinas Learning by two artists.

  • Learn about and play aloud for your family Elgar's “The Dream of Gerontius” based on one of Newman's poems by the same title about the Trinity. Listening guide and audio available for free here.

  • Families or centers could try to learn the hymn entitled, "Firmly I Believe and Truly" (also taken from his poem Gerontius). Audio here and music here.

  • Young adults can check out the book, “Lights in a Dark Town: A Story About John Henry Newman." See review here.

  • For those with a travel bug and the means to get there (on Rosario’s to-visit list this October!), visit the The Birmingham Oratory in England, a religious community founded in 1849 by John Henry Newman. For a virtual tour, see here.

Credit and thanks for some of the above ideas goes to Genie Shaw, a mother who celebrates the liturgical seasons and who runs a private Facebook group called “Living Liturgically in the Domestic Monastery.” Newman is the namesake of one of her children, so she had many ideas to contribute. Thank you to AL mom Tiffany Mathias for connecting us to her group.


God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—
I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
…I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good;
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep his Commandments.
…Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am.
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
…He does nothing in vain.
…He knows what He is about.
— “Some Definite Service” by Cardinal John Henry Newman
J ohn Newman , by Henry Joseph Whitlock, albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s, used with permission from the British National Portrait Gallery

John Newman, by Henry Joseph Whitlock, albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s, used with permission from the British National Portrait Gallery

Rosario Reilly