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NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 74 1 Newman, “Divine Calls,” Parochial and Plain Sermons, 8.2, 17–32, available at: http:// 2 Newman,“Miracles No Remedy for Unbelief,” Parochial and Plain Sermons, 8.6, 76–90, available at: NEwmaN’S wriTiNgS Life’s Purpose: Wisdom From John Henry Newman. Edited by Mary Lea Hill,FSP.Classic Wisdom Collection.Boston:Pauline Books & Media,2010. Pages:xxiii + 86. Paper: ISBN 0–8198–4533–7. $6.95. In her forward, Mary Lea Hill, the editor of this outstanding small pocketbook, confides that she became acquainted with Newman when she was a joyful, adolescent dreamer (xv).Attracted to poetry, her reading of Newman’s “Lead, Kindly Light” was “love at first sight. . . .Those lines have led me through everything (xvi). . . . Let the Light use you and diffuse through you,” she writes.“This is a later lesson I learned from the Cardinal”(xxii).The Light enables us to see,and then to understand. “We see first, we love, and then we follow . . . then . . . we find . . . understanding”(xxiii). She clearly grasps Newman’s message. Blessed John Henry Newman’s spirituality is the theme of this poignant collection of short excerpts drawn primarily from Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons and a few other sources. The well-chosen selections capture several of the major elements in Newman’s spiritual reflections, chief among them his aesthetic vision and its primary content, the experience of God’s presence. This little book reads like a conversation with a good friend who knows the human heart and soul, as it plumbs the depths of some of Newman’s most profound spiritual insights. The title,Life’s Purpose:Wisdom from John Henry Newman,provides Newman’s answers to questions about“our own life: does it have a purpose? Is there a meaning to it? Cardinal Newman believed that all through our life Christ is calling us”(xxiii). This is the fundamental theme of the selections. The spiritual elaboration of Newman’s answer is taken from his sermon,“Divine Calls,”1 from which two of the selections are drawn, and another sermon: “He works through our natural faculties”(4)....If the course of our life is to be changed,it must be from within”(65).2 These spiritual selections build a bridge between Newman’s poetic insights and his theology, in that place where his spirituality lived, as intuition and imagination harmonized with affection,reason,and desire,creating the aesthetic vision that is one of the overarching themes of his work. Hill’s twenty-two selections expand upon the core of Newman’s spirituality, which is the development of a relationship with God through the experience of His presence.This is the ultimate “calling” in life, accompanied by that longing which is characteristic of the search for that supreme satisfaction that only the bonding with one’s ultimate Love can supply. Fourteen of the selections are drawn from Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons dated between 1830 and 1839; two other selections date from 1841, and four from 1848, the beginning of his Roman Catholic period. Lastly,the selections open and close with two Newman poetic meditations from 1833 75 and 1848 respectively. By the date of the earliest of the selections, Newman had already served as parish curate at St. Clement’s, taken over as vicar of St. Mary’s Church,and was coming to the end of his service as an Oriel College tutor at Oxford University, so they naturally reflect the influence of those two vocations: preaching and teaching. His scholarship was always heavily grounded in scripture, from which he received the inspiration for his sermons.He was also a prime mover in the Oxford Movement in the 1830’s, and one selection from his Tract 73 is included in the collection. Every one of the adroitly selected excerpts resonates with Newman’s grasp of spiritual truth on the particular topic addressed.The editor reflects that although her “dewy eyes (have) become dowdy”(xvii),Newman’s words continue to move her.She obviously has lost none of her youthful romanticism, which finds a kindred spirit in...


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