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Posted November 27, 2012

Book: Hearts Aflame with Hope: Vol. 2: Peter-Julian Eymard and John Henry Newman
Author: Michael Gaudoin-Parker
St. Paul's, Staten Island, NY. 2012. pp. 154

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

"We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." This phrase "we had hoped . . ." encompasses the image of human existence in which hope has become difficult, if not impossible. The truth of these words is reflected in the lives of the persons considered in these pages as signs of encouragement to us all to hope. They focus on the spiritual journey of two extraordinary men towards greater union with Christ through the Eucharist and the Church of which they offer an extended catechesis and celebration. This volume begins with St. Peter-Julian Eymard, whose Eucharistic fervor offers a striking example of Christian hope in action. His rigorous and unremitting devotion to Christ in the Eucharist led him to delve profoundly into the revealed Word of God. As a result, his fundamental teaching on this great mystery of the Catholic faith can be summed up as a treatise on God's self-sacrificing love for everyone. The chapter on Blessed John Henry Newman presents that much admired convert from Anglicanism, whose perspective on living became entirely changed through his reflections on the Church as the Kingdom of God on Earth and a community of hope oriented towards the future Parousia. Newman was known for his fidelity to conscience, his search for truth and his enormous capacity for friendship. "Deeds, not words and wishes: succinctly characterize his zeal as an ardent defender of the faith.

An Excerpt from the Book:

In describing the qualities of a preacher Newman here emphasized the importance of being transparent and coherent in his life with what is uttered. This draws people more readily than any eloquence. He himself bore witness to God's providential faithfulness as a dispenser of divine grace, overseer in his people's needs and also an intercessor in lifting them up in prayer before God's loving merciful kindness. He thus inspired confidence and won the trust of his hearers by living out the well-worn expression: practicing he preached. While appreciating that even the best of people can waver and falter, he maintained the importance of being steady of purpose and stable in manner of living: "I have ever made consistency the mark of a Saint." The task behooving a preacher, as he clearly saw, thus involved patience and perseverance in confronting both in his flock as well as in himself a residual sluggishness and feebleness of will to obey God because of inveterate, ingrained sinful habitual ways of acting and modes of being:

"The Minister of Christ has to teach His sinful people a perfect obedience: and does not know how to set about it or how to insist on any precept, so as to secure it from being misunderstood and misapplied. He sees men are acting upon low motives and views, and finds it impossible to raise their minds all at once, however clear his statements of Truth. He feels that their good deeds might be done in a much better manner . . .so is it with all of us. Ministers as well as people; it is so with the most advanced of Christians while in the body, and God sees it."

Apart from warning against lethargy in spiritual seriousness, Newman's "chief target" in his preaching was "spiritual complacency," for, "outward behavior, however good, for example, is no guarantee of anything." He impugned self-righteousness of any kind, particularly that detestable form of the falsity of middle-class Victorian "respectability" which was considered the mark of being religious. This arrogance in attitude --- in which sins are hidden and disguised, conscience is stifled --- deprived persons of a due awe in humility before God, to whom alone the honor of worship and adoration is due. Being vigilant and prayerful in hope is a frequent theme in his preaching. Many years later at the university church in Dublin he said:

"One of these characteristics of a Christian spirit, springing from the three theological virtues, and then in turn defending and strengthening them, is that habit of waiting and watching . . .and the same habit is also a mark of the children of the Church, and a note of her divine origin."

Table of Contents:

Foreward (V. Fr. Norman Pelletier, S.S.S.)

Preface (Archbishop Piero Marini)

Prelude: Raising of hope beyond hope

3. Peter-Julian Eymard (1811-1868): Disciple and Apostle of the Eucharist

4. John Henry Newman (1808-1890): Seeker of Truth in Communion

Postlude: Hearts Aflame with Hope, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa