Book Review: Everyday Meditations
By: St. John Henry Newman
Late last April our parish was blessed to open a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel. I was able to be present as the final touches were being made just before the Archbishop arrived to give his blessing. Needless to say, it was quite a hectic pace; however, the man who constructed the altar, and who was installing the altar, was very calm and confident in the face of a significant time crunch. He moved around the room with a quiet resolve and driven purpose and faced the few snags that popped up quite easily and effortlessly. It was certainly a treat to watch him work and was a good lesson for me to consider worrying less and trusting more that things will work out. Of course, he finished his work in time and all was well.
The point of the above story is that I think I have found a book that can be of great help when you attend Eucharistic Adoration. To be honest, I used this work both for daily meditation at home and at times during my visits to the Blessed Sacrament and found myself scratching down notes on the blank pages in the back of the book, as well as underlining words and phrases that were helpful to my prayerful contemplation. I typically do not make notes in books, but the few blank pages in the back of the book were the perfect spot for me to write down page numbers that contained phrases, paragraphs, and sentences that not only challenged me, but also boosted my spiritual awareness.
In a way this literary work reminds me of other books I have read like 33 Days to Morning Glory (book about Marian Consecration by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC) that provide you with something new to ponder as you read through them a second, third, or fourth time. I feel like I should keep this copy of Everyday Meditations in my stack of books that are close at hand so I can read and review it periodically each year and gain new wisdom. On the official Catholic Man Show technical read scale,*** I rate this book at a 5 as you will want to give yourself some extra time for reflection, and since the chapters of this work range from about 2 to 5 pages it makes time for thinking and slowly reading quite easy.'It will be too late to pray when life is over.' - St. John Henry NewmanClick To Tweet
The topics St. John Henry Newman relays in this book are easy to understand and do not require a degree in philosophy to reach the reader and inspire holy growth and perhaps change. While preparing to write this review, I was scouring over my notes in the back of the book and noticed that I had written down 14 thoughts that resounded with me when I read them. I suspect if I read the book a second time, I might easily find 14 or more thoughts that would inspire me to further my relationship with God. Some topics I found beneficial included detachment from the world, reconciliation, asking for mercy, discerning God’s voice, knowledge of self, prayer, courage, humility (David Niles can skip that section), and the disposition for receiving the Eucharist.
I have always been drawn to inspiring or thoughtful quotes, especially ones that motivate and/or challenge me. I have discovered since finishing this book that one quote that has really stuck with me as stated by the author is as follows, “O my God, what a great and awful difference is there between what I am and what I ought to be.” A short 2 pages later he finishes the thought with a short prayer, “Be gracious to me, and enable me to be what I know I ought to be.” I cannot tell you how many times those statements have entered my head over the past few months.
Perhaps with the advent of this new year you are making some personal changes or looking for better knowledge of self. Well, it is quite possible you may find some answers in this work. St. Newman offers some more thoughts that could guide you like, “How strange it is, but how true, that all my natural tendencies are toward sloth, excess, neglect of religion, neglect of prayer, love of the world…” That excerpt is from a chapter titled The Bondage of Sin, but not to worry, the author does offer a prayerful and powerful end to that chapter by asking God for holiness, strength, and perseverance in the war against sin. Maybe asking for mercy is difficult for you or seems strange in your spiritual walk. Well, as the author states, consider this: “You are ever waiting to do me benefits, to pour upon me blessings. You are ever waiting for me to ask you to be merciful.”
The handful of quotations I have provided are nothing compared to the overall richness of this book that spans 166 pages. I know reading and ruminating on the topics presented in this work have changed me and my spiritual life for the better. It has shaped my prayer life as well. Maybe you respond better to a more direct approach. If you like straight and to the point, here is another quote for you from the saint: “It will be too late to pray when life is over.” So, if you ever find it difficult to pray, remember that quote and keep praying.
I know in listening to The Catholic Man Show that Adam and David have reiterated that they don’t have all aspects of their life and spiritual life figured out; however, they do provide answers and directions for all of us to look toward in navigating the rough waters of this world. In a sense, that is a similar to how I feel about this book, as it promotes a “balance” of self-awareness, honesty, and self-improvement with the overwhelming and unmatched grace and love of our Lord. It points you to the only person who can fill all the voids in your life. On that note, it only seems fitting to conclude with some more wise words from St. John Henry Newman: “Let me find and feel you to be my only joy, my only refuge, my only strength, my only comfort, my only hope, my only fear, my only love.”
By: Kent Keithly, husband and father
***Regarding The Catholic Man Show technical read scale: A 3 out of 10 is a leisurely read that could be read in a couple of weeks, an 8 out of 10 is a more technical read which requires more time and often requires looking up definitions of words to clearly understand the author, and finally a 10/10 is an extremely technical read that requires a significant amount of time to complete the book, as well as, extra time to look up further explanations of the topic, definitions, and likely requires that some pages be read more than once to grasp the content.