Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 29, 2012

Summer Reading Suggestion

The Catholic Spirit is an anthology of classical literature (including short stories and poems), art, film, and music that should be the theology department's recommendation for a summer reading list. Consider making a weekly assignment from the text that requires both reading and a written summary. The text includes questions for comprehension and understanding and an activity to accompany each reading. You may also consider assigning art, film, and music selections for completion over the summer break. A free online Teacher Guide and several other resources are also available.

Check out the following section from Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Connecting with God

“March 7, 1848” from Meditations and Devotions

John Henry Cardinal Newman

Cor ad cor loquitor (Heart speaks unto heart). —Motto of John Henry Newman’s Cardinalate

Author Background

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801–1899) is one of the giants of Catholic theology. He was trained to be an Anglican priest, but his reading of the Church Fathers and his experience of parish life led him to convert to Roman Catholicism. He also is one of the greatest prose writers of the nineteenth century and his works The Idea of a University, his autobiography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and his Grammar of Assent are classics of English and Christian literature. Newman was totally convinced that God spoke to him in the experiences of his daily life and that he had been called by God to do a specific mission for the Church. The following meditation summarizes much of his spiritual writing. Newman is currently being considered for canonization.

Before the Reading

Throughout Scripture, we are given examples of those who have been called by God to do some great work on his behalf. For example, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the prophets, Zachary, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and the Apostles all had visions of angels or heard the voice of God that gave them specific tasks to assist in the building up of the Kingdom of God. In this classic meditation, Cardinal Newman shows how all of us have been called by God to do him a specific service. He points out how the essence of the life of grace is to listen always for his call and to never cease doing his will.

“March 7, 1848”

*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 of 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; if I am in sorrow my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain.

He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me—still

He knows what He is about.*

Reading for Comprehension

  1. What is the author’s mission in life?
  2. How does Newman serve God?

Reading for Understanding

  1. How do you serve God?
  2. What great work do you feel destined for in your life?


As a spiritual exercise, turn your heart and mind to God and silently listen to the special call that he has for you and no other.

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