The Louvain Newman Society announces its participation in an evening of Eucharistic Adoration here, at Sint Pieters, Leuven. The LNS has agreed to keep watch from 10-11pm on Thurs. the 17th. Please join the LNS in its service and support of this initiative. The plan is to attend the 8pm mass at Sint Pieters, Thursday, followed by dinner (Pizza!), and then return to Sint Pieters to keep watch from 10-11pm.

Reading Group on St Augustine’s Confessions

The Louvain Newman Society is pleased to announce a new initiative. Beginning November 2011, a reading group will convene to discuss the Confessions of St Augustine.

Who: Louvain Newman Society (and you!)

What: Reading Group on St Augustine’s Confessions

When: Monday evenings (exact time to be decided), beginning 7 November

Where: American College, Naamsestraat 100

If you are interested in attending or would like to learn more, kindly contact Matthew W. Knotts at, or find him on Facebook.

This will likely begin the week following All Hallows’, proceed for four sessions or so before Christmas, and resume after the January examination period. The idea is to complete the first four or five books prior to Christmas, and then complete the rest over the second term (we should not want to be in any hurry). This would likely involve approximately 12 meetings, during which one particular book would be discussed.

Throughout all history few works have had the unique impact of St Augustine’s Confessions. It is the account of a life of a great sinner and greater saint. A book of profound power and eloquence, it uniquely transcends genre, containing elements of literature, autobiography, history, psychology, philosophy, and theology, inter alia. The Confessions has inspired and touched readers in every generation for centuries and it continues to do so today. In this group we will examine the Confessions with a particular emphasis on the theological, the philosophical, and the devotional themes expounded therein. We hope to read this work within a context of the Catholic faith, though we also hope intellectually to evaluate Confessions as well. All are most welcome.

North American Martyrs

Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649), martyred at St. Ignace mission, Canada.

When considering these French Jesuit missionaries, I usually experience a combination of being awestruck by their faith and fortitude on the one hand, and an extreme sense of gratitude for not being a Jesuit in 17th c. New France, on the other. I’m also reminded of the book (and film), Black Robe, which, despite its at times overt anti-Catholic message (i.e. Catholic doctrine is silly and superstitious), gives a sense for what the missionary life was then, the physical hardships it entailed, and, interestingly, the theological question of the “religious other” that would increasingly loom larger in the following centuries, culminating in Nostra Aetate in the 20th c. What follows is a quite graphic description of two of the martyrs deaths (Brébeuf and Lallement)

From New Advent:

On entering the village, they were met with a shower of stones, cruelly beaten with clubs, and then tied to posts to be burned to death. Brébeuf is said to have kissed the stake to which he was bound. The fire was lighted under them, and their bodies slashed with knives. Brébeuf had scalding water poured on his head in mockery of baptism, a collar of red-hot tomahawk-heads placed around his neck, a red-hot iron thrust down his throat, and when he expired his heart was cut out and eaten. Through all the torture he never uttered a groan. The Iroquois withdrew when they had finished their work. The remains of the victims were gathered up subsequently, and the head of Brébeuf is still kept as a relic at the Hôtel-Dieu, Quebec.

You can compare this to the version on Wikipedia here.

North American Martyrs, orate pro nobis!

Newman’s feast falls on a Sunday

The new (but temporary) shrine dedicated last year to Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman on the occasion of his beatification

As the 9th of October falls on the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, it is nevertheless worth remembering Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, patron of the LNS. Because his feast falls on a Sunday, perhaps it’s fitting to listen to Newman, the preacher, speak to us about Sundays:

When we read the Bible and religious books in private, there is great comfort; but our minds are commonly more roused and encouraged in Church, when we see those great truths displayed and represented which Scripture speaks of. There we see “Jesus Christ, evidently set forth, crucified among us.” The ordinances which we behold, force the unseen truth upon our senses. The very disposition of the building, the subdued light, the aisles, the Altar, with its pious adornments, are figures of things unseen, and stimulate our fainting faith. We seem to see the heavenly courts, with Angels chanting, and Apostles and Prophets listening, as we read their writings in due course. And thus, even attendance on a Sunday may, through God’s mercy, avail even in the case of those who have not given themselves up to Him—not to their salvation (for no one can be saved by one or two observances merely, or without a life of faith), but so far as to break in upon their dream of sin, and give them thoughts and notions which may be the germ of future good. Even to those, I say, who live to the world, the mere Sunday attendance at Church is a continual memento on their conscience, giving them a glimpse of things unseen, and rescuing them in a measure from the servitude of Mammon or of Belial. And therefore it is, that Satan’s first attempt, when he would ruin a soul, is to prevail upon him to desecrate the Lord’s Day. And if such is the effect of coming to Church once a week, even to an undecided or carnal mind, how much more impressive and invigorating are the Services to serious men who come daily or frequently! Surely such attendance is a safeguard, such as amulets were said to be, a small thing to all appearance, but effectual. I say it with confidence, he who observes it, will grow in time a different man from what he was, God working in him. His heart will be more heavenly and aspiring; the world will lie under his feet; he will be proof against its opinions, threats, blandishments, ridicule. His very mode of viewing things, his very voice, his manner, gait, and countenance, will speak of Heaven to those who know him well, though the many see nothing in him. (“The Visible Church: An Encouragement to Faith” from Parochial and Plain Sermons.)

Bl. Newman, O.P.N.

“So may we knock at Heaven’s door, And strive the immortal prize to win, Continually and evermore Guarded without and pure within.”

                         – Newman’s Vespers for Sunday from Verses on Various Occasions