Prepared for the Master


Year passes after year silently.

Christ's coming is ever nearer than it was.  O that, as he comes nearer earth, we may approach nearer heaven!  O, my brethren, pray him to give you the heart to seek him in sincerity.  Pray him to make you in earnest.

You have one work only:  to bear your cross after him.  Resolve in his strength to do so.  Resolve to be no longer beguiled by "shadows of religion," by words, or by disputings, or by notions, or by high professions, or by excuses, or by the world's promises or threats.  Pray him to give you what Scripture calls "an honest and good heart," or "a perfect heart," and, without waiting, begin at once to obey him with the best heart you have.

Any obedience is better than none — any profession which is disjoined from obedience is a mere pretense and deceit.  Any religion which does not bring you nearer to God is of the world.  You have to seek his face;  obedience is the only way of seeking him.  All your duties are obediences.  If you are to believe the truths he has revealed, to regulate yourselves by his precepts, to be frequent in his ordinances, to adhere to his Church and people, why is it, except because he has bid you?  And to do what he bids is to obey him, and to obey him is to approach him.  Every act of obedience is an approach — an approach to him who is not far off though he seems so, but close behind this visible screen of things which hides him from us.

The day will come when he will rend that veil, and show himself to us.  And then according as we have waited for him, will he recompense us.  If we have forgotten him, he will not know us; but "blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he comes, shall find watching .... He shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.  And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants."

May this be the portion of every one of us!  It is hard to attain it;  but it is woeful to fail.  Life is short; death is certain and the world to come is everlasting.




John Henry Cardinal Newman. "Prepared for the Master." excerpt from Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in July 2013.


Blessed John Henry Newman was born in London, 21 February 1801, and died Birmingham, 11 August 1890. As Vicar of St. Mary's Oxford he exerted a profound spiritual influence on the Church of England. Joining the Catholic Church in 1845 he founded Oratories of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham and London, was the first rector of the Catholic University in Dublin, and was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. He was declared Venerable on 22 January 1991. John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

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