26 May – Memorial for St. Philip Neri
St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) came from a poor family, though he was related to Italian nobility. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary, and his brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterian and Elisabetta survived. He was a pious youth and was taught the humanities by the Dominicans.
He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business and while there he would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received word in a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome, and he cut himself off from his family and went there.
He was befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in, and paid him to tutor his two sons. He wrote poetry in Latin and Italian, and studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.
He began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He was a friend of St. Ignatius. He was a layman and lived in the city as a hermit. During the Easter season of 1544, while he was praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.
With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550, he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.
He entered the priesthood in 1551. He heard confessions by the hour, and could tell penitents their sins before they confessed. He had the gift of confering visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.
Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory, that is, the Oratorians, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years, he was best by several illnesses, each of which was cured in turn through prayer.
“Cheerfulness strengthens the heard and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought to always be in good spirits.” – St. Philip Neri
- Patron Saint Index
On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.
After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’
Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.
Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come’.
This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.
There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.
It’s amazing that St. John in today’s Gospel says that Christ teachings are so voluminous that the world’s books cannot fit in. I’m sure that the number of books in St. John’s time must have been substantially lesser than the amount of books we have today. Would today’s number of books be enough to record the things that Jesus did? If not, how about the huge number of blogs that we have online?
Major bookstores like Kinokuniya and Borders carry books for all sorts of interests and indeed the vastness of knowledge today is too deep and wide for us to know and understand. Yet in all of these books, there are few that carry the same important message that one book has; the Holy Bible.
It’s a Catholic phenomena, well at least amongst my friends, that their Bibles are always in a pristine condition not due to it being well maintained but rather being unopened. Yet in the Bible contains a very simple message, so simple that sometimes those who are well-learned often missed and one that takes a childlike faith to understand. It is the message of love.
This message must be spread around to everyone in the world, in the same zealous way that St. Paul did in the First Reading. His appeal to Rome enabled him to travel throughout the Roman Empire to spread the Good News. Ever the optimist, this journey of his allowed him to bring the news right to the heart of the Roman empire. His continuous patience and willingness to live under house arrest for such a long time is a result of the eagerness to spread the message of love.
There are periods in our lives when we feel that it has become living hell. Yet we must continue to spread this message of love; not to others but to ourselves. We must be convinced of this message of love, in the way that St. Paul had.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nick Chia)
Dear Lord, we pray for the gift to remember that God’s message is love.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: The ability for us to spread the love of God.
Sun, 27 May – Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16, 23b-26; Pentecost Sunday
To subscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
To unsubscribe to this mailing list, send a blank e-mail to this address:
Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.