Image: The Madonna Apperaing to Saint Philip Neri | Sebastiano Conca
Saint Philip Neri
Saint of the Day for May 26
(July 21, 1515 – May 26, 1595)
Saint Philip Neri’s Story
Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy: the whole post-Renaissance malaise.
At an early age, Philip abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence, and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.
As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially, they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.
At the urging of his confessor, Philip was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor himself, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions, and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.
Some of Philip’s followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns!
Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.
After spending a day hearing confessions and receiving visitors, Philip Neri suffered a hemorrage and died on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1595. He was beatified in 1615 and canonized in 1622. Three centuries later, Cardinal John Henry Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory in London.
Many people wrongly feel that such an attractive and jocular personality as Philip’s cannot be combined with an intense spirituality. Philip’s life melts our rigid, narrow views of piety. His approach to sanctity was truly catholic, all-embracing, and accompanied by a good laugh. Philip always wanted his followers to become not less but more human through their striving for holiness.
12 Sayings from St. Philip Neri
[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] Impossible to Man’s Powers, But Not To God’s
Impossible to Man’s Powers, But Not To God’s, All Priest [St. Philip Neri]
St. Philip Neri on Sanctification
St.Philip Neri at the High Altar
Information: St. Philip Neri
Feast Day: May 26
Born: 22 July 1515 at Florence, Italy
Died: 27 May 1595
Canonized: 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV
27 posted on 5/26/2017, 11:55:51 AM by Salvation (“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26)
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Easter: May 26th
Memorial of St. Philip Neri, priest
Old Calendar: Tuesday after Pentecost; St. Philip Neri, confessor; St. Eleutherius, pope and martyr ; Other Titles: Philip Romolo Neri; Apostle of Rome; Amabile Santo
St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) was born in Florence and died in Rome. He lived a spotless childhood in Florence. Later he came to Rome and after living for fifteen years as a pilgrim and hermit was ordained a priest. He gradually gathered around him a group of priests and established the Congregation of the Oratory. He was a man of original character and of a happy, genial and winning disposition. A great educator of youth, he spent whole nights in prayer, had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and burned with an unbounded love for mankind. He died on the feast of Corpus Christi.
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Eleutherius, who governed the Church for 15 years, after the persecution of the Emperor Commodus. He died in 192. This feast may be celebrated in particular churches.
St. Philip Neri
This gracious, cheerful saint was Rome’s apostle of the sixteenth century (1515-1595). A peculiar charism was his burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him. So ardently did this fire of divine love affect him during the octave of Pentecost in his twenty-ninth year that the beating of his heart broke two ribs. It was a wound that never healed.
For fifty years the saint lived on in the intensity of that love which was more at home in heaven than on earth. Through those fifty years his was an apostolate to renew the religious and ecclesiastical spirit of the Eternal City, a task he brought to a happy conclusion. It is to his credit that the practice of frequent Holy Communion, long neglected in Rome and throughout the Catholic world, was again revived. He became one of Rome’s patron saints, even one of the most popular.
Philip Neri loved the young, and they responded by crowding about him. As a confessor he was in great demand; among his penitents was St. Ignatius. To perpetuate his life’s work, St. Philip founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of secular clergy without religious vows. The purpose of his foundation was to enkindle piety among the faithful by means of social gatherings which afforded not only entertainment but religious instruction as well. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the “humorous saint.” It was his happy, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. “Philip Neri, learned and wise, by sharing the pranks of children himself became a child again” (epitaph).
As a youth Philip Neri often visited the seven principal churches of Rome. He spent entire nights at the catacombs, near the tombs of the martyrs, meditating on heavenly things. The liturgy was the wellspring of his apostolic spirit; it should likewise motivate us to Catholic Action.
— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Patron: Rome; United States Army Special Forces.
Symbols: Rosary; lily; angel holding a book.
Things to Do:
- St. Philip Neri was well known for his sense of humor. To honor him today try to laugh at yourself when something annoying happens, try to make someone else happy by your cheerful disposition.
- St. Philip’s favorite feast was Corpus Christi. Make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Eleutherius was born at Nicopolis in Greece. He was a deacon of Pope Anicetus, and was chosen to govern the Church during the reign of the emperor Commodus. At the beginning of his pontificate he received letters from Lucius, king of the Britons, begging him to receive himself and his subjects among the Christians. Wherefore Eleutherius sent into Britain Fugatius and Damian, two learned and holy men; through whose ministry the king and his people might receive the faith. It was also during his pontificate that Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, went to Rome, and was kindly received by Eleutherius. The Church of God was then enjoying great peace and calm, and the faith made progress throughout the whole world, but nowhere more than at Rome. Eleutherius governed the Church fifteen years and twenty-three days. He thrice held ordinations in December, at which he made twelve priests, eight deacons, and fifteen bishops for diverse places. He was buried in the Vatican, near the body of St Peter.
— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Symbols: Model of Tournay cathedral; flaming oven; dragon; scourge; angel bearing scroll.
Meditation: John 16:20-23
Saint Philip Neri, Priest (Memorial)
No one will take your joy away from you. (John 16:22)
What a promise—joy that cannot be taken away! Who wouldn’t want that? It seems simple. Jesus tells his disciples that the joy of seeing him again will wipe away all memory of their suffering, just as a woman in labor “forgets” the pain when she rejoices in the birth of her child.
But any parent will tell you: it’s not a bed of roses once the baby is born. Raising children is a mixture of late-night feedings and watching your baby’s first step. It’s tending to a skinned knee (again) and being bowled over by an enthusiastic hug. But no matter what challenges you face, the love is always there.
The ebb and flow of our emotions doesn’t change Jesus’ promise of joy. Do we face ups and downs? Of course! But the joy that Jesus gives doesn’t have to rise and fall with our circumstances. It’s not a fleeting thrill, but a steady stream running in the back of our minds—a stream that flows from the unshakable truth of Jesus’ resurrection. We know he is risen. We know he has overcome sin and death. We know that he has prepared a place for us in heaven. With truths like these, how can we not feel at least a glimmer of hope and joy, even in our darkest moments?
Are you having a good day today? Great! Thank Jesus for sustaining you. Are you going through something difficult? Then it’s time to proclaim what you know to be true. Tell Jesus you trust him. Tell him that you believe there’s a place in heaven with your name on it. Declare that he is bigger than what you’re going through. Then watch your anxiety begin to give way.
Jesus can deepen your faith every time you turn to him, both in sorrow and happiness. He can strengthen your foundation and give you a sense of his own joy and trust in God. You may even find yourself less subject to moodiness or better able to weather a stormy patch in life. That’s the kind of joy that Jesus wants to give you!
“Holy Spirit, fill me with your joy. Help me to trust you through my ups and downs.”
Marriage = One Man and One Woman Until Death Do Us Part
Daily Marriage Tip for May 26, 2017:
“To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having my own way.” (#3, Family Pledge of Nonviolence) Could your family say “Yes” to this? World peace begins at home
Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest
Father John Doyle, LC
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this prayer I offer you my whole self: my thoughts, desires, decisions, actions, hopes, fears, weaknesses, failures and petty successes. I open my entire being to you, aware that you know everything already. I’m certain of your mercy and of the purifying power of your penetrating, loving gaze.
Petition: Lord, give me great peace and interior joy in the midst of life’s trials.
1. “You Will Weep” Grief is not an agreeable experience in itself. Jesus doesn’t promise his disciples that by following him they will be shielded from the sorrow characteristic of any exile in a foreign land. A Christian’s value system is diametrically opposed to the worldly view. Be honest and the common opinion will consider you backward or naive. Be kind and you will be seen as gullible. Be faithful to the love of your spouse and you will be seen as having repressive tendencies. The list could go on and on. An authentic Christian stands out among the fingers of the world as truly the sorest thumb. Have I accepted this unpleasant and challenging element of Christianity?
2. “I Will See You Again” “Your grief will become joy.” The disciples were surprised and discouraged by Jesus’ crucifixion, but Jesus’ death would not be the final scene in the play. After the dramatic events of Calvary came the joy of the Resurrection, a new and glorious life. How happy the disciples must have been to see Our Lord again! But even then Jesus seems to play “peek-a-boo” with his disciples. He walks through walls bringing them joy and then he just disappears again. We can have a similar experience in prayer. The alternation of dryness and consolation is an essential part of God’s pedagogy with us. Sometimes it seems that the Lord is right beside us and other times that he is on foreign business. Am I able to exercise my faith in the presence of the Lord beyond the state of my feelings at the moment?
3. “Your Hearts Will Rejoice” Sometimes the charge is leveled against Christianity that its moral prohibitions are a source of sorrow and frustration. A closer look shows a different picture entirely. The closeness of the Lord, along with the recognition that the goods of this world are fundamentally good gifts lavished by the Father upon his children, brings profound joy. When we are able to distinguish the presence and action of the Lord in every created thing and through every circumstance, we experience a joy unknown to the world. “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” Do I have this joy founded on my faith and the awareness of God’s immense personal love? Does my obedience to the moral law stem from a complete trust in God who desires my happiness?
Conversation with Christ: My Jesus, when you are near me I experience great joy. I know that you are always with me. Help me to exercise my faith and to be able to strengthen the faith of those of my brothers and sisters who need me to show them your love.
Resolution: I will offer up any difficulty that the Lord sends me today for those who do not yet have the joy of his friendship.
May 26, 2017
In the first reading, God assures Paul of his presence and support in his missionary work, “Do not be afraid … I am with you.”
In the Gospel reading, Jesus assures his disciples of his continuing presence and support, even after he has left them. Indeed, in reality he was not leaving them: he continues to be for them at the right hand of the Father in heaven: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
Today is the memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory. In his time, like St. Paul in the early Church, St. Philip Neri “filled the people of Rome with new ardor and re-evangelized the city.”
Jesus assured his disciples of his continuing presence and guidance. He tells them that, working for him and with him in preaching the Good News, they will be filled with joy. Though St. Paul and St. Philip Neri encountered many problems and much opposition in their ministry, they remained joyful in their love and service of Christ and the Good News.
We pray that we, too, in whatever tasks we have in living and preaching Christ and the Good News, may remain joyful in the Lord, confident of his presence and his help.
One Bread, One Body
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