St. Philip Neri - pray for us!
Today is the feast day of the "Apostle of Rome", Saint Philip Neri! St. Philip is one of the great "Counter Reformation" saints of the Church, who worked hard to re-evangelize the culture in which he lived. He was an active evangelizer, working with the youth of Rome to lead them to Christ. One of his inspirations is still practiced today on Holy Wednesday - the "Seven Church Walk" (see number 8 on this page), which takes you on foot in a route around the city of Rome, visiting the four major and three minor basilicas. It's quite the walk - I did it last year and it took basically the whole day!
St. Philip also worked to popularize the 40 hours devotion of the Blessed Sacrament, a practice still done in many places around the world (and hopefully many more to come!).
St. Philip did not aspire to become a priest, but submitted to the request that he receive Holy Orders under the direction of his confessor. Following his ordination, the Lord used hiim even more effectively to reach hearts and minds, most especially in the confessional and in his homilies. For some time, St. Philip had been giving frequent catechetical talks to groups of young men who looked to him for spiritual leadership. Now, following his ordination, St. Philip turned to giving daily sermons in a small chapel. This chapel would become the first Oratory - and there soon would be many others. Many priests desired to live the faith and serve the People of God as St. Philip had, and so other Oratories were founded, they spread rapidly throughout much of Europe and now across the globe. One of the more famous Oratories is the one in Birmingham, England, where the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman served and lived. Closer to us, the Oratory in Toronto Canada is renowed for its fidelity to the Faith and its liturgical practice - check them out online and learn a little more about St. Philip and the Oratorians!
This is the Saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning;
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness
Souls that are sinning.
This is the Saint, who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares, and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers.
Love is his bond, he knows no other fetter,
Asks not our all, but takes whate’er we spare him,
Willing to draw us on from good to better,
As we can bear him.
When he comes near to teach us and to bless us,
Prayer is so sweet, that hours are but a minute;
Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us,
Sin is not in it.
Thus he conducts by holy paths and pleasant
Innocent souls and sinful souls forgiven
Towards the bright palace where our God is present
Throned in high heaven.
~John Henry Cardinal Newman