* On Monday 5/28/18, the Memorial Day Mass will be offered at 9 am only *
This weekend, May 26th, we celebrate the feast of Philip Neri. I have to admit I really don’t know that much about him and was trying to get an idea for what I wanted to write this week and as I read about him I thought he would be appropriate to share about. He lived from 1515-1595, growing up in Florence but he would later move to and minister in Rome. In this period after the Reformation there was a great need for a strengthening in the Church, and while other religious orders were starting, and he would be friends with some of their founders like Ignatius of Loyola of the Jesuits, but he had a simpler path. He would found the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory. Not a religious order but rather a group having a church (and later many churches) where priests would live and minister together to the area.
I think the aspect of Philip that stood out to me the most when reading about him was that the descriptions are fairly simple and he is described with words like common-sense and humanizing religion. He is known as the patron saint of humor and joy and one of the traits that he is described with as helping most in his ministry is an abounding kindness. This is probably due to the most special occurrence that is described as happening in his faith life being this incredible realization of the power of the Holy Spirit in himself and the realization of God’s immense love, to a degree that he physically had an enlarged heart.
While known for serving the poor and celebrating the sacraments, spending many hours hearing confessions, he was also known for his practical jokes, not something we hear every day of a saint. A variety of clever quotes are attributed to him that show his attitude toward life and faith such as, “It is easier to guide cheerful persons in the spiritual life than the melancholy,” and “Be good, if you can.”
And a contemporary described his method of ministry as follows:
“With the word of God he miraculously en-kindled in many men a holy love of Christ. He had nothing else in mind but to put them on fire with the desire for prayer, for frequentation of the sacraments and for works of charity.”
A little less severe than some saints as well as more inviting. Not a bad model for most of us.
P.S. In case you weren’t at Mass here last weekend I want to let you know that another priest will be moving to St. Joseph’s at the end of June, Fr. Phil Bené. He will be assigned as part-time associate here as he continues working as a judge with me at the Metropolitan Tribunal.