Thursday, May 26, 2011

St. Philip Neri and Blessed John Henry Newman

May 26th is the feast of St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, founder of the Oratorians.

According to this EWTN biography,

Philip Neri was born in Florence in the year 1515, one of four children of the notary Francesco Neri. The mother died while the children were very young, her place being filled by a capable stepmother. From infancy Philip had a docile, merry disposition. They called him "Pippo buono," "good little Phil," for he was a dutiful, attractive, cheerful lad, popular with all who knew him. . . .

One of the most famous members of the Oratorian order, Cardinal Newman, wrote[4] of Neri nearly three hundred years after his death, "he contemplated as the idea of his mission, not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of doctrine, nor the catechetical schools; whatever was exact and systematic pleased him not; he put from him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David refused the armor of his king.... He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials from without. He did not so much seek his own as draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and they in their gay, worldly dresses, the rich and the wellborn, as well as the simple and the illiterate, crowded into it. In the mid-heats of summer, in the frosts of winter still was he in that low and narrow cell at San Girolamo, reading the hearts of those who came to him, and curing their souls' maladies by the very touch of his hand.... And they who came remained gazing and listening till, at length, first one and then another threw off their bravery, and took his poor cassock and girdle instead; or, if they kept it, it was to put haircloth under it, or to take on them a rule of life, while to the world they looked as before."

Blessed John Henry Newman was the founder of the Oratory Movement in England, as he chose the Oratorian vocation and lifestyle possibly because it resembled the Oxford collegiate structure in community and friendship--he always venerated his patron as his model and guide.

The Pittsburgh Oratory provides links to two sermons Newman preached in 1850 on St. Philip Neri's mission, on January 15 and January 18.

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