Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Boston and My Friend St. Philip Neri

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Philip Neri. Whenever I read anything about Philip Neri, I get the sense that, had I met him, I would have joined up with him. I would have been moved by his example. I would have thought, "Whatever that guy has, I want it. I want to be around it." He strikes me as the type of man who was totally faithful to the Church, zealous in his ministry, and joyful. In many ways, Philip Neri--a man who lived in the 1500's--is a good patron for the New Evangelization. He did something that many posit (albeit, falsely) to be a contradiction. He was a faithful and orthodox preacher of the Gospel and was a warm, joyful, and fun human being. He knew the human heart and lived his own humanity in such a way that he attracted others to Christ.

Today there are priests who follow St. Philip Neri in what is called, "The Oratory of St. Philip Neri." Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was an Oratorian. These priests are not religious order priests. They are secular priests who live together in a stable community. They do not take vows. Instead, they are bound together by charity. For most of my priestly life, I've tossed around the idea of having an Oratory of St. Philip Neri in the Archdiocese of Boston. I have always figured that if it is meant to be, God will make it abundantly clear. He will send a handful of other priests who will say, "Yeah, I've been praying about the same thing!" 

Whether God wants an Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Boston or not, I am convinced that all of us who are diocesan priests could learn from St. Philip Neri. He understood the human heart. He understood what a human heart truly is. He knew how to attract the human heart to Christ and how to form the human heart in Christ. 

As I'm sitting here on the rectory porch typing this, I'm thinking how beautiful it is that five hundred years after he lived, I feel St. Philip Neri's presence as though I did meet him and enjoyed his company. He is right here with me. This is the Church! This is the Mystical Body of the Church! I said above that had I met Philip Neri, I probably would have joined up with him. The fact is, through the communion of the Church, I have met him. He's a friend of mine. Christ is still working through him!

St. Philip Neri, Pray for Us!

1 comment:

  1. An Oratory would be wonderful for Boston, after the secular and spiritual wounds it has suffered! Our Oratory Church of St. Boniface in downtown Brooklyn has attracted many disaffected, alienated, and exhausted souls back to the Church, and I know any of our 5 (!) priests would welcome you for an exploratory visit. St.Philip's charism is alive and well in our community. Here is the story of how it affected our family. God bless (and apologies if this message got posted twice).