Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday of the 1st Week after Pentecost (St Peter Celestine) - 3rd Day of Novena to St Philip Neri

From Fr Faber:


Let us go as foreigners to Rome in the sixteenth century; it is full enough of associations, and of relics, and of shrines, and of the Sovereign Pontiff, to hide in the beauty of its spiritual brightness a thousand living saints as completely as if they were shrouded in the earthly gloom of the catacombs. We hear talk of Father Philip, and listen, and go to see him. We write home what we have seen and heard. We see him in his room — the vineyard — the street.
I. The look of his life.
1. A kindhearted priest with much zeal, yet somewhat irregular and eccentric in his zeal — otherwise commonplace enough.
2. He has joined no religious order, and seems to have formed no extensive plans.
3. He is shy and rather to be sought than comes forward.
4. There is no look of austerity about him — he is rather free and easy and jocund.
5. Surely it is an exaggeration to speak of him as a saint; for there are no secrets about him; we see the whole of him, perhaps a man to love rather than revere. Yet we left him with our hearts softened and gently filled with God — undoubtedly a good man, a very good man.
II. The reality of his life.
1. His heart miraculously filled with the Holy Ghost: his ribs broken.
2. His Mass of five hours daily.
3. His constant reading of the secrets of hearts.
4. Surrounded with light, and distilling strange perfumes of some aromatic heaven.
5. Miracles going out from him almost like ordinary actions, and his living without food.
III. This contrast is the type of his holiness: the three hidden lives of Jesus, divine eclipsed by human, glorious by passible, holy by unaffectedness — such was St. Joseph’s holiness, and such St. Philip’s.
1. St Philip’s studious pursuit of secrecy — he risked scandal rather than be found out.
2. His looking only to ends and not to means, to God, not to devotions, &c.
3. His finding God equally or even preferably in very little things.
4. His meekness, though he knew he was going to be canonized.
5. Yet it was the very wonderfulness of his sanctity which caused him to look so commonplace.
Should we know a saint if we met one? I doubt it. This is sad to think, but very profitable. How we might have left St. Philip, and turned down the Banchi toward St. Peter’s, and thought how commonplace he was, how he talked on ordinary subjects, how careless about giving edification, what light odd things he said for a grave old priest, and what a sly look of mischief there was in his eye when we parted. And while we walked and thus criticised, behold! he in the secret of his room is floating in the air, waving to and fro like a branch in the summer wind, girdled with a golden light, hearing unutterable words and seeing unutterable things deep down in God!

[Faber, Frederick William. Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects. Volume 1. “Mysteries and Festivals.” 3rd ed. London: Burns & Oates, n.d. [post 1866], pp. 364-6]

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