Sunday, May 25, 2008

Second Sunday after Pentecost - 9th Day of the Novena to St Philip Neri

From Fr Faber:

XII. ST PHILIP’S DAY. [1861] [2nd part: III.]

III. How did he work upon his times? What did he tell people to do? His times were bad, as ours are; and he was raised up, remember, to be the apostle of his times in the centre and capital of all Christendom.
1. The things he did not do; yet other saints had done them.
(1) He never went the world’s way, nor borrowed its methods, however good or promising or lawful they might be.
(2) He preached no reforms, but the secret reforms of single souls.
(3) He founded no intellectual school of philosophy or theology.
(4) He stood aloof from all political movements or views, as things not to his purpose. Indeed I cannot fancy St. Philip having any views; his whole soul was in the Church; his views were not views, they were faiths, principles, obediences.
(5) He attacked nothing, unless indeed it were sin, frivolity, worldliness, and the reluctance of rich people to give large alms; not even did he attack dress or expensiveness, intensely as he hated both the one and the other.
2. What did he tell people to do? Oh strange foolish wisdom of the Gospel!
(1) To keep in their own places, and attend to their ordinary actions, avoiding change, avoiding excitement.
(2) To be exceedingly simple, and not to mind criticisms and talk. If you are devout to St. Philip, he will give you the grace not to care what people say of you — and is not that perfect happiness?
(3) To be always reading the lives of the saints, because that makes an atmosphere, and excludes worldliness without trouble.
(4) To pray, frequent the sacraments, and hear a great many sermons.
(5) To love everybody, to praise everybody, and to find good in everybody. And all this because of the one mastering thought and sovereign love of God.
What was there wonderful in all this? Was it not strangely commonplace, for a saint in whose broken heart the Holy Ghost dwelt supernaturally, and who was the recognised Apostle of great Rome? Yes! this was wonderful, — that he kept to it, that he mixed nothing else with it, that he added nothing else to it, that he persevered in this bare singleness of purpose. This is in my eyes a greater miracle than we read in any of the lives of the saints.
See then, brethren, to what a conclusion we have come! The saint, who had the Holy Ghost in his miraculously dilated heart, is the most commonplace of saints; yet he is also the most peculiar and individual of saints, because of the persevering simplicity of his commonplaceness. Oh how much there is to learn, how much to learn of God and Jesus Christ in this one fact, that St. Philip became the Apostle of Rome, a second Peter and a second Paul in his one self, through the mere perseverance of his enthusiastic, unadventurous simplicity!

[Faber, Frederick William. Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects. Volume 1. “Mysteries and Festivals.” 3rd ed. London: Burns & Oates, n.d. [post 1866], pp. 376-8]

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