To read more about my journey to Christ, my work with CCO, and to donate to my ministry, please visit:I ask that you prayerfully consider joining my financial and prayer support team so that together, we can reach the future leaders of our society with the saving message of God's love. Thank you and God bless you. Yours in Christ, Sherley Vo"
MY ROLE IN CCO
This is my first year as a campus missionary at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I reach out to students and guide them into an encounter with our Lord Jesus and help them grow in their relationship with Him.
A HIGHLIGHT OF MY ROLE SO FAR
The highlight of being a campus missionary is being able to share the Gospel to university students, and see their desire to know and encounter the Lord in a deep and personal way. When students come to know Christ, and want to live their lives for Him, I am reminded again and again, of how God longs for His children to come back to Him. It really is a celebration of the return of a dear family member who has been away, and it is as Jesus tells us in the parable of the lost sheep: "Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’" Luke 15:6.
IMPACT THAT SPECIFIC MINISTRIES HAVE HAD
Every year, CCO’s RiseUp Conference is attended by hundreds of university students all across Canada. The first RiseUp I attended was in 2012. Being surrounded by people my age who were on fire for our Faith and so in love with our Lord was overwhelming, yet attractive. It was here that my love for our Catholic Faith came alive and the first time I made the commitment to fully put Christ at the centre of my life. Lives are changed each year at RiseUp and by the end of the conference, staff and students not only feel encouraged, but eager to get involved in and share our Faith; leading faith studies on campus, inviting friends to join CCO, go on a mission, just to name a few.
ON GOING PRAYER REQUESTS
I would like to ask you to pray for the students on our campuses throughout Canada; that they may have the opportunity to hear and accept the saving message of the Gospel and that our missionaries and student leaders continue to deepen their relationship with Jesus and to have the courage to share His love with others.
From the SMOP Website: We are an apostolate of Catholic women, who, inspired by love for the Church and in response to her invitation for Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity (Congregation pro Clericis, Dec. 8, 2007), make a total self-offering of our lives for the sanctification of priests. We unite ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Eternal High Priest and His helper in the work of redemption, by anonymously spiritually adopting a priest-son. Formed in an authentic feminine spirituality we intercede for our priest-sons and for all priests in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer, and penance. We emphasize Eucharistic Adoration as a preeminent way to unite priests to the Priestly Heart of Jesus.
Please Visit their Website for more information : http://www.spiritualmotherhoodofpriests.ca/A Call to Catholic women On December 8, 2007, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a document from the Congregation for the Clergy was sent to all the bishops of the world. It was entitled Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity. In essence, the letter requested that women spiritually adopt priests and embrace Eucharistic adoration, in a spirit of genuine reparation and purification, for the sanctification of priests. In an answer to this call, our apostolate of “Spiritual Moth- erhood of Priests” was conceived. We are not alone! Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit similar women’s groups (united in intention but unique in apostolate formation) continue to form worldwide.
Little Catechism on Spiritual Motherhood of Priests
by Reverend Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.
In a document from the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, addressed to all the bishops of the Church on 8 December, 2007, we read:"The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is largely unknown, scarcely understood and, consequently, rarely lived, notwithstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life."
A Little Catechism on Spiritual Motherhood for Priests
1. Who can become a spiritual mother to priests?
Any mature Catholic woman, already fully engaged in the sacramental life of the Church, can discern a call to the spiritual motherhood of priests. This spiritual motherhood can be lived in any state of life; it is open to single women, married women, mothers of families, widows, grandmothers, and religious in both the active and enclosed forms of consecrated life. None of its obligations bind under pain of sin. The vocation to the spiritual motherhood of priests is also compatible with the spirituality and obligations of Benedictine Oblates and of those who belong to one or another of the Third Orders: Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, Servite, etc.
2. What is spiritual maternity?
Spiritual maternity is a particular grace of the Holy Spirit by which a woman surrenders herself, body and soul, to the fruitful love of Christ, for the sake of His Bride the Church and for the glory of the Father, so that, through her offering, the particular priest entrusted to her, and all priests, may be purified, healed, and sanctified.
3. How does a woman express the grace of spiritual maternity.
A woman expresses the grace of spiritual maternity by imitating the hidden life of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, in the mystery of the Annunciation, consented to the enfleshment of the Word in her womb, and was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, so that through her, Christ, Priest and Victim, might enter the world, save it by His Sacrifice, and offer it back to the Father.
4. How does a woman live out this imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
A woman lives out this imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by embracing the Will of God in joy and in sorrow, health and infirmity, prosperity and want, companionship and solitude, light and obscurity. In a word, she sees in every event of life an opportunity to enter, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the sacrifice of Christ the Priest.
In this way, a woman can participate in the spiritual fecundity of the Mother of the Redeemer who, by her constant intercession, cares for the gift of life that ever flows from the open Heart of her Son, and cooperates with a mother's love in the birth and upbringing of Christ's faithful, her children.
5. How is spiritual maternity related to the Priesthood?
Spiritual maternity in favor of priests derives from the special relationship of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint John, that Jesus Himself established when, from the altar of the Cross, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, thy son!" (Jn 19:26). "Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold, thy mother!'" (Jn 19:27).
While John -- representing all priests past, present, and to come -- had the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the unbloody renewal of His Sacrifice, Our Lady was charged with supporting all her priest-sons down through the ages by standing at their side, even as she stood by the Cross of her Son on Calvary. There, with her Immaculate Heart pierced by a sword of sorrow, she co-offered in silence the Sacrifice of her Son, Priest and Victim, and through Him, with Him, and in Him, offered herself to the Father.
6. What does this imply for a woman called to spiritual maternity in favor of priests?
For a woman called to spiritual maternity in favor of priests, this implies a readiness to stand by all priests and, in particular, for the priest entrusted to her, in a ceaseless offering of adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and supplication. The Diocese of Tulsa is preparing a prayer book to help the spiritual mothers of priests fulfill this role.
7. What characterizes the adoration of a spiritual mother of priests?
In her adoration, a spiritual mother of priests looks to the Blessed Virgin Mary who, on August 21, 1879 at Knock in County Mayo, Ireland, manifested herself in reference to the immolated Lamb, the altar, and the Cross. The spiritual mother of priests draws near to Christ, the Eternal Priest and to the altar of His Cross so often as she participates in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She adores the Lamb of God present on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice; she adores Him hidden in the tabernacle and exposed to her gaze in the monstrance. She offers herself in adoration for the sanctification of all priests, desiring with Our Lady, to see them become, in their liturgical service and in all of life, "true adorers, who shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:23).
8. What characterizes the thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests?
The thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests is, first of all, for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ prolonged in space and in time, from the rising of the sun to its setting, by means of the gift and mystery bestowed on the apostles in the Cenacle, and perpetuated in the Church so often as a bishop, a successor of the Apostles, lays hands on a man and pronounces over him the solemn prayer of sacerdotal consecration.
The thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests is, also, for the sacramental ministrations and fruits of the priesthood: first of all, for the Most Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of all Christian life; then for the preaching of the Word of God, the forgiveness of sins, the healing of the sick, deliverance from evil, comfort in affliction, and shepherding along the path that leads to holiness.
9. What characterizes the reparation of a spiritual mother of priests?
The reparation of a spiritual mother of priests seeks to console the Heart of Jesus who grieves over the coldness, offenses, and betrayals of His priests, and waits for them to return to Him, for He is merciful.
The spiritual mother prays for priests who fail to pray; adores the Most Blessed Sacrament for those who do not adore; listens to the Word of God for priests who neglect it; and seeks the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for those who have forgotten that she is their Mother and Advocate. She offers herself for the spiritual restoration and resurrection of priests who have fallen into patterns of sin; for the deliverance of priests oppressed by the powers of darkness; and for the healing of souls scandalized, alienated, or wounded by the sins of priests.
10. What characterizes the supplication of a spiritual mother of priests?
The supplication (or intercession) of a spiritual mother of priests draws its inspiration, first of all, from the Priestly Prayer that Our Lord Jesus Christ offered in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered: "Father . . . keep them clear of what is evil. They do not belong to the world, as I too, do not belong to the world; keep them holy, then, through the truth; it is Thy word that is truth" (Jn 17: 16-17). In their intercession for priests, spiritual mothers will also take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul: "Nothing must make you anxious; in every need make your requests known to God, praying and beseeching Him, and giving Him thanks as well" (Phil 4:5); and in another place, "And now, brothers and sisters, let us have your prayers, that the word of the Lord may run its course triumphantly with us . . . and that we may preserved from malicious interference" (2 Thess 3:1-2).
11. Are there any obstacles to spiritual motherhood for priests?
The obstacles to spiritual maternity are the same ones that would impede any growth in holiness: willful attachment to sin, the refusal to forgive another, hardness of heart, pride, and the other "root" or capital sins. The most effective means of overcoming the obstacles to holiness are frequent confession and Holy Communion; full, conscious and zealous participation in the liturgy of the Church; devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (especially the Rosary); meditation of the Word of God; adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; acts of penitence and mortification; and obedience to a spiritual father.
12. How does a woman go about becoming a spiritual mother to priests?
A woman who desires to become a spiritual mother to priests should ask her parish priest for the name of the priest charged by the bishop with promoting spiritual motherhood at the diocesan level. She should communicate with him and, after a suitable time of discernment and preparation, can make an act of dedication to spiritual mother on behalf of priests. (SMOP - OTTAWA -- Although this is one way of becoming a spiritual mother, the concept of our apostolate is different. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will be happy to explain our concept further).
This "Little Catechism on Spiritual Motherhood for Priests" was prepared by Father Kirby, for the Diocese of Tulsa.
Shared from http://www.spiritualmotherhoodofpriests.ca/little-catechism-on-spiritual-motherhood-for-priests
- Year XXII - Num. 097
|- The whole world continues to be your cloister, says the Pope to the Order of Friars Minor|
|- Francis commemorates St. Philip Neri on the fifth centenary of his birth|
|- Meeting of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops closes|
|The whole world continues to be your cloister, says the Pope to the Order of Friars Minor|
Vatican City, (VIS) – This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, dedicated this time to two key aspects of their identity: minority and fraternity.
In his address, the Holy Father remarked that minority “calls us to be and to feel small before God, entrusting ourselves entirely to his infinite mercy. The perspective of mercy is incomprehensible to those who do not recognise themselves as 'minor': that is, as small, needy and sinners before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more convinced we are of being sinners, the more disposed we are to be saved. … Minority also means coming out of ourselves, of leaving behind our preconceptions and personal views; it also means going beyond structures – that are of course useful if used wisely – and beyond our habits and certainties, to bear witness to real closeness to the poor, needy and marginalised, with an authentic attitude of sharing and service”.
Similarly, the dimension of fraternity is essential for bearing witness to the Gospel. “In the primitive Church, Christians lived in fraternal community to the extent that … the people were surprised to see them so united in love, so willing to give and to forgive each other”, commented the Pope. “Your religious family is called upon to express this concrete fraternity, by recovering this mutual trust in interpersonal relations, so that the world may see and believe, acknowledging that Christ's love heals wounds and renders us as one”.
In this respect, Francis invited the Franciscans to be “bringers of mercy, reconciliation and peace”, in obedience to their charism which has made them an “outbound congregation” since their origins. “It is said that when the first friars were asked to show their cloisters, they climbed a hill and, showing the land around, as far as the eye could see, they answered, 'This is our cloister'. Dear brothers, continue to go into this cloister, which is the whole world, driven by Christ's love, as St. Francis invites you to do … when he says … 'I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, meek and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting. … Into whatever house they may enter, first let them say: 'Peace to this house', and … it is lawful to eat any of the foods which are placed befor them”.
The Pope stressed that St. Francis' exhortation remains valid. “It is a prophecy of fraternity and minority for today's world too. How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without losing oneself in disputes and gossip, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, … with modest means, announcing peace and living in a sober fashion, content with what is offered to you. This also requires decisive commitment to transparency, to the ethical and fraternal use of goods, in a style of sobriety. If, instead, you are attached to worldly goods and wealth, and place your security there, it will be the Lord Himself Who will despoil you of this spirit of worldliness in order to preserve this valuable heritage of minority and poverty to which He has called you through St. Francis. You will either be freely poor and minor, or find yourselves denuded”.
“The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for religious life”, continued Pope Francis. “When consecrated persons let themselves be enlightened and guided by the Spirit, they discover in this supernatural vision the secret of their fraternity, the inspiration for their service to their brothers, the strength of their prophetic presence in the Church and in the world. The light and the strength of the Spirit will also help you face the challenges that lie before you, especially the numerical decrease, ageing and diminution of new vocations”.
“The people of God love you. Cardinal Quarracino once said: 'In our cities there are groups or people who are against the clergy, and when a priest passes by they say certain things to him – in Argentina they call them “crows”. But I have never, ever heard these remarks in the presence of a Franciscan habit. Why? You have inherited authority with the people of God with your minority, fraternity, meekness, humility, and poverty. Please preserve this! Do not lose it. The people love you”.
|Francis commemorates St. Philip Neri on the fifth centenary of his birth|
Vatican City, (VIS) – This year marks the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Philip Neri (Florence, 25 July 1515 – Rome 26 May 1595), known as the “apostle of Rome” and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory that, as Pope Francis writes in a letter addressed to the procurator general Fr. Mario Alberto Aviles, is characterised by “an intense and joyful spiritual life: prayer, listening and conversation on the Word of God, preparation to receive the sacraments in a dignified way, formation for Christian life through the history of the saints and the Church, and works of charity for the benefit of the poorest”.
The Holy Father, joining with those who commemorate the figure and the work of this saint, who spent sixty years of his life in Rome, remarks that thanks to the apostolate of St. Philip, commitment to saving souls “was restored as a priority in the Church's activity, and it was newly understood that pastors must stay with their people to guide them and sustain them in their faith. Philip was a guide for many people, announcing the Gospel and dispensing the Sacraments. In particular, he dedicated himself with great passion to the ministry of Confession, up to the evening of his last day on earth. His concern was that of constantly following the spiritual growth of his disciples, accompanying them in the bitterness of life and opening up to Christian hope. … His spiritual paternity shines through all his work, characterised by trust in people, by his rejection of gloomy and sombre tones, by his spirit of festivity and joy, by his conviction that grace does not restrain nature but instead heals, strengthens and perfects it”.
The Apostle of Rome also remains as “a shining model of the permanent mission of the Church in the world. The perspective of his approach to others, bearing witness to all the love and mercy of the Lord, can constitute a valid example for bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful. From the very first years of his presence in Rome, he undertook an apostolate of personal relations and friendship, as the ideal route to opening up to the encounter with Jesus and the Gospel. … He loved spontaneity, shunned artifice, chose the most enjoyable methods to educate in Christian virtues, and at the same time offered a healthy discipline that implied the exercise of will to welcome Christ in the fabric of one's life. His profound conviction was that the path to sanctity was based on the grace of an encounter with the Lord, accessible to any person … who welcomes him with the wonder of children”.
“The permanent state of mission of the Church requires that you, the spiritual children of St. Philip Neri, do not settle for a mediocre life; on the contrary, in the school of your Founder you are called upon to be men of prayer and witness to draw people to Christ”, concludes the Pope. “In our times, especially in the world of the young who were so dear to Fr. Philip, there is a great need for people who pray and who know how to teach others to pray”.
|Meeting of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops closes|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops today completed its two-day meeting to prepare for the 14th Ordinary General Assembly on the theme “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”, to be held from in the Vatican. The Council was chaired by the Holy Father, who met with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Bishop Fabio Fabene (respectively secretary general and under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops) last week, and whose presence underlined the importance he attributes to the current Synod path.
Yesterday, 25 May, and this morning, the Council closely examined the plan for the Instrumentum laboris resulting from the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Assembly, integrated with numerous contributions provided by the answers to the questions included in the Lineamenta sent by the Episcopal Conferences and other competent entities, as well as the many contributions received by the Secretariat General from various ecclesial bodies and individual faithful. An extensive and detailed study of the text has generated proposals and contributions for its integration and improvement. The text, thus revised and shared by the members of the Council, has been entrusted to the Secretariat General for its final redaction, translation in various languages and publication, which will take place in a few weeks' time.
Following the examination of the Instrumentum laboris, proposals from the Secretariat General for updating the working method for the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops were presented.
St. Philip Neri
Feast: May 26
|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.|
At eighteen Philip was sent to the town of San Germano, to live with a childless kinsman who had a business there and would be likely to make Philip his apprentice and heir. It is hard to imagine anyone with less aptitude for business than Philip. Soon after his arrival he had a mystical experience which in after years he spoke of as his "conversion," and which radically changed his life. He left his kinsman's house, to set out for Rome without money or plan, trusting entirely to God's providence. In Rome he found shelter under the roof of a former Florentine, one Galeotto Caccia, a customs official, who offered him an attic and the bare necessaries of life, in return for which Philip was to give lessons to Caccia's two small sons. Under his tutoring the little boys improved rapidly in all respects, according to their grateful mother. This promised well for Philip's future human relationships. Indeed, as we shall see, he had a natural talent for bringing out the best in people of all ages and conditions.
Except for the hours he devoted to his pupils, Philip seems to have passed his first two years at Rome as a recluse, spending much time in prayer in his bare, uncomfortable attic. He ate frugal meals of bread, water, and a few olives or vegetables. It was a period of intense preparation, and at its dose he emerged from obscurity with his spirit strengthened, his resolve to live for God confirmed. He now took courses in philosophy and theology at the Sapienza and at St. Augustine's monastery. For three years he worked so hard that he was considered an unusually promising scholar. Then, quite suddenly, moved by some inner prompting, he put an end to classes and studying, sold most of his books, and launched on a mission to the people of Rome.
Religion was at a low ebb in the papal city, which had not yet recovered from the atrocious depredations of the German and Spanish armies of 1527, a decade earlier. There were also grave abuses within the Church, and although they had long been recognized, too little was being done to cure them. Elections to the Sacred College were controlled by the Medici family, with the result that the cardinals, with a few notable exceptions, were princes of the state, worldlings who thought in terms of power and politics, rather than men dedicated to God and the Church. The enthusiasm for classical writers and the tendency towards scepticism, fostered by the humanists of the Renaissance, had gradually substituted pagan for Christian ideals in Italian intellectual circles. Indifference and luxury, if not corruption, were rife among the clergy, many of whom allowed their churches to fall into disrepair, seldom said Mass, and completely neglected their flocks. Little wonder that the laity were lapsing into cynicism and disbelief ! To fill the people of Rome with new ardor, to re-evangelize the city, became Philip Neri's life work.
He began in the most direct way possible, making acquaintances on street corners and in the public squares, where people were inclined to loiter. At first he interested himself especially in the young Florentines who were employed in the banks and shops of the busy Sant'Angelo quarter near the Vatican. He has been compared to Socrates for the way he could seize on opportunities for engaging in conversation and then lead his hearers on by questions and suggestions to consider a better way of life. His warm friendliness and lively sense of humor would quickly catch the attention of passersby, and once caught, they found it difficult to break away. By this warm, personal approach he gradually prevailed on many to give up their careless way of life. His customary question, "Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?" soon brought a response, provided he led the way. Losing no time in converting good intentions into action, he would take them to wait on the sick in the hospitals or to pray in the Seven Churches, one of Philip's own favorite devotions. His days were wholly given up to others, but towards evening it was his habit to retire into solitude, to spend the night in a church porch or in the catacombs beside the Appian Way, gathering strength for another day's work.
In one of the grottoes along the Appian Way he had an experience which affected him profoundly. He was praying on the eve of Pentecost, 1544, when there appeared to him what seemed to be a globe of fire; it entered his mouth and afterwards he felt a dilation of the heart. Immediately he was filled with such paroxysms of divine love that he fell to the ground exclaiming, "Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no morel " When he had come to himself and risen up, he discovered a swelling over his heart, though neither then nor later did. it give him pain. From that day on, under stress of spiritual emotion, he was apt to be seized with palpitations; at such times he would ask God to mitigate His visitations lest he should die of love.
In the year 1548, when Philip had been carrying out his informal mission for some ten years, he founded, with the help of his confessor, Father Persiano Rossa, a confraternity of poor laymen who met for spiritual exercises in the church of San Salvatore in Campo. He popularized the devotion of the Forty Hours, and undertook to provide for needy pilgrims, a work which led to the building of the famous hospital Santa Trinita. During the Year of Jubilee of 1575 it cared for no less than a hundred and forty-five thousand pilgrims. Later it received convalescents also.
Thus by the time he was thirty-four, Philip had accomplished a great deal. His confessor, however, was convinced that as a priest his work would be even more effective. Philip's humility made him shrink from taking Holy Orders, but at last, on May 23, 1551, he was ordained. He went to live with Father Rossa and other priests at San Girolamo and thereafter carried on his mission mainly through the confessional. Starting before daybreak and continuing hour after hour, he sat in the tribunal of penance, while men and women of all ages and ranks flocked to him. Sometimes he conducted informal discussions with those who desired to lead a better life, or he would read aloud to them, choosing the lives of the saints, martyrs, and missionaries. The story of the heroic life and death of St. Francis Xavier so inspired Philip that he himself considered service in the foreign mission field: a Cistercian whom he consulted persuaded him that Rome was to be his Indies.
To accommodate the increasing number of those who attended Philip's discussions, a large room was built over the nave of San Girolamo. Several other priests were appointed to assist him. The people called them "Oratorians" because they rang a little bell to summon the faithful to prayers in their "oratory." The actual foundation of the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory was laid a few years later, when Philip presented five of his young followers for ordination and sent them to serve the church of San Giovanni, which had been put in his charge by fellow Florentines living in Rome. The future cardinal and Church historian, Caesar Baronius, was among them. Philip drew up for them some simple rules: they were to share a common table and perform spiritual exercises under his direction, but they were not to bind themselves to the life by vow or to renounce their property. The organization grew rapidly, although it met with opposition in certain quarters. In 1575, the Congregation received the formal approbation of Pope Gregory XIII, who later bestowed on it the ancient church of Santa Maria in Vellicella. The building was in a ruinous condition and far too small. Philip was not long in deciding to demolish it and rebuild on a large scale.
He had no money, but contributions poured in from his friends, rich and poor. Pope Gregory and Charles Borromeo gave generously, as did other prominent men. Cardinals and princes were now among Philip's disciples, though he sometimes shocked them by his impulsiveness. His desire was always to establish a close, human bond with others, even though it meant indulging in a wine-drinking contest, practical joking, or other undignified behavior. He acted in a jocular manner to conceal his deep emotion, or to put himself on a level with those around him. Humility was the virtue he strove most of all to practice, but of course he could not conceal his extraordinary gifts or sanctity. More than once he foretold events which later came to pass. He lived in such a state of spiritual exaltation that at times it was with difficulty that he carried on his daily labors. Men declared that his face often glowed with a celestial radiance.
By April, 1577, work on the Nuova Chiesa, or New Church, had advanced sufficiently for the Congregation of the Oratory to be transferred there. Philip stayed at San Girolamo for another seven years before he moved to quarters in the New Church. Although he ate his meals apart from the group, he was far from leading the life of a solitary. Not only did his spiritual sons have free access to him, but his room was constantly crowded by others. Rich and poor mounted the steps that led to his refuge at the top of the house, with its balcony looking over the roofs of Rome. The Italian people loved and venerated him, and visitors came from other countries to speak with him. Thus he continued his apostolate when the infirmities of age prevented him from leading an active life. The College of Cardinals frequently sought his advice, and although he refrained from becoming involved in political matters, he broke this rule when he persuaded Pope Clement VII to withdraw the excommunication and anathema laid on Henry IV of France. In the words of one of his biographers, "He was all things to all men.... When he was called upon to be merry, he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy, he was equally ready.... In consequence of his being so accessible and willing to receive all comers, many went to him every day, and some continued for the space of thirty, nay, forty years, to visit him very often both morning and evening, so that his room went by the agreeable nickname of the "Home of Christian mirth." The tradition of this genial saint was very much alive two hundred years later, when the German poet Goethe was living in Rome. He heard so much of Neri that he studied the sources and wrote a highly appreciative essay about him, entitled, "The Humorous Saint."
Two years before his death Neri retired from his office of Superior in favor of his disciple, Caesar Baronius. He obtained permission from the Pope to celebrate Mass daily in a little Oratory adjoining his room. So enraptured did he become at such times that it was the practice of those who attended to retire respectfully at the
One of the most famous members of the Oratorian order, Cardinal Newman, wrote 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."