Prayer for the Intercession of St. Philip Neri

May 28, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	The year 1515 is noted for the birth of St. Philip Neri in
 Florence, Italy. As a child he was very intelligent in his studies
 and later would excel in philosophy and theology. He had a natural
 gift for poetry and liked music. At eighteen, while living with his
 rich merchant cousin, Philip had a mystical experience. He gave up
 everything and set out for Rome. A Florentine there gave Philip the
 attic in his house to live in. He was provided with the basic
 necessities of life in return for tutoring two small boys. For
 sixteen years Philip remained there leading a life of prayer and
 penance. He was known to spend whole nights in prayer in the
 catacombs of St. Sebastian, an early Church deacon martyr. On
 Pentecost of 1544 Philip, who had been praying to the Holy Spirit in
 this catacomb to fill him with the zeal of the early apostles, saw a
 globe of fire enter his mouth that filled him with the love of God.
 His heart beat violently. After this experience he found a swelling
 over his heart the size of a man's fist. After his death it was
 found that two of his false ribs had been forced outward. Also the
 connection between the bone and the cartilage of the ribs had been
 broken. Many times after this experience Philip would feel his heart
 beating so wildly with the love of God that he would ask Him to
 lessen it so that he would not die.
	Philip began to attend to the sick in the hospitals. His abundant
 fruits here began to attract attention and followers. Eventually
 donations were given to him whereby he saved poor girls from
 dishonor and assisted promising young people in their studies. In
 1548 Philip united fifteen men into the confraternity of the Most
 Holy Trinity. Their mission was to care for the poor pilgrims to
 Rome and the sick.
	In 1551 Philip was ordained to the priesthood. During his forty
 years of priesthood he spent many hours every day in the
 confessional and celebrated Holy Mass with great devotion. Sometimes
 he conducted informal discussion in his room for those for whom he
 desired a better way of life in his room. He had a merry character
 and soon his room took on the nickname "Home of Christian Mirth." A
 later biographer would call him "The Humorous Saint." The room
 became too small to accommodate his growing disciples and followers.
 By the years 1558 they had grown into several hundreds. A little
 chapel was built onto a main church for his meetings. Philip named
 it the Oratory. These meetings took on a set format: prayer,
 conversation, discourses and singing. These talks drew eminent
 intellectual laymen who learned about the interior life and gained a
 deeper understanding of their Faith. These men spread this learning
 to their surroundings. St. Philip had instituted a lay apostolate in
 the Oratory.
	After reading the heroic missionary life of St. Francis Xavier
 Philip desired to work in the missions. A holy Carthusian monk told
 him that Rome was to be his missionary apostolate.
	Philip gained his reputation of humor from his various practical
 jokes. One time he shaved the beard on half his face, sat outside
 the church and greeted the people as they went in.
	Philip arranged public visits to the "Seven Churches of Rome"
 during one of the days before Lent and during the Easter Season.
 Soon these processions grew into the thousands, even the Pope joined
 in. This became for centuries a favorite pilgrimage for both
 citizens and visitors to Rome, even to this day.
	Philip's reputation grew. He was a great preacher, he worked
 miracles, read people's souls and did many charitable works. Coupled
 to this was his loving and serene nature. He attracted many youths
 and made use of them to inspire a new Christian spirit in Rome. All
 this earned him the title "Apostle of Rome."
	The Order Philip founded called the Congregation of the Oratory
 continues to this day. Two years before his death Philip retired
 from being Superior. During this time his ecstasies during Holy Mass
 lasted so long that the altar boys left only to resume the Mass
 several hours later. Once when someone left the church after
 receiving Holy Communion Philip sent the altar boys after them with
 lighted candles. This was to remind the person that they carried the
 Real Presence of Jesus within them.
	On May 25, 1595, Philip was told by a doctor that he looked
 better than ever. He heard confessions all day saying before he
 left, "Last of all, we must die." At midnight he had a severe
 hemorrhage. He died at the age of eighty blessing some of his
 disciples. His feast day is celebrated on May 26.


	Heavenly Father, you gave us St. Philip Neri to be for us an
 example of holy joy and mirth. We ask you as the great day of
 Pentecost approaches to fill us with this joy of the Holy Spirit as
 you did your faithful servant Philip Neri. Through his intercession,
 may we conclude this Easter Season with a heart burning with love
 for You. May the Holy Spirit so fill our heart and soul that You
 become our only love and desire. Enkindle in us the zeal and burning
 love of the disciples gathered into Upper Room on Pentecost Sunday.
 Then we will glorify You through Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in
 the power of the Holy Spirit before all the world. Amen.