Thursday, January 08, 2009

A saint for ACTS as well as for real - deal Catholic Charismatics?

A man who actually believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ?

And acted like it?

The Rev. Frederick L. Miller, the author of "St. Philip Neri and the priesthood," in the January 2009 issue of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, is described as "a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is presently teaching systematic theology at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. His last article in HPR appeared in November 2008."

This is adapted from his lengthy article on Saint Philip Neri (1515 - 1595), cited above.

"As a priest, Philip never called attention to a corrupt hierarchy.

"There was no need to do that.

"Sad to say, it was all too obvious.

"Rather, Philip lived the priesthood so joyfully and simply that he attracted worldly clerics by his priestly way of life.

"His tools were simple: frequent confession, daily mental prayer, and spiritual direction."


"First, he organized a prayer group known as the Oratory for young people.

"The youth would gather in his presbytery each week, or several times a week, to read and discuss Sacred Scripture, to pray spontaneously, to sing hymns and to present ferverinos (short and fervent presentations on a theme assigned by Saint Philip) on Christian doctrine, the virtues and the lives of the saints.

"Philip taught them to pray with the Scriptures.

"Their [these young peoples'] presentations on doctrine and the lives of the saints helped the young to interpret the Scriptures within the sacred tradition of the church [To have all this locally, we'll simply have to await the arrival of a priest who believes in Jesus Christ himself, and this may take some years].

"At the same time, Father Philip was preparing his spiritual children to explain the faith to their contemporaries and defend it whenever necessary, especially if Reformation thought found its way into Italy [as it most assuredly did].

"In effect, Saint Philip's prayer meetings formed contemplative apologists of the faith."

An eyewitness account of how all this worked in practice

"The French Oratorian Louis Bouyer offers this description of the Oratory meetings:

The program of their meetings took some ten years to crystallize into the following form: reading with commentary, the commentary taking the form of a conversation, followed by an exhortation by some other speaker.

This would be followed in turn by a talk of Church history, and finally, another reading with a commentary, this time from the life of some saint
[I witnessed something similar at then - Monsignor José Gomez's former parish church in San Antonio, I believe it was Our Lady of Grace, Zip 78212].

All this was interspersed with short prayers, hymns and music, and the service always finished with the singing of a new motet or anthem [just like ACTS, believe it or not, at least in 2006 in El Paso, Texas, Cathedral of St. Patrick]

It was taken for granted that everyone could come and go as they chose, as Philip himself did.

He and the other speakers used to sit quite informally on a slightly raised bench facing the gathering
[no micro - managing with Power Point Presentations here, like we do in Brackettville, folks!] (2)

"(2) Louis Bouyer of the Oratory, The Roman Socrates -- A Portrait of Saint Philip. Trans. by Michael Day, Westminster, Maryland, the Newman Press, 1958."

"Interesting to note, the centrality of Scripture in the Oratory meetings, the spontaneity of the prayer and hymnody, the instructions and exhortations presented by laymen, as well as the charismatic of the of the gatherings led some high - ranking ecclesiastics to accuse Philip of introducing his spiritual directees to a Protestant form of worship [as in fact is the case locally, but it doesn't half to be, if we've a priest who believes in Jesus Christ!]."


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