Come, take possession of our souls,
And make them all thine own!
Nos cum prole pia,
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda
PENTECOST; Today we celebrate the glorious Solemnity of Pentecost which brings the Easter mystery to a close. The Holy Spirit is poured forth upon the earth. We congratulate the two adults who will be confirmed at the 11.00AM Mass today.
O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth: You are everywhere present and fill all things. Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, Cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious Lord!
ST. PHILIP NERI: On Tuesday May 26th the Church keeps the liturgical commemoration of St. Philip Neri. Interestingly, it will be kept on the day after Memorial Day (observed) when we pray for our soldiers. St. Philip who died on May 26, 1595, was indeed a soldier also. He was a soldier in the never ending battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. And his weapon in this war was penance.
St. Philip died on a Wednesday evening in Rome, the Vigil of Corpus Christi. Had he lived until Saturday of that week he would have attained the great age of 90. And all but the first eighteen years of that long life were spent in the City of Rome. Although a Florentine by birth, he is called the Apostle of Rome, the City he had vowed never to leave.
It is said of the Emperor Augustus that he found Rome made of brick and left it marble. The same could be said of St. Philip in the spiritual sense. For he found a decadent Rome far from God and converted it into a paradise. He did so not with brick and mortar but with kindness and humility. He was called in his own life time Pippo Buono, Phil the Good.
Philip arrived in Rome at the age of 18 and was ordained a priest in the Church of St. Bartholomew at the age of 36, eighteen years after his arrival in the City. On the eve of his first Pentecost in Rome he prayed at the catacombs of St. Sebastian for the entire night. During the night a visible flame descended and entered into his body. Throughout his whole life that flame burned within him – the flame of charity. To be in his presence was to feel a warmth and goodness.
When the Prince Paolo Massimo died at the age of 12 on March 16, 1588, Philip raised him from the dead by simply touching the child. To this day, the Massimo family opens their home every March 16th and invites the poor to dine with them. Any priest may enter the chapel and say Mass there. Philip was three times asked to accept the dignity of being a bishop, and three times refused in humility. He eschewed all civil and Church honors. When one of his early followers Cesario Baronio received his doctorate in canon law (the J.C.D.) Philip made him tear up the diploma and with it line the bed of the many cats who came to the Church of San Giralomo della Carità. Thus did he teach Baronio of the vanity of worldly learning and the enduring treasure of humility.
Philip founded the Oratory, a religious congregation in the Church. The great Cardinal Newman was an Oratorian and there is an Oratory at the Church of St. Boniface in Brooklyn. Philip used music to evangelize the young people of Rome and the musical form that he founded is called the oratorio.
Philip’s devotion while celebrating Holy Mass was so great that he would often go into a trance and be unable to continue for several hours. The little altar server would extinguish the candles and go for something to eat and then return to the Mass. Soon Philip began to levitate during Mass and the Pope forbade him to offer Mass in public. The pope prudently, if not understatedly, said that it would be distracting to the faithful at Mass.
Philip never trusted himself and each day prayed to God: Beware, O Lord, for today Philip will betray you unless you help him!
St. Philip’s picture and relic are in our Daily Mass Chapel. May St. Philip ever guide and protect us. From heaven he asks the question he always did on earth: When shall we have a mind to begin to do good?
MEMORIAL DAY: This weekend we observe Memorial Day when we pray for and thank God for the service of those in the armed forces of our nation. The day began as a day when the graves of our fallen soldiers would be adorned with spring flowers. Thus the original name of the holiday, Decoration Day. (My good father always called the holiday “Decoration Day” until the day of his death 22 years ago. But he also called any sound system the “Victrola.”) May God bless my fellow veterans and all who have served in the armed forces of our nation.
Father David Atanasio: Father David Atanasio was ordained a priest in June of 2014. Many remember Father David because as a seminarian he served at St. Paul’s. Father David will offer the Solemn Mass next Sunday, May 31st here at St. Paul’s at 11.00AM and we will have a reception in his honor in Monsignor Costa Hall after the Mass. Make every effort to attend and to receive his first priestly blessing.