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Novena to St. Philip Neri! [20-28 March]

My dear friends, I have finished the Novena to Saint Joseph and now I need the assistance of St. Philip Neri. If you could join in this Novena, and include my intentions, that would be very much appreciated. God reward you for your generosity!

Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be each day of the novena.

Day 1

Philip, my glorious Patron, who didst count as dross the praise, and even the good esteem of men, obtain for me also, from my Lord and Savior, this fair virtue by thy prayers. How haughty are my thoughts, how contemptuous are my words, how ambitious are my works. Gain for me that low esteem of self with which thou wast gifted; obtain for me a knowledge of my own nothingness, that I may rejoice when I am despised, and ever seek to be great only in the eyes of my God and Judge. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 2

Philip, my glorious Patron, gain for me a portion of that gift which thou hadst so abundantly. Alas! thy heart was burning with love; mine is all frozen towards God, and alive only for creatures. I love the world, which can never make me happy; my highest desire is to be well off here below. O my God, when shall I learn to love nothing else but Thee? Gain for me, O Philip, a pure love, a strong love, and an efficacious love, that, loving God here upon earth, I may enjoy the sight of Him together with thee and all the saints, hereafter in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 3

Philip, my holy Patron, teach me by thy example, and gain for me by thy intercessions, to seek my Lord and God at all times and in all places, and to live in His presence and in sacred intercourse with Him. As the children of this world look up to rich men or men in station for the favor which they desire, so may I ever lift up my eyes and hands and heart towards heaven, and betake myself to the source of all good for those goods which I need. As the children of this world converse with their friends and find their pleasure in them, so may I ever hold communion with Saints and Angels, and with the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of my Lord. Pray with me, O Philip, as thou didst pray with thy penitents here below, and then prayer will become sweet to me as it did to them. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 4

Philip, my glorious Patron, who didst ever keep unsullied the white lily of thy purity, with such jealous care that the majesty of this fair virtue beamed from thine eyes, shone in thy hands, and was fragrant in thy breath, obtain for me that gift from the Holy Ghost, that neither the words nor the example of sinners may ever make any impression on my soul. And, since it is by avoiding occasions of sin, by prayer, by keeping myself employed, and by frequent use of the Sacraments that my dread enemy must be subdued, gain for me the grace to persevere in these necessary observances. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 5

Philip, my glorious Advocate, teach me to look at all I see around me after thy pattern as the creatures of God. Let me never forget that the same God who made me made the whole world, and all men and all animals that are in it. Gain for me the grace to love all God’s works for His sake, and all men for the sake of my Lord and Savior who has redeemed them by the Cross. And especially let me be tender and compassionate and loving towards all Christians, as my brethren in grace. And do thou, who on earth wast so tender to all, be especially tender to us, and feel for us, bear with us in all our troubles, and gain for us from God, with whom thou dwellest in beatific light, all the aids necessary for bringing us safely to Him and to thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 6

Philip, my glorious Advocate, who didst ever follow the precepts and example of the Apostle Saint Paul in rejoicing always in all things, gain for me the grace of perfect resignation to God’s will, of indifference to matters of this world, and a constant sight of Heaven; so that I may never be disappointed at the Divine providences, never desponding, never sad, never fretful; that my countenance may always be open and cheerful, and my words kind and pleasant, as becomes those who, in whatever state of life they are, have the greatest of all goods, the favor of God and the prospect of eternal bliss. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany]

Day 7

Philip, my holy Advocate, who didst bear persecution and calumny, pain and sickness, with so admirable a patience, gain for me the grace of true fortitude under all the trials of this life. Alas! how do I need patience! I shrink from every small inconvenience; I sicken under every light affliction; I fire up at every trifling contradiction; I fret and am cross at every little suffering of body. Gain for me the grace to enter with hearty goodwill into all such crosses as I may receive day by day from my Heavenly Father. Let me imitate thee, as thou didst imitate my Lord and Savior, that so, as thou hast attained heaven by thy calm endurance of bodily and mental pain, I too may attain the merit of patience, and the reward of life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 8

Philip, my holy Patron, who wast so careful for the souls of thy brethren, and especially of thy own people, when on earth, slack not thy care of them now, when thou art in Heaven. Be with us, who are thy children and thy clients; and, with thy greater power with God, and with thy more intimate insight into our needs and our dangers, guide us along the path which leads to God and to thee. Be to us a good father; make our priests blameless and beyond reproach or scandal; make our children obedient, our youth prudent and chaste, our heads of families wise and gentle, our old people cheerful and fervent, and build us up, by thy powerful intercessions, in faith, hope, charity, and all virtues. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

Day 9

Philip, my holy Patron, the wounds and diseases of my soul are greater that bodily ones, and are beyond thy curing, even with thy supernatural power. I know that my Almighty Lord reserves in His own hands the recovery of my soul from death, and the healing of all its maladies. But thou canst do more for our souls by the prayers now, my dear Saint, than thou didst for the bodies of those who applied to thee when thou wast upon earth. Pray for me, that the Divine Physician of the soul, who alone reads my heart thoroughly, may cleanse it thoroughly, and that I and all who are dear to me may be cleansed from all our sins; and, since we must die, one and all, that we may die, as thou didst, in the grace and love of God, and with the assurance, like thee, of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Look down from heaven, Holy Father, from the loftiness of that mountain to the lowliness of this valley, from that harbour of quietness and tranquility to this calamitous sea. And now that the darkness of this world hinders no more those benignant eyes of thine from looking clearly into all things, look down and visit, O most diligent keeper, this vineyard which thy right hand planted with so much labour, anxiety, and peril. To thee then we fly, from thee we seek for aid: to thee we give our whole selves unreservedly.

Thee we adopt for our patron and defender: undertake the cause of our salvation, protect thy clients. To thee we appeal as our leader, rule thine army fighting against the assaults of the devil. To thee, kindest of pilots, we give up the rudder of our lives; steer this little ship of thine, and placed as thou art on high, keep us off all the rocks of evil desires, that with thee for our pilot and our guide we may safely come to the port of eternal bliss. Amen. [Now pray the Litany].

LITANY OF SAINT PHILIP NERI

Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy mother of God,
Holy virgin of virgins,
St. Philip, Vessel of the Holy Ghost,
Child of Mary,
Apostle of Rome,
Counsellor of popes,
Voice of prophecy,
Man of primitive times,
Winning saint,
Hidden hero,
Sweetest of fathers,
Flower of purity,
Martyr of charity,
Heart of fire,
Discerner of spirits,
Choicest of priests,
Mirror of the divine life,
Pattern of humility,
Example of simplicity,
Light of holy joy, Image of childhood,
Picture of old age,
Director of souls,
Gentle guide of youth,
Patron of thy own,
Who didst observe chastity in thy youth,
Who didst seek Rome by divine guidance,
Who didst hide so long in the catacombs,
Who didst receive the Holy Ghost into thy heart, Who didst experience such wonderful ecstasies, Who didst so lovingly serve the little ones,
Who didst wash the feet of pilgrims,
Who didst ardently thirst after martyrdom,
Who didst distribute the daily word of God,
Who didst turn so many hearts to God,
Who didst converse so sweetly with Mary,
Who didst raise the dead,
Who didst set up thy houses in all lands,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Remember thy Congregation, which thou hast possessed from the beginning.

Let us pray. O God, who has exalted blessed Philip, Thy Confessor, in the glory of thy Saints, grant that, as we rejoice in his commemoration, so we may profit by the example of his virtues, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday after the Second Sunday in Lent

Station Church: S. Vitale

The miracle that was worked to cast the enemies of Christ to the ground as  He said “I am He,” was done to prove that while the Son of God would not thwart the purposes of His sworn enemies who thirsted for His blood, the Master was resolved to do enough to render them inexcusable in putting Him to death.  If they proceeded to arrest, torture, and crucify Christ, they would do it with the knowledge that they were acting against One who had divine power.  The miracle was done to convince the enemies of Christ, led by the traitor Judas, that their imminent act was wrong, and if they proceeded to culminate it, they would be held accountable for it.  The miracle went as far as to make those miserable who had laid hands on the Son of God but not so far as to frustrate their impious design.

It scarcely ever happens that we commit any great sin without experiencing great resistance.  This is particularly true of the first great sins in our life.  The remorse, the degradation and the disillusionment is nearly enough to throw us to the ground, and the warning voice of conscience is like thunder in our soul.  It is nearly a verity that after the first or the thousandth grave sin – but after one of them – there is a turning point in our life.  We must not look to be kept prostrate on the ground for the mastery of conviction will release its strong hold, and we will gradually feel at liberty to arise – and then what shall we do?  Paul was thrown to the ground but he arose saying to Jesus – “Lord, what will Thou have me do?”  Judas was struck to the ground but he arose only to renew his traitorous attack, to make fresh quest after Jesus whom he was determined to betray.

After any grave sin we must follow the example of Paul or that of Judas.  If we rise from the serious sin determined to take another and another step towards sin, the likelihood is that path will be smooth and we will be suffered to proceed without much protestation by our conscience, or by remorse.  One thing we ought to fear, and that is to be left to sin undisturbed.  The longer we remain in that state the worse the chances are for spiritual recovery.

When Christ’s enemies laid hands upon His sacred Person, Peter drew his sword and lopped off the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest. Christ told Peter to put away his sword and Scripture adds these words:  “Bear with them thus.’  And he touched his ear and healed him.” (Lk. 22:51)

(c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Jesus Heals Malchus

Judas and the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, Scribes, and Elders experienced two striking miracles in rapid succession – the strange power which hurled them to the ground, and the miraculous healing of the ear of the servant of the High Priest – but what was the effect upon Judas and the others who came to seize Christ?  Nothing.  They experienced miracles and remained adamant.  Oh, the sad plight of those who betray Christ and those who crucify Him.  St. Paul says that when men sin they crucify again to themselves the Son of God and make Him a mockery. (Heb. 6:6)

Never let a day pass without saying your three Hail Marys morning and night, adding this ejaculation:  “Oh Mary, my Mother, preserve me from mortal sin this day (this night).”*

wp-image-13125178jpg.jpg
Immaculate Heart – Side Altar at Sant’ Ignazio, Roma

*To read more about the devotion of the Three Aves, go here.

Join in the Novena to Saint Philip Neri for a special intention: HERE

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent

Station Church: S. Maria in Trastevere

In St. John’s Gospel we read of a most striking incident in the initial steps of the arrest of Christ in the Garden of Gethesemani.  Here are the exact words as the inspired writer penned them:  “Jesus therefore knowing all that was about to come upon him, went forth and said to them:  ‘Whom do you seek?’  They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’ Now Judas, who betrayed him, was also standing with them:  ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” (Jn.18:5)

Tissot – The Guards Falling Backward

Christ had such a short time before been prostrated by the intense mental and physical pain and he had prayed and prayed and prayed, and He was strengthened by an Angel, but now we see Him composed and confident as He stands before the armed soldiers.  There is no weakness now.  There was superb control.  He simply said three words, “I am He,” and the stalwart soldiers fell to the ground.  Those who were so strong and arrogant lay prone, feeble, and impotent at Christ’s feet.

The great St. Augustine does a masterly job of applying this scene to our individual lives.  He says that if Christ acted in this manner when he was about to be arrested and judged by ungodly men, what will He be like when He is the judge?  If He displays such a power at the moment He was about to be sentenced to death, what will His power be like when he stands in all His power and glory to judge each one of us?

If the simple words “I am He,” spoken by the Redeemer of the world had power enough in them to topple His enemies like tenpins or toy soldiers, imagine the effect of His voice when it is used to call us to account for our sins.  St. Jerome asserts that when our Lord said to the soldiers: “I am He,” a gleam of such fiery brightness flashed out of His eyes that the soldiers fell to the earth as if struck by lightening.  In the anticipation of that dread day of judgment let us cast ourselves down at the feet of our Redeemer as a sign of sincere contrition and repentance for our sins.

You will note that St. John says that “Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them” (the soldiers) and presumably, he too was cast to the ground.  The effect of this great miracle on Judas was nil.  The habit of sin and impenitence had hardened the betrayer’s heart and blinded Him to the Divinity of the Master.

St. Paul once felt the power of the voice of God.  He was thrown from his horse at Damascus and he arose from the ground a new man.  Judas was thrown from to the ground in Gethsemani but arose unchanged.  What has this holy season of Lent done for you?  Will you be closer to God, love Him more, and serve Him better because of your having done some voluntary penances, said more and better prayers, resolved to avoid the occasions of sin in persons, places,  or things, or will you, like the betrayer, be unchanged, undisciplined, and unrepentant?  Make your answer [now].

Join in the Novena to Saint Philip Neri for a special intention: HERE

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Lent

Station Church: Santa Cecilia

St. John strikes an unusual note in his gospel relative to the incidents leading to Christ’s arrest.  The inspired writer put these words down for all posterity to read: “Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place since Jesus “had often met there together with His disciples.”  These words give us but a glimpse of our Lord’s habit of prayer.  The deep quiet of the Garden of Olives was His oratory.  Here the Son of God had been wont to pray.  And there were other places, too, which were sacred resorts to Him.  There were mountain tops, where He often spent whole nights in communion with His Father.

Our Lord’s example of prayer teaches us that we should spend much time in prayer.  Those people who are too busy to pray soon find their spiritual life on the wane.  Not feeding their souls, they grow very lean.  There can be no beautiful, strong, helpful Christian life without prayer.

Jesus prays

Every tree has a root which people cannot see, but which in the secret, in the darkness, performs service for that tree without which the tree cannot live or bear fruit.  What the root is to the tree, prayer is to the Christian.  Prayer is the mighty weapon wherewith we can combat and put flight to our spiritual foes:  the golden key wherewith we may unlock the inexhaustible treasury of the divine Heart and draw from It the graces we need for life’s pilgrimage.  It is, moreover, the link which connects heaven with earth, which binds us to God:  the mystical ladder Jacob saw, whereby our supplications ascend to Paradise and bring back to us its richest fruits.  Prayer has a power, which, if we may so speak, forces the hand of God, an omnipotence which prevails even with the Most High.

jacob-ladder

Our Lord’s example also teaches us the importance of regular habits of prayer.  It was Christ Himself who said that without Him, left to ourselves, we are incapable of taking a single step in the way of salvation:  “Without me you can do nothing” ( Jn.15:5). St. Paul tells us that without the assistance of grace we cannot so much as think a thought that is good.  And the doctors of the Church teach us that, in the ordinary dealings of Providence, God does not give grace to those who do not ask for it.  “Ask,” He says, “and you shall receive.”  This is equivalent to saying:  “I am always ready to bestow my grace upon you, on condition that you ask Me for it.”  Christ prayed for forty days and nights on one occasion; He prayed before working His greatest miracles; He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemani; He prayed on Calvary.  What does He do in the tabernacle but plead with His Father for us, to avert the chastisement due the Father, Christ still makes intercession for us, He still is our great Advocate and Mediator.

Christ at prayer in Garden

How much time do you give to prayer?  How well do you pray?  Ask yourself these questions today and then make a firm resolve to do better.  If Christ prayed – you must also pray and you have reason to pray more frequently and more fervently.

Blessed-Sacrament-1024x707

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Novena! A blessed feast to you!

Remember, O most chaste Spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession was left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you, and beg your protection.

Despise not, O foster-father of the Redeemer, my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

Tuesday after the Second Sunday in Lent

Station Church: Santa Balbina

We noted in our last consideration that daggers were used to murder Julius Caesar.  The effect was just as tragic as if the murders had used swords.  The smallness of the instrument did not lessen the effects.  In like manner, it must be said of Judas that he did not lay violent hands on Christ when he met Him in the Garden of Olives.  No, he did not seize or strike the Sacred Redeemer – he simply kissed Him, but that kiss was more tragic than if he had thrust a sword into the Sacred Heart of Christ.

Christ had been kissed before, but my, how different were the circumstances and results!  First, there were the kisses of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.  Who can number the fond caresses that Mary must have showered on the Infant Jesus as she nurtured and fondled Him in her pure maternal arms?  How often must not St. Joseph have covered the Infant Countenance with tender paternal affection?

Second, may we not conjecture that the Magi embraced the tiny Infant as Mary formally presented the Infant God to the first of the Gentiles who came to pay Him homage?  Certainly, the act would be normal if not imperative.


Third, it can hardly be imagined that the Holy Simeon and Anna present at the presentation in the temple, could have held the adorable Child of promise in their arms and not pressed their holy lips to the pink little hands of the long-sought Messias.

Fourth, we are certain from the text of Holy Scripture itself that the public sinner Mary Magdalen imprinted the kiss of contrite sorrow on the sacred feet of Christ, and arose from the encounter holier and greater then when she stooped to embrace her God.

Fifth, we are told that the great St. John the beloved disciple rested his youthful head on the breast of the Master at the Last Supper.  There is a Persian fable of piece clay made fragrant by lying on a rose:  the perfume of the rose passed into the clay.  So it was with John.  He crept unto the bosom of the Master and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it.

Last, we have the awful picture of Judas pressing his lips to those of the Son of God, feigning friendship.

The lesson here is powerful.  Those who approached Christ in love and veneration, in true penance and firm resolve, left His embrace renewed and strengthened.  Those like Judas, whose hearts are turned toward evil, may be very near Christ and not be holy in character.  Judas was three years with Christ, heard His words, lived in the atmosphere of His love and remained unchanged.  An empty bottle, hermetically sealed, may lie long in the ocean and continue to be dry within.  A heart sealed to Christ’s love may rest on His bosom for years and not be blessed.  Only when a pure or contrite heart is opened to receive His grace, does closeness to Him sanctify.

See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.

Monday after the Second Sunday in Lent

Station Church: San Clemente

The kiss of Judas will ever remain the ultimate in base treachery.  The name Judas has such a special odium that no one in his right mind would give that name to an infant.  It is reserved for the foulest deed one can perform against a friend, a family, a nation, or a society.  The act of kissing performed by Judas on the greatest Friend mankind ever had, begs man’s power of description.  Oh, horrible perfidy!

It is related in Holy Scripture that one of the generals in David’s army named Joab perpetrated a foul deed, in that upon meeting Anasa, who also commanded an army, he stooped forward to kiss him and at that very moment thrust a dagger into his side and killed him.  Solomon, David’s famous son, when he succeeded to the throne, had Joab slain for his treachery.

Note how much more evil was Judas’ act of treachery than was Joab’s. Joab with a treacherous kiss murdered a fellow man; Judas by his kiss paved the way for the death of the Son of God.  Joab on the other hand dispatched his victim in one quick thrust; Judas by his awful deed set the stage for the torture and painful death of his Lord and God.

It is related that when the assassins of Julius Caesar fell upon him with their daggers, the great conqueror of men and nations stood motionless, displaying not the slightest sign of emotion or fear.  When Brutus, whom Caesar loved with the affection of a father, also approached and drew his dagger to strike his great benefactor, that blow caused Caesar more pain then all the other wounds, and he could not refrain from uttering the now famous words: “Thou too, Brutus, my son!”  If Caesar was pained by the baneful treachery of his friend Brutus, how must the Son of God have felt when one of His own disciples betrayed Him to His enemies by a kiss.  Might the Master not have said: “You too, Judas, My son! Is this what I have merited for My kindness to you?  Did I not choose you to be My follower, disciple, and apostles?  Did I not wash your feet?  Did I not give you My Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as a food?  Oh thankless, heartless Judas!”

Look into your heart today and see if you have ever betrayed your Master by mortal sin.  Each time you prefer creatures to Christ you betray Him.. Each time you choose sin to Christ’s law, you betray Him.  Spend some time today quietly thinking over the picture of Judas pressing his lips to those of the sinless Christ.  If you identify yourself in Judas, throw yourself quickly into the arms of your God and beg His pardon.