St.-Philip-2St. Philip owed a great deal to St. Ignatius, telling one of the latter’s disciples that he had learned how to do “mental prayer” from St. Ignatius. He even considered being admitted to his Society of Jesus and going as a missionary to India.

Both shared a vision of the spiritual life, which without being exclusive to persons living in the world, suited better those living among men in society than those living in religious communities. Newman summed it up in the following terms:

An earnest enforcement of interior religion, a jealousy of formal ceremonies, an insisting on obedience rather than sacrifice, on mental discipline rather than fasting or hair-shirt, a mortification of the reason, that illumination and freedom of spirit which comes of love; further, a mild and tender rule for the Confessional; frequent confessions, frequent communions, special devotion towards the Blessed Sacrament, these are peculiarities of a particular school in the Church, and St. Ignatius and St. Philip are Masters in it.

St. Philip sought to learn from others and avoided drawing attention to himself. He did not seek praise or wish to start a religious body. Newman writes: “Neglect was the badge which he desired for himself and for his own. ‘To despise the whole world,’ he said, ‘to despise no member of it, to despise oneself, to despise being despised.'” He was mortified when in his old age friends brought strangers to see him, and tried to hide his devotion with words or gestures. Another example of the saint’s humility was that he did not reveal that he had received a special visitation of the Holy Spirit until a few days before dying.

Thus after his death, during his process of canonization, his close spiritual son, Fr. Consolini, keeping to Philip’s wishes, at first refused to speak with praise for St. Philip until he was ordered by superiors to testify about the saint’s life.

St. Philip’s work of reform contrasted with that of Savonarola as day and night. Philip Neri’s work consisted in works of charity and spiritual guidance, helping individual souls, one by one. Newman writes: “He used to go about the squares, shops, warehouses, schools, and shop-counters, “talking with all sorts of persons in a most engaging way about spiritual things, and saying, ‘Well, my brothers, when are we to set about serving God, and doing good?'” and he began to make some great conversions.”

Philip arrived in Rome at a period different from that known by Savonarola. The city had been sacked by the Spaniards and Germans and people thought the predictions of Savonarola had been fulfilled. St. Cajetan preached on the need for conversion and he was followed by the preaching of St. Ignatius. St. Philip then followed in his own quiet manner, like “the whispering of gentle air.”

In addition to caring for the poor he began to go about shopkeepers and ordinary workers while also visiting the sick in the hospitals. A group of about fifteen men joined him in attending convalescent pilgrims who had left the hospitals but were not yet recovered.

Then after fifteen years in Rome he was at last ordained and he began to hear confessions, beginning finally what Newman calls his “real mission” at the age of thirty-five. For three times the number of years he had been in Rome he gave sacramental absolution and advice to those who came to him, earning the title of Apostle of Rome.

Whereas other saints had evangelized in non-Christian lands,

(h)e was kept at home, in the very heart of Christendom, not to evangelize, but to recover; and his instrument of conversion was, not Baptism, but Penance. The Confessional was the seat and seal of his peculiar Apostolate. Hence, as St. Francis Xavier baptized his tens of thousands, Philip was, every day and almost every hour, for forty-five years, restoring, teaching, encouraging, and guiding penitents along the narrow way of salvation.

This was his great life’s work: bringing spiritual health and forgiveness to sinful men and women through the Sacrament of Confession. Later, as with St. John Vianney, he began hearing confessions early in the day and spent many hours in the confessional. He would interrupt anything to hear someone’s confession and even on the day of his death he began hearing confessions. Thus unlike the fiery preacher of Florence, for forty-five years St. Philip drew many souls to heaven with great patience through this Sacrament.

St. Philip sought the interior reform which lead persons to exterior reform. He dealt gently with persons who were extravagant in their clothing and habits. Newman explains:

A rich ecclesiastic came to him in coloured clothes, like a layman: Philip talked with him for a fortnight, without saying a word about his dress. At the end of the time he put it off of his own accord, and made a general confession. His biographer says: He was very much against stiffness and off-hand prohibitions about wearing fine clothes, collars, swords, and such-like things, saying that if only a little devotion gained admittance into their hearts, you might leave them to themselves. If he spoke of them, it was good-naturedly and playfully. You recollect he said to a lady, who asked if it was a sin to wear slippers with very high heels, according to an excessive fashion of the day, “Take care they do not trip you up.”

He had little fondness for the pulpit and did not like sermons with harsh rebukes. Rather, he sought to win men over through gentleness. It was said ‘Father Philip draws souls as the magnet draws iron.’ And in consequence of his love for penitents who came to him even at an old age he underwent severe penances for their sins. Thus, with such tenderness, prudence and charity he gained the love of the Roman population. Gradually the people of Rome came to realize the greatness of the one who lived among them:

At length there was no possibility of mistaking it. Visitors to Rome discerned the presence of one who was greater than Pope and Cardinals, holy, venerable and vigilant as the rulers of the Church then were. “Among all the wonderful things which I saw in Rome,” says one of them, writing when Philip was turned fifty, “I took the chief pleasure in beholding the multitude of devout and spiritual persons who frequented the Oratory. Amid the monuments of antiquity, the superb palaces and courts of so many illustrious lords, it appeared to me that the glory of this exemplar shone forth with surpassing light.

His fame extended to Spain, France and other nations. Men and women of every station in life came to see him to seek his advice and prayer. He was consulted by the poor and wealthy as well as by cardinals and popes. He encouraged Sacred Music and pilgrimages to replace the Carnival and its excesses. He encouraged those who read works of chivalry or hurtful novels to read the lives of saints. He instructed his disciples to write about heresies and on other important issues such as the Notes of the Church.

When he died countless people from all of walks of life prayed for two days before his remains in the church. It was a tribute to his humility, charity and work in the confessional. This was a great reformer, the Apostle of Rome.

Centuries later St. Philip’s example of humble and gentle service leading people to God was a great inspiration to John Henry Newman and other fellow converts. Today we too have much to learn about St. Philip’s work of reform, a work that should be based on humility and charity, and the grace that flows from the Sacraments. Yet, how often instead we think of reform primarily in terms of politics and legal action.







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With this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the indwelling of Christ in our souls. Christ is born in us. The Holy Spirit makes us children of God, crying out Abba Father, and restores in us the likeness of Christ.

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A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

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Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.

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I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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What is a Classical Liberal Arts Education? Why is it so important for the development of a person?

Fr. Juan R. Vélez answers these and more questions you might have about University Education in the 21st century. This book is aimed for parents, prospective University students, and educators. It will help you discern why adding Liberal Arts electives to your education will help it form it better, and help the student learn to reason, and not just learn.

He also explains how many Universities have changed the true meaning of Liberal Arts, and the subjects, and gives advise on how to choose College Campus, Subjects, and Teachers.

A wonderful book that every parent should also read way before your children are College bound. A Liberal Arts education can start earlier in life, even from home.

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In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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Though the invitation is open to all, not everyone responds to it in faith. Those who accept the call, embrace Christ, and live according to His teachings; they are the chosen ones.

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