St. Phillip Neri (1515-1595) was canonized on March 12, 1622 with three other Spanish saints: St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. All four saints were contemporaries of one another. St. Teresa probably never had contact with the other three because she lived in a Carmelite monastery. The other three were friends with another. Phillip was a man known by his infectious joy and easy-going nature. He was a much sought for confessor by the people of Rome, where he primarily ministered, and was an engaging conversationalist. For these qualities, Ignatius tried to recruit Phillip to join the fledgling Society of Jesus. Phillip was also attracted to the missionary spirit of Francis Xavier who was to go to India to preach the Gospel. Phillip discerned with the help of a spiritual confidant that Italy was to be his India.
Phillip started a religious movement called the Priest and Brothers of the Oratory. The Oratory movement sought to establish communities of priests and brothers committed to serving a local area. Unlike other religious orders, members of an oratory community do not profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Rather, Phillip Neri designed the oratory that no other bond than love would compel the members to stay. For Phillip, the bond of love radiated in his life with the palpable sense of joy he carried with him. It is joy that led to generosity of spirit and time in Phillip’s life. He is attributed as saying: “Well, my brothers, when shall we begin to do good?”
As we draw closer to the end of the liturgical season of Easter, let us continue to pray for God to bring us the joy of Christ’s Resurrection. We pray for this consolation as it was in St. Phillip Neri’s life to lead us outward from ourselves to all who we encounter.
How has the joy of the Resurrection manifested in my life?