In a letter sent to the members of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, Pope Francis called on them to follow their founder’s example in his commitment to the spiritual care of souls.
The Holy Father sent the message on the 500th anniversary of St. Philip Neri’s birth.
Dubbed the ‘Apostle of Rome’, St. Philp Neri was a renowned priest who cared particularly for the poor children of Rome. He also instituted the Visit to the Seven Churches, a pilgrimage to the 7 ancient basilicas of Rome.
The Holy Father praised the Roman saint’s zeal in caring for the spiritual and material needs of his flock.
“The Oratory was born from this fervid experience of communion with the Lord Jesus, an ecclesial reality characterized by an intense and joyful spiritual life, prayer, listening and conversation on the Word of God, preparation to receive worthily the Sacraments, formation to Christian life through the history of Saints and of the Church, works of charity in favor of the poorest,” the Pope wrote.
Saying that his mission was to be a “chaser of souls”, the Holy Father said that through Saint Philip, the salvation of souls became a priority in the Church.
“It was understood again that Pastors must be with the people to guide them and support them in the faith,” he wrote. “Philip was a guide to many, proclaiming the Gospel and dispensing the Sacraments.
The Jesuit Pope said that the ‘Apostle of Rome’ continues to be a shining example of the Church’s mission throughout the world. The saint’s approach to others in being a witness of God’s love and mercy, he noted, serves as “a valid example for Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful.”
Addressing the members of the Oratory, the Pope said that “the Church’s state of permanent mission requires of you, spiritual sons of Saint Philip Neri, not to be content with a mediocre life.”
“On the contrary, in the school of your Founder you are called to be men of prayer and witness to attract persons to Christ.”
The Holy Father encouraged them to follow the example of St. Philip in today’s world, which is in need of people who both pray and teach others to pray.
Pope Francis concluded by invoking the Virgin Mary, to whom St. Philip Neri had particular devotion.
“May She accompany you in your path of ever stronger adherence to Christ and in the commitment of an ever truer zeal in witnessing and preaching the Gospel,” the Pope wrote.
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For the full text of the Pope’s messag, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-message-for-the-5th-centenary-of-the-birth-of-st-philip-neri