“As we celebrate this Feast of St Philip Neri today, we need go no further than to turn to him as an example of how to evangelise,” said Mgr Mark Crisp, rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott, during his homily at the Birmingham Oratory on Thursday 26 May, writes Peter Jennings.
Preaching at the Oratory of St Philip Neri, Edgbaston, founded by Blessed John Henry Newman, the Rector of the diocesan seminary said that one of the recent initiatives of Pope Benedict XVI has been to call the Church to begin to seriously address the issues of the New Evangelisation.
Mgr Crisp said: “The Holy Father has set up a new Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation and choosing it as the theme for the Synod of Bishops in 2012. He is calling together some of the greatest intellects and some of the greatest evangelisers of our time in order to sift through what’s useful and what isn’t, in terms of ways of thinking, ways of praying, ways of speaking and ways of doing.
“Whatever documents come out of the Synod next year, however, there will not really be any change on the ground unless people like you and me take up the challenge to evangelise.
“Being a cradle Catholic myself, I still feel the chill of fear when I hear that word, wondering what on earth it means I’ve got to do.
“As we celebrate this Feast of St Philip Neri today, we need go no further than to turn to him as an example of how to evangelise – this saint, so full of joy and wit, so enthusiastic for the salvation of souls, so full of the love of God that spilled out to all whom he met.”
Mgr Crisp continued: “St Philip was one of the first truly modern saints. He was not a monk or friar and he was convinced that holiness could be lived right in the heart of society, mixing with all the worldly characters of his day and knowing all the social graces, whilst internally living an ascetic lifestyle.
“His witness of holiness was to live a normal life on the outside, but on the inside a life of penance. Immediately we hear that word we think of gloom and sadness, but actually it was this life of penance which kept him close to the source of joy. St Philip’s witness shows us what any of us can do in Birmingham in 2011. He invites us to stir up and rekindle our love of God; to increase our love so much, that we might desire to suffer for God.
“St Philip invites us to use everyday penances as acts of love of God. The wonderful thing is that the more we love God the more alive we become and the more we are filled with joy. By clinging to the Cross, we also cling to the risen life of Christ which is powerful eternal life.”