During May, we celebrate several important Feasts. The month of May is also in a special way devoted to Our Lady, with special devotions such as May crowning being held throughout the Church. The feasts we will celebrate mainly are the Ascension of the Lord, the Feast of St. Philip Neri, and we conclude with the Feast of Pentecost. Please be sure to celebrate each feast with particular joy this month. In addition, please be sure to pray the Rosary during this month of Our Lady, especially for our mothers.
I want to focus on St. Philip Neri this month. St. Philip, as you know, founded the Congregation of the Oratory. He was born during the period of great upheaval in the Church, known as the Protestant Reformation, born in 1515. This was just two years before Martin Luther posted his 95 theses. That certainly would have been a difficult period to live through, a period of much rebellion, confusion, and fear.
St. Philip and the other counter-Reformation saints weathered that storm well. When St. Philip was eighteen, he first moved to the area around the monastery of Monte Casino before settling in Rome. He lived in Rome the rest of his life, until just before his eightieth birthday. During this time, he was ultimately ordained a priest and began the foundation of what we now know as the Congregation of the Oratory.
In founding the Congregation of the Oratory, St. Philip brought the Church a new congregation of priests and lay brothers devoted uniquely to stability in the common life, to the administration of the Sacraments, and the teaching of the faith. He specifically founded the Congregation to be without vows, but he intended the vocation for life. Cardinal Newman said one only knows the true Oratorian upon their death. Without vows, all that holds it together is the charity that is supposed to exist within the house and the obedience that is owed to the rule and the superior. Without charity, humility, and obedience, a house will not function as it should and will not be faithful to the vocation St. Philip calls each of his sons to. This is why we pray three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys for perseverance in our daily evening Oratory prayers.
The Feast of St. Philip Neri will be on May 26, and we will have Mass that evening at 6:30 p.m. followed by a social. For the Oratory, this is our most important feast day. So I encourage everyone to attend this Mass in gratitude for all St. Philip has done for the Oratory here and the parishes it serves. St. Philip has certainly looked down joyfully on us and blessed us. May we continue to invoke his heavenly intercession to continue his work of blessing the work begun here.
Have a blessed month ahead!