It is currently Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:25 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 
 Extracts from "St. Philip Neri" by Cardinal Capecelatro 
Author Message
Site Admin

Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
Posts: 4334
New post Extracts from "St. Philip Neri" by Cardinal Capecelatro
A very acute passage from a biography of St. Philip Neri. The Life of St. Philip Neri, Apostle of Rome, by Alfonso, Cardinal Capecelatro, transl. by Thomas Pope, Burns, Oates, & Washbourne, London, 1926. pp. 36,37. This book is the best biography of a saint I have ever seen.

Quote:
Ever since sin so fatally disordered our nature there is a dark and profound mystery in pleasure, as there is in pain. Pleasure is perhaps the most necessary, as it is certainly the most eagerly desired thing in our nature; it enters into every virtue and into every vice; it clothes with beauty all holy affections and tarnishes those which are unholy; it sparkles in our eyes, smiles on our lips, gives life and colour to our features and vigour to our movements, and makes the blood flow more nimbly in our veins; moreover, it stimulates the mind and dilates the heart, and peoples the fancy with bright images. And yet this same pleasure is the greatest peril and the most serious impediment we meet in the way towards perfection. It is, I say, a great mystery. Unless there breathe around us a certain atmosphere of pleasure, we cannot move a step. Whether the fragrance of a flower, or the shining expanse of sea affect us, whether we read or talk or love, we do all because we are drawn by pleasure. And yet it is pleasure which agitates us, enervates us, corrupts its, sets us at war with ourselves, degrades us by taking away from us what is noble and angelic, and by setting on us the mark of the beast. Only Jesus, who cleared up the mystery of pain and sanctified it, has cast his light on the mystery of pleasure and purified it. He has taught us that pleasure is no longer since the Fall inseparably linked with virtue, but that the ordinary companion of virtue is suffering, so that blessed are they that suffer for justice’ sake, blessed they that mourn. And hence it follows that we should approach pleasure with self-restraint and forethought—nay, with fear and trembling; that many pleasures are evil and unholy, and those alone safe which are noble, spiritual, and restrained; those in short which, being bound up with some spiritual good, are accompanied by charity and are expansions of charity.

_________________
In Christ our King.


Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:53 am
Profile E-mail
Site Admin

Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
Posts: 4334
New post Re: Pleasure and Virtue
John Lane wrote:
This book is the best biography of a saint I have ever seen.


This is the most astonishing thing. I have just opened my copy of "Catholic" (the Transalpine Redemptorist paper) and inside there is a complete re-print of this book. This morning I was searching abebooks.com to see how much used copies of it cost (around $50), and thinking this would be a good project for Tradibooks. Now I find that anybody can get one for $5. :)

Anyway, Fr. Michael Mary obviously agrees that this is a very excellent biography!

_________________
In Christ our King.


Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:34 am
Profile E-mail

Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:40 pm
Posts: 86
New post Re: Pleasure and Virtue
Available for free here: http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=philip%20neri

_________________
Let us have great devotion towards the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary


Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:15 am
Profile E-mail
Site Admin

Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
Posts: 4334
New post Re: Extracts from "St. Philip Neri" by Cardinal Capecelatro
pp. 43-46

PHILIP’S intellect was strong and penetrating; he loved study, and was making rapid progress; only some very grave reason would lead him to lay his studies aside, for in his soul they ministered to piety and the love of God. He knew, too, that a large store of various learning was needful in order to detect and expose the errors of his time. And yet, when he had devoted perhaps three or four years to study, and had acquired what he deemed knowledge enough, he closed his books and sold them, and gave the price of them to the poor. This sacrifice is not a common one in the lives of the saints; indeed, I have met with it, under somewhat different conditions, only in the life of the great saint who seemed to Dante—

A splendour of cherubic light.

Of S Dominic we are told that when he saw many poor dying of hunger at a time of great scarcity in Spain, he sold his books that he might supply their wants. But the saint of Spain was moved to sell his books by his tender compassion for the poor; Philip sold his that they might not distract him from God. It was a confirmation, too, and a renewal of his resolve to live in holy poverty; the money was not much, but it was all he had, and he gave it with his whole heart to the poor. And this further step in the path of poverty was joined with a sacrifice more costly still—the relinquishment of congenial studies for the love of God.

His motives for this sudden change were doubtless many. Chief among them was the constraining clearness of that inner voice which speaks to us all at the more solemn turns of life, and which we call a vocation. It is the voice of conscience as well as the voice of grace; rather, it is the voice of conscience enlightened by grace, and so it is a voice at once human and divine. It is not precisely the voice which enjoins good and forbids evil, though this voice too is human and divine. It is rather a voice which bids us choose of two good things the better, which points out to us a way, not perhaps the best in itself, but the best for us; which guides us then specially when our choice is the harder because it has to be made between things in themselves indifferent, or good, and so is open to doubt and uncertainty. It is not easy to determine the tokens by which we may recognize this voice; but each one of us who is living according to the will of God has heard it in every great turning-point of life, and is blessed so far forth as he has obeyed it.

It was, then, this interior voice of grace which made Philip resolve to give up his studies and to devote himself to an apostolate, not of’ knowledge, however holy and divine, but of charity. All society, ecclesiastical as well as civil, needed to be penetrated and pervaded with a renewed fire of love, and our divine Lord came to bring this fire anew upon earth by means of Philip and the other great saints his contemporaries. If we look at the saints whom God raised up at this first outburst of the Protestant heresy, we do not find them primarily distinguished by knowledge, but by love. Neither S Ignatius, nor S Camillus of Lellis, nor S Cajetan, nor S Philip Neri, nor S John of God possessed the learning of many saints of the Middle Ages; they defeated heresy and reformed the Church by love. In the spirit of love they drew souls around them, and became fathers of large communities of spiritual children; and all devoted themselves specially to doing good. In all these communities we notice that, when it pleased God to raise up for them learned men, the most renowned for learning were not the holy founders themselves, but their sons. It would seem that the remedy for the ills of the sixteenth century was the charity which makes saints, and that genius and learning were to further, without leading, the great movement and work of love. Neither S Ignatius nor S Philip were distinguished for unusual learning; but it pleased God to send as aids to the former the prodigious erudition of Suarez, Blessed Robert Bellarmine, and so many others, as he gave S Philip the incomparable Baronio.

Inasmuch as this abandonment of his studies formed another turning-point of S Philip’s life and gave its special form to his apostolic work, and shows us the means by which he reformed the Church and resisted error, it is fitting that we should consider it with some attention.

Among the many reasons which presented themselves to Philip’s mind, and determined this new direction of his life, was undoubtedly the state of learning and culture at that time. The grand harmony between religion and knowledge which Jesus Christ, God-Man, set forth in its perfection, and which the Middle Ages had striven to bring about in society, was already faint and scarcely perceptible. With but few exceptions, science, letters, and art were saturated with the spirit of paganism, and so were full of peril to the Christian. On the other hand, they were but too easily perverted into the motive and fuel of vanity; for learning was held in honour by all, by the Popes especially, and it was but too often rewarded and exalted with little regard to character or morals. And thus it came to pass that in those countries in which the assaults of heresy were fiercest, many of the most learned paganizers (as they were called) threw themselves into the enemy’s camp. A saint such as was Philip might not unnaturally begin to have suspicions of the worth and the drift of learning, even without any special indication of the will of God. It is well to note also that this relinquishment of his studies was for a time only. His biographers show us that Philip studied as a priest, and had many books. Shortly before his death he had removed from his own room into the community library a goodly collection of books, now preserved in the library of the Vallicella. I find amongst them five works of Savonarola with the name of the saint written in them, and especially the Triumph of the Cross, which he valued so highly. There are also Aristotle and S Thomas, Homer and Virgil with many books of science and general literature.

An apostolate of charity, such as was Philip’s to the close of his life, is hardly understood by many. They think it means something timid and tentative, feeble and languid; whereas it is in reality the very opposite of all this. Others cannot understand that charity avails more than learning to beat down and scatter the errors of the understanding, and of science falsely so called. They think that Philip, for instance, might have done much more to overthrow Protestantism and the other errors of his time by consuming his life in study, than he did by inflaming his heart with love and diffusing the spirit of love around him. To such, if such there he among my readers, I would say a few words which will cast light on many of the things I have to relate.

Most assuredly it is of the very essence of the Church that it should be militant; as our Lord has said: I am come not to send peace on the earth, but a sword. And all the saints are militant together with Christ; the souls of those who rise above their brethren in holiness are the more inured to war, the more eager and valiant in fight. A saint is in conflict with injustice, error, and sin; within is fighting, that he may subdue his passions and hold them in subjection; there is fighting without, to put to flight the enemies of Christ, of virtue, and of good. He is in conflict with princes and nations and with society whenever and in so far as they are false, unjust, or tyrannical; and he strives to reach by conquest the inmost heart of men, to root out some lawless passion, or crush some lurking error. Some short-sighted persons, indeed, cannot reconcile this warlike attitude and spirit with Christian charity. They do not reflect that divine charity has nothing of the morbid and weak tenderness of earthly love; it is manly and robust; its tenderness, like that of God, is the tenderness of a father, together with that of a mother. And so charity is not only consistent with this war, it is the one weapon with which the Christian fights and overcomes. The combatant in this war does not hate his adversary, but loves him; defeat is very often real gain, and seeming victory a loss; for it is a war, not against the man, but against the evil which degrades and despoils him, undertaken to arouse and strengthen within him the good which unites him to God, the Fount and Source of all being. In this war he fights best and conquers most decisively who loves most and gives most. The harsh strife of tongues around us wins no victories for Christ; opponents are only irritated and repelled when they are assailed without charity. Let our brethren but see and feel that we truly love them, that we long to give them all we are, even our life itself; then we shall awaken and arouse within them a sense of the dignity and worth of their nature, and become their allies in their warfare with themselves. Only the weapon of love can lead captive the will of our brethren; and when the will begins to love as God would have it love, then it subdues the intellect and scatters all its darkness. And this is why the errors which beset the understanding in regard of Christianity are overcome by charity rather than by science, helpful and desirable as science is. In times of threatening heresy or misbelief, God sustains his Church with miracles of heroic charity, the science above all sciences. “Not in dialectic did it please God to save the world,” (S Ambrose) but by charity, truth, and martyrdom. And this may help us to understand why the whole life of our saint was an apostolate of marvellous and unwearying charity; and since this apostolate began in his early days as a layman, we must now proceed to study it.


Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:36 am
Profile E-mail
Site Admin

Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
Posts: 4334
New post Miracles
pp. 88-90

CHAPTER VIII
THE LAST YEAR BEFORE PHILIP’S PRIESTHOOD
1550

THUS far in the life of our saint we meet with no miracles, except the great miracle wrought on his own person in the catacomb. We have gone lovingly along with him for thirty-five years and have seen great things; but they are rather marvels of virtue and of love than miracles strictly so called. Of all that we have related, the plan and the reasons are high and secret, but still there is always some ray of light, some clue to guide our investigations. God almost invariably prepares his servants for wielding dominion over the laws of this visible nature by training them to an absolute dominion over themselves. The servant of God does not, as a rule, work miracles until his life begins to be itself a miracle, so that all danger of pride being gone, he is so transformed into Christ that the mighty working of Christ finds in him no impediment.

When the words are true of a saint, I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me, then we begin to see the almighty power of our Lord in the servant of his predilection. But before entering upon the wide field of Philip’s miracles, it will not be altogether useless to say a few words on Christian miracles in general.

S Thomas teaches us that a miracle is a new creation. It is always God who works it by his almighty power, and often some elect creature is his instrument. Even granting that what we call the laws of nature are in themselves unchangeable, the possibility of miracles remains intact. No one who admits creation out of nothingness can reasonably refuse to the Creator the power of effecting those new and particular creations which we call miracles.

But it is of greater moment to consider miracles as they stand related to the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Redemption of the human race. The Incarnation, which is of itself enough to save us all, is the miracle above all miracles, and every particular miracle is only one of the manifold and sensible manifestations of that singular and abiding fact by which the world is redeemed. Nor is this all; the miracles wrought by the saints are only the fruit and effect of the Incarnation, with which they are so inseparably bound up; they are, moreover, a part of that great system and ordinance by means of which our Lord bestows the merits of his redemption, and restores on earth the order which sin has deranged. Even as grace, and the Holy Sacrifice, and the Sacraments have their roots in the Incarnation and are the ordinary instruments of human redemption, so miracles are extraordinary instruments, and in the general order of things not less necessary. If we look at miracles in this light, we see why they were more numerous when religion was in its infancy, and the ordinary action of Christ on the souls of men was as yet less living and efficacious; and why they became fewer where the faith once established had not so great need of supernatural manifestations. We see too why, in dark and troubled times of the Church’s history, when the world needed to be christianized anew, God has in his mercy and wisdom marked the times of his visitation by an outburst of miraculous power. So it was in the sixteenth century; and thus the many miracles wrought by Philip have a manifest reason and motive in the mournful and disordered state of the Church and of society when he began his apostolate in Rome.

And then, if we turn to the credibility of the miracles of the saints, without engaging in minute and subtle inquiries into this or that particular miracle— which may very well be untrue without entitling us to conclude that all are untrue— it is important to note that in the lives of the saints the natural and the supernatural facts rest on the evidence of the same witnesses. It is neither reasonable nor just to rend the closely woven web of facts, all equally authentic, and to accept some while we reject others. Moreover, the natural and the supernatural facts are so connected and interwoven with each other, that if we accept only the former we find ourselves in presence of an insoluble enigma. How can a Catholic writer take away from the life of a saint the poetry, the beauty, and the fragrance with which the supernatural and the miraculous impregnate it? Rather let us bless God and humble ourselves while we relate the miracles of our saints, as we bless God and humble ourselves before the perennial miracle of the preservation of the universe. Surely we, who have had some experience of the miracles wrought within us by grace, cannot hesitate before the outward and visible miracles of the saints, which are far less great in themselves than the inward and invisible, being in fact only their echo or reflection.

The life of Philip Neri is bright with the lustre of many miracles, and we now come upon the earliest of them. After what I have said, I will narrate them to my readers with the same ingenuous simplicity as did the saint’s contemporary biographers to theirs. I have not the power, and certainly I have not the wish, to apply to each one of them a rigidly critical analysis, such as is the fashion to-day, though often ill-applied. Even could I do so, what would it avail? To satisfy a certain class of persons, and to be quite logical, one must efface even the miracles related in the Gospels. As to my Catholic readers, I know that too many of them, especially if they affect culture of mind, habitually breathe the unwholesome air of naturalism, and are conscious of an unwelcome effort in accepting miracles. I would remind them that this is one of the many miseries of our time, and that men of strong mind should vigorously and peremptorily withstand it. He who believes in the miracle of the creation and preservation of the universe, and in the ever-wakeful providence of God, should surely not shrink from believing certain manifestations of his all-powerful mercy, when the effects of those manifestations are great and distinctly visible. I would remind them, too, that except the miracles which have been affirmed in the canonization of a saint, and on which the Church has set the stamp of her authority after most rigid examination, she does not require us to receive them all with an unquestioning assent. The miracles related in the life of S Philip were all of them affirmed by most trustworthy and contemporary witnesses, most of them giving evidence on oath. Even should it seem to any one that in this or that word or act of the saint, they saw a miracle where there was none, we may feel absolutely certain that not one of these witnesses stated what he did not firmly believe. And this is enough to enable us to read the record of these miracles with affectionate reverence, and to find in them ever-fresh reasons to glorify God who is so wonderful in his saints.


Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:46 am
Profile E-mail

Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:54 am
Posts: 68
New post Re: Extracts from "St. Philip Neri" by Cardinal Capecelatro
"If we look at the saints whom God raised up at this first burst of the Protestant heresy, we do not find them primarily distinguished by knowledge, but by love."


Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:41 pm
Profile E-mail
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group.
Designed by Vjacheslav Trushkin for Free Forums/DivisionCore.