CARDINAL NEWMAN'S NOVENA OF ST. PHILIP HERI
John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) composed a series of nine addresses and prayers as part of a Novena in Honor of St. Philip Neri, delivered in May, 1875, which were taken from Bacci’s Life of St. Philip.
In an age such as ours which is so given over (all at once) to the extravagant promotion of self and herd-thinking as enabled by the new forms of “social media”, Cardinal Newman’s presentation of St. Philip’s virtuous humility offers us much food for thought.
If Philip heard of anyone having committed a crime, he would say: “Thank God that I have not done worse”.
At confession he would shed abundance of tears, and say, “I have never done a good action”.
To one of his spiritual children who said to him. “Father, a temptation has come to me to think that you are not what the world takes you for,” he made answer: “Be sure of this, that I am a man like my neighbors, and nothing more.”
He was an enemy to all rivalry and contention. He always took in good part everything that was said to him. He had a particular dislike of affectation, whether in speaking, or in dressing, or in anything else.
He could not bear two-faced persons; as for liars, he could not endure them, and was continually reminding his spiritual children to avoid them as they would a pestilence.
He always asked advice, even on affairs of minor importance. His constant counsel to penitents was, that they should not trust in themselves, but always take the advice of others, and get as many prayers as they could.
He had a most pleasant manner of transacting business with others, great sweetness in conversation, and was full of compassion and consideration.
He had always a dislike to speak of himself. The phrases “I said”, “I did”, were rarely in his mouth. He exhorted others never to make a display of themselves, especially in those things which tended to their credit, whether in earnest or in joke.
As St. John the Evangelist, when old, was continually saying, “Little children, love one another,” so Philip was ever repeating his favorite lesson, “Be humble, think little of yourselves.”
He said no one ought to say, “Oh! I shall not fall, I shall not commit sin,” for it was a clear sign that he would fall. He was greatly displeased with those who made excuses for themselves, and called such persons, “My Lady Eve,” because Eve defended herself instead of being humble.
PRAYER: PHILIP, my glorious patron, who didst count as dross the praise, and even the good esteem of men, obtain for me also, from my Lord and Saviour, this fair virtue by thy prayers. How haughty are my thoughts, how contemptuous are my words, how ambitious are my works. Gain for me that low esteem of self with which thou wast gifted; obtain for me a knowledge of my own nothingness, that I may rejoice when I am despised, and ever seek to be great only in the eyes of my God and Judge.