When Philip Neri arrived in Rome in 1533, he found the Eternal City sunk in a morose gloom of habitual vice. For many years, he worked quietly as a tutor. Then one day, Philip sold his books, gave his money to the poor, and turned his life into a life of service.
He worked to revive the withered faith of the Roman people. For about ten years he remained a layman, but then his spiritual director told him to become a priest so that he could extend his apostolate.
The amusements offered by the city were idle and often immoral, so the first thing Philip did was to organize pure, innocent, light-hearted alternatives.
He visited the sick, taking groups of Catholics to the hospitals with him. He hosted picnics outside the city, steering the conversation towards life in Christ and ending the outing with adoration at one of the Seven Churches. He gathered a group of men to join him in the evenings for prayer, recreation, and spiritual talks.
At that time, the clergy kept a substantial distance between themselves and the laity; sermons were long, complicated, impossible for the simple peasants to understand. Philip’s preaching was simple, direct, and filled with joy in the love of Jesus.
The men’s group grew rapidly, numbering both laity and clergy among its attendees, all eager for the spiritual refreshment and encouragement they found in Philip’s cheering presence.
The group, increasingly steadily, was officially recognized by the pope as the Congregation of the Oratory in 1575.
Inspired by Philip’s method of winning souls with infectious joy, Catholics in other cities began forming Oratories of their own. Prayer and singing at Eucharistic adoration was (and still is!) the most important part of an evening at the Oratory.
St. John Henry Newman, himself a fervent Oratorian, wrote many beautiful prayers, now compiled into Prayers Before The Eucharist. This is not just a prayer manual that prays at God—these prayers and meditations engage with God. Familiar and conversational, these prayers will revolutionize your holy hour with Jesus in the Eucharist! Get your copy today!