20130311 Faith radiated 燦爛的信德

During the Catholic reform in the 16th and 17th centuries there were a number of shining witnesses for the Faith. St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), and St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) were holy priests who led many people to Christ.

St. Philip Neri

            Philip Neri was born in Florence. At eighteen he was sent to work with a cousin who was a successful businessman. His prayer experience left him without interest in worldly pursuits. He left Florence and settled in Rome at twenty.

In Rome, Philip lived the life of a hermit. He tutored for a few hours each day to support himself. He studied philosophy and theology for three years; then he sold his books and dedicated himself to prayer.

At twenty-eight, while praying in the catacombs of St. Sebastian on the eve of Pentecost, he felt a globe of light enter his mouth and sink into his heart. Thereafter on his fervors his heart would often palpitate, enlarge, and give off warmth.

Philip had a way of getting others to do good works with him or to accompany him in his devotional practices.  Philip cared the sick at the hospital and became a street-corner apostle. He spoke to everyone—-from beggars to bankers—about God,.

At thirty-five, on the advice of his confessor, Philip became a priest. As priest, he would spend hours each day hearing Confessions. Philip organized spiritual conferences and prayer sessions for his penitents, and the big room which held these gatherings was called “Oratory”; the priests who helped him were called “Oratorians”.

Philip promoted Holy Communion, Confessions, and devotions. He emphasized the importance of prayer and humility. Before Mass, Philip would distract himself with jokes and light reading so that he could get through the Mass without falling into ecstasy.

When asked how to pray, Philip’s answer was, “Be humble and obedient, and the Holy Spirit will teach you.”

St. Francis de Sales

            Francis was a gentle and patient saint. As a young priest, he volunteered to evangelize the 60,000 inhabitants at the nearby Calvinist territory.

For three years, with doors slammed in his face and rocks thrown at him, Francis had not made one convert. However, he did not give up. With unusual patience, he wrote his sermons, copied them by hand, and slipped them under the doors.

Francis went to the children and played with them. When the parents saw how kind he was to the children, they began to talk to him. Eventually about 40,000 people were brought back to the Catholic Faith.

In 1602, he became Bishop of Geneva. As Bishop he guided many people on the way to holiness through spiritual direction. He dispensed spiritual advises through letters and he wrote the spiritual classic, Introduction to the Devout Life. He taught that holiness is for all people.

“You will catch more flies”, Francis used to say, “with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar”.

St. Vincent de Paul

            In 1618, Francis de Sales and Vincent de Paul met each other in Paris. They had many ideas in common. They both saw the need for religious community of sisters that would work among the laity.

Vincent de Paul is patron saint of all charitable societies. He was the one mainly responsible for popularizing the non-cloistered way of life typical of modern feminine congregations.

Vincent was interested in every kind of charity. He served the poor, the sick, children, orphans, and the aged. He would say, “I belong to God and to the poor.”

He founded a community of priests to do missionary works, and a community of sisters for works of charity.

St. Vincent said, “Go to the poor: you will find God.”

十六及十七世紀改革中的教會,出現了好幾位璀璨信德的聖員;當中表表者有聖斐理.乃立(1515-1595)、聖方濟.沙雷(11567-1622)和聖文生.德保(1581-1660),他們都是聖德卓越的神父,帶領不少人歸向基督。

 

聖斐理. 乃立

 

斐理.乃立出生於佛羅倫斯,十八歲時曾跟隨一位成功的表親行商;但斐理的祈禱得著,使他對商界的名利追逐,全不感興趣。兩年後,斐理離開佛羅倫斯,抵達羅馬。

 

在羅馬,斐理過著隱士般的生活,只靠每天授課幾小時維生;他用了三年時間,進修哲學和神學;最後,他把所有書本賣掉,專務祈禱。

 

年屆二十八,五旬節前夕,斐理在聖巴斯弟盎墓穴祈禱時,突然感到一團光從他的口溶入他的內心深處。此後,他多次在熱誠時會心火熾熱、心速加快、身內暖和。

 

斐理有相當的感染力,能使別人願意與他一起投身,全心行善;他常到醫院探訪病者,且成了「街頭使徒」,向每一個人談及天主 —— 無論是叫化子或是銀行主腦。

 

在告解神師指引下,斐理三十五歲時領受神品。他成為神父後,每天長時間聽告解,更騰空一寬闊房間為悔罪的人講道及舉行敬禮;其他的神父們也幫助他組織這種祈禱聚會。

 

斐理苦心勸勉信眾妥辦告解,推動敬禮聖體及其它敬禮,常強調祈禱和謙遜的重要。有時候在舉行彌撒前,斐理神父需要藉談笑和輕鬆的閱讀來使自己有點分心,以防在主持彌撒時神魂超拔。

 

當被問及如何祈禱,聖斐理.乃立答道:「當謙遜和服從,聖神自會指引。」

 

聖方濟.沙雷

 

聖方濟.沙雷是溫和忍耐的聖人。尚是一位年青的神父時,聖方濟自告奮勇,到充斥著六萬名喀爾文主義的誓反教教徒的地區福傳。可惜,經歷了三載,聖方濟仍吃閉門羹,遭到投石趕走;不過,聖人並未氣餒,耐心地把講道手書成疊疊的傳單,透過每家的門底,逐戶派發。

 

孩童的父母們看到方濟跟孩子們玩耍時的慈愛,開始願意與這位天主教神父交談;最後,約有四萬個誓反教教徒,皈化聖教。

 

1602年,方濟神父被擢升為日內瓦主教。方濟主教深信成聖是為眾人而設,所以,他藉箸作和宣講的神修指導,誘導了很多人行走修德成聖之道,他那「熱心引」一書,是研究靈修生活的權威箸作。

 

聖方濟描述溫和的好處,嘗道:「一小匙的蜜糖已能吸引大批蒼蠅,數百桶的醋也望塵莫及。」

 

聖文生. 德保

 

1618年,方濟.沙雷與文生.德保在巴黎相遇,發覺彼此很多見解相同,並認定除神父外,教友社群還需要其它服務,這方面,修女們應可擔當一定的角色。

 

文生致力愛德服務,他服侍貧窮病弱的人,照顧童叟、孤兒。文生自稱「屬於天主,屬於貧苦大眾。」

 

他創立司鐸組織「遣使會」,履行傳教使命,又創立「仁愛修女會」,實踐愛德工作。故此,聖文生.德保是慈善事業的主保,他也推動非隱修的女修會,在世上奉行愛德善功。

 

聖文生.德保說:「走進貧窮人堆,你會找到天主。」

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