The Life of St. Philip Neri
by Fr. Bacci, 1837

"In those times men lived very remissly in matters of devotion; most people thought it enough to confess once a year. Philip, regarding this as the cause of perdition to a great number of souls, put forward all his industry to induce people to frequent the Sacraments, and other spiritual exercises, but, above all, confession. He was one of the first aided by the holy men already mentioned, who revived in Rome the practice of frequent confession and communion. In order to obtain this object of his desire more easily, he abandoned every other care, and gave himself entirely to hearing confessions.

He got a number of good penitents together; and seeing the fruit which he obtained by this means, he was not content to employ the day in the confessional, but gave up a considerable part of the night to it as well. Before sunrise in the morning he had generally confessed a good number of persons in his own chamber; for whose convenience he used to leave the key under the door of his apartments, that they might get in whenever they pleased. When he had retired to the solitude of his room, he still confessed every one who came; but this was not enough for his zeal and charity; if he was at prayer, he broke off instantly; if he was at meals, he rose from table the moment he heard that any one was seeking him in order to confess.

When the church was opened at daybreak he went down there, and entered the confessional, and never left it except to say mass, which he usually did about midday, or for some other cogent reason, always leaving word whither he was gone. If it happened that no penitents came, he remained near the confessional, reading, or telling his beads, or saying office; and sometimes he walked up and down outside the door of the church, expecting people, and that he might be the more readily seen; so that any one could find him with the greatest case at almost any hour.

In a word, he had such a spiritual relish in hearing confessions, that he said himself, "To do nothing, beyond merely sitting alone in the confessional is an immense pleasure to me; "and this, as well as other sensible heavenly consolations, was bestowed upon him, as he him self declared, in order that he might be able to endure the fatigues caused by the confessional. On this account he never intermitted the hearing of confessions for any infirmity which, befell him, unless his physicians positively for bade it; and if any one through pity said to him, "Father, why do you fatigue yourself so?" he answered, "It is not fatigue, but rather support and recreation." This he did to keep his penitents in fervour, and not to allow them to cool down, and fall back from what they would find it diflicult to reach a second time." --page 39 - 41.

St. Philip Neri was anxious people should not go from prayer wearied and sickened, but rather with sweetness and a desire to return to it; and therefore he was very particular in teaching all, but specially those who could not make prolonged meditations, repeatedly to lift up their minds to God in ejaculatory prayers.


I know Thee not yet, my Jesus, because I do not seek Thee.

My Jesus, what shall I do if Thou dost not aid me?

My Jesus, what can I do to please Thee?

My Jesus, what can I do toqu Thy will?

My Jesus, give me the grace not to serve Thee for fear, but for love.

My Jesus, I would fain love Thee.

I distrust myself, but I trust Thee, my Jesus.

My Jesus, I can do no good without Thy help.

My Jesus, I wish to do nothing but Thy most holy Will.

My Jesus, I have never loved Thee yet, but I would fain love Thee now.

I shall never love Thee if Thou dost not help me, my Jesus.

I would fain love Thee, my Jesus, but I do not know how.

I seek Thee and do not find Thee, my Jesus.

My Jesus, if I did but know Thee, Thou wouldst know me.

If I should do all the good that is done in the world, what would it be worth after all, O my Jesus?

I shall fall, my Jesus, unless Thou upholdest me.

My Jesus, if Thou wishest for me, clear away

all the hindrances which keep me from Thee.

My Lord, I wish to learn the road to heaven.

My Jesus, without Thy help I know not what to say or do.

My Jesus, if Thou dost not help me I am ruined.

O my Jesus, grant that I may never ofi'end Thee.

O my Blessed Lady, give me grace always to be thinking of Thy virginity.

O my Blessed Lady, give me grace always to be calling Thee to mind.

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