The Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati does what would have been unthinkable a few short years ago: runs a news story on a traditionalist group that is positive. The story describes the efforts of the fledgling Oratory of St. Philip Neri at Old St. Mary in Over the Rhine. See for yourself:
Three men following a unqiue call are bringing the Gospel and their commitment to joyful voluntary service to the historic neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine as members of the Cincinnati Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
“We are committed to building up the church and proclaiming the Gospel in our neighborhood, in Cincinnati in general and around the world,” said Father Jon-Paul Bevak, who was ordained to the priesthood last May. “We hope to do this through great devotion to the sacred liturgy, education and simply living the life of Christ through the Oratorian spirit.”
That spirit originated in the 16th century with St. Philip Neri, an Italian priest who became known as the “third Apostle of Rome” (after St. Peter and St. Paul). He sought to promote holiness among the people of Rome through sermons, hymns and spiritual exercises and highly promoted the frequent reception of Communion and the sacrament of penance.
An Oratory provides the opportunity for priests to live out their vocation in a manner that falls halfway between that of being a member of a religious order and the life of a diocesan priest, explained Father Bevak. Oratorians take a vow of stability, residing in a community of their choosing and are not subject to transfer to other Oratories or communities. They do not take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but rather seek these perfections freely through a spirit of voluntary observance. They are under the direction of their Ordinary rather than the local bishop for most matters. Oratorian spirituality is focused on joyful service, charity and love, fostered by communal life and prayer.
An Oratory provides an opportunity for its members to live in a more structured environment of work and communal prayer than what is typically experienced by diocesan priests, while at the same time offering them greater flexibility in ministry than a religious order. It is possible for an Oratorian to take up additional apostolates, or change his apostolate, at his own initiative and the discretion of the Oratory community, always guided by the local Ordinary. Oratorians are involved in ministries as diverse as schools, hospitals, prisons, university chaplaincies, seminary teaching, and work in curial offices in Rome. They also serve in traditional parish ministries. Father Bevak, for example, teaches at LaSalle High School and assists at Old St. Mary’s Parish in Over-the-Rhine.
Part of the explanation is a simple acknowledgment that orthodoxy is where the pulse of the Church is in 2012. In a similar vein, the Economist magazine runs a short piece on how trendy it is to be a tradition-minded Catholic.