May 26 reflection by Deacon Jerry

Tuesday May 26th, Feast Day of Saint Phillip Neri- Priest

Readings taken from the Feast Day

Philippians 4:4-9 Psalm 34:2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9, Jn 17:20-26

    Philip was the son of Francesco di Neri, a lawyer, and his wife Lucrezia da Mosciano, whose family were nobility in the service of the state. He was carefully brought up, and received his early teaching from the friars at San Marco, the famous Dominican monastery in Florence.

    At the age of 18, Philip was sent to his uncle, Romolo, a wealthy merchant at San Germano (now Cassino), a Neapolitan town near the base of Monte Cassino, to assist him in his business, and with the hope that he might inherit his uncle’s fortune. He gained Romolo’s confidence and affection, but soon after coming to San Germano Philip had a religious conversion. From then onward, he no longer cared for things of the world.

    After arriving in Rome, he began to pursue his own studies (for a period of three years) under the guidance of the Augustinians. Following this, he began to labor among the sick and poor, which, in later life, gained him the title of “Apostle of Rome”.

    In 1538 he entered into the home mission work for which he became famous, traveling throughout the city, seeking opportunities of entering into conversation with people. Around 1544, he made the acquaintance of Ignatius of Loyola.

    In 1548, together with his confessor, Persiano Rossa, Philip founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims and Convalescents whose primary object was to minister to the needs of the thousands of poor pilgrims who flocked to Rome  and also to relieve the patients discharged from hospitals but who were still too weak for labor.

    In 1551 Phillip was ordained and in 1564 founded the Congregation of the Oratory. He is noted for his passion to convert sinners through the Sacrament of Penance. 

    Philip possessed a playful sense of humor, combined with a shrewd wit. He considered a cheerful temper to be more Christian than a melancholy one, and carried this spirit into his whole life: “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.” This was the secret of Neri’s popularity and of his place in the folklore of the Roman poor.

    This brief summary of St Phillips life brings to life the scared scripture that we have for today. I encourage everyone to read and sit back to reflect on these words and how alive and relevant they are to all of us today. Today’s collect awakens us with these words, “ O God who never ceases to bestow (give) the glory of holiness on the faithful servants you raise up for yourself, graciously grant that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire…”. It is this same fire that St. Phillip felt as he moved closer to Christ, as his servant.

    Do we feel this fire, this warmth of the love of the Holy Spirit? In these next few weeks I believe that it will be important for all of us to rely heavily on the Holy Spirit. Many of the faithful will want to come back into community, to begin to renew once again our relationship with Jesus in the manner to which we have been accustomed to.

    But there will be a different set of guardrails put in place to protect God’s beloved children, when our church’s, businesses, and social settings open up. How we act, or react to these guardrails will be a testament to these past 3 months. Have we had a deeper conversion within ourselves concerning those who are less fortunate than ourselves? Will we give pause and reflect on how our actions, wants, and words will affect others.

    Will the fire of the Holy Spirit cause us to burn out of control to the point of anger, frustration, or impatience concerning the things that we want instead of accepting what is given to us ? Or will the fire mimic the words of St. Paul to the Philippians, “ Rejoice in the Lord always, your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all; make your requests known to God. Then the PEACE of God will guard your hearts and minds.”

    My brothers and sisters, as we move forward with summer, with the lifted restrictions, remember St. Phillips’s countenance, “a playful sense of humor with a shrewd wit”, “to have a cheerful temper rather than a melancholy one,” to seek the opportunities to talk and walk with others first.

God knows we will need these gifts as we go forward into this new reality of our lives. 

Peace and Blessings to all of you

Deacon Jerry