Mary Vitamin for May 24th
Topic: St. Philip Neri, Mirth and the Strong Woman of Proverbs
Feast day of St. Philip: May 26th
"Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day."
St. Philip Neri, known as the Apostle of Rome and the Humorous Saint, experienced an extraordinary phenomenon.
"He was twenty-nine years old at the time, and as the feast of Pentecost was approaching, Philip who had always had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit, was praying with extreme earnestness for his gifts and graces, when he seemed to see a globe of fire which entered his mouth and sank down into his heart. At the same time he was pervaded by a fire of love which seemed to be a positive physical heat, so that he had to throw himself on the ground and bare his breast to cool it. When he rose he was seized with a violent trembling, accompanied by an extraordinary sense of joy, and putting his hand to his heart, he felt there a swelling as big as a man's fist. After his death it was discovered that the first two of the false ribs were broken, and the broken ends thrust outwards, never having rejoined or return to the normal position during the fifty remaining years of Philip's life."
Fr. V.J. Matthews, Saint Philip Neri (Tan Books: 1984), 9.
Why does the Lord work such marvelous spectacles in the lives of some saints? Should we think this is just an impressive miracle or accidental gift with no further meaning? It is more in keeping with the greatness of the Divine Mind and Plan that extraordinary miracles point to a deeper meaning. As we've seen with St. Clare, (previous MV) we learn more about the Incarnation and the Blessed Virgin Mary by delving into these mysteries.
Our Lady's monumental experiences with the Holy Spirit resulted in her Immaculate Conception and later the Incarnation – what happened to Our Lady at Pentecost? Does the life of St. Philip Neri help us to understand?
St. Philip Neri was marked by prudential, meek and zealous seeking of souls. He exhibited such a high degree of purity that his countenance seemed as white as alabaster and "his eyes sparkled as no painter could paint". He is greatly known for his humor and it seems his humility knew no limits. All of these traits reflect the virtues of Our Lady. He was also known as the "Humorous Saint" and "[i]n his own lifetime his room came to be known as 'the School of Christian Mirth" 79
Some of St. Philip's most memorable sayings are:
"I will have no melancholy, no low spirits in my house."
"My Son, persevere in this cheerfulness, for this is the true way to make progress in virtue."
Today, reflecting on the Strong Woman of the proverbs and the life of St. Philip Neri, I will practice one act of cheerfulness to grow in virtue and to imitate the joy of Our Lady.
"It is of primary importance that the love of Christ be always animating us--'The charity of Christ urges us on' (II Cor 5:14) -to live in a perfect sharing of prayer, action, sorrow and joy."
I give this resolution to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Thanks be to God for graces received.