St. Philip Neri

From the Breviary: Saint Philip Neri was born at Florence in 1515. He went to Rome and began to work with young men among whom he fostered Christian life and formed an association for the poor and the sick. Ordained to the priesthood in 1551, he founded the Oratory where spiritual reading, singing, and works of charity were practiced. He excelled in his love of neighbor and in evangelical simplicity along with a joyous service to God. Saint Philip died in 1595.

My Patron for 2010 has quietly taught me many things, this year. He’s helping me learn to laugh at myself, though my instincts to roll up the sleeves and start swinging are still much too much to the fore. His daily maxims and sayings can be pretty helpful–like the friendly nudges of a friend who says, “oh, lighten up, you’re not the center of the world.”

Possibly he gives such good advice because, since he was blessed with many gifts of the spirit, he learned to cling to humility and simplicity. He is often summed up (and then too easily dismissed) as the “cheerful saint”, but his lightness came from his depths.

I think it’s funny that the year in which I put together an oratory in my house is the year I get for a patron, the fellow who formed the “Oratarians”. Whenever I sit before my oratory, which for this year holds a second-class relic of the saint, I add to my orations, “St. Philip, please teach me what you know…”

I always get the sense that he rolls his eyes at me. But kindly.

Philip Neri had his tough times and his dark moments, like every great saint. But since he is relentlessly portrayed as cheerful and upbeat, let’s have a relentlessly cheerful, upbeat song in his honor. Sorry about the poor recording, Philip!

About Elizabeth Scalia

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