Les Femmes

St. Philip Neri, the apostle of joy, gives us sensible advice on how to maneuver the obstacles of challenging times when death and loss, fear and uncertainty, can feel overwhelming. St. Philip’s words of wisdom and example of humility echo down the centuries!

From a letter to Madonna Flora Fegni, April 1580: Support yourself in your illness by conforming yourself to the will of the Lord...for although you will have to suffer some pain of body, and also some mortification of the soul, in not being able to enjoy the devotions and spiritual exercises you are wont to have when you are well; nevertheless, if you strive to be patient, and to resign yourself to the will of God, you will gain so much good for your soul that you will not be sorry to have suffered so little to gain so great a reward.... Pray for me, as I will do for you. And let us so live that though we cannot meet again in this life, we may meet in the other for ever, with that delight which the saints who are in Paradise are enjoying this very day.

From a letter to his niece, December 1575: I know that the death of your respected father...will have caused great sorrow to his family....I do not doubt that the family will persevere in well-doing and the fear of God.... I for my part have felt much grieved... and have not failed to pray to God, and to get others to pray for his blessed soul; neither do I ever forget, either in my sacrifices or prayers, to remember all of you begging of Almighty God that you may be assisted by His Divine Goodness and prudence, as regards the spirit, to the salvation of your souls, and protected, as regards the body... according as the Lord shall see expedient for what we ought most of all to hope for and to love, namely, the glory of God by means of a good life....I can do but very little for you in a temporal point of view, as by the grace of God I am poor, and old, and infirm; but...[will assist] you both by years and relationship in the place of a father....As you say in your letter, you receive all things as from the hand of God, conforming and resigning yourself entirely to His Divine Will; a road, in good truth, by which one cannot err, and which alone brings us to taste of and enjoy that peace which carnal and worldly men know not of.

From the Life of St. Philip Neri by Fr. Bocca: As soon as Philip introduced the custom of conferences and spiritual discourses in his own room...ill-natured persons began to speak against it, at first indeed secretly and in an underhand way. The chief of these was Vincenzo Teccosi, of Fabriano, a physician, and...two apostate monks...[who] at the instigation of Vincenzo did all they could to make Philip leave S. Girolamo [the parish]. They had the care of the sacristy; and sometimes when Philip went to say Mass, they shut the door in his face; at other times they would not give him vestments, or they gave him old torn ones, with insulting words. Sometimes they took the chalice and missal out of his hands, or hid them from him....With these and similar insults they did their best to force him from S. Girolamo; nay, they sometimes went so far as to push him; so that he said once to Marcello Ferro, “See what these men do to me; but let us pray to God for them.” [In the end St. Philip won them over by his humility and kindness. Vincenzo publicly repented begging forgiveness. St. Philip teaches us how to respond in illness, persecution, and trials.]

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