Thursday, May 26, 2011
May 26 -- St. Philip Neri
May 18 was the feast of St. Felix of Cantalice, whose very good friend and colleague in street preaching was St. Philip Neri. St. Felix was sometimes a Clown for Christ, sporting a goofy haircut or aping around the streets to get attention before launching into serious preaching. Philip too enjoyed joking, using humor to teach lessons of faith and humility. In the picture at right, he is holding a small dog that he stole from one of the cardinals. When wealthy aristocrats turned to him for guidance, he made them take the dog for a walk before helping them so they could learn some humility.
Speaking of cardinals, Philip was offered a red cap, but declined. Turning down a bishopric seems pretty common, almost an obligatory sign of humility that was more often than not followed by insistence that one take the job. Turning down a cardinalship, however, is the real deal. They don't ask again, and you walk away from all the power and privilege that the Church has to offer.
Philip came to the priesthood at the relatively late age of thirty-five, having received a vision of a burning globe that enlarged his heart when he swallowed it. [Insert middle-age crisis / heartburn joke here.] He had a mind to preach in India, but another vision told him that Rome needed him more. The Eternal City had already become the cesspool of corruption that was to disgust Martin Luther so; Philip's preaching earned him the designation "Apostle of Rome," an ironic name since Rome of all places should not have needed evangelization. (Yeah, I made that word up.)
Philip is the patron of the US Army Special Forces. According to a website explaining the St. Philip Neri Award Program, "St. Philip Neri was selected as the Patron Saint of Special Forces because he embodied the traits of the ideal Special Forces Soldier, Selfless, Superb Teacher, and Inspirational Leader."
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM