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Saturday, May 26, 2012

St Philip Neri

"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves." Phil 2:3

St Philip, a gregarious, funny, and well respected man was committed to humility as essential value for the Oratorians, the society of Apostolic life which he helped found in the sixteenth century. Begun in a church that was sharply divided by the Protestant Reformation, the Oratory invited men to come, to see, to study, reflect and pray without defensiveness about the sins of the church. Instead, the Oratorians were committed to being quiet cells of prayer and hope in a church that had lost its way and needed serious internal reformation. 

Rather than insist upon harsh physical mortification like many other new religious congregations founded after the Protestant Reformation, Philip encouraged the Oratorians to practice spiritual mortification as a way to refocus the church's energies towards God rather than social acceptance. One story about Philip in this regard says it all. After hearing one of his brother priest's give a well received homily, he ordered him to give it again six times in a row so that people would think he had only one sermon.  

Though Philip's action might seem cruel to some, many of my brother Capuchins tease one another that the best homilists among us have only three distinct sermons, and most of us have one! At the same time, we acknowledge that the one thought or one homily, rooted in God's power to save rather than our eloquence, helps people more than all our insights.

Today, pray for the gift of humor as you admit your faults.

Has anyone's humor ever helped you take the next step on your spiritual journey?

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