St. Philip Neri | May 26

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Today is the memorial for St. Philip Neri, an Italian priest born in 1515. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation. As a confessor, he had a gift for seeing through the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke.

His approach to sanctity was truly catholic, all-embracing, and accompanied by a good laugh. He will be remembered for his virtues of humility and gaiety.

St. Philip Neri’s personality was likely different than St. Paul’s based on our first reading today. In the Acts of the Apostles we continue to hear about the challenges St. Paul had evangelizing the 1st century church. He endured tremendous hardships in spreading the Gospel and was eventually martyred for his faith.

This difference in personalities and spirituality of two great Saints is further evidence of how the Holy Spirit can use our individual traits and God given gifts to evangelize. As baptized Christians, we are all called to share the Good News. St. Peter told us: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence…”

Just as there are many different personalities in our Church, there are probably an equal number of personalities that need to be invited into the Church. Evangelizing may not come naturally but we have all overcome hardships in our lives. The perspective of our faith allows us to see how God was working in our lives during that difficult time and may have brought us closer to Him.

Some of the most effective evangelization we can do is to help people struggling with a similar situation who don’t have faith to fall back on. Without a Christian perspective, the same hardship that we overcame may lead others into despair. This is even more important during this time of pandemic.

Let us pray for the intercession of St. Philip Neri to be open to the faith sharing opportunities the Holy Spirit is leading us to and always be willing to share the “reason for (our) hope.”


-Deacon Steve Whiteman