O God, who never cease to bestow the glory of holiness on the faithful servants you raise up for yourself, graciously grant that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire with which he wonderfully filled the heart of Saint Philip Neri. ~Collect for the Feast of St. Philip Neri
So today was an interesting day because it is the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Philip Neri, which is especially important because my alma mater’s parish is run by the New Brunswick Oratory. A statue containing a relic of his heart is on a world tour among the various oratories of the world, and it has arrived at my old parish. The Bishop of Metuchen has allowed the Oratorians to celebrate a Votive Mass, which made seeing gold an interesting sight, considering Ash Wednesday was just yesterday.
It is however, still Lent. And so, how can we learn from the Patron of Joy in a season of penitence?
“Do not grieve over temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and promise God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast.” ~St. Philip Neri
Lent is not sad; we must still be joyful in our journey to better ourselves because we have to know that in the end is paradise.
Every challenge that appears before us is God challenging us to perfect ourselves and is also an opportunity for us to grow closer to Him, as long as we are not discouraged. Discouragement, especially during Lent, is the easiest way the Devil distracts us, so let us stand firm, for “The devil, who is a most haughty spirit, is never more completely mastered than by humility of heart and a simple clear undisguised manifestation of our sins and temptations to our confessor. Christ died for sinners; we must take heart therefore, and hope that paradise will be ours provided only we repent of our sins, and do good.”
Let us be grow to be humble, joyful, and charitable as we continue this new season together.
Have a blessed Lent.
And on that note, parish fish dinners start tomorrow!