He is a saint I should really get to know better. Because I love to laugh and yet, too often get caught up in the to-do’s and then forget. I forget to laugh. And really, what a pity!
It’s too easy to think, and a common trap, that having a life of faith, trying to live a life of faith, must be so serious. Really? Does it have to be? Well, sometimes, sure. But always? Golly, no. No one is going to be drawn toward any sour saints, are they? Nope. Heck, don’t you think that God doesn’t want any sour saints either? Who would? But it’s an easy trap to fall into. Mea culpa.
Anyhow, St. Philip Neri is a good one for reminding us that laughter is one of God’s greatest gifts to us all. I think you can be dead serious about what is true, even as you glory and laugh in the wonder of what that really means too. St. Philip was very serious and devout, dedicated to his prayers, but he also had a compelling personality, loved to talk and even would have music and picnics on excursions to visit churches. He lived in a very corrupt time; he worked hard to restore a strong spirituality by hosting “oratories,” formal talks and music that focused on spiritual topics. Even so, he was known for his great sense of humor and practical jokes, in addition to his gentle manner and his skill as a confessor.
He got it. St. Philip understood that you can enjoy the bounty and fun of God’s goodness, even as you live a deep and powerful life of faith. He became known as “the apostle of Rome.” And, as that is where I am at the moment…today I will ask St. Philip Neri to say a prayer for my family here and everyone on my prayer list.