Today we remember Saint Philip Neri, an ardent lover of the Lord and a man of great joy and cheerfulness. Known for his playful wit, he once remarked, "A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one." We love the story of an overwrought Roman fashionista who once came to Saint Philip seeking counsel. She told him of scruples over her vanity - she was fond of wearing the high-heeled shoes that were all the rage. Philip told her his only fear was that she might fall over.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said that “joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Joy is the fruit of real confidence in God's ineffable mercy. This is our joy as monks - we see over and over again our fumbling and sinfulness and learn to rejoice because Christ's mercy is always available to us.
Saint Philip Neri, Carlo Dolci, Italian, 1645 or 1646, oil on canvas, 17 1/4 × 14 1/4 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission.