“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stigmata of the Holy Spirit

Monday, May 26th, along with being the birthday of my son, Peter, is the feast of St. Philip Neri, the "Apostle of Rome."

In 1544, the saint was praying at a catacomb in Rome, when he pleaded to the Holy Spirit to send him His gifts. A globe of fire appeared in front of him, entered his mouth and eventually lodge itself into his breast filling Neri with a non-ending, burning love in his heart.

Those who had contact with Neri after this event reported that his heart could be seen protruding out of his chest and could be heard loudly; beating uncontrollably during his spiritual ministries. Neri would frequently be seen walking through the town in the dead of winter without a coat because the fire in his chest was too hot for him to put on any additional clothing.

Upon his death, doctors who examined his body testified that his heart was dilated in size many times that of a normal heart, and that two of his ribs had been cracked and repositioned within his chest to assist in supporting this enormous heart.

I once heard this condition of Neri beautifully described as he received the "Stigmata of the Holy Spirit."

One of my favorite stories of Neri happened in the confessional. This saint had the divine gift of reading penitents' hearts, similar to what Padre Pio and St. Jean Vianney were known for.

One penitent, trying to win Neri's admiration, mentioned that he practiced mortification constantly by wearing a shirt of animal fur underneath his clothes, against his skin. Neri discerning his true intentions, directed him to immediately begin wearing his fur shirt on the outside of his clothes - - to experience the ridicule of the town - - so he could truly begin suffering for his Faith.

Do we wear our fur shirts on the inside or outside?

St. Philip Neri, pray for us, and pray for my beautiful son.

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