On this second day of St. Philip’s Novena we consider the concept of devotion.
Devotion, from the Latin, de- (“of/concerning”) and votum (vow / promise / prayer) is a singular focusing of attention. The attention is more than just a matter of referencing something… it’s a life-giving, life-affirming love.
The singularity of devotion is precisely what gives this concept its power. When you has a devoted friend, spouse, family member… you feel ennobled… you feel a sense of singular worth because another human being has consciously chosen to privilege you with his/her attention and care. In this devotion can lift both the soul of the giver and receiver to a new, Godly place.
Another side of devotion, another source of its potency is its communal nature. Like so many things, devotion finds its origin in God himself. Within the loving communion of the Holy Trinity, God the Father is singularly devoted to God the Son and vice-versa, the Love shared between them in their mutual devotion is so strong it takes on its own personality in the Holy Spirit. The devoted Love of the Trinity overflows its own self as the Son is sent into the world to bring a devoted love to the human race.
It was into this Trinitarian sense of devotion that St. Philip was drawn. In a miraculous event, Philip’s heart was set afire and enlarged by a special gift of the Holy Spirit… so great was his love of God. In the celebration of the sacraments, he would often be overwhelmed by his desire for God and fall into ecstasies to the point that he often had to celebrate mass by himself to avoid creating a spectacle. And in his constant search for the face of his beloved [Jesus], St. Philip’s love sped forth from him as he lavished care on all those who crossed his path.
Questions for Reflection
To whom, to what am I devoted? What is the relationship between my earthly devotions and my devotion to God himself? How do I feel, what happens to me when I perceive myself to be the object of someone’s devotion?
Philip, glorious patron, gain for me a portion of that gift which thou hadst so abundantly. Alas! thy heart was burning with love; mine is all frozen towards God and alive only for created things. I love the world, which can never make me happy; my highest desire is to be well off here below. O my God, when shall I learn to love nothing else but Thee? Gain for me, Philip, a pure love, a strong love, and an efficacious love, that, loving God here upon earth, I may enjoy the sight of Him together with thee and all the saints hereafter in heaven. Amen. -Bl. John Henry Newman