On this last day of our novena to St. Philip Neri we consider his miracles.
The miracles Christ performed through St. Philip were many, varied, and had a definite orientation.
Recorded throughout his life and reaffirmed during the investigations before his canonization, volumes could be filled with the tales of these amazing events. Some were very ordinary, perhaps only a matter of circumstance, but a great many of them were bona fide, all out extraordinary miracles. The number of miracles points toward fruitfulness. Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). Further, Christians are, by their baptism and Confirmation filled with the Holy Spirit. A quintessential Italian, Philip taught his followers that la vita in abondanza was something to seek for each and every day… he did his part to witness to this by the number of his miracles.
The miracles of St. Philip were also varied. They touched every dimension of Christian life; a reminder to us that God wants to know and love all parts of us!
Finally, the miracles of St. Philip had a definite orientation: toward heaven. Like miracles (Gk. “semeia” – “signs”) in the Gospel, they were signs pointing us toward a greater reality. This matched beautifully with two of Philip’s pastoral mottos, “e poi?” and “preferisco paradiso“. The first means simply, “and then?” It was Philip’s refrain to people who seemed contented with earthly life… a gentle reminder that something has to come after death. The second phrase summed up his life, “I choose paradise.” Philip’s extraordinary miracles, directed people back to the ordinary path to salvation: the sacraments, and thence to heaven. We should likewise keep our eye on that divine goal.