In Mugnano, we see a Saint praying to a Saint!
Photo taken from: http://philomena.us/inside-the-sanctuary/
How MI Knights can emulate St. Philomena
August 11 commemorates the great feast of St. Philomena, who is a saint so powerful yet so unknown. For centuries, God willed that St. Philomena remained unknown until the discovery of her relics (Feast: May 25) in the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome in the nineteenth century. Since the discovery, countless miracles, physical and spiritual, have been attributed to the powerful prayers of St. Philomena.
To speak more of our dear little St. Philomena, we must also speak of one of Her most ardent devotees known in Catholic history and the lessons drawn from such a devotion. This devotee was no other than, St. Jean-Marie Vianney, a humble parish priest in the previously spiritually abandoned parish of Ars.
This brief article cannot do justice to fully detail the holy life of one saint (St. Philomena), let alone fully expound on two (Sts. Philomena and Jean-Marie Vianney). Attempts to portray the close spiritual relationship between Sts. Philomena and Jean-Marie Vianney have been numerous, including the beautiful biography of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, titled The Secret of the Cure of Ars, by Henri Gheon. This account of the Cure’s saintly life alludes to the closely-knit relationship of St. Philomena with the numerous miracles and conversions wrought in the hitherto morally destitute parish of Ars.
Divine Providence willed it such that Pauline Jaricot, foundress of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the Living Rosary Association and a friend of the Cure, handed the latter a parcel of the relics of St. Philomena. We do not know for sure exactly when the Cure began his fervent devotion to St. Philomena, but we know for sure that he was painstaking in his efforts to ensure her veneration and reputation among the people of his parish and beyond. Let us contemplate some points below.
The Saints as our Spiritual Brethren
In spite of being a lover of solitude and remaining away from the distractions of the world, St. Jean-Marie Vianney found his solace in spiritual friendship with the inhabitants of Heaven – God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis Regis, St. John the Baptist, St. Michael, among many other saints. Yet he emphasized the importance of his “dear little Saint Philomena” and credited her to the miracles performed by him. In the earlier years of his priesthood, the saintly Cure regarded St. Philomena as his beloved sister and companion. As time went on, the ageing Cure assumed a more fatherly role, addressing St. Philomena with great confidence and endearment.
Similarly, as Knights of the Immaculata, let us acknowledge God as our Father, the Blessed Virgin Mary as our Mother and holy saints like St. Philomena as part of our extended spiritual family. Let us get rid of Jansenist tendencies that God is unapproachable and we sinners have no means to go to Him. Instead, following the example of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, we must have confidence in the love and goodness of God through His Blessed Virgin Mother Mary and the saints, such as “dear little St. Philomena”.
The Importance of Humility When Doing God’s Work
It can be said that God sent St. Philomena to the Cure to allow him to practise the heavenly virtue of humility despite the miracles he wrought. The humble Cure, knowing that he was merely an instrument to make God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the truths of our Faith known and believed by all, credited his miracles to the intercession of St. Philomena, his “Princess of Heaven”.
Likewise, as Knights of the Immaculata, we must accept the reality that we are nothing in ourselves, and it is only through God and the Immaculata that we become useful instruments to make the Hearts of Jesus and Mary known and loved, to conquer more souls for the the Blessed Virgin Mary and to glorify God. We as knights are far from perfect, still wounded from original sin, and we need to have recourse to the sinless Immaculate Virgin, conceived without sin, as well as Her saints who have overcome sin and are now rejoicing in God’s glory. If we fail to acknowledge this truth that we are weak and completely useless without the hand of God through the Immaculata in our apostolate, we would end up feeling satisfied at the results of conversion of souls that may happen (or already have happened). The devil knows our weaknesses too well and being fully aware that while he cannot trap us in terms of morality, doctrine and faith, he launches another cunning offensive, this time, to target any remnants of egoism and pride to pull us Knights down. As the Cure of Ars, inspired by God and the previously unknown life of St. Philomena save for her martyrdom, wisely put it, “It is our duty to become saints, but let nobody know it.” Evidently, the obscure life of St. Philomena shows us a great example.
Blind Faith in Divine Assistance
The next important lesson to learn from the Cure’s trustful relationship with his saintly Philomena is the importance of blind faith in Divine intervention when we are in need. Devotion to St. Philomena demands of us blind faith because we have no scientific proof, so to speak, that she existed. We have Her miracles and the testimony of the saints and past Popes, no more, no less.
In our own apostolate as Knights of the Immaculata, we must learn the blind confidence of the Cure of Ars and trust God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, including St. Philomena because “to Philomena, God refuses nothing”.