Philip’s favorite feast was Corpus Christi, of course because of his love of the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ among us.
You know, I have a good feeling about people who, in their free time, go spend some time with the Blessed Sacrament.
Philip knew that a successful priestly ministry, or a successful Christian life lived in response to any vocation, was not possible unless one knew Christ. To know Christ, he would say, is to spend time with in the Blessed Sacrament, to receive him in the Eucharist, and to be reconciled to him through confession.
Philip promoted the 40 Hours Devotion, which is basically spending 40 hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament while solemnly exposed. Why 40? It’s a rather sacred amount of time: think of all the sets of 40 we find in the Bible. Catholiceducation.org has this to say about the 40 hour devotion:
The Forty Hours Devotion can be seen almost like a parish mini-retreat or mission. A guest priest may be invited to give a series of homilies. Confessions should be offered and encouraged. Consequently, an appropriate time to schedule Forty Hours is either Advent or Lent.
While the Forty Hours Devotion nurtures the love of the faithful for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, three special dimensions have also surrounded this devotion: the protection from evil and temptation; reparation for our own sins and for the Poor Souls in Purgatory; and deliverance from political, material, or spiritual calamities. Here the faithful implore our Lord to pour forth His abundant graces not only for themselves, but their neighbors, not only for their own personal needs, but for those of the world. Such practices are evidenced in the history of this devotion.
I find it sad that almost no one would be up for this kind of thing today.
It was fitting, then, that Philip passed away on Corpus Christi in 1595. He was in a great mood that day, naturally, and his personal physician told him he looked healthier than he had been in ten years. He spent the majority of the day hearing confessions, knowing that his end was coming soon. He went to sleep that night, and before doing so, saint this: “Last of all, we must die.” A few hours passed, and he did.
We have much to learn from his devotion to the Eucharist!