Praying with Padre Pio
May 27, 2018
I was recently looking up some quotes from “Padre Pio,” the famous Italian Capuchin Franciscan friar who died in 1968. This was because one of the parishioners I buried was especially devoted to him. Ever since I visited his shrine in Italy four years ago when I was overseas for my sabbatical, I became impressed with his outlook on life and his spiritual wisdom. He was a saint who led a very difficult and challenging life, and (like many good priests) was rejected and hated by many, often because of jealousy at his gifts. But still he knew how to find the presence of Jesus Christ through his suffering. He certainly had an intense love for celebrating the Mass. When browsing through the museum at his shrine, I remember coming across a hauntingly beautiful photograph of the saint gazing in adoration at the Sacred Host he had just consecrated during the celebration of the Mass, still held in his hand. His rapt attention and look of awe in the gaze said it all. You could almost read his thoughts through the photograph: “Here, in my hand, lies the Creator of the Universe and the Lord of Life, Love Incarnate. Who am I that I can bring forth the Body and Blood of the Lord?” Fr. Pio was famous for receiving the gift of the stigmata – a share in the physical wounds of Christ crucified so that he would literally bleed when he celebrated Mass. But even without this gift, his faith in the power of the Mass was extraordinary and a great inspiration for his brother priests.
The majority of his life, though, was spent sharing his extraordinary gifts and wisdom with the lay faithful, who would come to him in droves, especially for confessions. Here’s a brief sample of some of his pearls of wisdom.
- If the world could see the beauty of a soul without sin, all sinners, all non-believers would instantly convert (their lives).
- Those strong and generous in heart do not complain except for a strong reason, and even then it does not affect them intimately.
- You should feel at home with sufferings that it pleases Jesus to send you, since you always have to live with them. Acting thus you think less of being freed from them. Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction will come to relieve and comfort you by infusing fresh courage into your soul.
- Keep close to the Catholic Church at all times, for the Church alone can give you true peace, since she alone possesses Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, in the Blessed Sacrament.
- The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain.
- The Devil is like a mad dog tied by a chain. Beyond the length of the chain he cannot catch hold of anyone. And you, therefore, keep your distance. If you get too close you will be caught. Remember, the Devil has only one door with which to enter into our soul: our will. There are no secret or hidden doors. No sin is a true sin if we have not willfully consented.
- Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation, derangement and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.
- Time spent in honor of God and for the salvation of souls is never badly spent.
- I understand that temptations seem to tarnish, rather than to purify the spirit; but let us hear what the saints have to say, and for that purpose it suffices to choose Saint Francis de Sales from among so many: 'Temptations are like soap, which, when spread over the clothes, seems to stain them, but in reality, purifies them.’
- -and my personal favorite as a priest: Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know...It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us!