“It is to your advantage to commit yourself to the sufferings that Jesus will send to you. Jesus cannot tolerate seeing you afflicted and he will come to you and comfort you, blessing you with many graces for your soul."
Today, September 22, we celebrate the feast of Saint Padre Pio (1887-1968), mystic, confessor, stigmatic, and modern-day saint. For the majority of his life, Padre Pio bore the continually bleeding stigmata of Christ and experienced the pain and suffering of His Passion. Famous for preaching, "Love is the first ingredient in the relief of suffering," Padre Pio bore these daily pains with grace and humility, joining his suffering to that of Christ, and drawing upon his experience to guide others in the paths of righteousness. In one of the largest canonization ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II spoke of Padre Pio in 2002, highlighting his prayer and charity, as well as his patient suffering. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the Holy Father. If accepted with love such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."
“Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins as a novice, and received the habit in 1902. After seven years of study, he took the name Padre Pio upon ordination in 1910. Drafted during World War I, he was discharged after the discovery that he had tuberculosis. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic. He would live the remainder of his life there, but his life was about to become much more blessed, and much more complicated.
Padre Pio was also blessed with the gift of bilocation, which allowed him to be in two places simultaneously. A gifted confessor, Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he eventually heard for ten or twelve hours per day. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; he would know just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. In addition, he experienced a phenomenon known as transverberation, wherein, the soul is pierced with a dart of fire, and wounded, thus leaving it open to an overflowing of divine love. This was originally described by Saint John of the Cross.
Holy Father. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was completed before 1924.
Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. He wrote to a friend regarding the embarrassment the attention caused him. Padre Pio wore brown gloves with the fingers cut off to absorb the constant blood from his stigmatic wounds, only removing them to celebrate Mass. He was especially devoted to the Eucharist, penning a prayer to be said after participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take over 10 hours a day. (Penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled). Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.
"With what care she accompanied me to the altar this morning! It seemed to me as though she had nothing to think about other than me filling my heart completely with saintly affections. I felt a mysterious fire from my heart which I couldn’t understand. I felt the need to put ice on it to extinguish this fire which was consuming me! I should like to have a voice strong enough to invite the sinners of the whole world to love our Lady!"
Padre Pio believed that the love of God was inseparable from suffering and that suffering all things for the sake of God was the way for the soul to reach God. He felt that his soul was lost in a chaotic maze, plunged into total desolation, as if he were in the deepest pit of hell. During his period of spiritual suffering, his followers believe that Padre Pio was attacked by the Devil, both physically and spiritually. His followers also believe that the Devil used diabolical tricks in order to increase Padre Pio's torments. In one of Padre Pio's letters, he states that he remained patient in the midst of his trials because of his firm belief that Jesus, Mary, his Guardian Angel, Saint Joseph and Saint Francis were always with him and helped him always
Numerous cures have been reported received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.
At Padre Pio's canonization Mass in 2002, Pope John Paul II referred to that day's Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) and said: “The Gospel image of 'yoke' evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the 'yoke' of Christ and indeed how light the burden are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord.”
Selected Quotations of Saint Padre Pio:
“Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will."
"Mary has to be the star that illuminates your path and she will show you the secure way to go to the Celestial Father. She will be an anchor to which you must cling in the hour of temptation."
“Invoke your Guardian Angel, who will enlighten you and guide you. God has given him to you for your protection, therefore, you should use him accordingly."
“My God, I beg you; let me bear the punishments that have been prepared for sinners and the souls in Purgatory. Multiply these punishments for me, so that you may forgive and save the sinners and free their souls from purgatory."
“If I knew that a person was afflicted in his mind, body or soul, I would beg God to set him free of his affliction. I would gladly accept the transfer of his affliction to myself, so that he may be saved, and I would ask that he benefit from the fruits of these sufferings... if the Lord would allow me to do it."
“If the people of the World could only see the beauty of ones soul when it is in the grace of God, all sinners and unbelievers of this world would be instantly converted."
“It would be most fulfilling, if God would grant me just one wish (if it were possible); that He would say, “Enter Heaven!” This is my one true wish; “That God would take me to Heaven at the same time that the last of my children and the last of the people who submitted to my priestly care have entered."
“You must always keep yourself on the straight and narrow path in the Holy Catholic Church because She is the only Bride of Christ and can bring you peace. She alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, who is the true Prince of Peace."
"Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray. Pray to the Lord, because even God needs our prayers."
“I have often raised my hand in the silence of the night and in my solitary cell, blessing you all and presenting you to Jesus and to our father, St. Francis of Assisi.”
"Always humble yourself lovingly before God and man, because God speaks to those who are truly humble of heart, and enriches them with His gifts."
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
"Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart. In fact on certain occasions you should only speak to Him with your heart."
"Do you not see the Madonna always beside the tabernacle?"
"The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of the trial and in the exaltation after the combat. "
"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."
"Fear not because God is with you."
"Prayer is the oxygen of the soul."
"Who can assure us that we will be alive tomorrow? Let us listen to the voice of our conscience, to the voice of the royal prophet: "Today, if you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." Let us not put off from one moment to another (what we should do) because the (next moment) is not yet ours. "
"Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner!"
"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."
“Don't spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit, and love God.”
”Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don't think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage; we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally. Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.”
”You must speak to Jesus also with the heart, besides with the lips; indeed, in certain cases you must speak to Him only with the heart.”
”Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner!”
”The gates of Heaven are open for all creatures. (who repent) Remember Mary Magdalene.”
“A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
”My heart feels as if it were being drawn by a superior force each morning just before uniting with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I have such a thirst and hunger before receiving Him that it's a wonder I don't die of anxiety. I was hardly able to reach the Divine Prisoner in order to celebrate Mass. When Mass ended I remained with Jesus to render Him thanks. My thirst and hunger do not diminish after I have received Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but rather, increase steadily. Oh, how sweet was the conversation I held with Paradise this morning. The Heart of Jesus and my own, if you will pardon my expression, fused. They were no longer two hearts beating but only one. My heart disappeared as if it were a drop in the ocean.”
“Humility and purity are the wings which carry us to God and make us almost divine.
"Hold on tightly to the Rosary. Be very grateful to the Madonna because it was she who gave us Jesus.”
“Love our Lady and make her loved; always recite the Rosary and recite it as often as possible.”
“Imagine Jesus crucified in your arms and on your chest, and say a hundred times as you kiss His chest,
'This is my hope, the living source of my happiness; this is the heart of my soul; nothing will ever separate me from His love.'"
“Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You.”
“Love Jesus, love Him very much, but to do this, be ready to love sacrifice more.”
“Our Lord sends the crosses; we do not have to invent them.”
“Charity is the measure by which Our Lord judges all things.”
“Don't allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely.”
Dear God, You graciously blessed Your servant, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and death of Your Son. Endowed with the with the gift of discernment, St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional for the salvation of souls. with reverence and intense devotion in the celebration of Mass, he invited countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I confidently beseech You to grant me the grace of my prayers. Amen.
Year 2: Day 266 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Joyful and courageous suffering.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."