September 22, 2005

St. Padre Pio

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.      

I like many things about this saint. I like his inclusivity, his saying that he would "leave no one behind". A true soldier for Christ, bearing the very wounds of Christ, he said he'd leave none of the spiritually wounded on the battlefield nor leave them for dead. Which has a kind of personal relevance. I am attracted by his special concern for the sick (he built a hospital). I like that he somehow managed to combine amazing gruffness with amazing gentleness, when so often we see around us either marshmellowness or harshness.

He also had a good sense of humor: "Padre Pio was no grim martyr personality. He found comfort and strength in prayer, especially in the Eucharist. He never lost his sense of humor and fondness for puns and ironic observations."

Hear the voice of the saint himself in these excerpts from Quiet Moments with Padre Pio:

Anxiety is one of the greatest traitors that real virtue and solid devotion can ever have. It would be well to remember that graces and the consolations of prayer are not waters of this earth but of Heaven. Therefore all our efforts are not sufficient to make them fall, even though it be necessary to prepare oneself with great diligence. Instead one must always, humbly and tranquilly, keep one's heart turned to Heaven and wait from there the heavenly dew.

Why distress yourself because you cannot meditate? Meditation is a means to rise to God, but not an end. The final purpose of meditation is the love of God and one's neighbor.

I understand that temptations seem to stain rather than purify the soul, but this is not really the case. Let us hear what the saints have to say about it. For you it suffices to know what the great St. Francis de Sales says - namely that temptations are like the soap which when spread on the laundry seems to soil, but in reality cleanses it.

There are so many things that I would like to tell you, Father, but I am unable to do so. I realize that I am a mystery to myself.

(1915 letter to Padre Agnostino): "Hence it is that more often than not, unwittingly, I am led to make acts of impatience and utter words of complaint to the most tender Lord to the point of calling him - do not be scandalized, please, Father - of calling him cruel, a tormentor of the souls who desire to love him....Oh God, King of my heart, only Source of all my happiness, how much longer must I wait before I can openly enjoy your ineffable beauty?"

Do not sit down to a meal without having prayed first and asked for the divine assistance, so that the food you are about to eat for sustenance of the body may not be harmful to your soul. Picture to yourself the divine Master in your midst with his holy apostles just as he was during the Last Supper..Never rise from table, moreover, without having given thanks to the Lord. If we act in this way we need have no fear of the wretched sin of gluttony.

The Spirit of God is a spirit of peace. Even in the most serious faults he makes us feel a sorrow that is tranquil, humble, and confident and this is precisely because of his mercy. The spirit of the devil, instead, excites, exasperates, and makes us feel, in that very sorrow, anger against ourselves, whereas we should on the contrary be charitable with ourselves first and foremost.

St. Pio, pray for us!

UPDATE: More bloggy goodness from Julie D., Jean and Hector. They have excellent taste in saints.

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