Thought for the Day – The Memorial of St Padre Pio (1887-1968)
There can be no doubt that Padre Pio dedicated his life to prayer and suffering. Every breath he took was a prayer—never for himself, always for others. From the beginning of his life, he was able to easily travel from this world to the next, through deep prayer. He used this connection with God to recommend to him the prayers of his spiritual children. This ability to make contact with the powerful presence of God through prayer enabled him to bless and pray with those in most need, wherever they were in the world. Padre Pio in prayer visited South America, the United States and parts of Europe. Those he visited would know that Padre Pio was present by the unmistakable aroma of violets and roses. Those who got closest to him noticed an odour of flowers emanating from the stigmata. To this day, forty-six years after his death, people will still insist that they have caught the scent of roses after praying for someone through the intercession of Padre Pio.
Padre Pio’s priority was to be simply “a friar who prays.” His intense prayer was offered up day and night for all his spiritual children and his religious community. He had a filial love for our Blessed Lady and spent much of his day praying the rosary. But Padre Pio was first and foremost a brother to the Capuchin Franciscan community of Our Lady of Graces friary. Like the others, he daily lived the rule and life of the Order of Friars Minor. The first chapter of the rule of Saint Francis outlines that the rule is simply to observe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, living in obedience and in chastity, without property. As a Capuchin Franciscan, he promised obedience and reverence to the pope and to his superiors in the Capuchin order. No doubt it pained him greatly when the cult of sanctity built up around him, causing difficulties for the order with Church authorities.
Shortly before he died, the stigmata began to heal. When his body was examined by the doctors, they found that fresh, white skin had grown over the healed wounds. His life on earth was over, his earthly sufferings endured. He was journeying to the house of the Father where he prays for us all today in the presence of God.
Referring to that day’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) at Padre Pio’s canonisation Mass in 2002, Saint John Paul II 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 burdens 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.”
St Padre Pio pray for us!