The Church honors the life and ministry of Saint “Padre” Pio today. Immediate memories of the saint bring me back to my youth when Clara and Joe Tomaso, the backbone of the morning Mass community at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (East Haven, CT), would passionately speak of Pio and gifts. These many years later a devotion to Saint Pio has grown in my heart, and perhaps you can relate. He’s been a true spiritual father.
Earlier this spring I was taken by the recent film on Padre Pio because of the spiritual battle against evil, personally and for the Church. Plus, I’ve always been wonderfully (and sometime fearfully) surprised by his ability to read souls. Imagine going to confession to Padre Pio thinking you’ve made a good examination of conscience and being told that there are even more sins on your soul than you are aware of or even you’ve dismissed as inconsequential. Padre Pio as a servant of the Lord as a priest is keenly aware of how hard our hearts are hardened by sin. NOTHING beats a good and holy confession of sins. Confession of sin is a matter of true humanity and the healthy heart. The mere thought of Padre Pio makes me want to run to confession.
All saints have spiritual fathers who form the heart and mind. Padre Pio was no exception. His spiritual father Father Benedict said this to Pio on the desire for sanctity:
“It is one thing to say ‘I am a saint’ and another to say ‘I want to become a saint.’ You can tell everyone that you want to become a saint without fear of pride because, after all, holiness is nothing else but divine love and the love of God is a sacred, absolute and essential duty ordered to everyone and required from all. Where is pride when protesting to observe a principal and elementary duty? Humility consists in being persuaded that one does not have this love to an eminent degree or even sufficiently, but humility does not prevent one from aspiring to it.”
How much do you think Pio took these words to heart? Probably he lived them with all his strength. What you and me?
Last year’s post –with the Mass prayer– on Saint Pio is still helpful, see it here.