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Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Saint Padre Pio's Feast

Thanks be to God for our beloved and great Saint whose feast we're celebrating today!
Padre Pio, a humble Capuchin priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, was blessed by God in many wonderful and mysterious ways.
Padre Pio became a spiritual director, guiding many spiritually, considering them his spiritual daughters and sons. He had five rules for spiritual growth, namely, weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience.
Padre Pio bore the wounds of Jesus on his hands, feet, and side for 50 years.
On October 22, 1918, Padre Pio wrote to his spiritual advisor, Padre Benedetto, describing how he received the stigmata. "On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass, I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash.

"While this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. The sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest.

"The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation"

On September 21, 1968, the day after the 50th anniversary of his receiving the Stigmata, Padre Pio experienced great tiredness. The next day, on September 22, 1968, Padre Pio was supposed to offer a Solemn High Mass, but feeling weak and fearing that he might be too ill to complete the Mass, he asked his superior if he might say a Low Mass instead, just as he had done daily for years. Due to the large number of pilgrims present for the Mass, Padre Pio's superior decided the Solemn High Mass must proceed, and so Padre Pio, in the spirit of obedience to his superior, went on to celebrate the Solemn High Mass. While celebrating the Solemn High Mass, Padre Pio appeared extremely weak and in a fragile state. His voice was weak when he said the Mass, and after the Mass had concluded, he was so weakened that he almost collapsed as he was descending the altar steps and needed help from a great many of his Capuchin confreres. This would be Padre Pio's last celebration of the Mass.

Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre Pio made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows. As was customary, he had his rosary in his hands, though he did not have the strength to say the Hail Marys aloud. Till the end, he repeated the words "Gesù, Maria" (Jesus, Mary). At around 2:30am, he said, "I see two mothers" (taken to mean his mother and Mary). At 2:30 a.m. he breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo with his last breath whispering, "Maria!".

Therefore let us faithfully pray :

Dear Lord,
Please help us to bear our crosses as Padre Pio did. Help us to love one another and to never be afraid to bear the crosses of another. As Your Cross is the perfection of Love, let us unite our crosses to Yours in a perfection of our own love. Please strike us with Your chisel to make us perfect blocks. Please let us be clean of sin and have an insatiable desire for Your Kingdom.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

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