"In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II
canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th
canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people
braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets.
They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity.
"This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He
also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with
love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of
sanctity."Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to
intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II.
In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and
asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she
had been cured of her life-threatening disease.
Born Francesco Forgione, Padre
Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and
1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.At
the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was
ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to
have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in
San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.On
September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had
a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet
and side.Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church
authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in
1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not
permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain
of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after
1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before
1924.Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but
busloads of people soon began coming to see him. 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 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.Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a
fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a
committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the
hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there
and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of
Suffering" has 350 beds.A number of people have reported cures they believe were
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.One
of Padre Pios sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated
prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about
world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to
Church authorities to decide.
He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified
Comment: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
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I read an interesting article from the latest issue of "God's Word Today", about the virtue of mercy. When I think of virtues, often I think of something positive like a characteristic that a Saint would have that is admirable.
I often forget that virtues are also a guideline that continues to help us enrich our everyday lives. That we might be able to actually live in knowing that we truly are striving to live and avoid the near occasion of sins. When I had received the above line, "Mercy is necessary for all to give, and to receive..." I loved the boldness of the thought..."necessary". Necessities are often described as a short list of absolute needs; shelter, water, food. But, mercy indeed is a spiritual necessity.
"We translate the Hebrew word hesed as mercy but it loses something in translation. Hesed is so rich; it would be better translated as kindness, self-giving, or unconditional love. From hesed flows forgiveness and compassion. Hesed is also translated steadfast love, indicating the everlasting quality of God’s love. "
Now, imagine using that translation in truly expressing mercy in forgiveness for example. In order to truly be forgiving, we completing remove ourselves from the equation, so to speak. The forgiveness flows because we have an unconditional love that truly surpasses all understanding. Therefore, this "mercy" is necessary. Because, if I would try to forgive, but still hold on to my own thoughts and/or opinions I may say I forgive on the outside - but still remain in a prison of un-forgiveness that continues to hold me captive. Hesed, or Mercy, is necessary for all to give, and to receive - because perhaps in this flows the dialogue of the true love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Is it possible for us to share mercy with "all"?