“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry”: A Spiritual Reflection on St. Padre Pio
Even if one had multiple lifetimes to counteract the dire effects of their sins and offered all of their trials and sacrifices to make reparations for them and all those committed since the beginning of time, they would probably fall exceedingly short of the path strewn with thorns and roses that the saintly Capuchin Friar, Padre Pio, walked, while willingly accepting immeasurable sufferings for the sake of saving souls and bringing solace to the merciful, loving heart of God which is continually wounded by a fallen humanity.
This “Mystic Monk” embraced the cross and carried it with heroic humility, fidelity, and extraordinary perseverance during his eighty-two years upon the earth. He was known for numerous astounding miracles, including healings of body and soul, the odor of sanctity, bi-location, the stigmata of the passion of Christ, and even predicting the time of death. He was confirmed through the wisdom of Holy Church of Rome to be elevated to a celestial realm among the select of sainthood.
If someone would choose to follow on his perilous journey of a most courageous and sincere imitation of the road to Calvary, they would have to be willing to prostrate themselves face down with arms outstretched without reservation for what would be an eternity, and dwell with unabated reverence and helpless dependence on the mercy of the almighty. This boundless unforeseen sphere is shunned and rejected by our natural inclinations and far beyond the limitations of normality. One would need to let go of all preconceived perceptions of reality and completely surrender their will and lay open their souls to the participation of persecution, aligning themselves with that of the supreme sacrifice of Our Savior, and beg fervently for His grace to endure devoutly.
It would take tremendous spiritual fortitude to reach the ultimate level of sanctity as did this humble, holy friar who was plagued with seriously ill health his entire life, including debilitating Bronchial Asthma which made him feel as if his chest was being crushed with every breath. He also experienced intense fevers that confined him to his bed and registered 120% Fahrenheit, causing the mercury to rise fast enough to break the glass thermometers which the doctors facilitated to monitor his severe condition. Then for 50 years he was purged with the stigmata that marked his body, heart, and soul with the wounds of the passion of Christ. They bled profusely and did not heal until his last days when he was practically bled white. Miraculously, after his death, they showed no signs of having ever been wounded.
He was sent by his superiors to a remote mountainous village to be set aside and forgotten, yet his gifts of reading hearts while hearing confessions drew countless penitents to his feet seeking his priestly powers of reconciliation and absolution. There he was constantly assaulted by Satan and his minions throughout his days and the nights. They taunted him spiritually, mentally, and even physically beating and battering him while he was trying to rest his weary broken body after long hours of shepherding the endless stream of his straying sheep, flocking to him for correction and direction.
He spent as much as fifteen exhausting hours in the confinement of the restricted space of the confessional through the severe elements of both the summer’s sweltering heat, and the winters shivering cold, relieving the heavy burdens of wandering souls and welcoming them back home to the House of the Lord. Yet his persecution continued as he was ordered to cut off communication with his own personal confessor and confidante and thereafter forbidden to hear confessions, counsel his children, or even celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in public, which were accumulatively traumatic for him in his fatherly capacity and priestly vocation .
With so many swords piercing his heart, including spiritual dryness and the dark night of the soul, when his faith seemed to be fleeting and he couldn’t find the peace and serenity of knowing for sure that he was truly fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for his existence he still persisted with blind faithfulness on his divinely appointed mission. Then, through the instigation of the Evil One, he was betrayed and deeply hurt to the core of his being by an array of character assassinations and false allegations of behavior not befitting a man of the cloth. He was even accused of falsifying his wounds through the tongues of his fellow clergymen, including bishops and archbishops in the hierarchy, causing him great humiliation.
He weathered the storms of debilitating persecutions and betrayals and maintained his vows of obedience. He persevered in his life’s work, particularly devoting himself to a project that was near and dear to his heart which was his dedication to building a hospital for those who were unable to afford medical assistance. It was called “The Casa for the Relief of Suffering”. He would often say, “Don’t allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely!”
The sacrificial Padre was known for having a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph. He had an unquenchable desire to assist the poor holy souls in Purgatory through offering up his continuous prayers and the pains of his constant afflictions for their release. He also had an intimate relationship with St. Michael, and St. Francis of Assisi (the founding father of his order, and his Baptismal namesake). He considered his guardian angel to be his best friend and would say, “For whoever is alone, there is his guardian Angel.” He conversed with both the saints and angels on a regular basis, giving him great consolation and encouragement throughout his life.
He would say and pray continually, “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you”. Of Mary, he would say, “Love Our Lady and make her loved; always recite the Rosary and recite it often as possible!” He practiced what he preached and said as many as sixty full rosaries a day.
In conclusion, I leave you with the wisdom of his personal messages as a Spiritual Father for all:
“I BELONG TO EVERYONE; EVERYONE CAN SAY PADRE IS MINE!:
“JOY WITH PEACE IS THE SISTER OF CHARITY; SERVE THE LORD WITH LAUGHTER!”
“PRAY, HOPE, AND DON’T WORRY; WORRY IS USELESS, BUT GOD IS MERCIFUL AND WILL HEAR YOUR PRAYER!”
ST. PADRE PIO PRAY FOR US!
By The Traveling Troubadour