Posted by: fvbcdm | September 23, 2015

Feast of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina  (23 September 2015)

In 1995, I traveled with friends of mine from Rome where I was temporarily stationed to the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, due east of Rome, to visit the tomb of Padre Pio, the famous Franciscan priest who had the stigmata most of his life.  He has now been canonized and so we celebrate his feastday in the calendar of the Church today, on September 23rd.

The room in which he lived during his last years there has been turned into a sort of shrine/museum, where one can see the blood-stained gloves which covered his hands, the crucifix before which he often prayed, and other items associated with him.  I had the privilege of celebrating Mass twice at an altar very close to his tomb in the crpyt of the church where he celebrated Mass daily.  I have often thought of him and his ministry, so closely associated with the holy sacrifice of the Mass and the hearing of confessions.  He was in constant pain, like Our Divine Lord on the cross.  He had not asked for the wounds of Jesus in his own body; they simply appeared early in his religious life and were with him until he died.  Did he ever tire of that seemingly endless suffering?  Did he sometimes pray for the end of it?  Was it clear to him why it was visited upon him and what was its value?  We know that one of his crosses was the excitement and the curiosity produced by his wounds upon people who flocked to see him, speak to him, touch him.  Just as Elvis Presley attracted teeny-boppers and adolescent girls, so did Padre Pio exercise a sort of magnetism upon older and more devout followers.

 A man I once knew in New Orleans told us very frankly that on one occasion he went to San Giovanni Rotondo and made an appointment to go to confession to Padre Pio. Whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t remember, but he omitted in his confession something which Padre Pio considered essential for the integrity of the sacrament.  Padre Pio became annoyed and told the man to leave his confessional and not to come back until he was prepared to confess ALL his sins! He went back a day or so later and was given absolution.  I often think of the contrast between a simple, devout, utterly dedicated man like Padre Pio and so many of us today who are interested in pleasures of all kinds, and for whom God is certainly not the most important element in life.  Let us pray often for the absolute supremacy of God in our thoughts, words, and actions. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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