In this world we are living in, we greatly feel the need to be encouraged, not least by being offered that discerning guiding inspiration which helps us go on. Today, as we celebrate the feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina the Lord is lovingly giving us that inspiration we all need to keep going forward towards our Heavenly Jerusalem.
Padre Pio reminds us to speak to Jesus with our hearts more than simply with our lips. You must speak to Jesus also with the heart, besides the lips; indeed, in certain cases you must speak to him only with the heart. Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is our refuge and strength amid daily trials. He said: We must always have courage, and if some spiritual languor comes upon us, let us run to the feet of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and let us place ourselves in the midst of the heavenly perfumes, and we will undoubtedly regain our strength. Loving Jesus is the key to enter into his forgiveness. In another thought of his, Padre Pio kept harping on the same idea when he urged you and me: Kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to him, along with those of others. Speak to him with filial abandonment, give free rein to your heart, and give him complete freedom to work in you as he thinks best.
Time spent with the Lord is time best spent. The Gargano saint tells us: Have you not for some time loved the Lord? Do you not love him now? Do you not long to love him forever? Therefore, do not fear! Even conceded that you had committed all the sins of this world, Jesus repeats to you, ‘Many sins are forgiven thee because thou hast loved much!’ Loving God brings that freedom and healing from the anxiety which preoccupation for world affairs often creates. He said: Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation, derangement and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.
God’s love is always infinite even when it feels harsh at times. Padre Pio tells us: God loves man with an infinite love and when he punishes he does so with reverence, almost fearing to hurt. In another instance Padre comments: Thank and sweetly kiss the hand of God that strikes you, because it is always the hand of a Father who strikes you because he loves you. God infinitely appreciates our inner sincerity. He said: God absolutely cannot reject the sincere desire to love him. Loving God means entrusting to him my past, present and future. In a famous prayer Padre Pio prays: My past, O Lord, to your Mercy; my present, to your Love; my future, to your Providence!
Jesus is to be loved because his heart is full of sweetness, humility and charity. It is such a heart which encourages us to place our total trust in it. Having recourse to this heart means being protected by it. Padre Pio said: The heart of our Divine Master has no more amiable law than that of sweetness, humility, charity. Often place your confidence in Divine Providence and be assured that sooner heaven and earth shall pass away than that the Lord neglect to protect you.
In his spiritual teaching Padre Pio presents to us a ladder of virtues which make us approach God more and more. He said: Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; there is neither goodness nor love. And where there is no love, there is no God. Without God, we cannot reach Heaven. These virtues form a ladder; if a step is missing, we fall down. Padre Pio always gave the highest priority in obeying God. In this reflection he gave the following advice: Obey promptly! Do not consider the age or merit of a person. And in order to succeed imagine you are obeying the Lord.
In full concordance with Catholic theology and spiritually Padre Pio rightly insisted on charity as being the queen of all virtues. He said: To fail in charity is like wounding God in the pupil of his eye. What is more delicate than the pupil of the eye? To fail in charity is like failing against nature. Moreover, the virtue of charity helps us to love God and our neighbour, thus fulfilling the greatest commandment ever. Padre Pio said: The final purpose of meditation is the love of God and one’s neighbor. Love the first with all your soul and without reservation, love the second as another self, and you will have arrived at the final purpose of meditation.
Padre Pio wisely counsels us not to be worried about the devil’s temptation, discouragement and the confusion he creates. Instead we are to be very wary of never compromising with him. He taught us: Temptations, discouragement and unrest are the wares offered by the enemy. Remember this: if the devil makes noise it is a sign that he is still outside and not yet within. That which must terrify us is his peace and concord with the human soul. In saying this Padre Pio is also encouraging us to never open our will to Satan but keep saying NO to him and his actions as we do in our baptismal promises. The stigmatized Capuchin said: The demon has only one door by which to enter into our soul: the will; there are no secret doors. No sin is a sin if not committed with the will. When there is no action of the will, there is no sin, but only human weakness.
The soul is the battlefield of the war between God and satan. Giving one’s soul to Jesus, thus dying to one’s self, is in fact, the decisive step for victory. The holy Capuchin said: The field of battle between God and Satan is the human soul. It is in the soul that the battle rages every moment of life. The soul must give free access to the Lord so that it be fortified by him in every respect and with all kinds of weapons; that his light may enlighten it to combat the darkness of error; that it be clothed with Jesus Christ, with his justice, truth, the shield of faith, the word of God, in order to conquer such powerful enemies. To be clothed with Jesus Christ it is necessary to die to oneself.
In his spiritual reflections Padre Pio gives us some very practical insights to know our enemy in order that we do not fall into his net. Satan is the perfect liar. He deceives by offering peace and then presents confusion and utter indifference to what is holy. Padre Pio tells us: That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference and apathy. Having said that, Padre Pio assures us that if we are on Jesus’ side we have chosen the best companion and saviour to defeat evil within and around us. His very name is the utter destruction of satan and his evil forces. Padre Pio tells us: Do not fear. Jesus is more powerful than all hell. At the invocation of his name every knee in heaven, on earth and in hell must bend before Jesus; this is a consolation for the good and terror for evil.
Almighty, everlasting God, who gave your priest Saint Pio the singular grace of sharing in the cross of your Son and renewed the wonders of your mercy by his ministry, through his intercession, grant that we be ever joined to the passion of Christ, and joyously brought to the glory of the resurrection. Amen.