This season's Missal takes a look at Pio of Pietrelcina, or as he was commonly known, Padre Pio (1887–1968). Padre Pio was a Capuchin priest from Italy who is now venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. He was born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy , and given the name Pio when he joined the Capuchin Order. Raised in a poor family by illiterate parents, he claimed to have experienced heavenly visions and ecstasies in his youth, and to see and speak with Jesus, the Virgin Mary and his Guardian Angel as a child, and assumed all people could do so. After hearing a young Capuchin monk, he decided to enter the order at the age of fifteen, though he had only three years of formal schooling.
"There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer." - fellow student
At the age of twenty-three, Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood. His time as a monk was one of hardship and ill-health. He once said that his health had been declining from the time he was nine years old. His illnesses remained a mystery to his doctors, though Padre Pio never become discouraged. He took it as a gift from God, and understood the value of suffering, of milk from thorns.
Spirituality for Padre Pio centered on the celebration of the Holy Mass. His Mass could sometimes last several hours. He entered into an ecstatic state; long pauses of contemplative silence at various parts of the Holy Sacrifice. The parish priest in Pietrelcina called Padre Pio's Mass, "an incomprehensible mystery."
"God knows that I want to say Mass just like any other priest, but I cannot do it." - Padre Pio
Before he was thirty years old he had already reached the stage of the spiritual path known as the "unitive way", union with God. He prayed almost continuously. His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety, and a steady stream of the faithful began seeking his advice. For many even a few moments in his presence proved to be a life changing experience. To his spiritual children he would say, "It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul."
The bleeding wounds of Christ, the stigmata, appeared on Padre Pio's body in 1918 while he was praying, he was thirty-one years old. He bore the wounds for fifty years, though he hid them out of piety and embarrassment. He also became noted for an uncanny ability to bi-locate. There are several witness accounts of him being in places far from Italy, interceding on someone's behalf. When asked about this, he replied that it occurred "by an extension of his personality." His reputation as a healer also grew and thousands came to see him and be blessed.
"I am dying of pain because of the wound and because of the resulting embarrassment which I feel deep within my soul. . . Will Jesus who is so good grant me this grace ? Will he at least relieve me of the embarrassment which these outward signs cause me." - Padre Pio, at the onset of the stigmata
He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He compared weekly confession to dusting a room weekly, and recommended the performance of meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote, "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry" .
Some controversy has sprung up from the commercialization of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, from the fame of Padre Pio. A new church, the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church by Renzo Piano, and numerous shops, along with the hospital Padre Pio helped build, have changed the character of the once small town. One can only hope that the legacy he left, and the one that will endure, is that of service, prayer, and selflessness.
- Related Sites -
Tricks and Traps
Trap: Wishful Thinking. The ego's penchant for always being right can lead us into projecting desired outcomes onto our future, regardless of the facts or probabilities. This can be either a positive or negative dream depending on our current mood. It also has the effect of keeping us out of the present moment, and cut off from any pertinent information.
Trick: Self-Remembering. Call it what you may: self-remembering, meditation, being-in-the-now, looking-back-at-what-you're-looking-out-of, or the listening attention, it's the cure for desire and fear based thinking. Just be sure you're looking into the cloud of unknowing and not the fog of neediness.
" Everyone has a strategy they're pursuing to get what they want out of life. It may be conscious or largely unconscious.
Becoming conscious of your strategy is a step in the direction of waking up." - Art Ticknor
Pride or Love?
" The things that are holding you up personally are the negative things that have happened to you."
" The person who has an ability to love has a much greater chance of immortality.” - Richard Rose
The ego can only be right, whether negative or positive, and thus gives us a good clue as to its shenanigans. Usually the only way we can rise above it is by a sort of surrender, meaning we are overwhelmed by some realization from above, and haven't had the time to question it too much. Sooner or later the ego will make a move to take over any behavior we might manifest from a higher field, but our spiritual education may advance a notch in the process, if we pay attention.
Once I was working for a corporation, large enough to have several departments and it's share of office politics, and got such a lesson. It took a long time to become clear and sink in, but it was not forgotten. I had risen to the head of my department rather quickly by default, and soon had a large group under my wing, something I was not all together happy with. My boss, who headed both my department and another was a good man, who was rising through the ranks by choice rather than accident. He lived in a motel room most of the week, for his wife and home were several hours away in another town. He didn't like the days of separation, but made the sacrifice for the relationship's long term goals.
As the year drew to a close, an end of season party was held with all the departments present. Ours was new to the company, having just been acquired, but had had an outstanding year, beating most others in sales and profit. My group and I sat together at a large table and listened as the various bosses gave their speeches congratulating their workers. We waited in anticipation as my boss took the podium. He gave a glowing account of the other department he ran, but not a single word on us. Our jaws dropped as we realized we had been ignored completely. I looked at the shock and disappointment on the faces of my crew who had worked so hard, and couldn't believe it. Soon this shock turned to anger and resentment. How could he treat us this way? We had given him and the company our all, and now not even one word of recognition, nothing. How dare he.
Leaving the banquet with the words of disappointment from my crew ringing in my head, I began to stew. As the night wore on, I lay there thinking of all the reasons for getting even, and how I would show him what for. I decided to quit, to walk out. When morning came and I finally rose from the sleepless night of plotting revenge, I stomped into the office, gave my boss a piece of my mind, then went down the hall and did the same with his boss. Before leaving, I told my crew leaders what I had done, and was amazed to see the look on their faces. Instead of being grateful they were crushed, saddened by my leaving, and perplexed at my behavior. Instead of basking in the glow of justified pride, I left bewildered and in doubt. I began to realize I was wrong.
As the weeks rolled on and the realization of what a mistake I had made by letting my pride override common sense, the situation came to a head in a dream. My old boss appeared to me, and instead of his usual corporate demeanor he was very humble and calm. He apologized to me, and explained his actions. He said he was so in love with his wife that he couldn't see beyond his own nose, and had only done what he thought was best for her and their relationship. I suddenly understood, as much from his presence as his words. He had acted out of humility and love, and though the results of his actions might have had different and unforeseen effects, he had not harbored any intent other than love. While the saying about good intentions does apply here, in my heart I knew I had wronged him, not the other way around. I awoke feeling quite humbled, and with a clearer view of myself, one that was not too flattering.
I had acted out of resentment and reaction from negative incidents, in my past as well as ones present, and had been blind to the motivations of my naive but good-hearted boss. While he had been unaware of the needs of some of his charges, he had acted innocently. While it may seem at first glance that there wasn't much difference between us, if we put intuition and reason into the game in a conscious manner, we might see the spiritual value. My motivation was pride, in that I felt snubbed by his actions, and also of fear, of losing face in front of my crew. His actions were naive, but from love, and had intuition and reason played a bigger part, no telling the good that might have come. Had intuition and reason played a part in my negative role, only more pain, nothing higher. My boss and I had both been pawns in the game of life, but he had taken the higher road, the one with spiritual possibility, the path of love.
- Quotes of the Month -
" Pray, hope, and don't worry.
" Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.
" Take care of your spirit, flee idleness and all immoral conversation. . .always remembering the words of the apostle, that our virtue is preserved in very fragile vessels.
" Don't lose heart if it is your lot to work a lot and gather little. If you considered what one soul alone costs Jesus, you would never complain.
" Do you know what religion is? It is a school in which every soul must be trained, smoothed and polished by the Holy Spirit, who acts as a physician to our souls until, well smoothed and polished, they can be united and joined to the will of God. . .Religion is an infirmary for the spiritually sick, who wish to be cured and must therefore undergo the pains of surgery. " - Padre Pio
" Everyone has a strategy they're pursuing to get what they want out of life. It may be conscious or largely unconscious. Becoming conscious of your strategy is a step in the direction of waking up. " - Art Ticknor
" The point of reading is not to see the connections between Eckhart Tolle and Ramana Maharshi, how the work of Douglas Harding complements that of Richard Rose, or tally how many teachers use the phrase "awareness." The point is to find a practice and do it
. Find a teacher that resonates with you and plunge in, do the work until you run into a wall, then try again." - Shawn Nevins
" The energy spent on active inner work is then and there transformed into a fresh supply, but that spent on passive work is lost for ever.
" We can only strive to be able to be Christians. " - Gurdjieff
"The self considers itself to be a very special person." - Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
Copyright 2008 - Robert Fergeson. All Rights Reserved.