The Church gives us feast days throughout the year so that we can look to the Saints who went before us, learn from their example, and ask their intercession. Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints – Saint Pio of Pietrelcina! Padre Pio was an amazing role model for every one of us – let me tell you why.
Padre Pio was from Italy and lived from 1887 to 1968, which really wasn’t that long ago. At 5 years old he decided to commit his life to God, and from that point on he began to experience extraordinary, supernatural things – things for which he’s very well known. Padre Pio was able to converse with Jesus and Mary. He had visions of Heaven and Hell and had a personal relationship with his guardian angel. For some years, every week from Thursday to Sunday he would experience all the pains of the Passion of Christ. He received the stigmata (the five wounds of Jesus) in his hands, feet, and side at first invisibly, and later visibly. While these meant he was united to Christ more closely, he experienced excruciating pain from these wounds, which never healed and constantly bled.
Though these occurrences are definitely worthy of mention, it’s easy to think Padre Pio doesn’t relate to us in our everyday, boring struggles. He had all these experiences from God, so it was easy for him to be holy, right? Not exactly. Cardinal Ratzinger (before he became Pope Benedict), wrote:
“Christian holiness does not consist in being superhuman and in having extraordinary talent or greatness that others do not have. Christian holiness is simply the obedience that puts us at God’s disposal wherever he calls us.”
Padre Pio never asked to have extraordinary things happen to him. The mystical experiences were a gift, a grace given to him by God. In fact, these things embarrassed him because he realized people thought he was holier than them. Padre Pio became holy by being faithful in the small things of everyday life. He was constantly obedient to his superiors in the Capuchin Order, even when he didn’t agree with them. He struggled with temptations of doubt and thinking God had abandoned Him because of his sins. It was hard for Padre Pio to be active because of the pain he was always in. But instead of complaining, he helped run the friars’ school, heard long hours of confessions, and gave spiritual direction to the countless people who wrote to him.
We have suffering in our lives, disagree with those in charge, struggle with temptations, and want to complain everyday. Padre Pio is a powerful intercessor for us because he understands what we’re going through. Learn from his example. He didn’t hide from suffering, but embraced it as a way to offer himself as a sacrifice, so that other souls could get to Heaven and submit to God’s constant loving will for their lives.
So today I encourage you to strike up a relationship with Padre Pio, who would love to be a spiritual father to you. He once said,
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry! Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions, you should speak to Him only with your heart.”
My prayer for you is that these words speak peace to your heart today. Happy Feast of Saint Padre Pio!