“I shall stand at the gates of Paradise until all of my Spiritual Children have entered.” ~ Saint Padre Pio
In today’s Gospel (Luke 9:1-6) we look in on Jesus as he begins the process of commissioning his Apostles as they prepare for their evangelical journey, giving them power and authority over all demons and equipping them with the precious gift of healing, a gift that would extend into both the physical and spiritual realms. “Take nothing for the journey,” he tells them, “neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.” In doing this, Jesus is imploring the Twelve to believe in the goodness of the world and those who walk it. To believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives, to believe that there will be many who will, as discussed in yesterday’s reflection, “Hear the word of God and act upon it.” (Luke 8:21) https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/On-Starting-Anew.
Our 1st Reading (Proverbs 30:5-9) evokes images of the words of Jesus when he said “How blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3). “Give me neither poverty nor riches,” our author proclaims, “provide me only with the food I need; Lest, being full, I deny you, saying “Who is the Lord?” Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of God.” That’s wisdom. In some respects, we make this plea during the “perfect prayer,” the Our Father, when we say give us this day our daily bread, although Daily Communicants, your humble author included, assign a different meaning to it.
But on the topic of humility, to be poor in spirit is, in essence, to possess a humble spirit. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). True humility will lead to joy, because it allows us to see ourselves in our true state. From there we are compelled to do something about it, to repent. Without that humility there can be no joy. Perhaps therein lies the reason that our Lord put this Beatitude at the top of the list.
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of a true legend, Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, known simply to his millions of admirers as “Padre Pio.” Saint Pio is the only Priest in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the Stigmata, the five wounds of Jesus Christ crucified. He was also blessed by God with the gifts of discernment of spirits, prophecy, healing, and bilocation. Yes, with regard to the latter, he could be in (at least) two places at once. Saint Pio merely sought to be, in his words, “a poor humble friar who prays.” God had other plans.
A huge proponent of the celebration of the Holy Mass, Saint Pio once said “If we only knew how God regards this sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” On another occasion, he simply said “The earth could exist more easily without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry,” Saint Pio would often say. “Worry is useless. God is merciful and will heal your prayer.” Perhaps you have someone in your life who needs to hear this message. I have about 4,613 people in my life who need to hear it. “Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key that opens God’s heart.” This would be Saint Pio’s mantra. There were days that he would recite the Rosary thirty-five times. When asked “How could you possibly pray that many Rosaries in a single day?,” his swift response was “How could you not?”
Far too many miracles are attributed to Saint Pio to begin to even scrape the surface in a reflection as brief as this one. His body I might add has remained incorruptible since his death on this day in 1968. But this should come as no surprise; the Communion of Catholic Saints broker regularly in the miraculous. Just this past Saturday we celebrated the memorial of Saint Januarius, the heroic Bishop of Benevento who was martyred during the Diocletion persecution in the year 305. Devotees of this great Saint know that the 1st class relics of his blood, kept in an ampoule in Naples Cathedral, bubble up and liquefy every year on the 1st Saturday of May and on his Feast Day of September 19th https://ucatholic.com/blog/the-miracle-of-st-januarius/. If you don’t believe in miracles, if you don’t pray for them, If you don’t expect them, then the Catholic Faith probably isn’t for you.
“I shall stand at the gates of Paradise until all of my Spiritual Children have entered.” Yes, this quote, which kicks off today’s reflection, is a promise from Saint Pio to all of his beloved “spiritual children.” How does one become a spiritual child of Saint Padre Pio? Simply ask him to take you on. He will not refuse you. If you’re reading this however, you are already a spiritual child of Saint Padre Pio, as I asked him to adopt all of my readers a number of years ago. Don’t think the man in brown with the long gray beard will be waiting for you at the gates of paradise on the day that our Lord calls you home? I’m gonna tell you point blank: You’d be crazy to bet against it.
“God our Father, by your spirit you raised up Saint Pio of Pietrelcina to show your people the way to perfection. You made him a pastor of the Church to feed your sheep with his words and to teach them by his example. Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught, and to follow the way of life he showed us.” ~ Amen
Saint Padre Pio, pray for us . . . and accept us as your spiritual children.