Pietrelcina… as likely as any other place to be the home of a great saint, a friend of our Lord, a holy priest, a father to the souls given to his care. Behold, Padre Pio, Father Pio. He’s one of my heroes ever since I heard about him. I wrote of him quite some time ago here on HSH blog in this post: Yikes!
Long before his cause was up at the Congregation for Saints, I was defending him against all and sundry, though those attacking him were, actually, limited to a handful of priests and bishops (one or two now cardinals). They were forever mocking him as a fake, but with a real edge of defensiveness. They were threatened by this most extraordinary soul.
When I would say, “He’s my hero not for the stigmata, not for the miracles, nor anything like that, but for other things,” I was met with incredulous stares, as if it would be impossible for there to be anything more than such things. “Go on, tell me what you find so enthralling about him!” was the condescending request. So I did:
- I spoke of his extraordinary simplicity in obedience, really very rare today. This predictably made them all squirm, all of them.
- Then I spoke of his long hours in the confessional, helping people to get to heaven. More squirming, with added mumbling that couldn’t be discerned.
- Then I spoke of his devotion in saying Holy Mass, he obviously knowing, unlike so very many, that this is the very Holy Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. This made my listeners visibly shrink away.
- Then I spoke of his great charity in building the very best hospital in southern Italy, still by far the very best and most advanced to this day. This brought very grudging nods of agreement which, however, still betrayed a readiness to flippantly dismiss this Capuchin priest.
- Then I spoke of something which is very dear to my heart, and which I knew would bring mockery upon my own head. I mentioned Padre Pio’s letter to Pope Paul VI, thanking him for publishing Humanae vitae, that famous encyclical letter of 25 July, 1968, denouncing the use of contraception as being contrary to the way God created us, and condemning procured abortion as a horrific crime against human life. Paul VI wrote back to Padre Pio, though that letter arrived just days after the death of our now canonized saint. The response to all this was to change the subject with a comment about the state of the meteorological conditions: “What a nice day!” But this gave them all something to think about.
I should note that the same crowd of mockers also had it in for the Shroud of Turin, and other things so intimately related to our dear Lord, one of them rather fiercely so, ferocious, really. And this brings me to Father Gordon MacRae’s latest post on all these things, and on the great Padre Pio, Saint Pio, by the way. Your’s truly had the privilege of being at his canonization. Read Father’s post, and follow all the links and sub-links. A seven-fold YIKES!
In case you’re too shy to follow this links in that great post of Father MacRae, here some of what you are missing:
- Did you know that Padre Pio was accused of sexual misconduct against a penitent, and therefore couldn’t defend himself, and would have been removed from ministry forever in today’s world of Dallas Charter “Kill the priest and then don’t ask questions” mentality? Yep. It was another fellow Judas priest who brought forward the accusations, but later recanted. That recanting would not matter today. Today, it’s all about Kill the priest! just because he’s a priest. Yikes!
- Oh my, it gets worse! So many Judas priests and bishops and archbishops all the way to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Secretariat of State had it in for Padre Pio. Yikes again! This is Father Gordon’s own all time favorite post on These Stone Walls.
- This post has a great many links that really you should read. More and more Yikes! The post ends with these words of Padre Pio:
“That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference, and apathy.”
“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 spiritual enemies. To be clothed with Jesus Christ, it is necessary to die to oneself.”
Should I add to my list of why Padre Pio, Saint Pio, is a hero of mine, it is that he shared in our Lord’s betrayal, in The Judas Crisis (see the ferocious widget listing some posts on The Judas Crisis on the blog itself). This isn’t about building the shrines of the saints only to be condemned by our Lord. Instead, I freely admit that I have little patience with those who betray their fellow priests. Padre Pio, Saint Pio, is one to whom I can turn to beg for his intercession that I might accept a bit more of the grace that our dear Lord is giving to me. Perhaps he will listen to my plea, not because I defended him when it was unpopular to do so, but because he knows what a pitiable state I’m in without our Lord’s grace. Padre Pio, pray for us! Send us your blessing from heaven!