Day: March 2, 2020

Lent 6 ~ The Angel Brings My Prayer


Two teenage girls living near the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo heard of Padre Pio’s supposed communication with the angels. Finding it rather incredible, they decided to test the validity of this claim. They spent a whole night sending their guardian angels to Padre Pio. They made such requests as, “Pray for my uncle Federico,” or “Cure my cousin.”

The next day after Mass, the two friends went to the friary to ask for Padre Pio’s blessing. To their surprise, the Padre was upset with them. He said to one of the girls, “You kept me awake all night. First, you sent me your guardian angel to cure your uncle Federico,” and turning to the other girl, he said, “and you sent me yours asking that your cousin be cured. And you kept it up all night long…I didn’t get any sleep!”


          In my sadness last night, I came across this anecdote about a saint close to my heart, St. Pio. While it didn’t turn my heart over, something about it remained with me all night, like a gentle perfume from an unseen wildflower.

          Going to bed, my heart continued to ache over my country and the follies of my leader and elected representatives. Wanting to pray, I tried to search for words. Coming up empty, I once again charged my angel, Angel, pray for me.

          Then, remembering what I had read, I decided I’d trouble my beloved spiritual father a bit. So, as those two young girls in the story above did, I too sent my angel to St. Pio, instructing him,

Ask Padre Pio for my prayer. And tell him you won’t leave till it is given.

          All through the night, each time I awakened briefly, I checked in with my guardian angel. When the morning came, I pressed the air for my prayer once more.

          There was none.

          I wasn’t too happy. I didn’t want to go into the second day leaving it all to my angel. As long as it was willed by God that I prayed this way, it was fine. But having struggled with depression for so many years, I was naturally on alert. If it was malaise that was dragging me down, I needed to rise up and fight it before the coils tightened.

C’mon, Padre Pio, I grumbled. Don’t do this. Please give me my prayer for today.

          A short while later, a line from an old repentance prayer popped into my head.

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

          And it continued to appear a few more times. Each time, I duly repeated it, until it struck me that this was my prayer for the day. I couldn’t believe it – and I was less than thrilled. Here I was agonizing over the loss of the government I had voted in, loss of our futures, loss of everything we had worked for, and this was the prayer? Forget and forgive what I had been? I? Focus on my sin at a time when others have cruelly shortchanged us?

          I was in a mild huff as I went to my morning Reading.

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not steal…”   ~  Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 11

          Verse 11 drew me up short. I knew at once that someone was trying to get my attention.

You shall not steal

          2 weeks ago, this had come to me during Mass in church in a moment of prayer for someone close to me. When that happened, as it did now, I was taken aback for a while. Then, upon reflection, I figured that God was asking me to pray for the sin of stealing: that family member had in fact stolen so much from so many.

          Despite the prayer, I could still sense the lingering presence of You shall not steal as I moved from day to day.

          Today, seeing that exhortation once more, I knew at once that this time, God was referring to what had happened to my country. We had lost the government we had legally and constitutionally voted in. But thieves had crept in and taken it away from us.

Our government had been stolen from us

          Although it should have been obvious, the realization still came as a shock.

          I thought that with the bitter night past, I’d feel better, but the pain came crashing down again. Forcefully lifting up my spirit, I tried to pray for those who had done this to us. But something didn’t feel right about the prayer. Not that it was wrong. Just the sense that it wasn’t what I was being called to for the moment.

          I had to go to work, to the mad amount that needed to be done there today. But I didn’t want to drown in it either. Angel, I whispered, ask Padre Pio for my prayer, and bring it back to me.

Our government had been stolen from us

Our government had been stolen from us

Our government had been stolen from us

          I turned it over and over in my heart as I drove to work.

          Then, in a quiet quickness, I suddenly discerned a change in the dejection within me. The hurt of being cheated slowly began to change into a strange, new sadness. I recalled the good times we had briefly enjoyed after decades of slavery.

          Slowly, very slowly, it began to dawn on me that I hadn’t been grateful enough for those good times and for everything our leaders had done for us.

          Instead, I had joined the masses and fixated upon the slowness of reforms and stewed in impatience over missteps. I had done nothing to convey my appreciation to my elected representatives. I had barely prayed thanksgiving prayers for them.

          And only now, when it was all stolen, did I see what I had done.

          Padre Pio had indeed sent me my prayer at dawn. Like any true father, he had known what I hadn’t, and he was determined that I see what I was blind to.  Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been was truly my prayer for my sin of ingratitude. It had taken an act of larceny of the highest order to lift the scales from my eyes.

Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been

          And with that, a sad peace finally stole into my heart.