My father loves me. Of that, I have no doubt. But he loves himself more. I am only loved to the point that he doesn’t need to exert himself too much, or give up something he loves more. Which unfortunately, is not God.
When you have a dad who loves you but loves himself more, he is not likely to make the necessary sacrifices of true Christian fatherhood. It would be easier to yell and hit, than to apply the teachings of the Bible with love, to correct the child. It would be easier to terrorise the child into good behavior without bestirring oneself to be a model of such. A lot less stressful to dismiss dangers and thus, not get into a knot trying to protect your daughter from them. And when the child is weighed down by problems, and not able to make her father laugh, or be a social comfort for him as before, then, for the father, it is the path clear of brambles to harangue the child, Move On! Go back to being the joyful person you once were – not said out of love and concern for the child’s well-being, but for the continued preservation of the father’s comfort and happiness.
After years of deep hurting and bewilderedness, I shrugged and decided it didn’t matter; it was time to stop whining for what I wanted but couldn’t have, others were worse off. But the truth was, it did matter. Having a father who failed because he didn’t try was a wound that needed healing, and healing didn’t come from stuffing the hurt down a dark hole in a dusty corner.
It was Our Lady of La Salette who brought my father to me. The light from my wound came from discovering the man who loved me enough to make me his daughter: St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
My Father Pio taught me that a sin was a sin, whatever the history, but forgiveness was readily available and it was imperative for a fresh start. I just needed to humble myself, for humility unlocked many doors, including that acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
One man from Padua, who had gone to confession to Padre Pio, tried to go to confession again before the eight-day waiting period had elapsed. In order to circumvent the waiting-period, he lied about the amount of days that had passed since his last confession to Padre Pio. When he entered the confessional, Padre Pio sent him out and forcefully accused him of his lie. After being kicked out, the man said with tears, “I’ve told many lies during my lifetime, and I thought I could deceive Padre Pio too.” But Padre Pio had a supernatural knowledge of his action. Padre Pio demanded that each confession be a true conversion. He did not tolerate a lack of honesty in the confession of sins. He was very stern on those who made excuses, spoke insincerely, or lacked a firm resolution to amend their lives. He demanded frankness and total honesty from the penitent. He also required a true and sincere sorrow of heart, and an absolute firmness in a person’s resolutions for the future.
Father Pio made it clear to me that in order to make a fresh start, I needed to make a clean break from my past failings.
Father Pio told me in no uncertain terms that I could not blame God for what was intended for my purification, and that my trials should take me to God, not fleeing in the opposite direction.
One woman who came on a long trip to see Padre Pio said to him in confession, “Padre Pio, four years ago I lost my husband and I haven’t gone to church since then.” Padre Pio replied, “Because you lost your husband, you also lost God? Go away! Go away!” as he quickly closed the door of the confessional. Shortly after this event, the same woman recovered her faith, attributing it to the way Padre Pio treated her – probably acknowledging how she had put her attachment to her husband above God.
I wasn’t in the habit of going to God with my problems and difficulties. I had an unhealthy self reliance that kept me from seeking His wisdom.
Padre Pio commented on the amount of confessions he heard, and how he was able to do it: “There have been periods when I heard confessions without interruption for eighteen hours consecutively. I don’t have a moment to myself. But God helps me effectively in my ministry. I feel the strength to renounce everything, ….”
I wanted the firm guidance of a godly father. But I also liked humour, and Padre Pio had it.
One person in confession questioned the very existence of Hell. Padre Pio responded, “You will believe it when you get there.”
My father didn’t have much patience for much, and letter-writing/emails was the agony of agonies. I didn’t receive many from him, but the ones I did, I wished he hadn’t sent. St. Pio had many spiritual children, and he wrote them, and his letters were treasured for the life they gave.
Beloved daughter of Jesus,
May Jesus and our Mother always smile on your soul, obtaining for it, from Her most holy Son, all the heavenly charisms!
I am writing to you for two reasons: to answer some more questions from your last letter, and to wish you a very happy names-day in the most sweet Jesus, full of all the most special heavenly graces. Oh! If Jesus granted my prayers for you or, better still, if only my prayers were worthy of being granted by Jesus! However, I increase them a hundredfold for your consolation and salvation, begging Jesus to grant them, not for me but through the heart of his paternal goodness and infinite mercy….Therefore, be humble of heart, circumspect in words, prudent in your resolutions. Always be sparing in your speech, assiduous in good reading, attentive in your work, modest in your conversation. Don’t be disgusting to anybody but be benevolent towards all and respectful towards your elders. May any sinister glance be far from you, may no daring word escape your lips, may you never carry out any immodest or somewhat free action; never a rather free action or a petulant tone of voice.
In short let your whole exterior be a vivid image of the composure of your soul. Always keep the modesty of the divine Master before your eyes, as an example; this Master who, according to the words of the Apostle to the Corinthians, placing the modesty of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with meekness, which was his one particular virtue and almost his characteristic: “Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ” [Douay-Rheims, 2 Cor. 10:1], and according to such a perfect model reform all your external operations, which should be faithful reflections revealing the affections of your interior.
Never forget this divine model, Annita. Try to see a certain lovable majesty in his presence, a certain pleasant authority in his manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in walking, in contemplating, speaking, conversing; a certain sweet serenity of face. Imagine that extremely composed and sweet expression with which he drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to the solitude and deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink and their domestic duties….
Don’t worry if you are unable to answer my letter for the moment. I know everything so don’t worry.
I take my leave of you in the holy kiss of the Lord. I am always your servant.
Fra Pio, Capuchin
I loved Padre Pio’s letters for the light in them and their lightness of burden. When the human will is exerted in letters, it is a burden that weighs down on you and takes the skin off your shoulders. It makes you go in any direction but heaven. I didn’t get that letter from my Father Pio, but it could have been written for me, and I too treasure it for it is a letter from a true father, setting me in the direction of God the Father.
In recent months, I have skipped away from my Father Pio, but in pursuit of heaven still. He does not bully me home or petulantly force me back in homage to himself, but prays me on my journey. Only a true father….