St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Lent 14 ~ Worry is Useless

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Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.   ~   St. Pio

          Today is one of those days when little things weigh a little more on my heart. There is a meeting I need to attend tomorrow which makes me nervous and anxious because I am not sure how it will turn out. There’s nothing I can do to prepare for it. I don’t even know what to pray for exactly. For all I know, things might go very well. But since I have always been one to borrow trouble from the coming day, I’m doing exactly that now – borrowing trouble.

          Searching for a prayer, I told God to give me one that my heart needs, even if I didn’t know it myself. And I also asked that it come to me dramatically, like a lightning bolt or something, to assure me further that it was indeed from heaven and to also pierce through the gathering fog inside my heart.

          Instead come these gentle, gentle words, tenderly spoken, by a man I know as my spiritual father.

Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless.

          And then, he comforts me,

Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.

Lent 5 ~ Angel, Pray for Me

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          This Sunday dawned after the night of a thousand knives. Sunday began with tremulous hope and fear. But soon, even that hope was gone. Snatched away by betrayal after betrayal.

          In less than 2 years, the course of events of this past week has returned my country to the pits of muck and mess, where it had been for decades. In just a week, I woke up today to see our futures and those of our children’s, stolen once more from us.

          The pain was more than I could bear, and tears welled up throughout the day.

          Even the birds knew, because they took their song to far away boughs, as the winds mourned with us, caressing us in sombreness.

          My husband tried to shore up my hope, and not wanting to spurn his love, for some time, I tried to be strong. Blessed be God, I prayed, over and over. Not wanting to let evil defeat us, we worked on lunch together. My husband attended to some yard work. I tried to rest my heart amongst the new flowers in our garden.

          But soon, it became too hard. Soon, I could not summon even a simple prayer.

          That was when I recalled the words of my spiritual father.

If you cannot pray, ask your guardian angel to pray for you.   ~  St. Padre Pio

          I ran to it in great relief. My country needed prayers. Yes, hopes were dashed and crushed for now, but if we all gave up on prayer, we wouldn’t need to go far to find hell. Yet, the vicious turn of events had depleted the very sustenance we needed in order to go on fighting for our futures, for fairness and justice. Good people would tell us to keep hoping, but there are times when we just cannot find the will to hope within us. Without hope, prayer is impossible.

          Yet, if I could not pray as I should, as my beloved Padre Pio had reminded me, my angel could, on my behalf.

Angel, pray for me.

          The relief was instant.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Me

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          Thunder rumbles from the grey breast of a huge, roll cloud lying low in the darkening west. The day is almost at its end. With the promise of heavy rain due soon, it is a fitting close to the week, for I so love rain and a wee storm on a Friday.

          More so when it marks the closing of the 40.

Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.   1 Kings 19: 4 – 8

          It has been 40 days since it came strong that this too must be my journey, 40 days and 40 nights to the mountain of God, accompanied by St. Padre Pio, my spiritual father, and St. Michael the Archangel. If I’ve discerned the 40 correctly, then, today, I should be at the mountain. 

          At the foothills? The peak? Somewhere in between?

          I don’t know.

          Or still a long way off? I wouldn’t discount that, I’ve been wrong about a lot of things a lot of times.

          But it has been a huge journey, at least to me, marked by the ridges and canyons of struggles, old and new.

          And yet, I say this too – as much as I’ve felt the waves hit and pound at me, I’ve also felt the gentle embrace of warm sea~swirls, lovingly assuring me that I was not alone. The 40 has passed quickly, smoothly, and with a strange decidedness. As if Someone was ahead of me, turning the pages, knowing when to turn them. In many of my previous bouts of struggle, there’s always been confusion. Doing and undoing, back and forth. But not this time. No matter how deep the frustration or anger on the journey this time, it was always clear to my heart, if not to my mind, what I needed to do to put one foot forward and to move on to the next point. And for all the knots of struggles and difficulties, the peace has been undeniable. Every day, worn out and frustrated from work issues, even angry with God on some days, I’ve come home to my husband and children, and somehow, found  renewed strength and will to care for them. Not every day was great. But it all worked out each day, no matter how hard the gone hours had been.

          And I know that I had nothing to do with it.

          My prayers and whatever obedience I could squeeze out of my willfulness, took me some distance, but the serenity I experienced despite the hurts, the bursts of life, courage and exuberance to work and work and work – none of it was mine.

          It came from somewhere else. A power from a Love and a Wisdom so deep and firm, that no human can ever lay claim to.

          A power that guided me to the seas of deeper freedom.

          Where do I go from here? I had wondered aloud to beautiful soul who had journeyed the 40 with me.

          That very night, someone passed by my window of waiting. He stepped quietly, his movements quick, economical. He left me a little package and swiftly took leave. He didn’t wait for me to recognize him.

          He was St. John of the Cross, Father of the Carmelites, to whom five years ago, Our Lady of La Salette had passed the mantle of responsibility to lead me to the Light of freedom, away from the shadows of a narcissist’s abuse. I learned of his enduring love for me, as he stayed by my ear for weeks and weeks, untiringly calling out, Seek counsel, Seek counsel, Seek counsel.

          When I finally bent my ear to him, he led me to a priest – incidentally, one promised to the Carmelites. And my children were saved. My marriage was saved. 

          My very life was saved. St. John had snatched me away from the jaws of death and lifelong sorrow and anguish.

          He has returned now, on this final day of the 40, in his customary quietness, to invite me to follow him for the 9 remaining days of September. When I first read his note, even more so when I looked at the contents of the package he had left at the doorstep of discernment, I wasn’t sure. The Novena to St. John of the Cross is a hard novena to pray from the heart, for it will take me into the deepest silence of amare nesciri – to love to be unknown. To eschew all and everything for the Heart of God.

          But St. John didn’t tug me to him as he did before. He didn’t linger to hear my answer.

          He didn’t have to, I guess. He knew what it would be. 

Rise

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          I’ve always wondered, if I could be pierced so deeply by the slightest hurts, why could I not be struck as deeply by the beauty of the world around me? Why am I primed to react so to woundings, but not to the loveliness gifted by a Father who Loves? How can a spirit so sensitive to nicks and cuts not rise in ecstasy to the pearling of dawn, the song of winds and the glory of blooms?

          What is holding me back? Why am I not the child I once was?

          Where has this child gone?

          On his birthday yesterday, my spiritual father, St. Pio, reached out to me through another’s words,

… so many killjoys, afraid to enjoy today for fear of what tomorrow will bring… don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us… (Anne of Windy Willows by Lucy Maud Montgomery)

          Fear. Slavery. Those were the reverberations of the past weeks. Although I’ve come a distance from my past, I’ve not forgotten the lessons of fear a child should never have been taught.

          A huge storm cloud rises in the east. It rolls up upon us and breaks its grey breast in a wild torrent. Gone is the blue~gold glory the dawn sun promised. In its place queens rich greens, freshened by the weeping rains. Yet, no mourning dirge sounds for what has passed. No mourning is needed – for this is what life is. Each hour brings us its own surprises. In staying my glance too long on the years that have passed and fearing what the coming may bring, I risk losing the present hour’s gifts. 

          Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring us. Could I learn to be this way once more – like a child again? Is this what God wants of me? I want to be sure, I want God to tell me. I ask Him again, I want to hear Him speak to me.

          Softly, a mist forms and breathes its word upon my spirit.

Rise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Father – ST PADRE PIO ~ SEPT 23

Flower-Fairy-daydreaming-25485002-304-428[1]  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.

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fairytallflowers[1]  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.

flower-faerie[1]  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.

Req-DaisyGirl-GraphicsFairy1[1]  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, ….”

vintage-flower-fairy-garland[1]  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.”

TheSnowdropFairy[1]  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.

2534033067_47c872012f_z[1]  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….