This, to me, is what ministry and mission are all about. Ministry is entering with our human brokenness into communion with others and speaking a word of hope.
-from Henri Nouwen: His Life and Spirit
"Love Our Lady and make her loved; always recite the Rosary and recite it as often as possible." — St. Padre Pio
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Always be impartial and just in your deeds. Put yourself into your neighbor's place, and him in yours, and then you will judge fairly . . . Frequently, therefore, examine your heart, whether it is so disposed towards your neighbor, as you would have his disposed towards you, were you to change places; for this is the true test." — St. Francis de Sales, p. 226 AN EXCERPT FROM Introduction to the Devout Life
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by Fr. Don Miller, OFM
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Saint of the Day for September 23 (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968)
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina's Story
In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."
Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.
Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.
At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917, he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.
On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.
Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities, and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924, and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.
Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.
Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds.
A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like Saint Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.
One of Padre Pio's sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.
At Padre Pio's canonization Mass in 2002, Saint John Paul II referred to that day's Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) and said: "The Gospel image of 'yoke' evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the 'yoke' of Christ and indeed how light the burdens are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord."
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man's ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 144:1b and 2abc, 3-4 R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock! Blessed be the LORD, my rock, my mercy and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock! LORD, what is man, that you notice him; the son of man, that you take thought of him? Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Alleluia Mk 10:45 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 9:18-22
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, 'One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Christ of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ This passage brings up explicitly the 'fundamental question': who Jesus is for me, not in a merely intellectual sense but in a personal sense. Is he a leader, a friend, a judge, a teacher, a father, a combination of all?
▪ Pray about this asking the Lord to clarify my sense of Jesus and to strengthen my commitment to him.
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest (Memorial)
Who do the crowds say that I am? . . . Who do you say that I am? (Luke 9:18, 20)
We often think of Jesus as the teacher with all the answers. But of the 183 questions that people ask him in the Gospels, he answers fewer than 10. At the same time, Jesus asks more than 300 questions! What does this fondness for questions tell us? Maybe the two questions in today's Gospel can give us some clues.
"Who do the crowds say that I am?" is easy to answer. It's like an icebreaker game—a nonthreatening discussion starter. The disciples chime in to report other people's opinions. But then comes the type of hard question that has students praying that the teacher won't call on them: "Who do you say that I am?" Such a small change, but what a difference it makes!
Though the disciples have seen Jesus heal, exorcise, and teach with authority and power, they still find it hard to confess him as the Messiah. It takes courage and spiritual insight (Matthew 16:17). They sense that saying "Jesus is Lord" involves putting him at the center of their lives in a radical way (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Jesus' questions in this passage tell us a couple of other things about him. First, they reveal that he loves his followers enough to help them find the peace that comes from believing in him. It's because Jesus so passionately wants them—and us—to find life in him that he bothers to ask any questions at all. That's why the questions seem to leap out of the Gospels with a kind of urgent mercy: What do you think about what I'm doing and saying? How will you respond?
Second, notice how Jesus often leaves his questions unanswered. That's because he trusts that we are able to sense what is true and respond to it. We just need to quiet our hearts and listen for his Holy Spirit.
Even today, Jesus is doing everything he can—when we go to Mass, when we read the Scriptures, or when we think about the beauty of creation—to help us answer this most burning question: "Who do you say that I am?"
"Jesus, help me to hear your questions today. Thank you for leading me in such a loving, gentle way!"
We heard: "I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts...". The Lord, after hundreds, and thousands of years of dealing with man (mankind), and His people, finally said at one point "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." Jeremiah 31:33. Eventually, the stone tablets with the commandments would be broken and lost, an exact resemblance of the hearts of stone that were lost, the children He had appointed were broken, and the only way to heal the heart would be to reveal the heart of God...the truth. We prayed today "Blessed be the LORD, my rock, my mercy and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust." There are in my life, people whom I've asked to pray, in a certain way, as a prescription of sorts, and some do and some don't. Those that do, are blessed, those that don't, remain the same. The other day, I was with a brother discussing faith, and I said "look, I invited another man to come discuss with us, and here we are speaking of blindness...you are seeing, coming out of blindness, and he is not here, remaining in blindness...a hard way to live". This is why the Lord says "Take my yoke" because his burden is light, light for your soul. This is called trusting. This is to be aided to Heaven. And so our Lord comes to us today, and asks the question of eternity to your individual soul ""But who do you say that I am?". I can ask this to a dozen people and get a dozen generic answers of who the Lord is. The despondent respondents have no idea what is being asked. "Uh, the Lord is God." And that seems more of a perplexed dilemma, than an answer. Because the question is designed to reach the depths of one's soul. If you say the Lord IS God, what does that mean? It should mean the world to you if the Lord is your whole world. Padre Pio had an encounter with the Lord, and it meant a lifetime of suffering, and it meant a lifetime of being the living, bleeding, healing Christ to the world that He loved, the people of God. If the Lord designed our hearts, and it is in our soul's DNA to know we belong to Him, why is it a struggle to actually belong to Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, all our strength? Saint Pio was found healing right? Where do you think it all happened? Most often in the confessional...where a heart encounters a divine Heart. I spoke with a sister last night and noticed her psoriasis and I said "it's because of all the stress you are going through right now" she said "yes, like when my husband was almost killed in an accident and our family went through a hard time as he recovered..you didn't notice it then because it wasn't as noticeable". I said "the healing will have to come from within, just like the sickness has begun from within". I gave a prescription, and my intentions are to pray. So often this is what Padre Pio did, and all for what? The Love of God. Saint Peter our first pope said to Jesus our Lord "You are the Christ of GOD!" Jesus was designed to be the living heart of God, poured out for you and for me. They say they took out the heart of Saint Padre Pio, and is travelling the world to visit the faithful. This is an exact representation of what Christ did and still does this very day....travels the world in a heartbeat...to those full of faith. Now that much has been said, the question still remains ""But who do you say that I am?" If Jesus came to you today and asked you that, can you imagine? What would you say or do?