As Catholics we do not proselytize, but rather, we attract people to our Christian faith. These comments echo the words of Pope Benedict XVI, which the Capuchin friar, Fr. Luciano Lotti, reiterated in his February catechesis for the Padre Pio Prayer Groups.
Attraction is reflected in the life of Jesus. People are drawn to Our Saviour by not only what He teaches, but how He radically lived by human standards; and yet, Jesus lived the fullness of life that we are all called to live. Jesus came so that we might have life in abundance (John 10:10).
The Padre Pio Prayer Groups have been characterised as “womb communities” (by Fr. Mascone, the Director General of Padre Pio Prayer Groups). “Womb community.” What do you think this expression can mean? Obviously, the womb places us within the meaning of “motherhood.” This image of “womb” and “mother” is rich in symbolism: in Advent we reflect on Mary as the Mother of Our Saviour. When we pray the Rosary we pray to Mary’s with the words, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb…” The other image of Mother is the Church herself, she is our Mother because she gives us spiritual life. The Church is also the Bride of Christ. Now, how does the female imagery of motherhood situate us as a “womb community”? We think of life growing in the womb, and in the case of the Virgin Mary and the Church, this is spiritual life, supernatural life, the life of Grace, the work of the Holy Spirit.
As members of this “womb community” we grow together. And our spiritual life is inter-connected. Even though we may feel disconnected, especially during a time when a pandemic appears to have taken control over our lives by the laws regulating/restricting activities,” nevertheless, we continue to spiritually grow, regardless of laws because the supernatural life is not subjected to any law except the law of God.
Sometimes we have this need to pray where we would like to be in solitude. We can experience solitude taking a quiet walk in the forest; we can journey great distances like a pilgrim; we can even separate ourselves from a crowd and take a moment to be alone. Of course, there is the Church where we can place ourselves in front of the Blessed Sacrament and unite ourselves with Jesus, heart to heart.
This past summer I went to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray before St. Padre Pio’s relics. Even though the crypt had people sitting on the pews, kneeling before the St. Padre Pio’s remains, and standing in prayer, the crypt felt incredibly silent while packed with prayer. Silent prayer. The people arrived with petitions, thanksgiving, and acts of veneration. God has given us a Saint – a Saint in our midst to strengthen us and to guide us. St. Padre Pio does what every Saint is meant to do: lead us to greater sanctity by their intercession and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like each of us, each saint has a story. The story of the Saint is shaped by two fundamental principles: Truth and Love. The prayers from the Vigil of St. Padre Pio (Sept 22) focus precisely on these qualities of the life of the Saint: to burn with love, to be driven by truth.
Adriatic coast descends…dry
rocky hills – small town gem,
La Madonna delle Grazie.
Tucked in San Giovanni Rotondo
treasures hidden, secrets kept
Son of Italy, son of St. Francis
consolation, hope to pilgrims brought.
Gargano’s silence no longer felt –
news spreads – signs…works…
Belief – devotion – prayer,
life of a boy united with Christ
Satan rejected, holiness embraced.
Friar’s flesh reveals Divine love.
Sacred Heart he probed
in his Capuchin robes, confessional still stands
by humble sinners visited – waiting…
touch of sanctity – peace restored.
On this day Pope John Paul II proclaims:
modern mystic, wounded he suffered
to bring Redeemer’s love:
Saint of all people, Padre Pio
Book: Roman Incense - Journey to God | Page 19
Author: Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
This poem was posted for St. Mary's Padre Pio Prayer Group with permission from the author Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.