For almost fifty years, I turned to our Blessed Virgin Mary for all my needs. Then I had an intimate encounter with our Lord Jesus. After that, I continued to pray the rosary but it was Jesus with whom I most related.
One day when I was praying in front of the tabernacle, I felt a desire to go the statue of our Lady. It was as though Jesus was telling me, ‘go to her.’ On doing so I experienced peace and a great comfort. After a while I felt a desire to go before the statue of St. Joseph. This time it was as though Mary was telling me to visit with him. From then on my triangular relationship was with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
I recall that throughout my life while I showed reverence to other saints, I hardly ever kept a devotion to or actively sought out their intercession. Encouraged under the guidance of our parish priest, I developed an admiration for St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata and St. Jean Marie Vianney.
In 2016 my wife and I went to Rome for the canonization of Mother Teresa and, by God’s providence, we happened to visit San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy where the uncorrupt body of St. Padre Pio is on display. On both sides of the walls of the spiral walkway leading to the crypt are mosaics narrating the lives of St. Francis and St. Padre Pio. I was both amazed and captivated by their life stories.
Upon our return to Vancouver, we heard that St. Mary’s was starting a Padre Pio Prayer Group and were excited to be a part of it. After a few months of regular attendance at these prayer meetings, I was asked to be part of a team who would write the monthly Rosary prayer intentions. A strange confidence came over me and I agreed. As I pondered the task ahead of me, I recalled that when I pray words flow from the depths of my heart. Years before I had read that Our Lady wanted us to pray from the heart and how I desired to be able to do so! She had granted my desire and was now asking me to help others pray. I realized that I had already joined a few communities that interceded for others and PPPG was now one more.
I began my blog by telling you of my encounter with the Lord. During this encounter I asked the Lord how I could serve Him and was convinced that he wanted me to bring out the best in others. “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and abound in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8). How true! After fifteen years I realized that what the Lord wanted was for me to permit Him to use me to bring out the best in others. This I realized as I worked with the team of prayer intention writers. It reminded me of how St. Francis mistook our Lord when He said ‘build my Church.’ Francis and his friars rebuilt the dilapidated church building while Jesus was asking him to revitalise the body of the Church. I credit Padre Pio for pointing out my wrong notions for I can do nothing on my own but with the Lord I can do all things. Thank you Jesus and thank you Padre Pio for reminding me to be humble. All glory belongs to God!
The pandemic has brought a greater level of peace and solace into my life. Lord, how true it is! You say, “I stand at your door knocking and if you open I will come in and dine with you.” (Revelations 3:20). I had more time to spend in prayer and I discovered the vast spiritual resources available on the internet.
During Lent I found a very inspiring Stations of the Cross site on the web. “Seek and you shall find.” (Matthew 7:7). For some time I had wanted to participate in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises but various commitments prevented me from doing so. During the lockdown I followed two different thirty-three day virtual Ignatian Retreats. And when I heard of the sad plight of people in Spain who were dying alone on the floors of hospital hallways it gave me a purpose to pray the three o’clock Divine Mercy Chaplet for the dying each day. Jesus once showed St. Faustina a person who was dying all alone and she was able to bilocate and be at the dying person’s side. So each day I would invite Mother Mary, St. Joseph and St. Faustina to join me and be by the side of those who were dying all alone.
I found virtual perpetual adoration sites that I visited daily. Partaking in daily mass from the comfort of my home made me desire to immerse myself more deeply in the service and, by the grace of God, the beauty of the Liturgy taught me new ways of praying. For example, the prayer at the preparation of the gifts taught me a new grace before mealtimes: ‘Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have this food and drink, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. We praise you, we thank you and we bless you forever.’
Often I say thank you to God for the period of time in which I exist. For all the modern conveniences. Taking electricity as an example, we have it in our kitchen lights, kettles, cookers, microwaves, fridges, freezers and so on. When God created the earth He placed the materials needed to make it all possible and, in time, He allowed us to discover and put it together for our use. So now I pray, with each appliance I use, “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have this appliance which earth has given and human hands have made possible. We love You and we bless You.”
By: E. Livera
PPPG Bloggers the faithful members of St. Mary's Padre Pio Prayer Group
list by titles
Blessings from PPPG