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.
In St. Padre Pio’s writings, he states (Epist. 1.), “He is so much so much in love with my heart that He makes me burn with His divine fire, with the fire of His love.” The mystics have this grace to penetrate the heart of Jesus, and in turn, they experience His burning love. How is this possible, this human encounter with the divine? It is possible by God’s grace, by our openness, our disposition, our desire. But from start to end this is the work of God. The work of God in St. Padre Pio, and each of us.
The reading for the Vigil of St. Padre Pio is taken from John 17. The theme of the chapter is truth. “Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17). Are these not beautiful words of Jesus as He addresses His Father asking that His disciples be “consecrated in truth”? We are the disciples of the Lord, and He wants us to be sanctified by His Word of Truth. There is nothing truer than the Word of truth (as St. Thomas Aquinas said). The Word is Jesus. The Word is God’s promise. The Word was made flesh so we may have Eternal Life.
St. Padre Pio had a deep encounter of the love of Jesus; the Word made flesh. The truth which sanctifies us -- and which pierces us. Because wounded by God’s love –pierced by His Word, we can never be the same knowing we are God’s beloved; He gives us His divine Love like a flame that forever burns.
Fr. David Bellusci, OP
St. Mary's Padre Pio Prayer Group, Spiritual Director
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