Blog Post - September 23rd
S. Padre Pio (Fr. Pius)| Video on Padre Pio| Pope S. Linus| S. Thecla| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Padre Pio da Pietrelcina
In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Blessed 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 (1898-1903 and 1910-17) 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 St. 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, Blessed 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 burden 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.”
"The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain" (saying of Padre Pio).
Prayer for Padre Pio’s Intercession
Gracious God, you generously blessed your servant, Padre Pio, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and Death of your Son, and as a stirring inspiration to many people of your infinite mercy, forgiveness and love.
In the confessional, Padre Pio labored endlessly for the salvation of souls. Through his powerful intercession, many who suffered were healed of sickness and disease. Endowed with the gift of discernment, he could read people’s hearts. From the blood of his wounds came a perfumed fragrance, a special sign of your Holy Presence. With dignity and intense devotion, he celebrated daily Mass, inviting countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Through the intercession of Saint Pio, I confidently beseech you to to grant me the grace of (state your petition here). Help me to imitate his example of prayerful holiness and compassion, so that I, too, may faithfully follow the Risen Lord, and one day rejoice in the Kingdom, where you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
Litany to Saint Padre Pio
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of Pope S. Linus, Martyr. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
The “Liber Pontificalis” asserts that Linus's home was in Tuscany, and that his father's name was Herculanus; but we cannot discover the origin of this assertion.
Not much is known as certain concerning his life. He was reportedly converted to the faith in Rome after hearing St. Peter preach the Gospel. He renounced his noble origins and to serve Christ more perfectly. He soon gave admirable proofs of his zeal, learning and prudence, and the first Vicar of Christ employed him in preaching and the administration of the Sacraments.
He crossed into Gaul, and became the bishop of the city of Besançon. The number of the faithful increased daily by the conversion of many idolaters. The Saint one day attempted to turn some of those away from the celebration of a festival in honor of their gods, telling them that these idols were but statues without breath or sentiment, and represented only human beings whose vices were public knowledge.
He exhorted them to turn to the unique God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, to whom alone man owes the homage of sacrifice. A prodigy followed his words; a column of their temple crumbled and caused the fall of an idol, which broke into a thousand pieces. The worshipers, unmoved by this, drove the Saint out of the city of Besançon, as the city's tradition still attests.
St. Linus was the immediate successor of St. Peter in the see of Rome, as St. Irenæus, Eusebius, St. Epiphanius, St. Optatus, St. Austin, and others assure us. Tertullian say that St. Clement was appointed by St. Peter to be his successor; but either he declined that dignity till St. Linus and St. Cletus had preceded him in it, or he was at first only vicar of St. Peter, to govern under him the Gentile converts, whilst that apostle presided over the whole church, yet so as to be chiefly taken up in instructing the Jewish converts, and in preaching abroad.
Linus's term of office, according to the papal lists handed down to us, lasted only twelve years. The Liberian Catalogue shows that it lasted twelve years, four months, and twelve days. Perhaps it was on account of these dates that the writers of the fourth century gave their opinion that Linus had held the position of head of the Roman community during the life of the Apostle; e.g., Rufinus in the preface to his translation of the pseudo-Clementine “Recognitiones”.
But this hypothesis has no historical foundation. It cannot be doubted that according to the accounts of Irenaeus concerning the Roman Church in the second century, Linus was chosen to be head of the community of Christians in Rome, after the death of the Apostle. For this reason his pontificate dates from the year of the death of the Apostles Peter and Paul, which, however, is not known for certain.
His body was buried in the Vatican near that of Saint Peter. It was only in the 17th century that his tomb reappeared, marked Linus, when Pope Urban VIII had the work on the Confession of Saint Peter completed in the Basilica bearing his name.
Pope Linus was by birth a native of Velletri in Tuscany, and was the first pope after St Peter who governed the Church. His faith and holiness were such that he not only cast out devils, but also raised the dead. He wrote the acts of Blessed Peter, and especially the history of his strife with Simon Magus. He forbade women to enter the Church without having a veil upon their heads. His own head was cut off, on account of his firmness in confessing Christ, by command of the godless Consular Saturninus, an unthankful wretch whose own daughter he had delivered from being tormented by a devil. He was buried upon the Vatican Mount, hard by the grave of the Prince of the Apostles, upon the 23rd day of September. He sat as Pope eleven years, two months, and twenty – three days. died in the year 76. He held two December ordinations, wherein he made fifteen Bishops, and eighteen Priests.
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate
S. Thecla, Virgin and Martyr.
Who Was Thecla?
The early Christian saint, rebel, and protagonist of the Acts of Thecla
The leading lady of the apocryphal work the Acts of Thecla may not be a well-known figure today, but nearly every early Christian knew her name. She was renowned as a Christian martyr and missionary and later venerated by the Church as a saint.
Alicia D. Myers investigates the figure of Thecla, as well as early Christian perceptions of motherhood, in her column “Motherhood and the Early Christian Community,” published in the September/October 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. In the early Church, St. Thecla was seen as a heroine and role model, who eschewed the social norms of the Roman Empire and chose to follow the teachings of the Apostle Paul — despite persecution.
So, who was Thecla really, and what did she believe?
Although it is not clear if St. Thecla was a historical person, stories of this figure come to us from the Acts of Thecla — a section of the Acts of Paul — dated to the end of the second century C.E.
According to the Acts of Thecla, Thecla is a first-century noblewoman of Iconium (in modern Turkey). When she hears Paul preach in her hometown, she is so absorbed in his message that she neither eats nor drinks for three days. She promptly becomes a Christian and decides to remain unmarried and celibate, as Paul advised.
Unfortunately, this is seen as a subversive act by her fiancé and her family, and Thecla is violently persecuted by being burned in a bonfire. Miraculously, the flames do not touch her, and she is spared.
After this close brush with death, she leaves Iconium and follows the Apostle Paul to Antioch. There, Alexander, one of the city’s leaders, desires Thecla. When she rejects him, Alexander hauls her in front of the governor, who sentences her to be thrown to wild beasts in an arena. Again, she miraculously survives this persecution — and emerges from the arena unharmed.
After her second miraculous deliverance, Thecla is freed, and she goes in search of the Apostle Paul once more. When she encounters him in Myra, he commissions her to spread the Gospel of Christianity, teach the Bible, and even baptize converts. She goes to Seleucia (in modern day Iraq) and teaches there.
Thecla’s commitment to Paul’s teachings, particularly her disavowal of marriage, was seen as a serious threat to the Roman Empire. Alicia D. Myers explains why:
Rejecting the “blessedness” of motherhood for the kingdom come was threatening to an empire that prided itself on establishing peace for the whole world (the Pax Romana). The Romans certainly weren’t looking for another kingdom to replace their own, and, for their empire to survive and thrive, it needed children. …
In the Roman world, good girls became mothers. Of course, to be able to wed and become a “woman” (the Greek word gyne means both “woman” and “wife”), one needed to be free and of enough means. Becoming a mother, bearing living children (ideally, sons) for her husband and for the stability of his household was essential to being a good wife. In fact, many ancient philosophers and medical authors believed that motherhood was a woman’s sole purpose in creation.
Thecla’s actions were revolutionary to say the least. Her counter cultural stance set her at odds with the Roman Empire. Yet her fierce determination and faithfulness were celebrated by many in the early Church, and eventually this perspective would infiltrate the Roman Empire itself.
Hearing the Call:
Conversion consists in responding to a call from God. Conversion is light renewed, love of God renewed. The convert is a man who has died and has risen again. — Rabbi Israel Zolli
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The best way to avoid falling is to lean on the cross of Jesus, with confidence in Him alone, who for our salvation desired to be nailed to it.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 266: Discouragement in the Face of Sanctity
Do you want to be a saint? Hopefully the answer is “Yes.” But what about this question: Do you think you can become a saint? This may be more difficult to answer. It’s easy to dream of sanctity and to desire it, but when faced with the task of achieving it, discouragement can easily set in. Discouragement comes when you see the high call of holiness and conclude that you will never be able to achieve it. You may become fixated upon a certain fault and give up, thinking that you are destined to remain lukewarm and that’s it. You may feel as though you are a nice person and that will have to suffice. But God has great plans for you! He not only calls you to be a saint, He knows you can become one. The key is to allow His Mercy to become so clear to you that you begin to realize sanctity is possible. Holiness, or sanctity, is not achieved because we are good; rather, it’s achieved because God is merciful and we have chosen to fix our gaze upon that Mercy. Never doubt the truth that you are both called to be a saint and that you can become a saint (See Diary #1333).
Reflect upon these two questions today. Do I want to become a saint and can this be achieved in my life? Look for ways that you get discouraged at the thought of holiness. Whatever it is that is causing discouragement in you is false. It’s not the truth. Let the Mercy of God appear before your eyes and realize that His Mercy is able to be received by you. And when you are open to receiving the Mercy of God, you will begin your journey to true sanctity.
Lord, I do desire to become holy as a result of Your abundant Mercy. Remove my struggles with discouragement and help me to have hope in Your power to change me. I give myself to You, dear Lord, and I trust that You will make me a saint. Jesus, I trust in You.