Friday, September 26, 2008

Padre Pio

Now here's a guy that most of you have probably heard of, if for no other reason than the stigmata. St. Pio had his feast day just this week, so I figured it was fitting to talk about the new reports that have been released from the Vatican regarded his cause for canonization and how he came to bear the marks of Christ.

Zenit gets the credit for this one:

Asked to swear on the Gospel, Padre Pio for the first time revealed the identity of the one from whom he received the wounds.

It was June 15, 1921, and in answer to a question posed by Bishop Rossi, Padre Pio said: "On Sept. 20, 1918, I was in the choir of the church after celebrating Mass, making the thanksgiving when I was suddenly overtaken by powerful trembling and then there came calm and I saw Our Lord in his crucified form.

"He was lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those consecrated to him and favored by him."

"Then," Padre Pio continued, "his suffering was apparent as was his desire to join souls to his Passion. He invited me to let his pains enter into me and to meditate on them and at the same time concern myself with the salvation of others. Following this, I felt full of compassion for the Lord's pains and I asked him what I could do.

"I heard this voice: 'I will unite you with my Passion.' And after this the vision disappeared, I came back to myself, my reason returned and I saw these signs here from which blood flowed. Before this I did not have these."

Padre Pio then said that the stigmata were not the result of a personal request of his own but came from an invitation of the Lord, who, lamenting the ingratitude of men, and consecrated persons in particular, conferred on Padre Pio a mission as the culmination of an interior mystical journey of preparation.

And so Padre Pio would suffer for the rest of his life. This is a weird topic for me. I have three children between the ages of 1 and 11. The elder two are aware of what the stigmata are and that they have been exhibited by many saints over the centuries. I'm just no sure of how to explain the principle to them. Suffering for Christ and others isn't something they are quite getting just yet. If anybody knows some good examples/analogies for this topic for kids, let me know.

Anyways, back to St. Pio. Sure, there were miracles. He could read hearts and heal the sick and do lots of other things through Christ who strengthened him. However, folks still were willing to call him out as a attention-grabbing bum, despite his obedience to every restriction his superiors placed upon him. For those who would still assert that St. Pio was a charlatan, I thought this part of the report was worth presenting:

Contrary to what certain doctors have said, Bishop Rossi concluded that the wounds did not appear to be externally inflicted.

"This speaks in favor of the authenticity of the stigmata," Father Castelli explained, "because carbolic acid -- which according to some was what Padre Pio might have used to cause the wounds -- after it has been applied, consumes the tissue and inflames the surrounding area. It is impossible to think that for 60 years Padre Pio could have caused himself these wounds of the same definite shape.

"Further, the wounds emitted the intense odor of violets rather than the fetid stench that degenerative processes, tissue necrosis or infections usually cause."

I know. It probably won't convince anyone, but it needed to be said anyways. Suffering for Christ and His Body, the Church, alien as it may be for those of us living the soft life, is not something we should shrink from. In the attitude of St. Paul, we should be happy with such a privilege in sharing in our Savior's pain. He spoke of himself as one "who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting in the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church." St. Pio's attitude was much the same.

By the way, if you can get your hands on the pamphlet he wrote about Christ's Passion, it is an excellent read. If you can't, I re-affirm my recommendation for The Sadness of Christ by St. Thomas More as a good reflection on the nature of suffering.

St. Pio, pray for us.


Haskovec said...

Padre Pio is one of my favorite saints I must say. I think something that I find most fascinating about him is just when he lived. This is someone who died not long before I was born. So instead of long ago stories of stigmata like St Francis of Assisi it is someone from modern times with it. I think it sometimes helps when one has doubts to see that these miracles are happening all the time and they still are happening today not just something that happened a couple of thousand years ago. In the same vein I am always fascinated about the stories of the saints whose bodies don't decompose. Cause there you have something that science can't explain. Or the cloak of San Juan Diego which being made of cornstalks should have disintegrated a couple of hundred years ago, and is still now on display in Mexico.

Throwback said...

The missus is reading a biography about him. Apparently, he stopped his town from getting bombed during WWII. The squadron leader was getting ready for everyone to drop their payload when he saw Padre Pio floating in the air outside his cockpit waving his arms for him to stop. The pilot wasn't even Catholic, but he had his group drop the bombs in an empty valley. Awesome stuff.

As far as modern saints go, it's going to really be wild if, say, Fulton Sheen gets canonized. You can still watch him on television!