Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Feast of St. Padre Pio
When I was growing up, "Padre Pio" was a family name. Even though we had no relationship with him directly, he was spoken of so often that it was almost as if he was an uncle I never saw. I remember asking my mom, "Who is this 'Padre Pio' guy anyway? What does he have to do with anything?"
Well, Mom explained that "Padre" meant "Father" and that Padre Pio was a priest who was a friend of our great -uncle's, and who bore the stigmata. Oh. OK.
Over the years I came to know Padre Pio, and came to understand that indeed, I am one of his spiritual daughters. It isn't that I've seen his intercession directly in my life, but rather, I seem to constantly run into his other spiritual children and randomly provide some kind of affirmation to them that they're a part of that family.
For example, once when I was heading out the door to meet a friend, I had the thought I should grab a few Padre Pio holy cards for him, thinking he might enjoy them. When I arrived, I handed them over to him immediately, thinking nothing of it. Handing cool holy cards to people is something we Catholics do regularly; it's second nature to us!
Apparently on that particular day, though, it was the sign my friend needed. Later on, at my Mom's house where he happened to be seated directly under a framed picture of Padre Pio, (which he hadn't noticed), he told me that there was NO WAY I could have known the request he'd made to the Saint that very morning. He had been learning about Padre Pio, he said, and learned of his "Spiritual Children", wondering if perhaps he could be one of them. He asked for an affirmation from the Saint; specifically that if he was indeed one of Padre Pio's spiritual sons, that someone would hand him a holy card of the Saint.
And shortly after I walked in the door and handed him a STACK!
I was just as floored as my friend was! Although I did point out to him that he had unwittingly ALSO sat under a picture of the Saint, which seemed to me to be yet another affirmation for him.
I have many such stories like that. It seems that at times, I am the Saint's messenger and it makes me wonder how many other "messages" I've delivered without even realizing!
Some may wonder why I continue to call Padre Pio by that name without the "Saint" attached. Perhaps it is because he was so close to our family that even as I recognize his Sainthood, there is a particular bond there. I don't know. If I speak of him formally I try to remember to call him "Saint", so that others know he is canonized. Yet given his great humility, it seems to me he would not be offended by my practice of simply calling him "Padre Pio", knowing it comes from great affection and never disrespect. Ah, but here I am, just musing. As usual.
A Spiritual Son
I want to direct you to one of Padre Pio's spiritual sons, a priest who wrote a beautiful article about him today.
Fr. MacRae sees some parallels between Padre Pio and himself, revealing the friendship of the Saint and God's Divine Providence. The good Father, who was imprisoned on this day, September 23rd, shares this important date with the Saint; a Saint who was also unjustly imprisoned and falsely accused.
Go read Fr. MacRae's article for yourself; it is one that will remain with you for a very long time. Please keep him in your prayers.
Padre Pio, thank you for your intercession and spiritual paternity. Pray for us!