Monthly Archives: June 2016

20160606 Padre Pio offered his life and time

Pope Benedict XV urged all Christians to pray for an end to the World War in July 1918. On July 27, Padre Pio offered himself as a victim for the end of the war.
Soon after the offering, Padre Pio had two extraordinary mystical experiences. He described an experience of the piercing of his heart to his spiritual director.
“I was listening to the confessions of the young men the night of Aug. 5 when all of a sudden I was very frightened upon seeing with the eyes of my mind a celestial visitor who appeared right in front of me.
“In his hand he carried something like an iron lance with a very sharp tip. It seemed as if fire was coming out of the tip. I saw the person thrust the lance violently into my soul. I could barely complain when I felt I was dying.
“I told the young man to leave the confessional because I felt very sick and did not have the strength to continue. This martyrdom lasted without any interruption until the morning of Aug. 7. From that day I felt a great affliction and a wound in my soul that is always open and causes me agony.”
A month and a half later, Padre Pio experienced the bleeding of the five wounds. He described the experience to his spiritual director.
“It was the morning of Sept. 20, 1918. I was in the chapel praying the prayer of thanksgiving for the Mass and I felt little by little that I was elevated to a softer prayer. Suddenly a great light blinded me, and Christ, Who was bleeding in all parts, appeared to me.
“From His wounded Body came out rays of light that looked like arrows that hurt my feet, hands, and side. When I returned to myself, I found myself on the floor and full of wounds. My hands, feet, and side bled and they hurt even enough to make me lose all my strength to stand up.”
The spiritual gifts of Padre Pio gave people hope as they began to rebuild their life after the war. Despite the pains of his mystical wounds, Padre Pio led a very busy life, rising at 3:30 every morning and praying the Divine Office, then celebrating Mass at 5 a.m.
Padre Pio was a man of prayer. He once said, “I want to be only a poor friar who prays.”
Mass celebrated by him could last for three hours; he would experience the Passion and pray for all those who had recommended themselves to him. In time this length declined, until, during the years before his death, it lasted about an hour.
Padre Pio was once asked how he could spend so much time standing on his wounds during the entire Mass. He replied, “My daughter, during the Mass I am not standing, I am hanging with Jesus on the Cross.”
After Mass, Padre Pio made a prolonged thanksgiving. He then took a glass of water as his breakfast, and went to hear confessions. According to the common practice of the time, men and women confessed separately: the men in the sacristy, mainly in the open with a portable grill; and the women in the church in the confessional.
At noon he took his only meal of the day. A normal day for Padre Pio was a busy 19 hours: Mass, hearing confessions, and handling correspondence. He usually had only three or four hours rest at night.

20160530 Padre Pio receives the stigmata

Relics of St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina arrived in Rome in February for the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Francesco Forgione (the future Padre Pio) was born on May 25, 1887, in the small village of Pietrelcina, near Benevento in Italy.
Francesco was a deeply religious boy. When he heard the name of God, Our Lord, or the Blessed Virgin taken in vain, he would run off and hide weeping, and kneel down in a corner to pray.
One day as Francesco’s father, Orazio, was watching his older son working in the fields under the sun, he turned to Francesco and said, “I am never going to let you see the sun!”
Francesco asked what he meant. Orazio answered, “I am going to have you study to become a monk.” Francesco protested there was not enough money for him to study. Orazio said he would go to New York and earn what was needed.
While Orazio was working in New York, the family had Francesco study under Dom Domenico, had been relieved of his duties as a parish priest because he was not faithful to his commitment to celibacy. Francesco’s mind was closed to the teachings of such a sinful man.
Dom Domenico finally told Francesco’s mother that the child had better go to work in the fields, as he had no brains for book learning. When Francesco was told this, he said with great indignation: “My head is no good? You mean that his head is no good! He is living in sin in his own house!”
Years later, Dom Domenico repented of his sins and went to confession to his former pupil, Padre Pio. Two days after his confession, Dom Domenico died a good Catholic death.
After their son had worked in the fields for awhile, the family chose another teacher for Francesco: Maestro Caccavo. Under him, Francesco made great process.
In 1902 Francesco entered the Capuchin Monastery at Morcone. His religious name was “Pio” after St. Pius V. Fra Pio faithfully observed the rules of the community.
He spent long hours in prayer and was often seen reading his textbooks on his knees. However, his life of prayer and penance was interfered with by fevers, nausea, and the attacks of evil spirits.
Despite difficulties, Fra Pio persevered in his vocation, and he was ordained a priest on Aug. 10, 1910. During World War One, Padre Pio was called up for military duty, but he was eventually discharged for health reasons. He settled for good in San Giovanni Rotondo.
On Sept. 20, 1918, Padre Pio was in the choir alone making his thanksgiving after Mass when suddenly he gave a piercing cry and collapsed. He was found to be bleeding profusely from five deep wounds in his hands, feet, and side.
He was taken to his cell, and when he regained consciousness, he begged his fellow friars to keep the event secret. However the news soon spread, and people flocked to the friary to see the stigmata for themselves, and to confess their sins to this “living saint.”
For the next few years Padre Pio suffered a “prolonged martyrdom.” Besides the constant pain from the wounds, he was repeatedly subjected to medical investigations and attempted cures.
When asked once if his wounds hurt, he replied: “Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?”
The wounds of the stigmata lasted for 50 years. They caused Padre Pio considerable pain, so much that he was unable to close his hands into a fist, and when descending stairs from the altar to distribute Holy Communion, he was obliged to walk backwards to relieve the pressure on his feet.

20160523 St. Leopold Mandic

Relics of St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina arrived in Rome in February for the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
St. Leopold Mandic was born on May 12, 1866, in Castelnuovo, Croatia, the 12th child in the family. His baptismal name was Deodatus, which means “God-given.” He was poor in health and small in stature (he stood only four feet five inches tall as an adult), yet he had tremendous spiritual strength.
When he was 8, one of his sisters scolded him for a slight fault and led him to the pastor of the parish, who made him kneel in the middle of the church.
Leopold later recalled: “I stayed there, deeply saddened, and wondering within myself: why treat so severely a child for such a slight fault? When I get big, I want to be a religious, a confessor, and treat the souls of sinners with much goodness and mercy.”
At 16, Deodatus went to Udine, Italy, to study at the Capuchin Seraphic School. After 18 months, he entered the Capuchin Order as a novice on 20 April 1884, taking the religious name Brother Leopold. He studied in Padua and Venice and was ordained a priest in Venice on Sept. 20, 1890.
Father Leopold desired to work for the return to Catholic unity of the Orientals separated from the Church of Rome. After ordination, his desire to leave for the missions in Eastern Europe intensified, but his health had suffered from the hard work during his years of study.
He was assigned to various friaries in the Venetian Province from 1890 to 1906 to recover his strength. This was a big disappointment, but he accepted it with deep faith, not wanting to direct his life by personal inspiration, but by obedience.
In 1906 he was assigned to Padua, Italy. During World War I, Father Leopold spent a year in prison because he would not renounce his Croat nationality. In the prison camp he ministered as a priest to his fellow inmates.
In Padua, Father Leopold’s main vocation was hearing confessions, which he did for about four decades. The Capuchin friars often criticized him for his approach to confession, calling him too lenient.
He was lenient and compassionate towards his penitents. He was very understanding and sympathetic to the people who came to him, and would treat them with great sensitivity. Father Leopold would spend 10 to 15 hours a day hearing confessions and counselling.
It was not easy: the confessional was very hot during summer and very cold during winter. A friar once asked Father Leopold: “How is it that you are able to stay in the confessional so long?”
He answered with a smile: “You see, that’s my life.”
Another time, he said: “Since God has not given me the gift of preaching, I want to consecrate myself to drawing souls back to Him through the sacrament of penance.”
Father Leopold had a deep devotion to Our Lady. He referred her as “my holy boss.” He prayed the rosary often, and celebrated Mass daily at the side altar of the Virgin Mary.
On July 30, 1942, Leopold collapsed while getting ready for Mass. When he regained consciousness, he received the anointing of the sick. Then he repeated the pious prayers which his superior whispered to him.
At these words of the Salve Regina: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” he passed from this earth to eternal life.