St. Padre Pio said, “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.”
Padre Pio anticipated Mass with great eagerness. He would often awake by 12:30 or 1 a.m., asking whoever was caring for him if it was time for Mass yet. He would sit in his chair for several hours saying the rosary, praying and preparing for Mass. He went down to the sacristy around 4 a.m. for immediate preparations and celebrated Mass at 5 a.m..
The mystical Mass of Padre Pio could last for three hours, during which time Padre Pio experienced the Passion and prayed for and saw in God all those who had recommended themselves to him. In time this length declined, until the years before his death it lasted about an hour.
However, there were also exceptions. During his early priesthood, Padre Pio was sent home to Pietrelcina for convalescence. The length of his Mass was difficult for the farmers and shop-keepers who attended St. Pius V’s parish. This was mentioned to the pastor, Fr. Pannuello. One day, the pastor stood at the back of the church and made a mental command to Padre Pio to limit his Mass to 30 minutes. After that the Mass he celebrated at St. Pius V’s parish was limited to 30 minutes.
People who came to San Giovanni Rotondo saw Padre Pio cried continuously during Mass. Someone asked Padre Pio about this, and he said, “I don’t want to shed small tears. I want to shed a flood of tears. Don’t you see the great mystery of the Mass?” When he would say, “This is my Body…This is my Blood,” his countenance would transfigure. Waves of emotions would toss him, all of his body would project itself in a mute imploration.
One time, Padre Pio said, “The Mass is Christ on the Cross, with Mary and John at the foot of the same one and the angels in adoration. Let us cry of love and adoration in this contemplation.”
Padre Pio longed for Holy Communion. He said, “I have such a hunger and thirst before I receive Jesus that I could soon die of anguish. And precisely because I could not be without uniting myself to Jesus, I often, even with fevers, see myself obliged to go and nourish myself with his body.” Padre Pio would say that “the world can survive without the sun, but never without the Mass.”
One time, someone asked Padre Pio if the Blessed Virgin Mary was present during the Holy Mass. He responded, “Yes, she places herself at a side, but I can see her, what a joy. She is always present. How can it be that the Mother of Jesus, present in Calvary at the foot of the Cross, who offered her Son as a victim for the salvation of our souls, not be present in the mystical Calvary of the altar?”
In 1947, Father Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II) met Padre Pio and attended his Mass. Father Wojtyla recalled that Padre Pio “physically suffered “during the Eucharistic celebration.
Maria Winowska, a biographer of Padre Pio, wrote, “The Capuchin’s face which a few moments before had seemed to me jovial and affable was literally transfigured. . . . Fear, joy, sorrow, agony or grief …. I could follow the mysterious dialogue on [his] features. Now he protests, shakes his head in denial and waits for the reply. His all tired body was frozen in mute supplication….Suddenly great tears welled from his eyes, and his shoulders, shaken with sobs, seemed bowed beneath a crushing weight. . . . Between himself and Christ there was no distance”.