Pray, hope, and don’t worry.
This Thursday, September 23, the Church remembers a most extraordinary saint, Pio of Pietrelcina, otherwise known as Padre Pio. Even as a child, Padre Pio had remarkable spiritual experiences; it is said he conversed regularly with his guardian angel, the Blessed Mother, and Jesus! There are many astounding miracles attributed to Padre Pio, including healings and prophecy. He was also able to read the souls of penitents who would come to him for confession. If they omitted a sin, he would remind them of it! Although he never left his monastery, San Giovanni Rotondo, through the spiritual gift of bilocation, he would frequently appear at the deathbed of his “spiritual children” with whom he corresponded. Most remarkable of all, he was the first priest to have borne the wounds of Christ in his hands, feet, and side -- the stigmata, as a sign of his profound union with Christ.
Even though Padre Pio is a relatively modern saint (born 1887, died 1968 ) we might find ourselves thinking that we cannot possibly have anything in common with this man and his mystical experiences. Despite his profound spiritual life, Padre Pio inhabited a world not altogether unlike our own. He lived through the Spanish flu epidemic, World War I and World War II. He experienced physical ailments and chronic pain. And he loved God and His people deeply. Despite hardships, he remained completely and utterly devoted to Christ and to serving God and His people in a way that demonstrated supernatural physical resilience and an unwavering faith.
So, I do believe we can connect with Padre Pio. We may not be able to bilocate, but we can sacrifice for our fellow man. I may not have the gift of healing, but I can offer the love of Christ to the students I encounter daily. Our teachers do not read souls, but they do see the hearts of their students and answer those needs. Inspired by Padre Pio, we can serve God and one another and be channels of Grace in the world.
He has also left behind a treasury of wisdom. He once said, “The world could survive more easily without the sun than it could without the Mass.” Truly the Mass is the source of light and hope here on campus. Watching over 200 students file into the gym to unite in worship of God is incredibly moving.
He also advises us according to the following words:
Don’t spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit and love God.
Don’t allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from working freely.
Love our Lady and make her loved. Always recite the Rosary and recite it as often as possible.
During challenging times, I often find myself reflecting on this, my favorite quote of Padre Pio, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
Worry is useless -- short words, and easy to say, but difficult to put into practice.
However, when I do follow this sage advice, I am amazed to step back and watch God work, placing roadblocks where he doesn’t want us to go, putting solutions in motion even before the problem has fully presented itself, and always drawing us closer to Him in all things.
We have much more in common with the saints than it might appear at first glance. They inspire us to greater holiness in this life, and will be our companions in the next.
Padre Pio, pray for us!
- Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean