Foreward and Article 1
The Prayer Groups are a response, to the spiritual needs of our times, as perceived by Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
So much emphasis is placed on getting things done that we forget the soul behind the action – the prayer that is supposed to animate the soul. Padre Pio saw clearly and understood that all actions begin in the heart of the person. The heart understands and perceives more clearly when the person is in harmony with God, him/herself, and others. The Prayer Groups are a response to a world in need of “storm troopers” who storm heaven with prayer and march through life candidly viewing and changing oneself, confronting the seductions of a confused society, and boldly battling the influence of the evil one, with the weapons of Gospel Love and Christian Charity, nourished and strengthened through prayer and sacrifice.
Their purpose is to promote the spreading of the teaching of Christ, who repeatedly insisted on the necessity of Prayer.
Prayer is the instrument that makes our actions meaningful and effective. Prayer is the weapon that strengthens us in the battle against evil, by keeping us in harmony with God’s will and graces. True prayer, not just a multiplication of words or a mindless repetition of actions, corroborates faith, enkindles hope and concretizes our love for God and ability to witness over and above the natural and spiritual hurdles that may come our way. Prayer allows us to peer beyond the barriers that sometimes block the view to the ultimate success of our endeavors, spiritual or otherwise.
They are a response in obedience to repeated invitations to prayer issued by the Supreme Pontiffs and the Hierarchy, in accordance the tradition so admirably expressed by the Ecumenical Councils, especially by the Second Vatican Council.
It has always been the teaching of the Church, in accord with Jesus’ words in Scripture, that we are all called to be pray-ers, regardless of our vocation in life. While public prayer isregulatedby the Church, private prayer is as unique and diverse as the people who pray. The Prayer Groups are individuals who accept to be an expression of the Church at prayer, with all that follows. Thus, a format for the Prayer Groups to follow at their monthly gatherings and when they gather as a united body, makes the power of prayer more visible to others as an example and encouragement.
The Groups propose to follow the general principles of the Franciscan spirituality of Padre Pio – which includes:
Every form of prayer that is proposed by some one or group, expresses a charism (gift of the Spirit) that animated the life of that person or group. By accepting to follow a specific charism we are saying that the expression responds to my own personal desires and needs in prayer as I seek to emulate, honor and venerate the person in whose name I follow that given style of prayer. This does not eliminate other expressions, but it does expect that when following that given expression, we adhere to the form offered to create a greater spirit of unity. As a Capuchin, Padre Pio’s prayer was more contemplative and in harmony with the basic expressions of our Roman Catholic tradition, i.e. Eucharist, Rosary, Meditation and acts of charity, in a spirit of minority and detachment.
Total and unconditional adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church, guided by the Popes and Bishops.
We cannot expect to be true Spiritual Children of Padre Pio if we object to directives or even suggestions that come from the Church, whether universal (Rome) or local (Bishop, Pastors, Spiritual Directors).
Obedience to the Popes and Bishops whose representative, in each Group, is the Spiritual Director. This representative is a priest nominated by the Bishop.
The approval the Bishop gives for the Prayer Groups and Spiritual Director already expects the Group to act in accord with the representative of the Church. It is in turn expected that the representative of the Church, the Spiritual Director, accept this ministry as a personal commitment to guide the laity into a greater awareness of the spiritual journey and understanding of our Catholic Christian values.
Prayer with the Church, through the Church and in the Church. By this is meant an active participation in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church as an essential means of intimate union with God.
The Eucharist is emphasized over and over again. The Eucharist must be the central prayer of the Group. Active participation should be the rule and not the exception. When we enter the Mystery of Eucharist, fulfilling the roles that laity and religious are called to fulfill, the mystery we celebrate is enfleshed in our lives and we become a living Eucharist to one another. Is not this why so many were attracted to Padre Pio? They saw Christ come alive, not just in Padre Pio’s wounds, but in his demeanor, in all his actions. He lived the One Whom he offered. We are called to that as best we can with the help of God.The liturgy and sacraments are our way to enter a more intimate relationship with God in the Church with one another for the whole world.
A willingness to share in the sufferings of Christ, as an effective means of reparation, according to the teaching of St. Paul.
An effective witness to others is to practice what you preach. Pain is not something we seek or are happy to experience. But, when we accept with patience and resignation whatever cross we are asked to carry, for whateverreason, we manifest the strength of grace through prayer that transforms any moment into a grace-filled event. We become a sign of hope and encouragement to others; often we are put down but trustingly await God to lift us up. Padre Pio, even in his periods of darkness, was always a light to others, because of his love and trust in God.
Generosity and self-sacrifice in undertaking works of charity, especially for the suffering and needy, as a practical demonstration of the member’s love of God.
Prayer that makes us feel good, but is not concretized in our interaction with others eventually stagnates. We must open our hearts to the other in his/her need. Prayer, of its nature, leads to active love (concern and action) for my sister or brother, and this love, then, nourishes my prayer. This is a virtuous circle that is an essential of the Christian life.
Art.1 – THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PRAYER GROUPS is guided by the norms set out in these Statutes. The central administrative offices are housed in the “Home for the Relief of Suffering” (Work of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina) in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy.
The official title, the Statutes that guide and regulate the activities of the members, and the designated administrative center give integrity, credibility and stability in the Church to the Association.
This International Association of the Prayer Groups is subject to the Holy See.
THIS FACT IS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT IN THE ESTABLISHMENT AND FUNCTIONING OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PADRE PIO PRAYER GROUPS. WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THE ASSOCIATION IS DIRECTLY UNDER THE HOLY SEE (AND THUS THE HOLY FATHER).
THE HOLY FATHER’S REPRESENTATIVE (MONS. DOMENICO D”AMBROSIO) SPEAKS IN THE NAME OF THE CHURCH AND OUR HOLY FATHER.
FAITHFUL CHILDREN OF PADRE PIO, HIMSELF A FAITHFUL SON OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI WHO WANTED HIS FRIARS ALWAYS OBEDIENT TO THE GOSPEL AND THE HOLY FATHER, ACCEPT AND FOLLOW WHATEVER THE CHURCH PROPOSES.