Monthly Letter
May 2004
Padre Pio Prayer Groups
Office of the National Director

St. Francis Renewal Center
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809

Dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio,

May the Lord give you His peace!

Here we are at the month of May. This is the month dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Redeemer and Our Blessed Mother. She is the "Woman" present in the heart of God from the beginning of our human history, as we read in the Book of Genesis. She is that privileged person who would offer her "yes" to the Father when asked if she would allow the Eternal Word to become flesh in her body for the sake of all humanity. She it is who would offer a mother's love at the foot of the cross as she saw Love Incarnate tragically dying as humanity's response to Love. She was the uniting strength and presence of the early Christian community as they awaited the coming of the Life-giving Breath, the Holy Spirit, Who would enable the frightened few to break out of the confines of an upper room and begin to spread the fire of God's Spirit throughout the world. She still continues, by the Father's loving design, to make God's will known to us through those extraordinary experiences of so many of our sisters and brothers who, especially in these last centuries, have been recipients of Mary's visits, messages and special graces.

Is it any wonder that Padre Pio should have a special love and veneration for so great a Woman? He saw her as his mother. She was in his heart and on his lips. After the Eucharist, his preferred prayer, and one that he promoted constantly, was the Rosary. When asked how many rosaries he prayed a day, on one occasion, he said that he had prayed 34 rosaries. To pray and to say can be very different. But when the heart and life is absorbed in God, every moment and every word and action are a prayer. No wonder he could do it!

The Rosary is like a garland of loving sighs. They are sighs from the heart that our lips express. They help us put the chaos of our social endeavors or burdens or sufferings aside for a while as we enter the depths of that repetitive refrain that reminds us of the greatest moment in human history when the Creator became one with His creatures. This refrain lovingly praises the person on whose response this great moment hinged and then explodes into praise and supplication to a mother's love for her children.

Padre Pio experienced the effective love of Mary in his life and was ever ready to offer her his own love as one who was called to be a living image of her Son at the highest moment of His redeeming ministry, the Crucifixion. Remember, there can be no Easter of joy without the total surrender and immolation of Golgotha. It is in the cross that we begin to understand the depth of God's love for us. It is on the cross that redeemed humanity once again sees heaven open for all God's children to enter. As Saint Paul writes to the Philippians: He emptied himself taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance. He humbled himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. But the cross was not the end. What seemed the tragic end of a difficult but brilliant ministry of only a few years, has changed even our calculation of time. The recent film, The Passion of the Christ, has made people give Jesus top billing once again. Whether there is depth to their feelings or not, Jesus is at least on the lips of both believers and un-believers. And Mary in all this is seen as the Woman whose heart feels with her Son all that He is going through, willingly accepts her impotence before the human powers that put Him there, and offers her heart with His to the Father in the name of all humanity. Sharing in this solemn moment, we lovingly call Mary, Co-redemptrix, a title misunderstood by some, that does not take away from the Divine Victim but only enhances the awareness of the power of God's grace working in the hearts of those who are open to Him.

My dear sisters and brothers, spiritual children and friends of Padre Pio, let us remember our Holy Founder's deep, childlike love for Mary. Let us not forget one of the basic expressions of our Prayer Groups as stated in the Statutes: the recitation of the Rosary of Our Lady. We often get wrapped up in so many other devotions. Some think that the mere multiplication of pious practices makes their prayers more worthy. Padre Pio expressed, and the Statutes outline well, what is expected of the spiritual children of Padre Pio who form the Prayer Groups. If we stay with the basics when we gather for our monthly prayers and meetings, we will celebrate the Eucharist (or spend time in adoration) more profitably and pray, rather than say, the Rosary with more awareness of the beauty of the message each bead is meant to convey.

Padre Pio was heard to call Mary by many titles, but the most beautiful was "Mother". This title speaks of her love for us, of our fellowship with each other, and our intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus told John from the Cross: Behold, your mother. And the Scriptures say: And from that time the disciple took her into his home. Let us take her more deeply into our heart. Let us call upon her with the same childlike confidence that Padre Pio had, especially in his moments of severe spiritual need. She is the Woman clothed with the sun whose reflective brilliance can give light to the clouded or darkened moments of our lives if we would just open the eyes of our heart to look at her and see the Mother whose loving embrace holds us tightly to her heart and leads us closer to Jesus her Son.

With every best wish for you as we quickly approach the summer season, I ask that you keep me and my ministry with the Prayer Groups in your prayers and sacrifices. Prayer should be a joy not a burden. Be faithful throughout the warmer months to the monthly gatherings. And may God bless you; Our Mother guide, guard and protect you; and Padre Pio watch over and strengthen all of his spiritual children in their desire and quest for holiness.

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
National Director