Monthly Letter
July 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,

The Lord give you His peace!

The Mystery of Christ's Passion-Death-Resurrection is once again presented for our reflection during the month of July, traditionally dedicated to the honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. That Blood, poured once for all to redeem humanity as was the blood of the spotless lambs poured out over and over again in ancient times for the People of Israel, urges our hearts to remember, celebrate and believe the Paschal Mystery that every person who bears the name of Christ is called to enter and live.

The whole person of Jesus, as the Christ, Incarnate Son of God, is pledged to the mission of redemption entrusted to Him by the Father. His total surrender to the Father's Will transforms the cross of hatred, into a sign of love, and the body of Christ dying in agony, into a sign of life. Somewhere I remember Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen saying that: The Cross without Christ is tyranny, and Christ without the Cross is a lie! We live in times that seek the easy way out; we want to sidetrack the Cross, and still have life make sense and be fulfilling. It just does not happen that way for people of faith!

World events alone, as well as events in our own neighborhoods and cities, all too often remind us of humanity's inhumanity to its own kind. Our lives tell us that no one is totally free from difficulties, sufferings, tragedies ... death. Only when we encounter Christ and see His glorified wounds with the eyes of our hearts, and touch the wounds of His hands, feet and side, the immortal signs of His selfless love for us, in the daily experiences of life, that the secret of the Paschal Mystery's life-giving grace becomes evident and effective for us.

The Cross was dominant throughout Padre Pio's entire life. He emphasized its importance to all his spiritual children and anyone else who sought his advice and direction. How could it be otherwise? Padre Pio was a living image of the Crucified for modern times. A sign of contradiction and confusion to a questioning and doubting world. This society seemed to "canonize" a certain "sacredness" of nature and human achievements that it saw in the triumphs of human technology and science, political manipulation and military conflicts, unbridled pleasures and libertine principles. The Creator of those who bore the talents and abilities being acknowledged and praised was relegated either to some vague place of honor to save face before a society that conveniently demands an image of the "religious", or eliminated altogether as being an obsolete expression of more devotional and conservative mentalities.

Just as the Savior's Blood flowed from the Cross as a sign of the totality of His Selfless Sacrifice, so also Padre Pio's own blood, emanating from the wounds he bore for fifty years, was a reminder of the totality of the selfless surrender he had made in response to the Father's invitation to share in the Mystery of His Son. He continues to intercede for a world he loved and for whom he suffered. He knew, as we do today, that this world searches for meaning, direction and true fulfillment of its deepest desires. Like the belligerent adolescent who finally becomes a conscientious young adult, today's society seems to be searching for those spiritual values that for so long were forgotten or ignored by many.

Life finds meaning in the Cross of Jesus. We realize that in the Father's eyes we are worth the death of His own Son. Through His death, we are offered unending Life. The Cross indicates the direction our lives should take. It points the way to the One Who calls us from the earth in which we live to the Life on high we have been promised, a life worth any sacrifice. There is an unimaginable sense of fulfillment for those who take on the challenge to die to themselves and their distorted egos each day and to allow God to be alive in us making life worth living and heaven a promise already being fulfilled each day.

The Precious Blood of Our Savior is a reminder of that life-giving element that flows mystically in the veins of all God's children through the Eucharist. The pierced Heart and Precious Blood of Jesus are two eminent reminders of the greatest Love the World has ever know. The Savior takes on a nature that will eventually betray His Love (the symbol of His Sacred Heart) and destroy His life (the symbol of His Precious Blood). To some these spiritual images may seem somewhat macabre reminders of death. For the Christian, they are signs of the Infinite Love expressed in the life of Jesus. Padre Pio shared in this Love throughout most of his own earthly journey.

Padre Pio's Way of the Cross was a responsibility entrusted to him by God for the sake of God's children. He saw it as a strength in battling whatever leads away from God, as a victory over the seductions of Satan and his minions, and as a personal response in love for a God Who lowered Himself to ask the cooperation of a creature in the salvation of creation. Even when the Church, to whom Padre Pio was always undyingly faithful, abruptly and seriously limited his ministry, and to some extent even darkened his name through the conjectures others were making because of the sanctions leveled against him, Padre Pio was at peace and totally resigned. He naturally suffered and felt the burden of being misunderstood and misjudged. But his total surrender to the Father's Will gave him the inner peace and resignation necessary to bear the Cross of Unknowing until it was lifted and his name and fame were exonerated for all the world to rejoice over; the world would begin a pilgrimage of grace that continues to this day. Though his body has died, the spirit of Padre Pio lives on and still calls thousands to drink from the spring of God's grace as it touches the hearts of those who seek the intercession and wisdom of the Stigmatist of the Gargano.

As spiritual children of our holy father, we want the graces that are his to overflow into our lives. He has already said that he wanted to wait at the doors of paradise after his purgatory was ended to make sure all his spiritual children entered heaven with him. As Moses with the seventy-two, Samuel with David, as Elijah with Elisha, ... as Jesus with the disciples and apostles, Padre Pio wants us all to be able to share in the God-given graces that flow from his spirit, his holiness, his God-given gifts. To share in them he offers us his example of total surrender to God and unquestionable trust in the Father's Will.

Have we, who pride ourselves on being called "Spiritual Children of Padre Pio", truly sought to follow his example? Have we reduced our initial enthusiasm as members of our Prayer Group to nothing more than a presence at a monthly social event? Or, have we accepted the challenge to see in our participation in the practices of our Prayer Group a statement we make for all to know that we want to live the Paschal Mystery of Christ, just as our father and founder Padre Pio sought to live it in his life? The honest response you give to these three questions will indicate the direction you are taking and if you might have to reconsider your response to Padre Pio's invitation to be his Spiritual Child.

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, intercede for us, Her children, and encourage us not to fear but to embrace the Cross of Her Son. This Cross is the Anchor of Salvation that gives stability to lives often caught up in the troublesome waters of the sea of life.

As always, I ask that you please keep me in your prayers. I pray that God bless all of you, Our Lady protect you and Padre Pio look upon all of you, his Spiritual Children and Friends, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings,

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