Monthly Letter

Padre Pio Prayer Groups

National Office

St. Francis Renewal Center
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809
January 2007
Dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio,

The Lord give you His peace and blessings now and throughout the New Year!

The Church Year begins with the Season of Advent preparing us for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. The Scriptural Readings that begin the Season introduce us to this celebration with an awesome and sobering reflection on the signs leading to the end of time as we know it and the Second Coming of the Savior. It is as though God were saying what Peter reminds us of in his first letter to the Church: Be sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in the faith (1 Peter 5: 8-9). Reminding us of these words, the Church seems to say: “Be alert and in control of your senses so that the spirit of confusion does not catch you off guard. May you recognize the Lord Who is always near and thus be able to celebrate the commemoration of His entrance into our world with joy as we all prepare for our full entrance into eternity”.

The sober message of the first days of Advent does not last long enough. The glitz and hustle and bustle of the season conditions us to move more quickly, spend more senselessly, and tire ourselves more exhaustingly. The Prince of Peace, Whose birth should make us wonder in awe, be profoundly grateful and surrender to Him with selfless love, seems to be overshadowed by the externals of the season and the anticipation of the new calendar year. The message and joy of the season ends rather abruptly with the visit of the Magi and the beginning of the Ordinary Time of the Church Year. Jesus goes from child at Bethlehem to adult in the Jordan in two weeks.

The calendar year was established to calculate time and indicate the changing seasons. Many celebrate the beginning of the calendar year as a sign of hope that promises new opportunities. They strive to put the past behind them in a forgotten nirvana, and they attempt to forge ahead with renewed trust in great expectations to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, this hype usually falls short of its purpose very soon. Almost immediately after the first day of the year things begin to take on their usual character; we get back to our daily routine. We have heard people call the routine of life they have allowed to control them as a rat race - a running about here and there, concluding little of anything personally enriching, seeking those material gains so many are willing to strive for even at the cost of jeopardizing their inner peace, physical health, and sometimes even the lasting relationships that can no longer stand the stress and tension that such materialism and workaholism create.

We gallop like wild horses. We seem to be running in all directions at the same time. Our lives are hectic; our loved ones are put on hold for the success that will make life better; our minds are fixated on material gain and accolades. Our hearts race because our souls and our bodies can never seem to catch up to each other. Even God becomes a commodity we try to fit in when possible, excuse ourselves for not relating to because of more pressing issues, and generally treat with indifference until some tragedy occurs where God is needed. How can we ever expect to grow as the children of God we are if we fail to give God the first place in our lives!? How can we ever expect to know where our lives are really headed unless we take time to listen to God Who speaks to the depths of our souls!? How can we balance our lives and set clear and effective priorities? The answer is easy; it is God Himself Who tells us:

Be still, know I am God (Psalm 46: 10)

The interior life must be fostered and nurtured for us to live the words of the Psalm quoted above. When our soul - our inner self - is serene, focused, and thus courageous and decisive, our daily life is less tense and our responsibilities are fulfilled more easily and effectively. Contemplation of God’s Presence in all creation, especially in the silence of our hearts, leads to an awareness of Jesus’ mediation on our behalf and our redemption in His blood, and guides us to a selfless surrender to God in a life that becomes prayer. Thus we realize we are called to…

Be - The greatest gift that God has given us is the gift of the fruit of His eternal love - LIFE! Life is our journey through time. Life is the road we follow to come to eternity. Life is a sharing in the essence of God Himself, the Supreme Life-Giving Source of our being. When we accept this experience of life as the loving participation with God that it was intended to be, we can do nothing else but live in a joyful anticipation of entering more deeply into a relationship with the Author and Giver of the gift. But how can we ever penetrate this wonderful mystery with so much chaos around us unless we are …

Still - The Lord is telling us to let go, surrender, to die to ourselves. In the still and quiet of our heart and soul we make room for the Eternal One to be present and to speak. How can we ever expect to hear God Who speaks to us, if we are too busy about many things, or even so busy talking to Him, but not sharing with Him and listening to His words?! God respects and loves us too much to interrupt our activities or our devotional monologues. When we do not take time to breathe in the Spirit of God in silence, how can the Spirit of God lead us? The prophet Isaiah puts it so simply: I was ready to answer my people’s prayer, but they did not pray. I was ready for them to find me, but they did not even try. (Isaiah 60:1). A prayer of presence and an open and available heart is the greatest type of personal prayer we can offer. It allows God to do as God pleases rather than as we will, and what eventually happens, when we listen, is that we…

Know - Knowledge is power. Scripture uses the expression to know to indicate the depth of intimacy between individuals. The Book of Exodus speaks to us of God Who allows Moses, the leader of His People Israel, to know His Name. Knowledge of His Name allows Moses to lead with integrity substantiated by miracles, and thus a credibility that would lead the people for forty years through unimaginable difficulties. God reveals His Name to Moses, and Moses is awestruck with humble gratitude for having been singled out to know the name of God. I am - Moses asked: What should I say if they ask me Your Name? God said to Moses: “I Am” has sent you…This is my name forever… (Exodus 3: 13-15) God is telling us through Moses that when we have found Him in our lives, we can begin to realize that in God we live and move and have our being…because He is I Am, the Source and Ultimate Goal of our life . Through the calm and stillness of the moment, our knowledge of God and Who God is comes in keener and our heart sees clearly what our spiritual blindness impedes us from recognizing. We recognize, acknowledge, thank, praise, love…

God - Once we have placed ourselves in the stillness of the presence of God and have heard His Name, there is need for nothing more. God is! That fact will be enough to allow the stillness to deepen and our lives to be enriched. We will then see God in everything, at every moment, in every person. Every experience of our lives will be saturated, proportioned to the inner stillness of our hearts and souls, with a sense of the eternal that will radiate from us in all we do.

In a letter to Padre Agostino (June 20, 1915), Padre Pio writes: Let us always trust in God, dear Father, and may our lively faith and the comfort of Christian hope assist us in this…We must pray continually…We should turn our thoughts to heaven, our true homeland…and make every effort with the divine assistance to preserve at all times, amidst happy or sad events, the cheerful calm that becomes the true followers of the fair Nazarene. In another letter to Padre Agostino (July 10, 1917), Padre Pio writes: We should be on the alert for every slightest sign of agitation and as soon as we realize we have fallen into dejection we must turn to God with filial confidence and abandon ourselves completely to Him. All agitation on our part…can always be traced to egoism and self-love. The soul must be saddened by one thing alone, offending God, and even in this we must be very cautious. We must be sorry, it is true, for our failings, but with a calm sorrow while we continue to trust in the divine mercy.

As Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio, my sisters and brothers, we are Prayer Groups, “pray-ers”. As pray-ers we are dedicated to deepening our relationship with God and, through our loving surrender to God, with one another. We strive to strengthen our unity in the Spirit with the Father through the Son. We are supported and enhanced by our filial devotion to Mary and the loving intercession of our Heavenly Mother for us. We are God’s Family, the Church in pilgrimage through time; we are nourished, nurtured and become the Eucharist we receive that makes the Church as the Church continues to perpetuate that one act of Saving Love of Jesus on Calvary. Such greatness, such wonder and the effects that follow, can only be experienced when we say: Be still My Soul! The wonderful paradox that the world does not understand is that only through the stillness can we see clearly, understand more profoundly and act more surely in all that pertains to our daily lives. The confusion, heartache, violence, etc. in the world, and so often in our own individual lives, could be eradicated, or at least diminished considerably if we could only learn to…

Be Still, Know I am God

Let us encourage one another to become better pray-ers. Let us strive in this new year to find that peace within ourselves that Jesus came to bring. We will be able to encounter one another, and the entire world, with disarmed hearts only when, as Padre Pio writes to Padre Agostino in the letters quoted above, we believe, hope, trust, are cheerful, confident, calm, abandon ourselves in selfless surrender to God … through that stillness within that is of God. Live in me that I may live in you…and you will bear much fruit. (John 15, 1-5)

May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and Padre Pio watch over you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings,
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
National Coordinator