Monthly Letter

Padre Pio Prayer Groups

National Office

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

The Lord give you His peace!

Recently, our Holy Father issued a Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, concerning the Tridentine Mass in the revised form approved by Blessed John XXIII in 1962; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, with the approval of our Holy Father Benedict XVI. As could be expected, secular newspapers and reporters created a hype about things in which they are not qualified to speak. They speak from a totally secular point of view and more often than not with a sensationalism that seeks adherents rather than a professionalism that seeks to present the truth. Often phrases out of context or poll results from the man‑on‑the‑street are thrown out to the listening, viewing or reading audience to prove their point. They fail to quote in context the expressions they are reporting and ‘critiquing’, or better to say ‘criticizing’, and they fail to call qualified Church representatives to explain the issues in question. An operating method like this can only create an atmosphere of confusion. Issue-oriented presentation of disconnected facts leads to ‘lopsided’ criticism and even open irreverent ridicule of Church teachings and practices. Discussion and dialogue are always healthy when those involved candidly speak what they truly believe and listen respectfully and attentively to what is said.

Through the Eucharist - the abiding presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament as the Companion of our earthly pilgrimage - we unite ourselves to Jesus and are nourished with His Immaculate Flesh. Thus, it is through the Church, that guided and ruled by Him, we come alive by His grace and are nourished by His teaching. We cannot become more one with Christ in this life than by uniting ourselves to Him in the Eucharist, and we can have no greater assurance of living according to His Spirit, of being directed and taught by Him, than by uniting ourselves to the Gospel, Traditions and Magisterium of the Church.

Fidelity to Christ and His teachings is essential! Although the Church is made up of human beings, it is not a country club or parish association or philanthropic organization, or the like, subject to the majority vote for a more profitable outcome of its agendas. Lord, that I may be faultless in my way, by keeping to your words (Psalm 119, 9). Today’s society prizes what is relative, situational, convenient, politically correct, etc. This is surely not the road Our Savior took! He respected the dignity of every person, but would not back down on what He expected of anyone who wished to follow Him. He neither feared the ‘powers‑that‑be’ nor would He lessen His expectations of others.

What we need in our relationship with and within the Church is a spirit of wholesome humility, not ‘whimpishness’ but loving trust and obedience to those entrusted with the responsibility of feeding and tending the flock of Christ (cfr. John 21). Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18-3).We can be saved,…not without humility (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux). The greatest qualities and gifts, such as the spirit of penance or of poverty, virginity, the call to the apostolate, a life consecrated to God, even the priesthood, are sterile if they are not accompanied by sincere humility. The higher the place we occupy in the Savior’s vineyard…the deeper we need to plant the roots of humility.

The Roman Catholic Church has a blessed and marvelous, although flawed, history and tradition. Even from within the Church (clergy as well as laity), we encounter “verbage” regarding Church documents and statements that criticizes the appropriateness, theology, etc. of these pronouncements. ‘Conservative’ or ‘traditional’ (and we cannot equate the two necessarily), ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ (again here we cannot necessarily equate the two) are labels that have no real meaning when we speak of Christ’s Word; He is always “relevant” and His Truth and Way that leads to Life is one, understood in many ways, that ultimately is interpreted and proclaimed by the Church. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Church is the People of God on journey through history responding to the Spirit of God and life’s experiences in the light of God’s Will. The Church is the Custodian of Christ’s Truth received from Christ through the Apostles.

The Church, through those who have authority to govern and the responsibility to teach and sanctify, was entrusted with these charisms from the Apostles and Jesus Himself. The Church has the right, duty, and responsibility to regulate the life of the People of God according to God’s Will expressed in His Word and the Traditions and Magisterium. Theologians may dissect, investigate, discuss statements pronounced by the Holy Father and/or some Church Dicastery such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Those who view the Church only as a social entity and not as the Mystical Body of Christ called to lead all people to holiness and salvation, may criticize and/or judge the documents according to their concept of convenience, political correctness, timeliness, usefulness, etc. But we, as Roman Catholics, and especially as Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, are expected to accept the teachings and pronouncements of the Church with gratitude and obedience. The Spiritual Children of Padre Pio follow the example of our Father and Guide. We listen and read to be informed, and we pray and reflect on the pronouncements made by the Church, so that we can gratefully and humbly accept the gifts of faith offered us.

It was the Holy Father himself who explained that his Motu Proprio seeks to respect a tradition still loved and desired by many, but especially to seek reconciliation with the children of the Church who have distanced themselves from the rest of the family of the Church because of misunderstanding regarding the Rite in question. Was it not St. Paul himself who said that although he knew there was no sin in eating meat sacrificed to idols because the idols were nothing, still he would not eat meat at all if he thought that doing so would scandalize any of the believers? We must view things from the greater perspective - the perspective of God’s mercy, compassion and love.

Furthermore, in approving the document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the Church, nothing more was added to an already declared statement made by Vatican II and always held to be true. Whether the Church officially states it or not, the validity of the statement regarding the Church founded by Jesus Christ ‘subsisting’ in the Roman Catholic Church, cannot be denied without our denying what we have believed and taught…and died for…for two thousand years. Ecumenism does not expect basic essential elements of a religion to be denied for the sake of ‘friendship’. The Roman Catholic Church respects the diversity and Christian values found in other Christian churches, but to reduce to a common denominator for the sake of ‘friendship’ and expediency the truths of our faith would be a betrayal of all that we profess as the truth concerning Jesus Christ and the Father’s Will for humanity as found in His Word transmitted to us by the prophets of the Old and the Apostles of the New Covenant.

There was a very difficult period in Padre Pio’s life when obedience and humility played essential roles. The Church and the Capuchin Order believed it best that Padre Pio leave San Giovanni Rotondo for another town and friary. The people of San Giovanni Rotondo were up‑in‑arms and sought every way possible to keep Padre Pio from leaving. But he, ready to obey without delay, asked only to have a “little corner” reserved for him in San Giovanni, at least, after his death. I will always remember this generous people in my poor and constant prayers, imploring peace and prosperity for them, and as a sign of my special care, not able to do anything else, I express my desire, with the permission of my superiors, that my bones be placed in a tranquil little corner of this land (Letter of Padre Pio to Mayor F. Morcaldi, 12 August 1923).

While the people of San Giovanni rallied to impede his departure from their town, the following conversation took place: (Mayor) And you, Father, will you leave? (P.Pio) If this is the order, I can do nothing else but fulfill the will of my superiors. I am a son of obedience. (Mayor) You will leave your people? That same night, Padre Pio was called into his superior’s room to hear the words of the official letter of transfer. Padre Pio entered and said: Here I am at your orders, let’s leave immediately. When I am with my superior I am with God. The superior replied: Would you come with me immediately? It’s after midnight. Where would we go? Padre Pio replied: I don’t know. I will go with you when and where you wish. When he was accused of disobedience concerning his transfer from San Giovanni, Padre Pio fell to his knees and assured Peppino Orlando who had informed him of the accusation: Peppino, I swear to you on the Crucified Jesus on my table…if my superiors ordered me to throw myself out of the window, I would not dispute the order, I would execute it. Padre Pio’s attitude is one of total trust and obedience to the voice of the Church and his religious superiors. He does not dispute or even discuss an order the Church or his religious superiors have a right to make, even when it causes him great pain. Security, acceptance, affirmation, comfort, and all those other reasons that could have been brought to substantiate his need and right to remain, were never even mentioned. His response was trusting humility and loving obedience.

As Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, have we achieved this level of faith? Are we ready to accept the decisions of the Church, either directly from our Holy Father, or indirectly through those official statements and declarations that our Holy Father approves? Do we always think we have a better idea than the Church? Do we humbly ‘critique’ the Church externally, while really ‘criticizing’ Her right to teach and govern Her children? Are political correctness…or social relevance…or less emphasis on doctrine, dogma, tradition, Roman Catholic identity our positions? Do we compromise who we have been for millennia for the sake of a hypocritical ecumenism that patronizes our non‑Catholic Christian brothers and sisters and denies our own authenticity?! Yes, Padre Pio teaches us in his simple and straightforward way. He tells us to hear what the Church has to say…listen to the teaching offered…ponder the significance…and…gratefully accept and lovingly obey as a child of the Church. We are called to witness our unity, catholicity, holiness and apostolicity of faith, through our humble and loving obedience. What greater witness can we offer our sisters and brothers of other faith expressions than the integrity of our commitment to all we are as Roman Catholics!?

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

Peace and Blessings,

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