Padre Pio Prayer Groups
St. Francis Renewal Center
Dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio,
The Lord give us all the gift of His peace!
On the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood before them. ‘Peace be with you,’ He said. When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced. ‘Peace be with you,’ He said again. ‘As the Father has sent Me, so I send you’. Then He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.’ Paraclete, Pardon, and Peace are the three gifts of the Resurrection given to the Church. Those who accept them become the new creation born of water and the spirit of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus.
The Resurrection of Jesus filled the Apostles and first followers with a joy as well as a sense of confusion: joy at the Master’s renewed presence among them; confusion at what all this would mean for them and their relationship with Him and each other. Jesus’ first words after the Resurrection to the disciples in the Cenacle were Peace be with you. Jesus was encouraging them to be at peace in mind and heart, and among themselves. He was reminding them by His presence that I am the Way, the Truth and the Life - as though He were saying follow, hear, and become Me. Jesus was guiding His faithful and flawed followers into the life for which they had been preparing throughout His preaching ministry. They would now be His continued presence in the world; they would be animators and leaders of those who would hear His message through them. They would continue to make up in my body what is still needed in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body the Church. They would be His body continued through the centuries called to life each day in every child of God reborn in the Blood of Christ through Baptism. They would be the ‘midwives’ assisting the birth of the children of God. And Jesus reminds them all: Peace be with you … I have conquered the world … If you believe, you will do far greater things than (you have seen Me do) because I go to the Father … All you ask the Father in My Name He will give you … I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance …. So remember that it is not you who live but I Who live in you.
This life that the Resurrected Savior manifested to His disciples is that same life we are called to live. It is a birth in the Spirit that makes us a new creation. With every life it is as though God were once again saying ‘Let it be’, as He did at the beginning of time, as we read in the Book of Genesis. This too is a new beginning, a Re-Creation. Let the darkness of nothingness become the light of existence; let the myriads of atoms chaotically present become a defined body; let the inanimate mass be enlivened with the soul; let the soul of the creature be offered the possibility of sharing in the Holy Spirit of the Creator; let the life that is limited in time be granted a share in eternity - what an awesome gift! The Resurrection of Jesus opens our eyes and hearts to the life we are called to share far and beyond the limited experience we call ‘life’. The Resurrection of Jesus, for those who believe and accept the challenge to believe in Jesus, is a rebirth to a new life, a re-new-all of what we had been in mind and heart into the mind and heart of Jesus, a re-form of our lifestyles into the words and actions of Jesus. We become one, yet are all unique. It is Jesus who lives in, with, through … and for us.
Every person who comes into this world is a totally new creation of God’s infinite love. No two persons are ever exactly alike. What is common to us all is employed in myriads of nuances that determine the character of the person and the direction in life - and often for eternity - that person has taken. Every child born has: eyes to see, ears to hear, mouth to speak, hands to touch, feet to walk, mind to think , and heart to extend itself. However: On what do those eyes gaze? To what do those ears listen? What words emanate from the mouth as an expression of what the mind thinks and the heart desires? How and to whom do those hands reach out? Where do those feet go? What thoughts are harbored and fostered in the mind? and, Whom, what, and how does the heart love? We are that child who seeks to grow into a holiness and integrity that only God’s grace can produce. How can we accomplish this task? What does the Resurrection of Jesus say to us who are ‘Children of the Resurrection’ and an ‘Alleluia People’? The answers can be found throughout the Master’s words in the Gospels. Here are a few:
Blessed are your eyes and ears for they see and hear what you see and hear. There are many prophets and kings who desired the same but did not see and hear what you do. - Let us be attentive to God who speaks through the experiences of life, and let us seek to recognize the beauty of God’s creation around us.
You have heard it said …but I tell you… - Let us strive to obey God’s Word ‘without gloss’.
Say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when you mean ‘no’. Anything else is from the evil one. - Let us strive to be honest and transparent in all we do and with whomever we have any dealings.
If you did this (an act of kindness) to one of these least ones because he is of the Christ, blessed will you be… - Let us strive to be compassionate and caring towards all, regardless of differences that may be present.
I send you as sheep among wolves, bring nothing with you…and say peace… Jesus’ command to the disciples that are sent to bring good news and healing to Israel concretize the prophecy of Isaiah that says: Blessed are the feet of the one who brings peace. - Let us disarm our hearts toward all people, and seek good rather than focus on evil.
It is not what enters the person that makes him unclean but what comes out of the person that renders him so…and…Where your heart is that is where your treasure will also be. - Let us strive to be decent in our thoughts and desires, and strive for integrity of character that leads to credibility of life.
You will love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind and strength…And you must love your neighbor as you love yourself … and … There is no greater love than of the one who gives his life for a friend. - Let us strive to love in a total and trusting surrender to God, and offer a selfless response to the needs of others.
Although they had seen and touched Jesus alive after the Resurrection, the Apostles still could not totally grasp nor even believe what was happening. The experience was too much for them to comprehend, but the fact was facing them. It would take forty days and the impact of the Holy Spirit’s power to finally clear out the rubble still present in their minds and hearts. Good, sincere, holy people still needed more than the Resurrection of Jesus! Does it sound familiar?! We try our best and sincerely believe in Jesus, ‘but’…, and the ‘but’ is the problem. We don’t start with our belief, ‘but’ keep looking for more ‘signs’, more proofs, more assurances. Until we let go and let God enter with the power of His Spirit, the Paraclete, our Advocate - the first gift of the Resurrection - we can never hope to be the new creation Easter assures us we are.
In a letter to his spiritual daughter, Erminia Gargani (April 23, 1918), Padre Pio writes: Live tranquilly, always, as regards your spirit, because God reigns there … Always keep present this truly excellent lesson: this present life is given to us in order to acquire the eternal, and due to a lack of reflection, we base our affections on that which pertains to this world … In order to live happily while on pilgrimage (through this life) we must keep before our eyes the hope of arriving at our Homeland where we will stay for eternity … Because, given that it is God who calls us to Himself, He watches how we make our way to Him … He knows what we are, and He will extend His paternal hand to us while we are going through rough stretches … Do not anticipate the problems of this life with apprehension … Simply hold on tightly to the hand of His divine providence … because not only are you with Him, but you are in Him and He is within you …
What encouraging words Padre Pio offers to his spiritual child! These are words we should take for ourselves as well. The Resurrection of Jesus reminds us that our earthly life is the gift of the Father’s love that allows us to share in His own Divine Life. Particularly through Baptism and the Eucharist we become redeemed children of God in the Spirit nourished with the Body and Blood of Christ for a journey of unimaginable surprises and challenges. We have gazed upon the Crucified and heard His voice calling us to be sent as messengers of peace by disarming our hearts in love and opening our minds in understanding to others. The Resurrection was seen by no one, but the Resurrected Lord was seen by many. These became a new creation in Christ and transformed the world.
As Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, how much of our world have we transformed with the help of God’s grace? Are our devotional practices solely for our ‘pleasure’, or are we seeking to enter a deeper relationship with God that will call and send us as well? Do we hold tightly to the hand of divine providence enough to truly trust that God will be with us in all our endeavors in His Name? Have we become a new creation in Jesus? … And have others noticed a change - for the better - in our demeanor, character, actions? Do we live as those who believe in the Resurrection? Or, is it something we have accepted in faith, but rarely consider as the central reason for our being and daily life? The Easter event took place two thousand years ago, but it must be re-lived each day in our hearts and souls for the re-birth, re-new-all, re-form to truly happen. As Padre Pio writes: let us keep before our eyes the hope of arriving at our Homeland … and live accordingly as Children of the Resurrection and the Alleluia People we are!
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. May the Risen Savior fill your hearts and your homes with …
Peace and Blessings