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!
This year, the month of May is saturated with celebrations of basic beliefs of our faith: Incarnation brought to fulfillment and glorification in the Ascension, Trinity, Eucharist, Holy Spirit and the Church, Sacred Heart as the symbol of the eternal and all-embracing Love of God for us in Jesus. The Incarnation of the Word is the beginning of the crowning point of our human nature raised up by Jesus and glorified in His Ascension. The Coming of the Holy Spirit heralds the beginning of the Church and the Proclamation of the Gospel to all the world. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity celebrates God - The Father creates; the Son, Incarnate Word, redeems; and the Holy Spirit continues the action of sanctification down through the ages. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ acclaims the wonderful mystery of the continued presence and re-presentation of the Mystery of our Redemption when we were saved in the Blood of Christ. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated at the end of this month, while not a ‘dogma’ of faith, summarizes all the other fundamental Christian beliefs, inviting all to enter the pierced Heart of Jesus into the loving embrace of the Father. A happy coincidence this year has all these occurrences during the month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary, a gentle reminder of the eminent role that She plays in the mystery and history of our salvation.
With the passing of time, many ‘obvious’ remembrances are institutionalized so that we never forget. The further away we move in time from the actual events and persons we habitually celebrate, the more they can become a mere memory of the past rather than a living experience today. When we celebrate God and His saving action in and for humanity, the relevance and experience are always actual and timely. There can never be a time or occasion when God is not relevant or necessary. If God does not build the house, in vain do the laborers labor. If God does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.
It is this active presence of God that demands we return to our origins to re-discover the relevance of God’s Word and the impact His Word has on our daily life. If we could see the events of our Faith with the heart of those who had seen and walked with Jesus, things would be drastically different. Obviously, we cannot do this physically, but, with the eyes of a Faith convinced and committed, we can experience the same zeal and enthusiasm of the first followers. The Holy Spirit that descended on them is the same Holy Spirit that we receive at Baptism and Confirmation. The distinction is seen in the effects of the Spirit’s presence based on the availability of the person ‘gifted’ by the Holy Spirit. Our Faith, founded on the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Jesus, would be of no value had it not been for the empowering of the Spirit in those first followers whose availability to His prompting allowed themselves to be led by the Spirit of God that they might lead others. We are called to lead others to know, love and serve God in the Gospel Life proclaimed by Jesus. In the Spirit, we remember, we celebrate, and we believe Jesus to be the Incarnate Son of God and Redeemer of humanity. This Faith will bring us to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus, and consequently with one another, just as it did for the first followers.
The first and most excellent of all the faithful followers was Mary, our Blessed Mother. Faith accompanied Her into the divine plan that made Her Mother of the Christ, Mother of the Christian, Mother of the Church. The depth of Faith of the Mother of God, expressed so powerfully at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, was enhanced with the added ministry entrusted to Her by Her dying Son; He called Her to become the Mother of all the Faithful: Woman, behold Your son; Son, behold Your Mother. Infinitely less than Jesus and eminently greater than all of humanity, Mary makes the ultimate sacrifice in offering Her Son to the Father with the same availability to the Father’s Will with which She offered Her first ‘yes’ to become the Mother of the Savior. She becomes, in the words of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, the Virgin made Church. It is the Church that perpetuates the living presence of the Savior, especially in the great gift of the Eucharist, the living Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Savior. The Church continues, with Mary, to offer Her Son - our Brother, Lord, Savior, Word Incarnate - to the Father, in that one perfect Sacrifice perpetuated through the ages in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We are that Church! We, like Mary, offer ourselves each day in loving response to God’s tremendous love for us in Jesus.
We are that Mystical Body of Christ of Whom Mary is the Channel of Graces. Her ‘yes’ acceded to the Father’s Will and She became Mother of the Word Incarnate, Whose redeeming Passion-Death-Resurrection offers the limitless gifts of God’s graces to Humanity. Thus, through Mary we have easier access to Christ, and through Her we are facilitated in receiving immense graces and gifts from the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit. She truly is an Avenue of Graces, Whose almighty intercession pleads to the Father on behalf of Her children born from the open side of Her Son.
Mother of the Redeemer, She excels in the example of total surrender to God’s Will. Her Faith is an active and essential element of Her very being. Faith is not just a static acceptance of some theological truth; it is living life in the light of what we have come to believe. ‘Believing is seeing’, not vice versa as we are accustomed to presume. Believing God’s Word, we see God’s almighty power and providence at work in our lives, and thus we can confidently yield to all the Father requests of us. This same Faith places Mary in a position of total trust in God and profound love for all His children, now entrusted to Her motherly care by Jesus. She stands as the Advocate for all Her children before the Majesty of the Blessed Trinity. Truly She is, as St. Francis of Assisi acknowledged: Daughter and Servant of the Most High and Supreme King and of the Father in heaven, Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Her intimate relationship with the Triune God enables Her to be our most powerful Advocate in heaven.
Mary stands out as first among the followers of Jesus and one who precedes all others in Faith. The Marriage Feast at Cana signals the moment when the first followers of Jesus recognized His works and believed in Him. Mary precedes the Faith of those first disciples when She presents the embarrassing situation of the young newly-weds to Jesus. She knows in Faith that He can and will resolve the dilemma … Mary goes with the disciples to Capernaum and becomes an integral part of the newly-forming Faith community of disciples. She becomes the living link between Jesus and the disciples … Mary stands at the foot of the Cross offering Her Son to the Father. She consents with a mother’s love to all the Father is asking of Her Son, and also of Her. Mary believes beyond the torture and death of Her Son in the New Covenant He came to establish in His Blood for all humanity with the Father. Mary’s co-passion of a Mother’s love sharing in the suffering of Her Son, is the ultimate sign of the depth of Her love for all humanity … In these pivotal moments when challenges are presented to the followers and responses are made, it is interesting to note that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is present offering Her response rooted in a convinced and committed Faith - Lord, In all things ‘Yes’! Here I am, I come to do Your Will!
We can see how Our Blessed Mother is significantly and actively present throughout Salvation History. Mary is the virgin who will conceive and bear a Son … who will be called Emmanuel - God is with us (Isaiah 7: 10-14). Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, gave birth at Bethlehem, accompanied Jesus to the foot of the Cross, and is in the company of the Apostles and other women in the Cenacle (Acts 1: 14). Mary is the woman about to give birth,… She gave birth to a son … destined to rule all the nations … the ancient serpent, … pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child…the (serpent) became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus (cfr. Revelation 12: 1-18). A promise of God’s fulfilling Word in Isaiah and a warning of the struggles that will always ensue between good and evil should never leave us confused or fearful. It is Mary’s good counsel and advice, last recorded words of Our Lady in Scripture, that offer a way that cannot fail. These words reveal our Mother’s concern for Her children and Her own total trust in God: Do whatever He tells you. (cfr. John 2: 1-11). How much easier could it be!? Why do we make it so difficult!?
Present in prophecy, present in history, and present in the expectations of all God’s People, Mary is a life-giving presence that speaks of the power of God working in human history. Mary is a sign of hope for a waiting world. She reverses the obstinacy of creation in Eden and accepts wholeheartedly to cooperate with all the Father asks of Her. She becomes the Mother of all the Faithful Who enters into a New Covenant with the Father in the Blood of His Son, conceived in Her by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s loving response and daily re-commitment to that response encourages us to respond to the Father and to ask that Jesus come alive in our hearts through the same Holy Spirit working within us.
Padre Pio speaks of Our Lady in a letter to Padre Agostino (July 1, 1915): May the most holy Virgin obtain for us love of the Cross … May she who was the first to practice the Gospel in all its perfection before it was written, enable us and stimulate us to follow her example. We must make every effort, like many elect souls, to follow invariably this Blessed Mother, to walk close to her since there is no other path leading to life except the path followed by our Mother. Let us not refuse to take this path, we who want to reach our journey’s end. Let us invariably unite with this dear Mother. With her, close to Jesus, let us go …
As Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, let us take to heart his words to Padre Agostino. Let us strive to live the Faith we profess. Let us open our hearts to the Spirit we have received and listen to God Who speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. Let us foster an ever-growing love for our Heavenly Mother Who stands to intercede for us at every moment. Mary’s life was one continual ‘yes’ to God. The joys, sorrows, hardships, fortune, etc. were always gratefully received with the same ‘yes’ that allowed God to share life with us that we might be partakers of His eternal Life. As Padre Pio says: With Her, close to Jesus, let us go … and … Let us do the same!
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