Padre Pio Prayer Groups
St. Francis Renewal Center
Dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio,
There is no one so blind as the person who refuses to see. No truer words were ever spoken! God’s magnificent artistry in creation, marred and abused by his own creatures, is nonetheless an awesome image of our Creator. The power and gentleness, the quiet and rumblings, the vertiginously high and infinitesimally small tangible signs of God’s love and power surround us always. When we respond with our senses and recognize all that God has done, we are amazed at the beauty and power that surround us. Human technology, as capable and powerful as it can be, is only an infinitesimal image of the inimitable grandeur of our Loving God. Humanity makes use of God’s gifts quite well but often fails to recognize the Origin of the gift!
As wonderful as the senses are, and as powerfully as they can impact our very beings when we use them gratefully and wisely to assimilate the beauty and majesty and power of creation, there is still a more profound perception that is able to go far beyond anything we can tangibly experience with our senses. It is the ability to see where the eyes cannot penetrate, to know what the intellect can only imagine, to possess what one cannot yet hold. This may seem like some strange poetic jargon, but it is the best I can do to explain what I believe is a powerful incentive that urges us forward, often giving us courage in the midst of opposition or even persecution and death. This gift surpasses that of the senses, but still makes use of them. It allows us to live already what we hope one day to embrace fully. It leads us courageously through the most difficult areas of life with certitude of success. The ‘gift’ I speak of is the gift of ‘vision’; the ability to see with the heart, mind, and soul.
There is no one with clearer sight than the one who has ‘vision’. This person sees not only the exterior, but also understands the inner working of things and is able to ‘see’ beyond the moment, beyond the ‘visible’ into an area where all things are possible and, through faith and perseverance, are probable. Those who see the invisible can do the impossible. The ‘invisible’ is the view that comes from the heart. Faith is seeing with the heart. And it is the heart that helps us to rise above the merely earthly - good, bad, indifferent - and enter an area where all hopes are fulfilled.
The true prophets of our times do not speak of ‘Pollyanna’ and ‘pie-in-the-sky’. They are women and men who have met the Lord, heard His word, felt His presence in their lives, responded with total availability to His will, and now attempt to have others enter into a relationship with the One Who offers His love to all. Their ‘vision’ of His magnificent presence urges them to help others ‘see’ Him ever at our side and in our heart encouraging us to trust in Him and in ourselves as we move forward each day encountering Him in others until we enter His eternal embrace.
We become so tangled up in the mechanism of our fast-paced, materialistic, hedonistic, and often atheistic-in-practice society, that we see only the here and now. We get bogged down by the things that press us -many of them legitimate responsibilities - that we do not make time to accept the opportunities available and allow our heart to be rekindled in faith, hope, and love by peering beyond the veneer that covers the life of us all. It is a veneer that shines and protects what lies beneath. This veneer is a false security that keeps the soul from soaring into the heights of Providence that calls us ever forward and beyond.
If it were not for the ‘vision’ that so many of our sisters and brothers before us had, life itself would be rather backward and still in the ‘dark ages’. There is the ‘vision’ that refers to technology, science, medicine, politics, and so on. But what about the ‘vision’ that pertains to faith?! What about the ‘vision’ that helps us to live with our feet well grounded in the realities of our everyday duties, while keeping our heart in heaven?! What about the ‘vision’ that is so clear that I cannot help but follow the path it indicates for me to follow. Just think of the ‘vision’ many of our ancestors had in coming to this country that they saw as a land that fulfilled all their ‘visions’ (dreams). This does not mean that the path will be without obstacles, detours, collisions, and maybe at times even dead ends. What it does mean is that I am allowing the Spirit to guide me and teach me at every moment and through every experience I honestly and sincerely encounter as a gift of God’s Will for me.
Francis of Assisi had ‘vision’. He saw a world where people could live the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it was and is a Life that makes life worth living. His ‘vision’ offered the possibility for anyone to be detached from what possessed them and thus be more open to one another, and to all God’s creation. This ‘vision’ exhorts us to sing with the Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi: Praise be You, my Lord God, for … all I see and am. It is a ‘vision’ that helps us to ‘see’ beyond the limitations and prejudices that often barricade our steps and color our sight regarding others.
Mother Teresa had ‘vision’. She saw in every person challenged by social alienation or physical or mental infirmity the image of the Suffering Christ. Mother Teresa knew she could not assist the entire world, but she could effectively assist those whom she met each day. Regardless of religious, political, social affiliation or caste, she ministered with the eyes of the heart that saw Jesus in everyone and heaven’s door always open to them and her.
We know people in our own lives who have ‘vision’. Parents have ‘vision’ and ‘see’ with their hearts into the future to be able to accept the gift of children and prepare them for ‘tomorrow’. Teachers must have ‘vision’ to be able to believe in their own knowledge and see their pupils as the future leaders of society, who hopefully will surpass their own educators. Scientists in any field must have ‘vision’ to believe in what they do not see to be able to attempt to discover what is hidden and develop these new breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Priests and religious must have ‘vision’ to be able to see beyond the world in which they live as ‘pilgrims and strangers’ and offer an evangelical view of life to encourage, instruct, and lead those entrusted to their care. People the world over, without ‘vision’ would just allow themselves to be manipulated by others with no self respect or personal sense of dignity or purpose.
Our Spiritual Father and Guide, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, was a man whose visions throughout his life indicated and encouraged him to trust the road laid out for him. The occurrences were frequent and vivid. Little Francesco Forgione would one day, when he was already a professed friar, reveal that he never spoke about the visions he had because he thought everyone could see Jesus, Mary and the Angels, and speak with them. His visions of the Evil One would also be frighteningly vivid. These supernatural experiences, these ‘visions’ in the strict sense of the word, helped Padre Pio to form a ‘vision’ of his ministry as the image of the Crucified. His ‘vision’, taken up by others, opened their eyes and hearts to see and step beyond the obstructions that the glitz of a materialistic society, the threats and consequences of war and the clouds of another greater conflict, the insecurities of everyday life for the common people, as well as a need for all God’s children to get to know, love and serve God with a more childlike spirit, were, among other factors, the impetus that eventually gave birth to our Prayer Groups.
As Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, the Prayer Groups worldwide are visible extensions of the ‘vision’ of Padre Pio. The Eucharist we adore, celebrate, and become in the Spirit through Holy Communion is a ‘vision’ of the Lord Whom we ‘see’ beyond the doors of the Tabernacle and the species of Bread and Wine consecrated by the priest. The Rosary we recite in faith is a ‘vision’ of life lived through the eyes of Mary, through whom we seek to see Jesus in the various moments of our personal lives, as we remember and celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. The Meeting that follows with its spiritual reflection, common Faith Sharing and meeting of affairs is our search for ‘vision’ beyond the moment that urges us to bring the graces of the Eucharist and the blessings of prayer in, with, through, and to Mary to a world in need of an operative charity that effectively assists those in need.
May the ‘vision’ of every Catholic Christian who ‘sees’ a world renewed in Jesus, in Whose Blood we are redeemed, be the challenge we personally and collectively accept as Spiritual Children of Padre Pio. Let us deepen our awareness and love for the Eucharist, Our Blessed Mother’s almighty intercession and mediation for humanity, and our commitment to make visible the love we profess with our lips. A seed that remains in the earth is dead. Let us make sure the seeds of prayer and devotion blossom in our lives for, as Jesus says in the Gospel, by their fruits you shall know them. What greater gift could we offer in gratitude to Padre Pio for his influence in our lives in this fortieth anniversary of his entrance into eternity than living more committed lives to all he ‘visioned’ our Militia of Prayer to be for the Church and the world.
May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and Padre Pio look over each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.
Peace and Blessings