“Pray, hope, and don’t worry” seems like a cheesy home decor slogan, but his life reveals the riches of this attitude of trust in God. He was a Capuchin friar who worked tirelessly for the salvation of souls. People flocked to him as they saw how his unique relationship with God was manifested in all sorts of spiritual gifts, from bilocation to reading souls. His feast day on September 23rd is an opportunity for each of us to experience his witness and intercession in our own lives.
Our diocese’s own Fr. Cristino Bouvette, who has loved St. Padre Pio since childhood, experienced his intercession in a crucial way. On June 16th, 2002, he was helping out with a contracting project. He was balancing on a sawhorse, holding a heavy garage door operator, when he took a wrong step that could have ended in calamity: “I was about to pull this very heavy operator down onto my head and land on concrete... I saw the whole thing happen before my eyes and I just said, ‘Padre Pio!’” The sawhorse fell forward instead of backward, and Fr. Cristino was unharmed. Since it was the day of Padre Pio’s canonization, Father always thought that maybe his beloved saint had given him a special blessing on that day. Apart from the lesson that one should not stand on a sawhorse, Fr. Cristino’s story teaches us how powerful and life-changing a simple, trusting prayer can be.
Padre Pio’s powerful intercession continues in Heaven. For the numerous intentions people would bring to him, Padre Pio prayed the Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is a prayer characterized by deep trust in Jesus’ promise that the Father will give us whatever we ask with faith. He called prayer “the key that opens the heart of God.” Many of his prayers were answered in miraculous ways. Some prayers were not answered in the exact way the hopeful pilgrims expected, but he asked his spiritual children to abandon themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and let Him take care of everything. He reminded people that God wants to give us many good things and that the best thing He wants to give us is the gift of Himself: “It seems that Jesus has no interest outside of sanctifying your soul.”
Rather than on things that pass away, Padre Pio’s prayer was set on eternity: “I feel powerfully the need for a true, sincere and intimate conversion to God... This is what I assiduously ask of Jesus: my conversion.” His radiant sanctity attests to the claim he made that "God has never refused me anything and indeed I must say He has given me more than I asked.” Nor did this saint refuse anything to God: he offered his life as a sacrifice in order to bring souls closer to Him. Fr. Cristino remarks, “I wish everyone knew that he was a saint not because of his stigmata but because he loved Jesus with his whole life. That’s why he was a saint.”
By embracing his relationship with God so completely, Padre Pio also embraced the Cross, including all the suffering that Jesus allowed for his purification. His daily choices had eternal consequences on countless souls, as do ours. Padre Pio has taught Fr. Cristino that “we need to be prepared to suffer for the Church... when we abandon ourselves to God, when we detach ourselves from our preferences, and give ourselves over to Him, we will live for the Church, we will become completely at her disposal, as He wants us. This gives us a lot of peace, this gives us a lot of hope, even when we are challenged.”
Padre Pio’s loving, interior assent to participation in the suffering and death of Jesus was exteriorly manifested in his Stigmata. These miraculous bodily wounds corresponded to those of Jesus. His relationship with Jesus strengthens our hope that daily intimacy with our Crucified Saviour will give way to a share in His victorious Resurrection, on earth and in Heaven. He gives practical advice: “Kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament... Speak to him with filial abandonment, give free rein to your heart, and give him complete freedom to work in you as he thinks best.”
Padre Pio’s glorious life testifies that God still works miracles. St. Padre Pio, pray for the most beautiful and important miracle we could desire, that each of us would become a saint.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers