By Bob and Penny Lord
Morrilton, AR, U.S.A.
joseph at bobandpennylord com
Padre Pio and the Eucharist
Padre Pio was truly a servant of God. He had a lifelong love affair with Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. To him, the Eucharist was the center of all spiritual benefits. It was the life breath of the soul. We believe the Lord gave him an insight as to the power and the magnitude of the Eucharist,
from a very early age. As a young man, before he entered the priesthood,
he spent hours in the church, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
After his ordination, he took a long time for the Consecration of the Mass, to the point where parishioners complained about all the time he spent, in ecstasy, before the bread and wine as they became the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus. He had to control himself, to break out of his ecstasy, and force himself back to the Mass, at the orders of his superiors.
He began his preparations for Mass hours before the Mass began. He would constantly ask his fellow Friars what time it was. He always thought it was time to begin Mass, even though it might have been two hours early.
When it came to celebrating the Eucharist, he was like a young race-horse,
chomping at the bit, waiting impatiently to get out of the starting gate.
We read an eyewitness account in the Voice of Padre Pio, about Padre Pio and the celebration of the Mass.
"But as he started vesting for Mass, his body began to bend forward. As he slowly approached the altar, his body stooped over more and more as if he was being crushed under a heavy cross beam on his shoulders; his gait dragged, his face took on the sorrow of his Lord and Savior. As the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass unfolded, Padre Pio reached the pinnacle of suffering at the moment of Elevation of the Host in Consecration.
To quote a witness, `In his eyes I read the expression of a mother who assists at the agony of her son on the scaffold, who sees him expire and who, choked with suffering, silently receives the bloodless body in her arms, able only to give slight caresses.'
He cried during the Mass. It was not weeping so much as it was deep, involuntary sobbing. He cried from the depths of his soul. When he beat his breast during the Confiteor, it was as if he was accusing himself of all the sins committed by man."
Giant tears cascaded from his closed eyes onto his beard. He took everything that was happening during that time so seriously. "Padre Pio's Mass put him into the drama of Calvary. For him it was reliving daily the pain which had wounded him in soul and body that morning of 20 September 1918.
The Mass was his daily restigmatization."
Padre Pio and Mary
We can track Padre Pio's love and relationship with Mary, the Mother of God, back to age 5. It continued all his life. He mentioned at various times in his life that he received apparitions from Mary on a regular basis. He derived a great deal of his strength from these apparitions,
especially when he suffered the onslaught of demons, and grotesque monsters,
sent from hell to torture him.
We would like to share a few excerpts from a homily he preached on the Feast of the Assumption.
"We Catholics, who do homage to this most gentle and kind mother cannot do less than exult with joy on this holy day in memory of her greatest triumph, her Assumption into Heaven and Coronation as Queen of all the Angels and Saints....
After Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, Mary longed with an ever growing desire to be reunited with Him. And oh! with what ardent sighs and pitiful weeping did she supplicate Him to call her to Him. Without her divine Son, she was in a most painful exile....But finally the hour she so desired came, and she heard the voice of her desires calling her from above....
Now, who can adequately describe the triumphant entrance of Mary into Heaven?.. St. Anselm says that Our Savior wished to ascend into Heaven before His Mother so as not only to prepare a throne worthy of her but also so as to make her entrance more glorious and triumphant by being able to meet her Himself with all the Angels and Holy Souls of Paradise."
Very seldom was Padre Pio ever seen without the Rosary in his hand, beads slipping through his fingers, his lips moving silently, as he prayed the mysteries. He had such a special relationship with Mary. She was his Mother,
his Friend, and his Queen. Some of his writings about Mary projected his undying love for her.
"This most tender mother, in her great knowledge, mercy and goodness,
has desired to punish me in a very high way by pouring into my heart so many graces....."
"My poor little mother. How much she loves me. I realized it again at the beginning of this beautiful month. With how much care she accompanied me to the altar this morning! It seemed to me that she didn't have anything else to think of but me alone."
"The strength of Satan, who is fighting me, is terrible, but God be praised,
because He has put the problem of my health and a victorious outcome into the hands of our heavenly Mother. Protected and guided by such a tender Mother, I will keep on fighting as long as God wishes."
One of his followers wrote about Padre Pio and Mary, "When he spoke about his heavenly Mother, as he called her, he could hardly contain his emotion.
When he recited "the Visit" (prayer) to the Most Holy Mary, he often could not keep back the tears and the emotion in the tone of his voice. And sometimes he was seized by such violent sobbing that he could not continue the recitation of the prayer."
A normal reaction to this would be, that's a bit much, even for someone who professed that kind of love for Mary. But one thing we must keep in mind is that Padre Pio had the privilege of seeing Mary all his life.
That is a gift that is beyond our human comprehension. We have read the attempted verbalizations of those who have seen Mary. We have asked the question of Vicka, one of the visionaries in Medjugorje, "What is it like to be in the presence of Our Lady?" Her only reply was, "There are no words." Why wouldn't anyone be overcome with emotion, when an actual image of the most beautiful woman in the history of creation, comes before you every time you hear the name? I have often said I would get a heart attack and die if Mary ever appeared to me. That will give you just a teeny idea of what Padre Pio may have experienced with his Lady.
Padre Pio points to two helping hands for the world, that of the Church and that of the Blessed Mother.
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints. Read more about Saint Padre Pio at http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Padre_Pio.htm
Published in January 2010.
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