|September 23, 2006
Memorial of St. Padre Pio
Old Calendar: St. Linus, pope and martyr; St. Thecla, virgin and martyr
Padre Pio was born in 1887 in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina. He joined the Capuchin Friars at the age of sixteen and was ordained a priest seven years later. For fifty years at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotundo he was a much sought after spiritual advisor, confessor, and intercessor whose life was devoted to the Eucharist and prayer. Yet despite such notoriety, he would often say, "I only want to be a poor friar who prays."
Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar today was the feast of St. Linus, the immediate successor of St. Peter in the government of the Church. He is mentioned after the apostles in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I). It was also the feast of St. Thecla, a virgin of Asia Minor in the early days of the Church. Her cultus, which is very ancient, goes back to the second century. She is considered the first woman martyr.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Born to a southern Italian farm family, the son of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, and joined the order at age 19. He suffered several health problems, and at one point his family thought he had tuberculosis. He was ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910.
While praying before a cross on September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the stigmata. He is the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was reportedly able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch.
In 1956 he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year.
Today there are over 400,000 members worldwide in prayer groups began by Padre Pio in the 1920's.
His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo. On the night of June 20, 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy's internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo's mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio's monastery, the child's condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: "Don't worry, you will soon be cured." The miracle was approved by the Congregation and Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2001.
Adapted from the Discount Catholic Store, Inc.
Things to Do:
Following the crucifixion of Peter, Linus, who had served as an assistant to the apostle, continued the leadership of the Church, for once the Christian faith had been firmly established in Rome, Peter and Paul had commended Linus to this responsibility. However, because the one-man episcopate had not yet emerged in Rome, we have no way of knowing exactly what duties were expected of Linus. In a letter directed to the Oriental churches, Linus told how Peter's body was taken from the cross by Marcellus, bathed in milk and wine, and embalmed with precious spices.
Linus, believed to be the son of Herculanus, was an Italian from the region of Tuscany. He has been identified by the early writer, Eusebius, as the same Linus who is mentioned by St. Paul in his letter of salutation from Rome to Timothy in Ephesus. His episcopate is said to have been approximately twelve years. A brief respite from persecution for the brethren is said to have existed at this time, for legend has it that Nero, in a frightening vision, was so chastised by Peter that he abandoned the wrath which he had once so fiercely set upon the Christians.
Much is unknown of Linus, to be sure, but it is said that he, at Peter's direction, decreed that all women would now cover their heads when entering a church. In the ancient canon of the Mass, his name is cited after those of Peter and Paul.
According to legend, Linus was martyred and buried on the Vatican Hill alongside his beloved Peter.
Excerpted from The Popes: A Papal History, J.V. Bartlett
Symbols: Triple cross; fleeing demons.
This child of St. Paul is honored by the Fathers of the Eastern Church as proto-martyr and "near apostle." Already during the second century legends concerning her were current and her grave was much visited by pilgrims. It is historically certain that she lived, but the Acts of her life are largely legendary. According to these she was born at Iconium, where she was converted to Christianity by the preaching of St. Paul. It is related that she was "accused of being a Christian by her own parents after she had refused to marry Thamiris, in order to give herself wholly to Christ. But the pyre enkindled for her burning was extinguished by a sudden downpour of rain as she threw herself into it, making the sign of the Cross. Then she fled to Antioch, where the ferocious beasts and bulls to which she was tied would do her no harm. Nor did she suffer injury during confinement in a snake pit. Because of these marvels many pagans accepted the faith. Thereafter Thecla returned to her native land, where she lived in solitude upon a hill. At the age of ninety she died a peaceful death."
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Symbols: Lion; tiger; two or more serpents; globe of fire; flaming fagots; Greek cross.
Things to Do:
Saturday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I have a profound need of prayer. I believe that you dwell in my soul. You invite me to trust and love you with all my heart. Enable me to open my heart completely to you.
Petition: Christ Jesus, help me to dwell in good soil where your word will bear abundant fruit.
1. Christ the Sower. God is never static. Never is there a moment when God is not working to bring me closer to himself. Christ is constantly sowing his word in my heart. Inspirations, lights, teachings, and the good examples I see in others are the Lords constant effort to bring me to bear fruits of holiness. The seed God places in my soul has the ability to grow on its own and over time bear much fruit. All I have to do is give it the space and room it needs to grow. Essentially, my spiritual life consists in learning how to cooperate with Gods seed: getting out of the way, and not impeding its growth by my pride or stubbornness.
2. Birds and Rocks. Christ reveals our inner workings to ourselves. He identifies the three types of obstacles we all face. The first is our hardness of heart -- our resistance to change. The Enemy of our souls takes great advantage of this form of attachment to keep us from ever progressing. Christs power is rendered null when I close my heart and become unwilling to change. The second obstacle is emotionalism and superficiality. I could confuse thinking that I am following Christ with seeking a spiritual high or merely taking a sedative for my troubled conscience. When this is the case, I follow Christ only as far as it is convenient because I dont really want to remove the rocks -- the real issues -- submerged in my life. As soon as Christ wants to supplant these rocks, I prefer to let the relationship wither away. There is no real love here, but rather the most refined type of selfishness. It would be better if the seed had never penetrated.
3. From Thorns to Good Soil. The third obstacle is one we would have never suspected. We might think of a worried and concerned person as one who is attending to duty and seeking to live up to the demands of life. However, Christ reveals that we often create our own problems and forge our own shackles. It gives us some strange sort of satisfaction. Perhaps we are too afraid of the freedom Christ gives us because it implies too much responsibility. We prefer to hide behind the too many things to do. We get caught up in the duties of life and never really dedicate ourselves to the life behind those duties. When Christ looks into my heart, he sees good soil and the potential for much fruit. The obstacles and dangers are within my power to control and mitigate.
Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank for your teaching. I ask you that you will help me be utterly sincere before you. I humbly accept the fact that my life is a gift. Help me to live it well and do great good for you.
Resolution: I will overcome any fear I feel in meeting Christs demands.