The palm of glory is reserved only for those who fight valiantly to the end. Therefore, let us begin our holy battle this year. God will help us and crown us with eternal triumph.2. We are by Divine Grace at the dawn of a new year. Since only God knows whether we will finish this year, we should spend it in reparation for the past, and in preparation for the future. Good works go hand in hand with good intentions.
3. Let us say to ourselves, with the full conviction of telling the truth, “My soul: begin today to do the good works which to date you have not done.” Let us be moved by the presence of God. “God sees me,” let us often say to ourselves, “and by my actions will He judge me.” Let us be sure the He will always see only goodness in us.
4. If you have time, do not wait for time. Let us not put off until tomorrow what we can do today. The graves are full of good intentions that never came to pass. Besides, what assurance do we have that we will be alive tomorrow? Let us listen to the voice of our conscience, as said the royal prophet: “Today, if you hear the voice of the Lord, do not turn a deaf ear.” Let us come forth and treasure the fleeting moment which alone is ours. Let us not waste time, from one moment to another, because the latter is not yet ours.
5. When you waste time, you disdain God’s gift – the present – which He, in His infinite goodness, relinquishes to your love and to your generosity.
6. “Let us begin today, my brothers, to do good because until now we have done nothing.” These words, which the Seraphic Father, St. Francis, In his humility, applied to himself, should be made ours at the beginning of the new year. We have lived thoughtlessly, as if the Eternal Judge were not going to call us to Him one day and ask us to account for our works, for how we have spent our time.
7. Love does not brook being delayed, and the Magi, immediately upon arrival, did everything in their power to make known Him, Who had conquered their hearts through an influx of grace. He filled them with the kind of charity which must overflow, because it cannot be contained in the small structure of the heart, and must therefore be communicated.
8. In your actions, seek neither the most nor the least merit, but rather the greatest honor and glory for God.
These “resolutions’ are taken from the booklet “Buona Giornata,” (Have a Good Day), which is a compilation of daily meditations and observations from St. Pio’s writings and comments, published by his Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo.
“… So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes!Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings,greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.
But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues,so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.
Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus,let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity. ”
We all have a guardian angel, to protect us and guide us.
St Padre Pio had a great devotion to his guardian angel, and he encouraged his “spiritual children” to do the same.
Father Alessio, (Padre Pio’s attendant), told Padre Pio about a woman who had just written with a question about her job. He was surprised at his response. “I am very busy right now,” Padre Pio replied. “I cannot answer your question at this time.”
Father Alessio was confused. It was obvious to him that Padre
Pio was not busy. He was sitting alone with his Rosary in his hand.
He always had his Rosary in hand. Father Alessio remained silent.
“There have been many guardian angels here today,” Padre Pio
explained to Father Alessio. “They were bringing me messages
from my spiritual children. Did you see them?”
One day, Father Alessio was sitting by Padre Pio’s side, thinking
about his problem with oversleeping. He felt ashamed of
himself for being so unreliable. He told Padre Pio that he could
not understand why his alarm clock failed to wake him up. “You
must buy yourself another alarm clock,” Padre Pio said. “I am
not going to continue to send my guardian angel to you each
day to wake you up!” It was then that Father Alessio realized for
the first time who had been knocking on his door and calling to
him in his sleep.
On one occasion, when a man was making his confession to
Padre Pio, it became apparent to him that Padre Pio was aware
of his needs, even before he had a chance to verbalize them.
“The angel told me about your problems,” Padre Pio explained.
About 20 years ago, I heard that you can ask your Guardian Angel his name and he will tell you, so I decided to do just that.
I prayed about it and then I asked my Guardian angel his name. As soon as I did that a name that I had never heard of before popped into my head, but I was not happy. I did not feel at peace and I could not remember the name and I felt that the name came too quickly.
A little while later, I decided to try again with exactly the same result. I was still just as disturbed as the first time.
I decided to pray some more and tried to place myself in a quiet state of mind again. I then again asked my Guardian Angel his name and then a surprising thing happened that I did not expect. I heard in my head a very quiet but clear voice which I would not have heard if there had been any noise and what I heard was “My name is Joshua”. I was at peace.
As a result of this experience I always address him as ‘Joshua’ rather than ‘Angel of God’. I feel I have a more personal relationship with him, but I tread carefully about what I can actually ask for – whether he can, or should help me, or whether it is out of place for me to ask. It’s as if I don’t want to take undue advantage or our wonderful friendship/ relationship.
Every morning I ask him to help me with my day – eg my driving during the day. He feels like a brother to me.
Editor’s comment: St Padre Pio explained to one of his spiritual children “… and this heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother.”
The centre of Spirituality at San Giovanni Rotundo and the new Church (5th July).
This is a beautiful place to stay. It is called “Centro di Spiritualita Pade Pio”. There is a Crucifix in every bedroom above the beds.
A beautiful statue of Our Lady welcomes us in the foyer. A picture of St. Michael is over the breakfast table.
A statue of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus is in the dining room. The chapel is dedicated to Padre Pio.
We went exploring as soon as we arrived (after we checked in). There were lots of aids for prayer and meditation for sale at the Padre Pio Spiritual Centre and we all stocked up. There is a giant cross at the front of the new centre.
Two of us stayed longer and continued exploring. We had to go up a lift to the new modern church at San Giovanni. On the way we passed a picture of Our Lady that seemed to be painted like an icon. We have never seen it before, but we all thought it was highly inappropriate for Our Lady.
When we got there, we stayed for Mass, even though we had already been at Lanciano in the morning.
The new church was very modern and not to our liking. I think the inside was meant to look like the vault of the heavens but there were no holy pictures, or statues, or Stations of the Cross on the walls. There was, however, a big cross at the side (in front) of the altar. But it was in the wrong place. You tended to look at the priest behind the altar, who was saying the Mass. It should have been behind the altar so you could see it at all times.
Instead, behind the altar was a huge glass wall covered with weird drawings.
They were blinds which had been printed. I won’t comment. Picture is attached.
The good news was that a majority of people received Holy Communion on the tongue.
On the other side of the altar was a huge construction which I think was the baptismal font. And at the back, beside the altar, was a lifesize statue of Padre Pio.
The Mass was okay except, once again, there were no kneelers, and people stood right throughout – from after the “Holy, holy, holy” to Holy Communion. They did not kneel, or even genuflect at the Consecration, and (as in many places nowadays), they did not ring bells at the Consecration.
Also, at the Nicene Creed, they did not genuflect at the appropriate time.
By this time it was late, so we returned for dinner.
Monday 6th July:
After a tour of Monte Sant Angelo in the morning, we headed off again to the new Padre Pio complex. This time we searched for the new place of his tomb.
To get to it, we had to go through the new church. We followed a long, winding corridor with (modern) paintings of his life and of St Francis. It led to a big room with a small altar. Behind the altar, St. Pio is laid out on a stone behind glass.
The room was ornate and extravagant and covered in gold (walls and ceilings).
We were told that it was meant to symbolize heaven. We left there after praying to Padre Pio and presenting our petitions.
The Old Church, and Friary.
We headed off looking for this. We didn’t really see a sign (or maybe we didn’t understand) that at the end of the huge complex there was a Pilgrim Information Centre. It was just around the corner.
First, we entered the old church where Padre Pio had spent most of his life saying Masses and hearing confessions. We prayed and touched our handkerchiefs to the altar rails which he must have touched thousands of times.
Then we moved to the church next door where he had said Mass for the last 8 years of his life. It was much bigger than the original church. The images behind the altar, I understand, had been done by Vatican artists.
We headed down the stairs to where his tomb had originally been; in the crypt of this church. This led on to a walk through the many rooms of the Friary which were a monument to Padre Pio and his life.
There were his vestments, chalices, ciboriums, altar book, hundreds of pictures of him. There were some cane chairs where he sat and talked to a fellow priest in his younger years (and a photo of this) and much, much more. The highlight was the cell where he lived and slept and where he died, and the Crucifix from which he received the stigmata.
We were reluctant to leave. This was a holy place. Thus was the REAL Padre Pio. It’s a shame they moved his body. This is where the spirit of Padre Pio lives on.
Mass in the Hotel Chapel:
Yesterday, there also arrived at our hotel, about 40 priests and their bishop. We saw them at dinner.
Today we (some of us) were just going to sleep in and have a late breakfast as we are all exhausted. But the good Lord had other plans.
2 of our group (early risers) decided to go to breakfast at 7am. In the lift there was an itinerary for the visiting priests. It included Mass in the chapel at 7.30 am.
Well, these 2 good people came back to tell us. We had 5 mins to get ready but we only had missed a couple of minutes of Mass. There were 4 of us from our group and 3 other men at Mass.
The Mass was being said by the Bishop. (We recognized him by his red skull cap).
What a privilege that our Divine Lord wanted us to attend this Mass!
Needless to say, we prayed especially for this bishop and his priests – that they would have courage to proclaim the Truth in the difficult times to come.
All the priests joined in with full voice the various hymns they sang during Mass. They were in Italian of course, so we couldn’t join in.
At the end of Mass, after the final blessing, they all turned to the image of our Blesssed Mother and sang “Salve Regina” – a traditional old Latin hymn that most Catholics know.
We all joined in with full voice. Thank you Jesus!!!
We are now ready for our last journey on a train back to Rome later today.
*This is the chapel at centre of Spirituality at San Giovanni Rotundo. – our hotel at Padre Pio. Yes, it is new and modern, but it is nice. All windows are stained glass of Padre Pio.