Friday, September 22, 2017

Saint September 23 : St. Pio of Pietrelcina - #PadrePio

Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, in the small farming town of Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. Although the Forgiones were poor in material goods, they were certainly rich in their faith life and in the love of God.
Even as a young boy, Francesco had already shown signs of extraordinary gifts of grace. At the age of five, he dedicated his life to God. From his early childhood, he showed a remarkable recollection of spirit and a love for the religious life. His mother described him as a quiet child who, from his earliest years, loved to go to church and to pray. As a young boy, he was able to see and communicate with, not only his guardian angel but also with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In his simplicity, Francesco assumed everyone had the same experiences. Once a woman who noticed his spiritual demeanor asked him, “When did you consecrate your life to God? Was it at your first Holy Communion?” and he answered, “Always, daughter, always.”
When Francesco was fifteen years old, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor in Morcone, Italy. He was admired by his fellow-students as well as by his Superiors for his exemplary behavior and his deep piety. One of the novices stated, “There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer.”
On August 10, 1910, at the age of twenty-three, Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood. The celebration of the Holy Mass was for Padre Pio, the center of his spirituality.  Due to the long pauses of contemplative silence into which he entered at various parts of the Holy Sacrifice, his Mass could sometimes last several hours.  Everything about him spoke of how intensely he was living the Passion of Christ. The parish priest in Pietrelcina called Padre Pio’s Mass, “an incomprehensible mystery.” When asked to shorten his Mass, Padre Pio replied, “God knows that I want to say Mass just like any other priest, but I cannot do it.”
His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety and one by one they began to come to him, seeking his counsel. For many, even a few moments in his presence, proved to be a life changing experience. As the years passed, pilgrims began to come to him by the thousands, from every corner of the world, drawn by the spiritual riches which flowed so freely from his extraordinary ministry. To his spiritual children he would say, “It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul.”
Padre Pio is understood above all else as a man of prayer. Before he was thirty years old he had already reached the summit of the spiritual life known as the “unitive way” of transforming union with God. He prayed almost continuously. His prayers were usually very simple. He loved to pray the Rosary and recommended it to others. To someone who asked him what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, his brief reply was, “My child, the Rosary.” He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, “We must empty Purgatory with our prayers.” Father Agostino Daniele, his confessor, director, and beloved friend said, “One admires in Padre Pio, his habitual union with God. When he speaks or is spoken to, we are aware that his heart and mind are not distracted from the thought and sentiment of God.”
Padre Pio suffered from poor health his entire life, once saying that his health had been declining from the time he was nine years old. After his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina and was separated from his religious community for more than five years due to his precarious health.  Although the cause of his prolonged and debilitating illnesses remained a mystery to his doctors, Padre Pio did not become discouraged. He offered all of his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, for the conversion of souls. He experienced many spiritual sufferings as well. “I am fully convinced that my illness is due to a special permission of God,” he said.
Shortly after his ordination, he wrote a letter to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto Nardella, in which he asked permission to offer his life as a victim for sinners. He wrote, “For a long time I have felt in myself a need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. This desire has been growing continually in my heart so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. . .It seems to me that Jesus wants this.” The marks of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appeared on Padre Pio’s body, on Friday, September 20, 1918, while he was praying before a crucifix and making his thanksgiving after Mass. He was thirty-one years old and became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. With resignation and serenity, he bore the painful wounds in his hands, feet, and side for fifty years.
In addition, God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man’s natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. When a friend once questioned him about these charisms, Padre Pio said, “You know, they are a mystery to me, too.” Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.
His day began at 2:30 a.m. when he would rise to begin his prayers and to make his preparation for Mass. He was able to carry on a busy apostolate with only a few hours of sleep each night and an amount of food that was so small (300-400 calories a day) that his fellow priests stated that it was not enough food even to keep a small child alive. Between Mass and confessions, his workday lasted 19 hours. He very rarely left the monastery and never took even a day’s vacation from his grueling schedule in 51 years. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He cautioned his spiritual children against watching television.
In his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, he lived the Franciscan spirit of poverty with detachment from self, from possessions, and from comforts. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity, and his behavior was modest in all situations and with all people. In his lifetime, Padre Pio reconciled thousands of men and women back to their faith.
The prayer groups that Padre Pio established have now spread throughout the world. He gave a new spirit to hospitals by founding one which he called “The Home for the Relief of Suffering.” He saw the image of Christ in the poor, the suffering, and the sick and gave himself particularly to them. He once said, “Bring God to all those who are sick. This will help them more than any other remedy.”
Serene and well prepared, he surrendered to Sister Death on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. He died as he had lived, with his Rosary in his hands. His last words were GesĂș, Maria – Jesus, Mary – which he repeated over and over until he breathed his last. He had often declared, “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.”
In 1971, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the superiors of the Capuchin order, said of Padre Pio, “What fame he had. How many followers from around the world. Why? Was it because he was a philosopher, a scholar, or because he had means at his disposal? No, it was because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering.”
In one of the largest liturgies in the Vatican’s history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio on June 16, 2002. During his homily, Pope John Paul recalled how, in 1947, as a young priest he journeyed from Poland to make his confession to Padre Pio. “Prayer and charity–this is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching,” the Pope said.
Drawing approximately eight million pilgrims each year, San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Pio lived and is now buried, is second only to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in its number of annual visitors.
St. Pio’s whole life might be summed up in the words of St. Paul to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.
Biography shared from

#PopeFrancis "loving Jesus Christ, adoring him and love him, especially in the poorest and abandoned" FULL TEXT + Video

Pope Francis on Friday addressed a meeting with national migration directors under the Council of European Bishops Conferences or CCEE.
 FULL TEXT Google Translation - will be replaced with Official Translation: 
Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you with joy at your meeting and thank the Cardinal President for the words to turn me on behalf of everyone. I want to thank you very much for your commitment in recent years to many migrant and refugee sisters and refugees who are knocking at Europe's doors in search of a safer place and a more worthy life. Faced with the massive, complex and varied migratory flows that have put in crisis the migration policies adopted so far and the instruments of protection enshrined in international conventions, the Church intends to remain faithful to its mission: that of "loving Jesus Christ, adoring it and love him, especially in the poorest and abandoned; Of course, migrants and refugees are certainly among them "(Message for the World Migrant and Refugee Day 2015: Lessons II, 2 [2014], 200).
 The motherly love of the Church towards these brothers and sisters demands to manifest itself concretely at all stages of migratory experience, from departure to journey, from arrival to return, so that all ecclesial local realities along the route are the protagonists of ' only mission, each according to their own possibilities. Recognizing and serving the Lord in these members of his "people on the go" is a responsibility that unites all particular Churches in profiting from a constant, coordinated and effective commitment. Dear brothers and sisters, I do not hide my concern in the face of signs of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia in different regions of Europe. They are often motivated by distrust and fear of each other, the other, the stranger. I am worried more and more the sad fact that our Catholic communities in Europe are not free from these defense and rejection reactions, justified by a not specified "moral duty" to preserve the original cultural and religious identity.
The Church has spread to all continents through the "migration" of missionaries who were convinced of the universality of the message of salvation of Jesus Christ, intended for men and women of all cultures. In the history of the Church there are no temptations of exclusivity and cultural encirclement, but the Holy Spirit has always helped us to overcome them, guaranteeing a constant openness to the other, considered as a concrete possibility of growth and enrichment.
The Spirit, I am sure, also helps us today to maintain a confident opening attitude, which allows us to overcome every barrier, to overcome each wall.
In my constant listening to the particular Churches in Europe, I felt a deep discomfort in the face of the massive arrival of migrants and refugees. Such discomfort must be acknowledged and understood in the light of a historic moment marked by the economic crisis, which left deep wounds. This discomfort has also been exacerbated by the scope and composition of migratory flows, the substantial inadequacy of host societies and often inadequate national and Community policies. But the discomfort is also indicative of the limits of the processes of European unification, of the obstacles with which to confront the concrete application of the universality of human rights, of the walls against which the integral humanism which is one of the most beautiful fruits of civilization European. And for Christians all this is to be interpreted, beyond laicist immanentism, in the logic of the centrality of the human person created by God, unique and unrepeatable.
From an exquisite ecclesiological perspective, the arrival of so many brothers and sisters in faith offers Churches in Europe a greater opportunity to fully realize their catholicity, a constituent element of the Church we confess every Sunday in the Creed. Moreover, in recent years, many particular Churches in Europe have been enriched by the presence of Catholic migrants who have brought their devotions and their liturgical and apostolic enthusiasm.
From a mischiological point of view, contemporary migratory flows constitute a new missionary "frontier", a privileged opportunity to announce Jesus Christ and his Gospel without moving from his own environment, to concretely testify the Christian faith in charity and in deep respect for other expressions religious. The meeting with migrants and refugees from other confessions and religions is a fertile ground for the development of a genuine and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
In my Message for the World Migrant and Refugee Day next year I highlighted how the pastoral response to contemporary migration challenges should be articulated around four verbs: welcome, protect, promote, integrate. The verb welcomes then translates into other verbs such as widening the legal and safe entry routes, offering a first adequate and decent accommodation and securing for everyone personal security and access to basic services. The verb to protect is specified in providing reliable and certified information before leaving, defending the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees irrespective of their migratory status and watch over the most vulnerable, which are children and girls. Promoting means essentially ensuring conditions for the integral human development of all, migrants and indigenous people. The integrating verb translates into opening intercultural encounters, encouraging mutual enrichment, and promoting active citizenship paths.
In the same Message I mentioned the importance of the Global Pact, which States have pledged to draft and approve by the end of 2018. The Migration and Refugee Section of the Office for Integrated Human Development has prepared 20 action points that Local churches are invited to use, supplement and deepen in their pastoral care. These points are based on "good practices" that characterize the Church's tangible response to the needs of migrants and refugees. The same points are useful for the dialogue that various ecclesiastical institutions may have with their governments in view of Global Pacts. I invite you, dear directors, to know these points and to promote them at your Bishops' Conferences.
The same points of action also conform to an articulated paradigm of the four verbs mentioned above, a paradigm that could serve as a measure of study or of verifying pastoral practices in local churches, in view of an up-to-date and enriching update. Communion in reflection and action is your strength, because when you are alone, obstacles seem much larger. Your voice is always timely and prophetic, and above all it is preceded by a coherent work and inspired by the principles of Christian doctrine..
Renewing my thanks for your great commitment in a complex and timely pastoral pastoral work, I assure you of my prayer. And you too, please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you. Google Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite Translator

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Friday September 22, 2017 - #Eucharist

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 447

Reading 11 TM 6:2C-12

Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.

Responsorial PsalmPS 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one's life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
"They will praise you for doing well for yourself,"
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

AlleluiaSEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.