Padre Pio: A Closer Look

Over a number years I have visited the Blue Army Shrine in Washington, NJ and passed by the life size statue of St Padre Pio, the Capuchin monk who was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul 11 now St John Paul The Great. I stopped and looked but never felt any spiritual connection with this Franciscan who lived at the San Giovanni Monastery and had the stigmata, the wounds of Christ. For many years he was both maligned and revered by the Vatican, many Catholics and others. I believed he was authentic but paid little attention to him.

Then a few weeks ago I received a book, Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry, written by Diane Allen who included true stories of numerous people she interviewed who had experienced spiritual, physical, financial help and also many who received personal guidance in their relationships and vocational choices from this humble friar.

Miraculous incidents of bilocation, healings, conversions, etc. are included. The most impressive revelation in this book for me is his profound love of God and people. He was known for the gift of reading souls and the tremendous number of confessions he heard. He could be severe in some cases, but he meant it for the salvation of the person’s soul.

In the modern world where the tangible, scientific, and intellectual are valued most– purely things of human understanding– we can surely profit from the mystical, miraculous, and yet the truly human saint. Perhaps you might take a closer look at this Spiritual Father.

 

 

 

Sunrise:poem

I rushed to see the sunrise
As it appeared through barren branches
Each rising like prints on fingers
Its own alone
This one ushers in the first spring-like day
The night’s rain dampening the earth
Songs of unseen friends of flight surround me.
I may not see another sunrise
And for certain not one the same
The orb with glorious rays
I cannot bear to see directly
Still its light reveals itself in everything and everyone
I do not rush to leave
My place here in the sun.

April 5, 2017

 

 

 

Easter Sunday: Excerpt from Daybreak

I saw the place where we hid yesterday and then the tomb. The entrance was open, the specially made stone rolled to one side. There were no guards or mourners. I hesitated but could not resist entering. The slab was empty where a dead man should have been. Only the burial cloth with the costly scent of myrrh and aloe remained. An appealing fragrance filled the tomb. It felt sacred. In one corner on a small ledge, I noticed the face cloth folded neatly. The light from the entrance lit up the whole area. He had risen as He said!

Trembling I knelt on the stone floor uttering a prayer of gratitude. The Messiah had come. Born like every man, He died so men might live forever. He conquered death by dying and rising. Who could understand the mind of the Lord?

I left the tomb and walked outside into the light. Everything appeared more intense and vivid. Something made me look down and I saw a patch of tiny white flowers. They were the kind I’d picked for Sarai the night we met on the roof of my uncle’s home.

I had to tell my dearest relatives: Yeshua had risen! I had to tell everyone.

Have a most Blessed Easter!

Holy Saturday: from Daybreak

Jonathan and the Roman Centurion had witnessed the crucifixion and burial on Friday. They returned to Jonathan’s abode in Bethany early Saturday and after sleeping a while sat on his patio facing the Mount of Olives.

Columba and I comforted one another, conversing on the patio in the sunshine, partaking of wine and food. Our conversation was dominated by the events of the preceding day. We could think of nothing else. The image of Yeshua on the cross remained before me every moment. If not for Columba, the gloom I felt on this Sabbath, might have led to despair.

“I keep thinking of what the soldier said when we were in hiding behind the boulder. Do you think He will rise from the dead, Jon?” my friend asked.
“When He was on the cross, I hoped God would rescue Him. I am afraid to hope for His resurrection from the dead.”
“There is always hope my friend. He cured the beloved servant of Cletis. He raised Lazarus from the dead. I believe Him to be the Messiah. I am not a Jew, yet my hope rests in Him.”

Good Friday: from Daybreak

 

The executioners raised His body attached to the crossbeam by nails through His hands and wrists. They lifted the beam with Yeshua, securing it to the vertical piece. With His feet placed to one side, they nailed them together onto the upright beam. One of the soldiers used a ladder to nail the sign near the top of the cross which read The King of the Jews, written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Josephus, Columba, and I were staring up at Him. We could not look away.

Would Yeshua’s Father intervene? Something was happening. The sky grew even darker than it had been indicating an approaching storm. The soldiers were laughing and casting lots. One of them took Yeshua’s garment. He must have won it. Yeshua hung between the two thieves. Slowly we made our way closer.

The criminals on each side were taunting Him. The Pharisees challenged Him to come down from the cross if He was the Son of God. The ones who performed the crucifixion blasphemed Him obnoxiously. This had been going on for some time.

After a short-lived silence as the three suffered the pains of the inhumane execution, the Messiah said of those responsible for His suffering, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Holy Thursday: from Daybreak

Jonathan celebrated the Passover with his dearest friends. Then walked back through the streets of Bethesda to his abode as he felt his wife’s presence though she had died some years earlier. His patio faces the Mount of Olives where unknown to him Yeshua would be seized in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.

After the fourth cup of ritual wine was poured and blessed, Josephus read from Exodus:Then I will take you as my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the burdens of the Egyptians.” 

I joined my friends in singing the second half of the Hallal. I felt my wife’s presence, and it gave me a light heart. It was as if Sarai joined us and together with my friends, we were surrounded by the Divine Love of our God. I did not want the evening to end but finally departed from my friends leaving a night overflowing with prayer and comfort in celebration of the Seder.

The presence of my wife remained with me as I walked to my dwelling. Dark clouds had obscured any illumination from the moon and stars. The blackness of the night contrasted starkly with the warm light at the Passover supper. Thankfully, I had brought my lantern that shone just enough light for me to follow the streets to my dwelling. During the short walk, Sarai seemed present. Several times I reached out to hold her hand, but in vain.

When I came to the arbor of my outdoor area, something inside me refused to open the door. Once inside, I felt Sarai would leave and loneliness would overcome me. I sat down on a crate and placed the lantern on the stone table. Despite the wine and food I’d consumed, my mind seemed clear and alert.

I recounted times spent with her, from the first moment we were alone in my home when she dropped the pottery in the kitchen, and her attraction to me was revealed. Finally after some hours, I grew weary and rose to enter my dwelling.

Distant voices echoed through the Kidron Valley. Was it my imagination? I strained to hear them, but thought it might just be the wind. Entering the dwelling, I stumbled to my cot as the lantern ran out of oil. I fell into a deep sleep and awoke near dawn, but rolled over and fell asleep once more.

Wed. of holy Week: from Daybreak

“Sorry, we must leave,”Abraham said. “Marianne is returning to Bethany. She has been invited to the home of Simon the Leper for dinner tonight.”

“Yes, and I am anxious to attend because I believe Yeshua and some of His disciples will be among the guests,” she said. “Simon is no longer plagued with leprosy because Yeshua healed him some time ago.”

“Will you return for the Passover tomorrow evening, Marianne?” I asked.

“Abraham and his father will accompany me back to Jerusalem. We’ll observe the feast together with Adina, Ezra, and Josephus, and you also, Jonathan.”

“It is a blessed gift from God that I should be with all of you, my dearest friends, for this Holy Feast,” I said.

“We will bring news concerning the day the Messiah spent silent and absent from the Temple,” Abraham added.

In the evening I returned to my dwelling alone. Usually, my solitary life in this place had been a welcome respite from the life of a merchant, whose living wares were sold for their immolation. Tonight I felt lonely. I thought about the lambs that would be slaughtered tomorrow evening and about Yeshua and His death. How would He die? I knew I could not sleep yet and thought the night air might calm me.

Opening the door, I saw the clear sky and multitude of stars. A streak of light passed from above falling out of the heavens. In the stillness of the night I stood there looking up at a world I could not comprehend. Yeshua had come from such a world. He said He was the Son of God, yet He would soon die.