Once Padre Pio was asked if his wounds from his stigmata hurt him. Padre Pio responded, “Do you think the Lord gave them to me for decoration?”
When I heard Father Pio Mandato recount this story, I could not help but chuckle.
Father Pio Mandato was the celebrant and homilist at the Padre Pio Festival held at Saint Bede’s Church in Holland, PA. As a part of my “summer shrine tour” I went to the festival with scores of intentions for many in my Hail Mary notebook. I was excited to venerate the relics of such a holy, fascinating man.
Listening to someone preach about Padre Pio who is not only a dynamic speaker, but also knew this intriguing saint, was anything but disappointing.
In the past month or two, Padre Pio has somehow struck my intention in a number of ways. On the television, meeting his distant relative in Church and becoming friends with her, getting an inbox on Facebook Messenger from another Catholic blogger that said, “Padre Pio would like to speak with you.”; and the church that my husband and I were married in ten years ago hosted this first annual Padre Pio Festival.
All of this happened in less than 3 months.
I don’t really know why Padre Pio keeps popping up on my radar. But, I will tell you an extraordinary story Father Mandato told at the Healing Mass . . . and then what I read the next day.
Maybe there is a message for all of us.
Father Mandoto told all of us at the healing service about a man who had a son that was blind. The man and his son went to see Padre Pio.
When people went to see Padre Pio, they went to him for confession. So many people went to see him that there were very long lines, and at one point you had to register for a ticket. Some people would wait for over a week to see him.
This man and his blind son made the journey and got in line. His son went to confession to Padre Pio. When he came out, he was still blind. His father was sad. He asked his son, “didn’t you tell Padre Pio you are blind?” “Didn’t you ask him to heal you?” The son answered his father saying that when he saw Padre Pio, he was given the grace to see how to embrace his blindness for the sake of the kingdom.
Father Mandoto told one more story. He spoke of a woman who had a son that was “deaf and dumb”. The son could not hear and could not speak. The woman was a faithful Catholic, but her husband was an atheist. The woman pleaded with her husband over and over again asking him, please, let us take him to Padre Pio. Finally the husband said, “I will go, but I will not go inside the church”. When they arrived, the husband kept his word. He would not enter the church. The woman got in line for confession with her son. The son, like any child, could not wait patiently in line. He went out of line and played in the church. Padre Pio saw him and motioned for the child to come over to him. The child went.
Padre Pio said to him, “Go get your father and tell him to come in here”. The child went out to his father and said,”Padre Pio wants to see you”. The first words his son ever heard were the words of Padre Pio. The first words his son ever said were “Padre Pio wants to see you”. The father went in.
Father Mandoto asked . . . which was the greater miracle? The son that could not hear and speak, or the father or hardened heart was now softened?
I can’t help but think of Jesus and the Gospel.
The next night, I began Day 14 of the “Do-It-Yourself” Retreat 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. This day’s reading is focused on St. Maximillian Kolbe’s desire that Mary use him as her instrument to extend the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the love of the Heart of Jesus. Each reading ends with a simple prayer. The prayer that ended this reading was:
Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Prepare me to give all to the Immaculata for the sake of the kingdom.
I thought, there it is again. That phrase
For the sake of the kingdom
Maybe that is what I am called on to reflect upon at the end of each day. What did I do today . . . for the sake of the kingdom?
Maybe I should ask myself each morning . . .
What can I do today . . . for the sake of the kingdom?
What will I do today . . . for the sake of the kingdom?
I feel like we are very aware of what we do for the sake of our neighbor.
We, as a society, are very conscious of what we should do for the sake of our world. We may not always agree on what is the most loving way to act, but we are very intent on loving others and following the golden rule. Which is good. We should be very aware of our actions and thoughts and how they effect the people and world around us.
But isn’t it even more important to think about what we do for the sake of the kingdom? Are we not called to love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our souls?
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Maybe, if we focused more on the greatest and first commandment, we would be able to love one another more. Perhaps that is the lens that allows us to see love more clearly . . .