Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

“God,who wishes to dwell in us,can always be evicted by a single word of dismissal.And so it is important to consider the way to respond to God’s invitation —-which we cannot prevent,but can cut short.The first necessity of our cooperation with God is the consciousness that he who is present;the will to know him causes our recognition of his presence.If we lack this readiness to know him,we are like those who smell and perceive no fragrance,taste and know no sweetness,touch and enjoy no ecstasy.

~Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen~

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor”.

~Luke 4:18~

“Let us pray to the Lord that He may never permit us to shut the ears of our heart to His voice that he is speaking to us today”.

~St.Padre Pio~

“Then Mary said,”Here am I,the servant of the Lord;let it be with me according to your word”

~Luke 1:38~

“Jesus,Friend of a lonely heart,You are my haven,You are my peace….You are everything to a lonely soul.You understand the soul even though it remains silent.You know our weaknesses,and like a good physician,You comfort and heal,sparing us sufferings —expert that you are”

~Prayer of St.Faustina

“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:a spirit of wisdom and of understanding.A spirit of counsel and of strength,a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord,and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.Not by appearance shall he judge,nor by hearsay shall he decide,But he shall judge the poor with justice,and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted”

~Isaiah 11:2-4~

Dear God, if there is anything I know about you, it is that you are love. You never cease to surround us with love—love that is eternal, gentle, faithful, and true. You ask only that we love you in return. Because this is beyond the limits of our human hearts, you have given us your beloved Son to love you for us. With Christ, I can say that I love you. Let me sing it with my whole being! Amen.

Ask God today to let you see how you fail to love someone with whom you are in daily contact. Ask for the grace to learn to love that person.

Padre Pio Pio’s Final Gesture of Love

Just four days before his death, Padre Pio expressed his devotion to Mary in one of his final gestures of love.

A man brought Padre Pio a beautiful bouquet of red roses for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his stigmata. Padre Pio took one of the roses out of the bouquet and asked one of his spiritual sons who was going to Pompeii if he would take it to the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The man promised that he would take it there the very next day.

When the man arrived in Pompeii, he told a nun who served at the shrine that the rose had been sent by Padre Pio, who asked that it be placed before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. Very pleased to receive the rose,the nun put it in a vase with other roses and placed it before the image of the Virgin Mary. On September 23, the day that Padre Pio passed away, the nun noticed that all the other roses in the vase had withered but the one that Padre Pio had sent was still fresh and beautiful. The news of Padre Pio’s unfading rose reached the local bishop who decided to put it on display in a special glass container. Padre Alberto D’Apolito heard about the rose and wanted to see it. He took a number of Third Order Franciscans from San Giovanni Rotondo on pilgrimage to the shrine in Pompeii. They saw the rose that Padre Pio had sent to Our Lady of Pompeii and although the stem was slightly yellow in color, the rose was still fresh and intact. Their visit to see the rose occurred one year after Padre Pio’s death.

Cleonice Morcaldi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, spoke to Padre Pio just a few days before his death. “Father, please give me at least one word,” Cleonice said to him. He answered, “Love the Madonna and make her loved. Always recite her Rosary. That is the armor against the evils of the world today.” “Is the Madonna close to you?” Cleonice asked. “A Mother,” Padre Pio replied. “All of Paradise is near her.” Padre Pio’s love for Our Lady and for her Rosary supported and sustained him throughout his earthly pilgrimage. Father Domenico Mondrone spoke of Padre Pio’s love for Mary and said: The Rosary was the most beautiful and longest sermon in honor of her, because it lasted the whole of his life. He spoke with the Rosary which he was seen to clutch always in his fingers, the Rosary he clutched in those last instants, almost as though it were the supreme link between the earth he was about to leave and the heavens which opened before him. Padre Pio passed into eternal life very peacefully, very well prepared. He died with his Rosary in his hand. His last words were -Jesus, Mary.

May Jesus always be the pilot of the little boat of your spirit. May Mary be the star which lights the path for you and shows you the surest way to reach the Heavenly Father. –St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Padre Pio left this life in September of 1968; but the mysterious fruitfulness of his long life as a priest and religious, son of St. Francis of Assisi, still continues to act, we may say, with visible crescendo, and in particular in two works that are typically his because they were born of his great heart, open to the love of God and to the brethren -the Prayer Groups and the Home for the Relief of Suffering. –St.Pope John Paul II

~Excerpt from “Pray Hope and Don’t Worry” by Diane Allen~

St.Padre Pio and the Our Lady of Fatima pilgrim statue

It has been told that Padre Pio prayed daily to a pictured shrine of Our Lady of Fatima within his San Giovanni Rotundo monastery. In 1959 a Pilgrim Virgin Fatima statue visited Italy. At the same time of this visit, Padre Pio became seriously ill and was diagnosed with a fatal cancerous tumor.

On August 6, 1959 the statue arrived at San Giovanni Rotundo. Padre Pio prayed before the statue and kissed Her feet. After the statue left the monastery by helicopter, Padre Pio said, “ Oh Mother of mine, when you came to Italy you found me sick. You came to visit me here and I was suffering and now you have not delivered my from my illness.”

As Padre Pio pleaded his prayer a miracle occurred. The helicopter flying high above the monastery with the statue circled the building three times. The pilot would later say that he could not explain why. At the same instant that the helicopter circled, Padre Pio felt a shudder immediately run through him. His body was penetrated with a ray of light and he felt the tumor gone.

Padre Pio cried out, ”I am healed. Our Lady of Fatima has healed me. “ Padre Pio later wrote,” Thank the Virgin of Fatima for me. On the very day She left here, I felt well again. “ Three days later, he was celebrating Mass.

St.Padre Pio on Reverance in Church

“The Divine Master calls the church the house of prayer. In order to avoid irreverence and imperfections I exhort you in the Lord to:

Enter the church in silence and with great respect. Take the holy water and make the sign of the cross carefully and slowly. Before God in the Blessed Sacrament genuflect devoutly. At your pace, kneel down and render to Jesus the tribute of you presence. Confide to him all your needs, and those of others. Speak to him with filial abandonment. Be very composed when standing up, kneeling down, and sitting. Carry out every religious act with the greatest devotion. Be modest in your glance. Don’t turn you head here and there to see who enters and leaves. Don’t laugh. Don’t speak to anybody, except when requested for charity or other strict necessity. Say the words distinctly, observe the pauses, and never hurry. Behave in such a way that all the presents are edified by you. Don’t leave without asking Jesus for his blessing, and forgiveness for your shortcomings. Leave the church recollected and calm.”

The Danger of Gossiping About Our Neighbor And Its Consequences To Those Who Engage In This Conduct 

In the early days of Padre Pio’s ministry, a person once asked Padre Pio to come and bless their family home. Padre Pio agreed to do so. He got as far as the kitchen before he stopped. “I cannot go any farther,” he said, and he turned around and walked back out of the house. “The family who lives there spreads rumors,” he explained to his companion. “We can have no dealings with them.” Padre Pio knew of a priest who used to visit the family. He warned the priest and said, “I would advise you not to go to that home any more. The people who live there spread lies and rumors about others.” On another occasion Padre Pio said, “When you spread rumors about someone, it means you have removed that person from your heart. When you take someone from your heart, Jesus also leaves with them.”

The Extraordinary Perfume of St.Padre Pio 

An engineer from Milan once experienced the charismatic gift of Padre Pio’s fragrance and described it as a sweet smelling perfume.The engineer had a very good friend who was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons.He often invited the engineer to accompany him to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio.The engineer always declined the invitation.He had no interest in anything connected with religion and was living a very worldly life at the time.

The engineer’s friend spoke to him from his heart one day and said,”I have been praying for you and I have also asked Padre Pio to pray for you.”He then gave the engineer at small photograph of Padre Pio.Although he did not want to accept it,he took the photo and put it in his pocket in order to please his friend.A few days later,the engineer noticed an odor which surrounded him and followed him wherever he went.It had the unpleasant smell of something that was burning.”I cannot understand what this odor is,” the engineer said to himself.”I don’t know what to make of it.”Suddenly a voice spoke within his heart and said to him,”It is your extremely bad life!”

The experience was a true wake up call for the engineer and he began to think about the wretched state of his soul.He had the desire to see Padre Pio and make his confession to him.He decided to go to San Giovanni Rotondo at once.His confession of his sins and the absolution he received from Padre Pio were the beginning of a brand new life for him.It marked his return to the church after a 26 year absence.

The perfume associated with Padre Pio have been experienced not only by adults but by children as well.On one ocassion,Mrs.Mario Pasqualini wrote a letter to Padre Pio thanking him for the healing of her six year old daughter.Her daughter,who always suffered from a weak constitution,suddenly became very ill.Her temperature climbed to 104 degrees.Several of Padre Pio’s spiritual children who were visiting the Pasqualini family st the time,suggested they all join in prayer to Padre Pio for the little girl’s behalf.Almost immeadiately,the girl opened her eyes and remarked that she noticed a very sweet fragrance in the room.She told her mother that it reminded her of the incense she used at their parish on special feast days.At once,her fever broke.When the doctor arrived,she was completely well.

Gennaro Cascavilla was the vice rector of the Third Order of St.Francis in San Giovanni Rotondo.Once when he was at the monastery,he saw a seminarian and inquired whether he knew which cell belonged to Padre Pio.The seminarian took him to Padre Pio’s cell.

Hoping to get a small glimpse of the inside of the cell,Genarro looked through the keyhole.At once,he was struck by a breeze that emitted a wonderful perfume.Gennaro experienced a joy that was so great that he did not want to leave.He wanted to remain in front of Padre Pio’s cell door for as long as he possibly could.He called several people over who were nearby and each one said they also experienced the wonderful fragrance.Genarro paused briefly before each one of the other cells in the monastery but perceived no fragrance.

On certain ocassions when Padre Pio celebrated mass the church would become filled with the distinct and acteristic  perfume.Brother Modestino,who knew Padre Pio for many years,recalled:”In the morning I presented myself in the sacristy to serve Padre Pio’s mass but there were already some others who were disputing over this privilege.Padre Pio interrupted this subdued shouting by saying,He alone will serve Mass,indicating me.Not another word was said.I accompanied Padre Pio to the altar of St.Francis and,the little gate being closed,he began to say Mass completely recollected.At the “Sanctus” I had an unexpected desire to smell again that indescribable scent that I had already experienced many times when kissing Padre Pio’s hand.The wish was immeadiately granted.A cloud of scent enveloped me.It kept on increasing until I could hardly breathe.I gripped the balustrade so as not to fall.I was about to faint and mentally I asked the Padre to prevent me from making a fool of myself in front of the people.At that precise moment,the scent disappeared.That evening as I accompanied Padre Pio to his cell,I asked him for an explanation of the phenomenon.He said to me,My Son,it is not I.It is the Lord who acts.He allows it to be smelled when and by whom He wishes.It all happens as and how He wishes.”

~Source:”Pray,Hope and Don’t Worry by Diane Allen”

St.Padre Pio’s Visits From The Souls In Purgatory 

“I know when you pray for me, and it is the same with all of the other souls here in Purgatory. Very few of us here get any prayers; the majority of us are totally abandoned, with no thought or prayers offered for us from those on earth” (Message from a soul in Purgatory)

In May, 1922, Padre Pio testified the following to the Bishop of Melfi, His Excellency Alberto Costa and also the superior of the friary, Padre Lorenzo of San Marco along with 5 other friars. One of the five friars, Fra Alberto D’ Apolito of San Giovanni Rotondo wrote down the account as follows:

“While in the friary on a winter afternoon after a heavy snowfall, he was sitting by the fireplace one evening in the guest room, absorbed in prayer, when an old man, wearing an old-fashioned cloak still worn by southern Italian peasants at the time, sat down beside him. Concerning this man Pio states: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I questioned him: ‘Who are you? What do you want?’

The old man told him, “Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola, nicknamed Precoco.” He went on to say, “I died in this friary on the 18th of September, 1908, in cell number 4, when it was still a poorhouse. One night, while in bed, I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help.”

According to Padre Pio: “After listening to him, I replied, ‘Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.’ I arose and accompanied him to the door of the friary, so that he could leave. I did not realize at that moment that the door was closed and locked: I opened it and bade him farewell The moon lit up the square, covered with snow. When I no longer saw him in front of me, I was taken by a sense of fear, and I closed the door, reentered the guest room, and felt faint.”

A few days later, Padre Pio also told the story to Padre Paolino, and the two decided to go to the town hall, where they looked at the vital statistics for the year I908 and found that on September 18 of that year, one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless.

Around the same time, Padre Pio told Fra Alberto of another apparition of a soul from Purgatory which also occurred around the same time. He said:

One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, “Who is it?”

No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, “What are you doing in the dark?” The little friar answered, “I am cleaning.”

“You clean in the dark?” I asked. “Who are you?”

The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared,”

Padre Pio stated that he immediately began praying for him as requested, and it is not known if he had any further dealings with this particular soul. However, in regards souls in Purgatory it is very interesting to note that later in life Padre Pio once said that ‘As many souls of the dead come up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.” Without a doubt, many souls from Purgatory visited Padre Pio seeking his prayers, sacrifices and sufferings to obtain their release.

The Miraculous Cure of Paolo Nigro~A Testimony to Padre Pio 

“If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more” -The miraculous cure of Paolo Nigro.

Paolo Nigro received a degree in Humanities in 1936 and took a second degree in Philosophy in 1940. He considered himself an atheist and his Philosophy thesis was a denial of the existence of God. He later taught in high school, all the while maintaining his ideas. His wife how­ever was strong in her faith. Because she was an orphan, she had been brought up and educated in a convent run by Car­melite nuns and she had stayed there until she was twenty-two. Together they made their home in Taranto.

When Paolo was still very full of intellectual vigour and feel­ing quite fit, he was suddenly struck by an grave illness. He had a dry pleurisy and in the spring of 1950 it was bringing him close to death; the doctors in fact had eventually declared they could do nothing more for him.

One Saturday evening in April at 10pm two men knocked at the door of his house; they introduced themselves: Otello Risaliti was a warrant officer in the Navy and the other was a man named Carlo Lusardi. Since Paolo’s wife Maria did not know them, she of course did not want to let them in the house, for she was alone with her two children and her seri­ously ill husband. At this time, he was gravely ill and had had a very high temperature of 105°F for two weeks. At times he was delirious, and seemed at death’s door.

The two men insisted saying: “Padre Pio has sent us and we have to say the rosary for the man here who is seriously ill”.

The poor woman had never even heard of Padre Pio and therefore she was unsure what to do. She told the men to wait at the door and went and had a word with her sick husband, who having heard that the men spoke of saying the rosary, he gave his permission, and so finally she let them in.

Here it must be said that a few years before, in 1946, Prof. Nigro had slightly changed his opinion as an atheist. He had surprised everyone when he had requested to meet the Archbishop of Taranto, Mons Bernardi, to whom Prof Nigro related a story of how he had had a kind of vision in which he saw Our Lady’s profile. After this vision he started to go to Mass, even though he didn’t go regularly. We can surmise that this was the reason he let two strangers, who wanted to pray the rosary for him to the Blessed Virgin, to come into his house.

Santina, Paolo’s daughter, who was a child at the time tells us what happened next:

“I can see it as if it were yesterday. The two men, Risaliti in his white uniform and Lusardi, both kneel­ing and together devoutly saying the rosary. However as they were praying, dad was restless and said to mum: “Maria, send that hooded friar at the foot of the bed away”. Mum said nothing; she imagined that vision was due to his high temperature”.

Before leaving after finishing the rosary, the Padre’s spiritual sons discreetly begged Maria to accept some money: “It is sent by Padre Pio. You will need it next week to pay for your husband’s journey from here to San Giovanni Rotondo. The Padre wishes to see him. And the remainder is for the medicines”.

About this particular point Santina explains: “It was as if Padre Pio knew we had spent nearly all our money to buy penicillin which was very expensive at the time”.

The following Monday, the sick man was much better. His temperature had gone down to normal and the doctors were amazed. His health had improved so much that on Thursday, three days later, at 9.00 in the morning, Risaliti and Lusardi came to collect him and take him by taxi to the Taranto train station, as he ardently desired to meet Padre Pio. In the evening they ar­rived at San Giovanni Rotondo and the three men together took lodgings in a little white house on the right, going up the road leading to the friary.

The next day, Friday, they took him to the sacristy where Padre Pio was confessing the men. At the end of the confessions, P. Pio came out from the curtain, which hid him from view of onlookers.

“My Dad” said Santina, “immediately recognized in him as the friar who the previous Saturday he had seen at the foot of the bed while the rosary was being said. My dad immediately went up to him and threw him­self on his knees, crying. The Padre helped him up holding his wrists and said in our dia­lect: “If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more”.

The next day dad confessed to the Saint, who put him back in God’s grace and accepted him as a spiritual son. He immediately became a different person. He went to Mass every day and received Holy Communion.

The Padre continued to be near him in those first steps into a new life. He came [spiritually, through bilocation] to visit him at home. During his convales­cence dad sometimes said to me: “Santina, Padre Pio is putting his hand on your head”.

Afterwards I had often seen him crying because of his past sins. He tried to make up for it by leading people to God and also to Padre Pio.”

(Testimony of Santina Nigro, San Giovanni Rotondo, May 10, 2005) 

That Night on the Roof~A Story About St.Padre Pio 

The testimony that follows is more on the lighter side and rather funny, even for the person concerned: 

Father Nello Masini, a priest of the Giuseppini of San Le­onardo Murialdo, met Padre Pio in the 1950’s and became one of his affectionate spiritual sons, thinking very highly of him. He often went down to San Giovanni Rotondo to stay a while with the Saint.

He tells us that during one summer he went to Veneto to take part in a spiritual retreat with his confreres.

He was quite chubby and well built and when he went to bed he snored extremely loudly. Because of this, his fellow brothers put him in an isolated room at the bottom of a long corridor, far away from everyone, so he wouldn’t disturb anyone.

One night poor Father Nello, went out of his room to go to the bathroom and went into the nearby toilet, but closing the door too forcefully he unintentionally fastened the outer latch.

After satisfying his need, he wished to go out, but he realized that he was trapped inside. He started to call for help but no one could hear him.

Losing all hope of being rescued, he climbed on a stool and looking out of the window saw the roof which was facing the rooms. He decided to try this way out, hoping he would find some window open. He squeezed into the little space available to him but his 120 kilos were not of help and he got stuck halfway. Helpless and knowing there was no one around to help him, his thoughts went to Padre Pio whom he called upon in thought and prayer.  

Finally after a short time he suddenly found himself outside on the roof top, without realizing how.

Holding onto the wall carefully and watching each step to avoid falling down into emptiness, he finally reached the windows. The first was closed but the second one—that of the reading room, was opened. Gratefully, he was finally able to go back to his bedroom.

The next morning he awoke thinking “It was a very good thing that Padre Pio helped me last night.”

After a few months he returned once more to San Giovanni Rotondo to see and greet the Padre. He found him on the ve­randah praying.

He went towards him to kiss his hand. As soon as he saw him the Saint looked at him, smiled and exclaimed: “Don Nello, Don Nello, that night on the roofs!”

(Testimony given by Carla Riceputi of Spronelli, the priest’s niece. Given at Cesena, Italy on November 29, 2001)