What is most extraordinary, however, is that in all of this, Padre Pio never complained, nor did he do anything but be entirely obedient to his superiors and to God. This is because of his act of self-emptying, an act of love overflowing. Feeling a call to do so, and with the approval of his spiritual director, Pio had actually asked God to allow him to suffer for those who were far from God or in some great need. He offered himself in a monumental act of mercy, and in 1918 God accepted his offer, giving him the stigmata while he was praying in the chapel. In addition to the suffering, though, he received many spiritual gifts which few saints have had in such great abundance. It seemed that the more he let go of his own comfort and the more he suffered, the more powerful and effective were the gifts of God which he was able to use for the good of others. And if this was not extraordinary enough, it said that in the later years of his life he was often heard to say, “After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.” With all he went through, he had such a heart for doing works of mercy for the Lord that even in death he was not ready to stop working.
Padre Pio and Thérèse could not have had personalities or temperaments that were more different from one another. Additionally, she was from a more well-to-do family, and he was from peasant stock; she lived a short life and he lived a long one. The only outward similarity is that they both lived in an enclosure in religious life, he as a Franciscan and she as a Carmelite, though even in that they were different: Padre Pio had much contact with the outside world through his sacramental ministry, and in contrast she had little outside contact. But in terms of their desire to be totally emptied in service of Christ they could not be more alike. Both Padre Pio and Thérèse emptied themselves in order to be filled with God’s mercy so that they could share in love overflowing, even after death.
Ironically, we are used to hearing that we go to our eternal rest when we die. But I am not sure that our understanding of this is often wide enough. While we will have rest from all our earthly toil and suffering, ‘eternal rest’ does not infer that we will be devoid of things to do. This is because it is not in the nature of love to be idle. The nature of Love, with whom we would then be united, is to share. Love overflows. And so we are right back where we began: Lent, in short, is love overflowing. It is a time in which we are invited into the self-emptying of Jesus Christ our Lord and therefore it is a time of fullness as we, too, let go in order to be re-filled.
©Michele L. Catanese
The first photo is one of mine, taken in New Mexico. The cross on the hill reminds me of the goals we set during Lent which require some work, but are not impossible to reach.
The icon is St. Padre Pio Mother Pelican by Fr. William Hart McNichols. The reference is to the female pelican which chooses to suffer in order to feed her children. The pelican is a frequent image in Catholic symbolism. You can find the icon at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/2-st-padre-pio-mother-pelican-047-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
The rest of the images are my photos. First is a photo of a photo: there is a display of original photos of St. Thérèse of Lisieux at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris which were taken during her lifetime. When I was visiting there a few years ago, I was able to take pictures of quite a few. This one is Thérèse standing with a medallion which represented her chosen religious name, Sr. Thérèse of The Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
Next is the tabernacle at St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The icon under the tabernacle is the original of San Jose en el Rio Grande by Fr. William Hart McNichols. If you are interested in buying a copy of the icon, (not the tabernacle) you can go to http://fineartamerica.com/featured/san-jose-en-el-rio-grande-268-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
The final photo was also taken in New Mexico on a gorgeous day.
Finally, a link which you might find helpful is this one about what Pope Francis suggests we fast from this Lent: http://time.com/3714056/pope-francis-lent-2015-fasting/?xid=fbshare