Father Gordon J MacRae is not one to ask for prayers for himself, ever. But now, it’s different. He’s asking, with reason. For two reasons, actually. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Padre Pio
You can read things dozens of times over the years and just not “get it” at all. That’s me. But this year when I read the following letter of Padre Pio, I was mesmerized. I now know a bit more just how much I absolutely don’t know anything about the spiritual life. I have written academically about that of which he speaks, the flaming sword. I am vindicated on that academic level at least, for I am alone across the millennia in what I have written. But on a spiritual level, well, I am thrust to the ground in deep humiliation, for I obviously know nothing of the spiritual life. But at least I know that I know nothing. These days, that’s something. And it’s way more than enough to ask for this great saint’s help. Apologies are given in advance for the inadequacy of [my comments] below. You can see from my Coat of Arms (thanks to Elizdelphi! No words on the banner yet) that I am grateful to have written about the sword of which Padre Pio speaks…
From the Letters of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest (Epist. I, 1065; 1093-1095)
I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him
“Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 [Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus] and all day on the 6th [Feast of the Transfiguration].
“I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [making them saints!], I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person [an angel, a cherub] who presented himself to my mind’s eye [So, not an apparition, but entirely spiritual. People think angels are all fluffy chiffon pastels and cutesy cutesy. Pio speaks of torment and terror, and this angel is from heaven!]. He had in his hand a sort of weapon [“weapon”] like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. [This is the sword mentioned in Genesis 3:24. It is the sword which “turns into its contrary by way of the fiery grace of enmity against Satan and by way of friendship with God whatever is presented to it.” This is the sword with which the Carmelites depict Elijah. This is the sword of Saint Michael. This is the sword of Saint Teresa of Avila…] At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. [Seeing that a cherub could crush the entire universe if given permission from the Most High, this is saying really a lot…] I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boys to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. [What an understatement of all time. They must have been scared for him.] This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, [“weapon”] and nothing was spared. [“nothing” – and here I try to hang on to this and that. And in doing that I am totally lacking in generosity. I’ve done nothing in my life. I’ve not laid down my life as so many have done. Pio is going through his purgatory all at once, 40 some hours for him. And what would I do, I who surely have a purgatory lasting until the end of the world?]
“From that day on I have been mortally wounded. [And this is no longer his wound, but that of humanity, with Pio now being in solidarity with Jesus on the Cross even as Jesus is in solidarity with us, loving us while we are yet sinners, drawing all to Himself as He is lifted up on the Cross. And we watch with Him…] I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! [For we do nothing to save ourselves. Jesus is our Savior. We come to realize this. We are nothing. He is all. He shows us what He has saved us from, and not just us, me, but we see how He has saved all of us as we gain some heightened perspective on the cross.]
“On the morning of the 20th of last month [two weeks later], in the choir [making the traditional thanksgiving prayers after Mass], after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of August 5th. [We entertain angels and even the Son of Man and do not know it. How much the angels reflect the Son of Man! And the fiery love of God, issuing from the throne of the Most High, from the Heart of Him who loves us so much, is just that fierce on that sword which transforms us utterly in God’s love.] The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. [We are utterly weak. It is all Jesus.] The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. [He speaks also and especially of his embarrassment, for he, as all of us from Adam until the last man is conceived, caused those wounds in our Lord. How is it that he, Pio, or any of us could share such wounds of love for all those Jesus has redeemed and wills to save?] The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.
“Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? [The embarrassment, mind you, is more than enough to end his life on this earth.] I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on August 5th. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. [This Hebrew description of this sword in Genesis 3:24 (which I think I am the very first to translate pedantically, as it really is just that difficult), the sword which the angel is mashing around inside Pio is variously and wrongly translated as the twirling sword, the sword which moves about this way and that, etc., is, instead, “the sword which causes that which is presented to it to be transformed into its contrary.” Thus, we don’t take from the Tree of the Living Ones, though we can humbly receive its fruit (the Eucharist from the Cross).] My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffering.” [If it were I who had to respond to him, knowing I know nothing, but despite that, I would say that in our very reception of mercy we must show mercy to the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, those whom Jesus has redeemed and wills to save. Our suffering is occasioned by the lack of others, lack of faith, etc., but it is not their cross we carry, but instead we come to know what we would be like if we ourselves were to be without the grace of our Lord in therefore our lack of faith, etc…. and our remaining in friendship by the grace of God in such horrific circumstances acts as an intercession for those who are truly without faith, etc. This is drawing all to Christ on the cross in solidarity with Jesus, who does this by His grace. He, the Head of the Body does this, but we are members of that Body and we are with Him. If we only knew! If we only knew! Now Pio had his eyes opened, his soul torn open, his hands and feet and heart torn open. But it’s all Jesus. Jesus’ love taking on our lack. Embarrassing to us? Yes. And we run away. Pio couldn’t run any more. The angel presented himself, and, fiercely raising his weapon of God’s love… I know nothing. Saint Pio: help this donkey-priest to come to know Jesus! Help all of us priests!]
Availing myself of Your Holiness’ meeting with the Capitular Fathers, I unite myself in spirit with my Brothers, and in a spirit of faith, love and obedience to the greatness of Him whom you represent on earth, offer my respectful homage to Your August Person, humbly kneeling at Your feet.
The Capuchin Order has always been among the first in their love, fidelity and reverence for the Holy See. I pray the Lord that its members remain ever thus, continuing their tradition of seriousness and religious asceticism evangelical poverty, faithful observance of the Rule and Constitutions, renewing themselves in vigorous living and deep interior spirit—always ready, at the least gesture from Your Holiness, to go forward at once to assist the Church in her needs.
I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us. I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome way—in defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.
In the name of my spiritual sons and of the “Praying Groups” I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, “Humanae Vitae”, and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives.
May God grant truth to triumph, and, may peace be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.
Prostrate at Your feet, I beg you to bless me, my Brothers in religion, my spiritual sons, the “Praying Groups”, all the sick—that we may faithfully fulfill the good works done in the Name of Jesus and under your protection.
Your Holiness’ most humble servant,
PADRE PIO, Capuchin
San Giovanni Rotondo, 12th September, 1968.
l’Osservatore Romano – Weekly Edition in English – 10 October 1968
The relic of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina will be at the Cathedral in Boston today. Just my opinion, but this seems to me to be the final insult launched against this great saint.
- You might know that Padre Pio was falsely accused for sexual abuse and exonerated of the same.
- You might know that he was wrongfully smacked down by ecclesiastical superiors for years and denounced to many successive Popes.
- You might know that all this was for the benefit of the self-hero worship of those who persecuted him: “We’re sophisticated and up-to-date!” they screeched, as if holding Padre Pio’s decapitated head high with one hand and their degrees in psychology held high in the other hand was proof that Padre Pio was bad and evil while they were good and holy.
The mirror image of what happened back in the day against Padre Pio has happened to Father Gordon MacRae (born and raised near Boston) in our own day (see: http://thesestonewalls.com/about/). The present leader of mocking accused priests with zero due process regardless of their guilt or, in fact, innocence, is, ironically, Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, another up-to-date OFM.cap. Take a look at the policies of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group and you’ll know what I mean. Boston is by far one of the main supporters of TNCRRG. All accusations are to be believed without question and paid a settlement immediately hopefully without lawyers with the accuser in complete charge of everything, even if, say, the “incident” is said to have occurred even before the priest was a priest, even before he was born. Yes, it’s happened. No one cares, that is, except for the ecclesiastical superior who revels in the good press he gets for “being tough on priests.”
Isn’t it just this very kind of self-absorbed, self-referential, Promethean, neo-Pelagian, self-hero worship that Pope Francis has declared himself to be against? Yes, that would be right. I stand with Pope Francis on this one. I stand with those who are falsely accused and wrongly convicted and smacked down with no due-process whatsoever. Isn’t that what Pope Francis wants, that is, to go out and cause a ruckus by heading out into the darkest of existential peripheries, to those who are condemned by the self-referential crowd who only want to be on the nice side of media hype? Yes, that is what Pope Francis wants. Since I’m the Roman Pontiff’s own Missionary of Mercy, I think I ought best not neglect stories like this.
Pointing out irony is, I think, O.K. After all, our Lord Himself is Irony Incarnate. On His cross, mercy and justice kiss. We had better be there in the midst of that embrace, or our Lord may well say to us at the judgment: “I do not know you.”
The mercy that so many falsely accused priests want is justice itself.
But this is the hopeful side of Padre Pio’s heart going to Boston. Whatever the motives of those who brought Padre Pio’s heart to Boston, know that this is a missionary journey of Padre Pio; he goes into the lion’s den. Just so you know, if you think I am rather severe with some ecclesiastics in this post, it is Father Gordon J MacRae himself who reminded me that we are to pray for Cardinal O’Malley, who was so loved by our Lord that he also was redeemed. Yes, that’s exactly right, and this was always the attitude of the great saint of Pietrelcina as well. It’s the attitude of Joseph in Egypt, who tells his brothers that their selling of him to the Ishmaelites was all within God’s providence. We do trust that we will see great fruits from the incarceration of Father Gordon, and we have already seen very many.
So, do, yes, go to the Cathedral in Boston just now and ask Padre Pio’s intercession not only for Father Gordon MacRae, but also for Cardinal O’Malley. It will do you good. But just remember a few things:
- Padre Pio loved the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and was hated for that.
- Padre Pio supported Humanae Vitae, and was hated for that.
- Padre Pio was obedient to his superiors, and was hated for that.
The mercy that so many falsely accused priests want is justice itself, but in our Lord’s grace they can embrace the fact that our Lord will use the injustice for the sake of mercy.
Thanks, Padre Pio, for leading the way. Thanks so very, very much. We need you today!
Father Gordon MacRae, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned 23 years ago, has published the front page article on SperoNews today: The Shawshank Redemption and Its Real-World Version. The guilty verdict based on zero evidence was announced at 10:00 AM 23 years ago today, the day of the release of the film The Shawshank Redemption. Today is the Feast of the great Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, OFM.cap., Patron of Father Gordon.
Here are some articles Father Gordon has published about Padre Pio on TheseStoneWalls:
If John the Baptist was decapitated for witnessing to marriage, must we not be politically incorrect with him?
All the hints that we have in the Gospels reveal that, back in the day, pretty much no one except John, and then Jesus, was preaching about the sanctity of marriage. Everyone was busy misinterpreting Moses’ permission to write a bill of divorce, conveniently forgetting the bit about “because of their hardness of heart.” That comment of Jesus means that what Moses actually said with his permission as they bothered him non-stop, harassing him for permission was this:
“Sure, go ahead, write your little damned bill of divorce! Use it! See if I care you hard hearted haters of God and neighbor! No, really! Go to hell, too!”
Peter was lost in admiratio about this. He just couldn’t get over it. He protested. “Lord, if it’s really that way then it’s better not to get married!”
Amazement and incredulity haven’t changed much. It’s all mushy interpretation of Moses’ “permission.” But Jesus says, “From the beginning it was not so.”
Here’s the deal: John pointed to the marriage of Jesus with His Bride the Church, pointed to wedding vows of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. People hated John for that. It would be Jesus’ turn very soon. It was right after the beheading that we have the multiplication of the loaves.
All of this is all about Jesus. We forget Him. Why is that? Do we hate Him? Without grace, we do hate Jesus. I know, for one, that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin, original sin and whatever other rubbish I’ve ever done in my own life. If we don’t admit we’ve all done that, we are not with Jesus, but actively against Him, hating Him, and looking to kill off in whatever way those who would, as John, speak of proper marriage.
I have to wonder how many priests, when they hold up the Lamb of God, know that they are saying the words of Saint John about the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world by laying down His own life, being wedded to His Bride the Church. If more understood this, I think there would be less problems with marriage today. Priests have to understand that they themselves are married to the Church by the Sacrifice they offer, saying the wedding vows of Jesus in the first person singular: This is my body given for you in sacrifice… my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…