My Memoir of St. Padre Pio: Price of Suffering and Beatification by the Brush of Grace
Padre Pio would pray as if it were akin to waking up and making breakfast for the rest of us
Miraculous testimony of an elite level gymnast touched by Padre Pio: 'Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. God sends them, as He pushes us forward, to wipe clean the windows of not only our own lives, but also of those around us.'
BATON ROUGE, LA (Catholic Online) - Life is nothing but a continual struggle against one's self, and it does not open to beauty without the price of suffering.
His lifeless, stony eyes pierced the immortality of my soul and plucked my curiosity right from its youthful perch. The flesh-tones that my mother painted onto the cold, lifeless features of a three-foot tall statue of one of modern times most magnificent soldiers of Christ, Padre Pio, were of little consequence upon our first meeting--I was inexplicably mystified by a beckoning of compassion.
Rather than reveling in the notion of mysticism, my then-callow practicality suggested a more subtle approach to the Lord's will. Then again, I'm always amazed how at any given moment my own discernment can dramatically do an about-face. Staring at nothing more than an inanimate carving of masonry was enough to remind me how insignificant and fickle my own judgments are and how they're steadfastly and boundlessly linked to His greater will. If God wants to reveal Himself, then He'll most certainly do it in His own way, be it through the natural or supernatural.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy, was not yet a canonized saint when I first became aware of him in 2001, he was the modest Padre...another pious priest from a small country, Catholic city. Pope John Paul II had beatified him in 1999, but he had yet to reach his future saintly heights in the eyes of the Church or the world into which she is sent.
I dare to speak of things that set many uneasy. Perhaps I dare because it happens to be ingrained in my character to turn things on their heads (both literally and metaphorically). I recognize and give prayerful consideration to those who don't believe; faith isn't an easy gift to accept. The seemingly "hocus-pocus" talk of subjects like the stigmata, exorcisms, angels and saints are enough to turn many away from faith out of fear of the unknown. Losing oneself in the secular world of iPhones and Blackberrys can be a sufficient way to squander the divinity of the things we can't see and touch.
Like Pio, I serve only as an apparatus for the Lord's greater honor and glory. God has especially chosen to speak through some and allow us to ask for their intercession. Pio, like all the saints, is like the window-washer that scales tall buildings to clear away the muck and allow us to see His luminous rays aflame. Ascending the dismal heights of our disbelief, the saint's job is oftentimes dangerous and unwelcome...after all, who wants their intimate lives to be seen and meticulously judged? God sends them, as He pushes us forward, to wipe clean the windows of not only our own lives, but also of those around us. In the nine years since I've rediscovered my faith, I've tried to do my small part to propagate my belief, particularly concerning Pio and his message. Over the years, many people have asked me: "Why do you like this Pio guy? How did he come to be in your life?" Sometimes I ask myself this same question; after all, it is a rather strange story...
Pondering a future full of potentials, I was on vacation back home in Baton Rouge, LA, suffering from three stress fractures on my L2 vertebrae that I suffered as a result of a training accident in the gym in Houston, TX. I took that opportunity of hurt to go home and try to recover. I was busy doing nothing when the doorbell rang. A family friend stood in the doorway, toting a stone figure whom he wanted to make look "a bit more human-looking." My artist mother agreed to paint on skin-tones as our friend launched into a short narrative of Pio's life. It struck me as strange to have this man, someone who lived in town but whom none of us had seen in quite some time, come unannounced to our home with such a strange request for my mom. Nevertheless, I can remember being fascinated by the story and feeling an intense yearning to know more.
After I looked Pio up in the Yahoo! search engine bar, and read a brief summary of his life on Wikipedia, I felt giving a book about him a read could at the very minimum be entertaining. I bought one of the first ones that was recommended on that website: "Padre Pio The Wonder Worker." You have to understand that I was, at that time, suffering from not just the physical calamities of having a broken back, but also from the inner frustration of not knowing where my life was going and if I'd ever be able to be active (let alone do gymnastics) again. The latter part was perhaps the hardest for me; I'd heard many horror stories of athletes and their career-ending injuries. Was my ambitious and active future about to be stomped by 3 hairline stress fractures? It was enough to drive me mad.
I listened to this man, temporarily forgot about my own pain, and shared in the story of another's. Stigmata? Healing powers? But this man is Italian, like me!..and was lived only a few decades ago! That was ...
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