Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart,
watch over them with every care.
Make their way easy and their labors fruitful.
Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys;
raise their courage if they weaken;
restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!
* * *
Thanks to Padre Pio's guardian angel and the angel of good Michael Lichens, editor of Catholic Exchange, I have a miraculous article on CE today about our dear wonderful spiritual father. The article is miraculous not because of my superpowers, but because of the angels and Michael (God bless him!), who somehow managed to incorporate it into the site though I got it to them at the twelfth hour, very late last night. And it turned out so beautifully!
You can read The Real Face of St. Padre Pio by clicking on its bold title. And since I got to write my own words (and share some of Diane Allen's words) on Padre Pio over there, I want to share something a bit different with you now over here, namely some of our beloved father's own consoling words. I'm such a fan of quoting from Marcel Van's Conversations with Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese, that it seems only fair on the great Padre's big day to quote from dear Pio himself too. Plus I have the most amazing feast of spiritually nourishing sayings from St. Pio that it would be quite selfish of me to keep them all to myself.
If you find some of these aren't just what you need at this moment, you can save them for later. Take what you like and leave the rest, as they say. Only in this case, the rest will wait for you, and perhaps on another day will serve to feed your hungry heart again.
Before we start quoting, though, we'd better start our St. Therese novena - this is the second half of our Double Novena, and I wouldn't want you to miss your chance to request some of our sister's roses in plenty of time for her upcoming feast.
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose
from the heavenly garden
and send it to me
as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
in your hands . . .
St. Therese, help us to always believe
as you did, in God's great love for us,
so that we may imitate your "Little Way" each day.
* * *
Without any further ado, then, here are some of my favorite words from St. Padre Pio:
“Don’t worry about anything.”
“Oh, how beautiful is Jesus’ face, how sweet His eyes, and what a good thing it is to stay close to Him . . . try to see a certain lovable majesty in His presence, a certain pleasant authority in His manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in His walking . . . a certain sweet serenity of face. Imagine the extremely composed and sweet expression with which He drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to solitude, and to the deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink, and their domestic duties . . .”
“What are you afraid of with regard to your soul? Don’t you know that Jesus is with you and is doing everything within you? Calm yourself and do not heed those vain and useless fears. . . Cast all your cares upon Him, for He is more concerned about you than a mother is for her little child.”
“Give free reign to your tears, by all means, because this is the work of the Lord . . . Your infirmities, temptations . . . aridity, and desolation all come from His infallible love . . . He wants you to be similar to His beloved Son in the anxiety of the desert, of the Garden, and on the cross. And when the evil one wants to persuade you that you are a victim of his assaults, or of divine abandonment, don’t believe him, because he is suggesting something that is not true; he wants to trick you. It is not true that you . . . disgust the Lord, and therefore, it is not true that the Lord has not forgiven you your faults or your deviations in the past. Divine grace is with you, and you are very dear to the Lord.”
“Do not fear . . . He who has helped you up to now will continue His work of salvation. You will be saved; the enemy will fume with rage. Be sure that the hand which has sustained you up to now – making you enumerate countless victories – that same hand will continue to sustain you until the point when your soul will have itself invited by the heavenly Bridegroom: ‘Come, my bride. Take the crown I have prepared for you from eternity.’ Have boundless trust in the Lord because your reward is not far away. The prophet’s words will not delay in being verified: ‘Then your light shall rise in the darkness.’ Therefore, be consoled in the Lord because your soul has chosen God as its portion. Jesus is with you. He has helped you up to now. He cannot and does not want to abandon you; He will perfect His work.”
“It is about time you rid yourself, once and for all, of so many foolish and unfounded fears which pass through your mind, weigh upon your heart, and keep it bound with harsh chains. Do you entertain doubts about the future? But have I not assured you that the Lord is always with you? Is not the future the same as the present in the sight of the Lord? What then do you doubt? . . . Yes, you are afraid of acting badly and offending God. But rest assured, and be quite at peace, for the ever-present grace of Jesus will take good care to save you from being unfaithful. Calm your immoderate fear, for I assure you in Jesus’ name that as long as you live, you will always do His will. Grace will not be lacking.”
“The most afflicted souls are those who are closest to the divine Heart. And you can be sure that Jesus has chosen your soul as that which is most dear to His adorable Heart. You must hide yourself in this Heart; you must pour out your most ardent desires there, and in this Heart you must still live those remaining days which Providence grants you; you must die in this Heart when the Lord wishes. Without fully understanding it, you are hidden in this Heart….In this Heart, you are, you live, and you move. Don’t ever fall back on yourself when the storm is raging. Place all your trust in the Heart of our most-sweet Jesus . . . Renew your faith continually and never give it up, for faith never abandons anyone, much less a soul that is yearning to love God.”
"Receive the Bread of angels with great faith and with a great flame of love in your heart. Await this most tender Lover of your soul in order to be consoled in this life with the ‘kiss’ of His mouth. Happy are you if you succeed in receiving from the Lord the consolation of this ‘kiss’ in the present life! Then indeed will you feel your will inseparably bound at all times to Jesus’ will. In spirit, cling tightly all the time to the divine will, then be at peace and serve the Lord with a joyful heart, for divine love will never grow less in your soul . . . Continue to have boundless trust in the divine Mercy. I assure you that God loves you very much. Say to Him, ‘Yes, oh divine Lover, Lord of my life, Your love is sweeter than wine.’”
“How consoling it is to know you are always under the protection of a heavenly spirit who never abandons you, not even when you are actually offending God. How delightful is this great truth to the one who believes! Who is to be feared, then, by the devout soul who is trying to love Jesus, when accompanied by such an illustrious warrior? . . . This good angel is praying for you and offers to God all your good works and your holy and worthy desires. When it seems to you that you are alone and abandoned, don’t complain that you are without a friend to whom you can open your heart and confide your woes. For goodness sake, don’t forget this invisible companion who is always there to listen to you, always ready to console you. Oh delightful intimacy, oh blessed companionship!”
“Why are you so afraid of your adversary? Don’t you know that Jesus is invariably with you, and that the enemy of souls has no power over those who have resolved to belong entirely to God? The more you are afraid, the safer you are, and the more lukewarm you feel, the more secure you are.”
“Take your mind off disturbing and tormenting thoughts. Open your heart with boundless confidence to the only One who is able to console and save you. Have no fear for the future, for God is with you, and He is supremely faithful and will not allow you to be overwhelmed by your enemies. This divine Lover will never allow a soul that is consecrated to Him in a most particular way to remain a victim of its enemies. No, no. The enemy will never obtain this victory. May the grace and mercy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.”
“To succeed better in prayer, remember that graces and enjoyment of prayer are not waters of this earth, but of heaven, and therefore all your efforts are not enough to let them fall . . . Be diligent in praying, but at the same time humble and tranquil. Keep your heart open towards heaven and await the heavenly roar from there . . . Through this, you will move closer to God, and you will place yourself in His presence for two reasons. The first is to render God the honor and consideration you owe Him, and this can be done without Him speaking to you or you speaking to Him. This obligation is paid by your recognizing Him as your God and you as His creature, spiritually prostrate in His presence, without His speaking to you . . . Wait for God to speak to you. One day He will pronounce words of peace and consolation to you, and then you will know that your suffering served a good purpose and your patience was useful.”
“May Jesus be blessed forever, that in the midst of a corrupt nation He desired to draw you to His love . . . May you exult and triumph, because there are other people, too, who know of His goodness and infinite perfection . . . Spend your life giving thanks to the divine Father who, in an excess of love for you, sent His only begotten Son and our most sweet Lover! Protected, covered, and defended by this dear Lord, stand before Him and pray with the humility of the creature and the confidence and freedom of a child. And given that He loves to delight in you, let nothing in the world distract you from delighting in Him as you contemplate His grandeur and infinite titles . . . Pray to Him that He be generous with His divine help so that you too can say in truth with our heavenly Mother, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.’”
“Oh, how burdensome this mortal life is to the children of God! But the next life, which the mercy of the Lord will be pleased to grant you, will be more than you can desire. You certainly must not doubt your possessing it one day, even though you are sinful; and if you not so sinful, it is simply because God is merciful toward those who place all their hope in Him . . . When you find yourself exposed to some trial—either physical or moral, in body or in spirit—the best remedy is to think of Him who is your life. I beg you not to examine whether your past, present, or future actions were, are, or will be too small, or if they were done well or badly. Merely abstain from sin and from those actions which you clearly see to be sinful, and do all with an upright conscience and with the will to please God. Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord and do not torment yourself.”
“Do not listen to what your imagination and the enemy suggest to you. They would like you to believe that you are continually offending God and that you always, or nearly always, resist the divine call. The ever present grace of the heavenly Father keeps you quite far from falling into such infidelities. Be quite sure of this. Those negative thoughts come from nowhere else than your own imagination and the evil one. Be careful not to attach any importance to them; their only purpose is to cool your feelings of affection toward your heavenly Spouse, and to make Christian perfection appear irksome by representing it as difficult and impossible for you to attain. Worse still, your imagination and the enemy aim more directly at drying up and causing to wither every sentiment of devotion in your heart. May the peace of Jesus Christ be in your heart.”
“Take heart because the Lord is with you. He suffers with you, groans with you, and is pleased with you . . . Haven’t you loved our Lord up until now? Don’t you still love Him? Don’t you yearn to love Him forever? Therefore, have no fear. Even if you were to have committed all the sins of this world, Jesus tells you, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’"
“Don’t lose heart; in your weakness, unite yourself more to Jesus . . . Prostrate your heart before Him and humbly say, ‘Lord, have mercy because I am weak.’ Then get up peacefully, calm yourself, and with holy indifference, carry on with your tasks.”
“All the seasons of the year can be found in your soul. Sometimes you feel the winter of sterility, distraction, listlessness, and boredom; sometimes the dews of the month of May with the perfume of holy little flowers. Sometimes you experience the colors of the desire to please God. Nothing remains but the autumn, which does not bear much fruit, but it often happens that, when the grain is threshed and the grapes crushed, you find that the harvest is greater than it had promised!"
“You would like it to be eternally spring and summer, but these rotations are necessary, both internally and externally. Only in heaven will everything be spring as regards beauty; autumn as regards enjoyment; and summer as regards love. There will be no winter, but here winter is necessary in order to practice self denial and beautiful little virtues.”
“I rejoice with you in the Lord at the goodness this God is showing you. Fear nothing. God has total possession of your soul and is working within you in a marvelous manner. You need do nothing except expand your soul before so much goodness, and invite Him to work always powerfully within you. Let God shake you when and as He wishes . . . and all will work out for His greater glory and your perfection."
“You imagine that your powerlessness damages you, and it seems to you that this powerlessness prevents you from withdrawing into yourself and from moving closer to God. This is a very great mistake because you suppose wrongly. God has placed you in that state for His glory and for your greater benefit. He wants your miseries to be the throne of His mercy, and your powerlessness the seat of His Omnipotence.”
“Preserve a spirit of holy joyfulness. Nourish your soul with a spirit of cordial confidence in God. Increase your courage, and hope a great deal in accordance with the degree to which you find yourself surrounded by imperfections and miseries. Be very humble, as this is the virtue of virtues, but see that it is a generous and tranquil humility. Always be faithful in serving God well, but observe loving freedom in His service, without your heart feeling even the slightest drop of bitterness."
“Yes, preserve a spirit of holy joyfulness, which, being modestly spread throughout your actions and words, brings consolation to people, the children of God, so that they might glorify God for it, in accordance with the rule given to us by our divine Master . . . Never permit your soul to become sad because Jesus is the Spirit of sweetness and is completely lovable.”
“Fly in spirit before the tabernacle when you cannot go there with the body, and there express your desires. Pray to and embrace the Beloved of souls, better than if you had been able to receive Him in the Sacrament.”
“Always be more humble and make yourself more humble, day by day, in your eyes. Dear God, how great this humility is! It is the true grandeur of the children of God! I exhort you to pray continually for this . . . Live in this way: sweet and lovable toward all; humble, courageous, pure, and sincere in everything. What better desire could I have for you? Be like a little spiritual bee who takes nothing into his hive except honey and wax. May your home be entirely full of sweetness, peace, agreement, humility, and piety, and may your conversation be entirely heavenly. Our Lord loves you, and He loves you tenderly. And if He doesn’t allow you to feel the sweetness of His love, it is in order to render you more humble in your own eyes. However, don’t let this stop you from having recourse to His holy benevolence with every confidence.”
“Remember that you are a child of a merciful Father who is indulgent toward you. . . So make righteousness and peace kiss by always practicing mercy rather than justice, in imitation of your heavenly Father . . . In order to arrive at a heroic degree of love, which enables you to ask Jesus to favor you with a ‘kiss’ of His divine mouth, God’s powerful assistance is required. Ask for and desire this powerful help by seeking God continually with the Spouse in the Song of Solomon.”
“Help yourself mainly during this period [of spiritual dryness] by reading holy books. I earnestly desire to see you reading such books at all times, for this reading provides excellent food for the soul and conduces to great progress along the path of perfection, by no means inferior to what we obtain through prayer and holy meditation. In prayer and meditation it is we ourselves who speak to the Lord, while in holy reading [the Scriptures or holy fathers of the Church] it is God who speaks to us. Try to treasure these holy readings as much as you can, and you will very soon be aware of a spiritual renewal within you. Before beginning to read . . . raise your mind to the Lord and implore Him to guide your mind Himself, to speak to your heart and move your will."
“But this is not sufficient. It is also advisable before you start to read, and from time to time in the course of your reading, to declare before the Lord that you are not reading for the purpose of study or to satisfy your curiosity, but solely to give Him pleasure and enjoyment.”
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
“I have made a pact with the Lord: when my soul has been purified in the flames of purgatory and deemed worthy to be admitted to the presence of God, I will take my place at the gate to paradise, but I shall not enter until I have seen the last of my spiritual children enter.”
“I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more . . . Once I take a soul on, I also take on his entire family as my spiritual children . . . to my spiritual children, my prayers for you will never be lacking.”
“If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray, I shall leave my flock and seek him out.”
* * *
Happy, happy feast day!
If you would like to be one of Padre Pio's spiritual children, here is a simple prayer for that too, because after all, on a great feast, we ought to delight our Heavenly Father's heart by asking for multitudes of great graces! What could make our generous Papa more happy?
Dear Padre Pio, I recall your promise to the Lord, “I will stand at the gates of heaven until I see all my spiritual children have entered.” Encouraged by your gracious promise, I ask you to accept me as your spiritual child.
Draw me, sweet Jesus, we will run!
P.S. I haven't mentioned this for a while, but if you're interested in knowing when we have new posts here at MMM, you can pop in your email address and click the "Subscribe" button on this page, and your inbox will have an email when something new is afoot. I don't know who subscribes or unsubscribes, so feel free to hop on and off the list as desired without fear of detection! And God bless the monkeys at mailchimp whose job it is to keep track of these things: They're quite discreet little monks and don't use your email for anything else . . . but before we forget what we're about, let's close with a rousing THANK YOU, JESUS, for this crazy internet that gives Your saints and angels one more way to befriend us!
A sweet rose of Jesus whispered to me the other day that this ought to be the time of our annual novena, or double novena, or triple novena, wasn't that right?
Without going to the trouble of researching, I consulted my angel and Voila! Suddenly I remembered that we had, about this time one year ago, had a blast with our triple novena of love. We started in time to finish the first novena on today's feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We began the second novena on tomorrow's special day in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows in order to finish on St. Padre Pio's feast. And then we did like the swimmers do when they flip over and head back from the other side of the pool all in one graceful movement, and we immediately began our St. Therese novena which ended on her feast, October 1st. Wow! Good for us! I am truly impressed!
The good news is that another year older has made us another year more Marcel. Did you know that means more forgetful? I'm not making this up, I'm getting it straight from Jesus Himself in Marcel's Conversations with Him (387) when Our Lord says:
"What did your sister Therese teach you? You have forgotten everything already; it's hopeless! And it is also so much the better since what you have forgotten, I am always there to remind you of and thus you can continually learn the lesson anew. What happiness can be compared to yours?"
Sure enough, I'd have forgotten everything too, if that little flower hadn't reminded me . . . and as it is, I'm only galvanizing the troops in time for a double novena this time around. Still, with Jesus I say, "And it is also so much the better!" Who knows, perhaps a triple novena would have intimidated you, but a double novena, that's manageable, right?
Plus if I had been really together (and thus not very much like Marcel), I might have come up with a quadruple novena this year - so we're going with double as half the trouble . . . and certainly twice the fun as a single novena because we get to rope Padre Pio as well as St. Therese into our inner circle of advocates above. And wow, do I feel like I could use the good Padre this year!
Although I don't like to contradict Jesus, I think He might be teasing when He says, "What happiness can be compared to yours?" I've actually been rather sad lately, because in His guise as Divine Thief, Jesus came and stole away my dear sister-in-law Alicia to Heaven. Wasn't that a questionable trick for Him to play just now, when Alicia leaves behind her husband (my brother) and their 7 children until such time as He swoops them up into Eternal Life too?
And yet all the more reason to start our double novena today on this mysterious feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I can never get a grip on suffering, never cheer it on, never look for it with anything but dread, never accept it with anything but sorrow, even though Marcel's mission was to turn suffering into joy. (Thankfully he had his hesitations about suffering too, to say the least, so we don't need to worry that he's completely unlike the likes of us!)
St. Therese teaches a lot about this - our attitude to suffering - and makes me feel loads better when she explains to her sisters that if we felt happy while we suffered, then it wouldn't be suffering. Quite a relief to know that if Jesus has some Divine and miraculous way to bring us joy with the cross, it is highly unlikely to be a felt joy. Maybe more like a deep peace in accepting His and the Father's will, even while we hate the weight of the cross and our particular suffering as it threatens to drag us down . . .
I only know that I'm glad our first novena leads us to Padre Pio's feast day. First off, he did promise that he wouldn't enter Heaven until all his spiritual children entered before him, and secondly, to my everlasting consolation, he also promised that if we become his spiritual children, that automatically enrolls those dear to us as well. I don't know if my sister-in-law ever fell in love with our good Padre herself (though I remember well when she fell in love with Jesus and Our Lady), but I do know she's enlisted as one of his spiritual children because she's my dear sis, and I'm his obstinate daughter. Try as he might to shake me, I'm stuck to Pio till the end, and if I keep him out of Heaven longer than he otherwise would've been (waiting for me to make it through the pearly gates), well he just should've thought of that before he started making rash promises!
You see, my plan is to keep gathering to my heart any stragglers I run across in my little way toward Paradise. Some might not even be straggling, but just lonely - I think of my 7 beloved nieces and nephews now without their earthly mom - and my plan is to pull them in close and keep them safe in Padre Pio's extended care for the duration. That way we can all enter Heaven together and then rejoice together eternally with all those we love and Those Who love us infinitely!
Technically our double novena starts tomorrow, but I think I'll get us rolling today so we have an extra prayer under our belts and can sidestep any anxiety if we forget a day (or two?) somewhere in the middle. Plus, we're here now, so why not turn to Mary a.s.a.p. with a prayer that captures everything we can desire.
Because St. Padre Pio called Mary his "little mama," I'm sure he'd approve of our using the days leading to his feast as opportunities to turn to her ourselves and, as small children who depend on Mom for all our needs, pour out our hearts in confidence as we snuggle close on her lap.
Here's a favorite prayer you may not know yet (or may remember from previous novenas here). The great part is that you and those you love are included in our novena whether you start today and say it all, or immediately forget (Marcel style) - because like our dear spiritual father, St. Pio, we've got your back!
Oh, and finally, because another little Miss Marcel happened to be reading the EXACT same wonderful passage I've been reading lately - though we were each struck by a different line and then reveled in each other's discoveries - and also because it's good to have some food for the journey as we begin the next 9 days of our novena and then almost 9 more, here (before our promised Marian novena prayer) is another passage from Conversations, this time from St. Therese at (127). I'm finding her sisterly counsel quite valuable, and I hope you'll take her wisdom for yourself too:
"My dear little brother, when you feel trouble in your heart, remind yourself to have recourse to the love of Jesus and do not neglect to speak to me also so that I can help you with my advice. Do not forget either that your worries are only about unfounded things. I am kissing you dear little brother, be happy always in the love of Jesus. Little brother remain peaceful. Formerly I also was inclined to worry, like you, but I regained my peace by obeying my director . . ."
I recently read the words of a wise Carmelite friar who I'm sure has been spiritual director to many. He reminded us that we are surrounded by spiritual directors if we need them: we have the writings of the Saints! And, I would add, the writings of Marcel which include constant reassuring guidance from Jesus, Mary, and St. Therese. And then there are the simple but brilliant words of St. Padre Pio, a father who has guided thousands as if each were his only child:
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."
An Old French Prayer for Friends
(for our new double novena)
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us!
St. Therese, pray for us!
Little Marcel, pray for us!
Adorable Jesus, draw me, we will run!
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