Saint Pio of Pietrelcina - "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry" by Ann Walker
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great defense against worry. Saint Pio can be our guide towards forgiveness and repentance. His feast day—on September 23--is a perfect time to think about modeling our lives after this loving Saint.
Padre Pio…now known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Italy)… was an extremely holy man. He was the first man to have been given the wounds of Christ—known as the Stigmata. Can you imagine the pain that Jesus went through as he was nailed to the cross? Now think about how it would feel if we went through that pain ourselves by having nails driven into our hands, feet, and chest. We know that Jesus suffered incredible pain, but we also know that soon after Jesus’ torturous crucifixion, He would rise from the dead. Jesus’ pain would be over. With the Stigmata, Saint Pio’s pain would not go away, and he had constant reminders of the pain that Jesus went through. Why must someone go through that type of pain? It seems that when God chooses someone to act on His behalf, He picks someone who has an overly abundant love for Jesus; someone who would offer their pain to Jesus in reparation for sins. Saint Pio accepted his Stigmata so that others would be freed from their burdens. Saint Pio wanted to lead people to Jesus. He showed us how suffering can lead towards a greater good—bringing people closer to Christ. Part of his suffering also dealt with frightening attention from the devil. He suffered from “encounters” with the devil, but always responded with the strength of knowing that God is stronger than anything that could get thrown at him. Saint Pio witnessed to us that we, too, can fight against things that the devil tries to send our way—temptations that try to lead us astray. Saint Pio showed people that evil could be conquered during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God wants us to come to Him to confess our sins and show we feel remorse for our sins. He wants to give us the graces necessary to walk forward in repentance of our sins and to walk away from any new temptations that the devil tries to place in our way.
Saint Pio did much to alleviate people’s worries about their own sins. He knew the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and he would hear people’s Confessions for hours on end. Saint Pio was very in tune with the truth and could tell if someone was not being honest with him. Priests act on God’s behalf to help us along the right path of redemption, but it can be a humbling experience to speak to priests in Confession. It can be challenging to go to Reconciliation, because we are opening ourselves up and sharing our innermost thoughts. We may feel uncomfortable because we are ashamed of something we did. We may think that God could never forgive us of something we acted upon. However, we must know that God knows all and has seen it all! He wants us to come to Him with a contrite heart. Knowing that God forgives us is such a great feeling! God wants us to lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross. He wants us to give our sufferings and our sorrows to Him...to ask for healing of things we may have done (or even thought) that have not been right in the eyes of God...to ask for forgiveness and the strength to move forward with peace and understanding...and to ask forgiveness of those we may have wronged; so that they, too, can find peace. He also wants us to forgive those who have wronged us. It is through forgiveness that we can move forward and try to forge a better path for ourselves.
God knows that we are only human, and Saint Pio knew all about human suffering. He said, “Don’t spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety, and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit and love God.” We do that during Confession. Thank you for the splendid example, Saint Pio!
- By Ann Walker