Even though he’s a saint, St. Pio of Pietrelcina whose feast we celebrate today, I think I’ll always call him Padre Pio. I can still see my grandmother telling me about this amazing priest from Italy who was alive during my lifetime. The things my child’s eyes recall mostly are his spiritual gifts: the stigmata, bi-location, his ability to read souls, and the fact that he often fought with the devil at night. I thought all that stuff was pretty cool. When I was older I watched a video about his life, and it was truly remarkable – even cooler!
Much has been written about him, so I will leave the biography to an excellent link from EWTN. But I will say that what strikes me most about him, is one quote: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, boy oh boy is it hard.
“If you pray, why worry? If you worry, why pray?” Great questions. I ask them to myself that and there really isn’t a good explanation. There is only one stark naked answer: lack of faith.
Jesus speaks to us “of little faith” in the gospels:
Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. (Mt 6:26-34)
He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Mt 8:23-27)
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once (Jesus) spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. (Mt 14:26-32)
We’ve all been in these places. Wondering how to pay our bills; being overtaken by the waves; having the one closest to us asleep and unaware of our pain; completely relying on Jesus, but then looking away. Jesus asks us to trust Him, and in each case doing so brings peace. He doesn’t say it is easy. He doesn’t say how long it will last. He doesn’t tell us the outcome. He just says, “Trust me.” This is where true faith lies – praying and trusting and not knowing how it will turn out. But what we do know is that God is sovereign in all things and that he has our best interests at heart.
So today, let us pray through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina that we will truly pray, hope, and not worry.
My Jesus, I trust in you! St. Pio, pray for us! Anne