Tina Mayeux shares inspiration she received during a spontaneous visit to St. Padre Pio’s statue on the anniversary of the saint’s birth.
I stopped by Padre Pio’s statue recently, pausing to kneel and ask the venerable saint to help me to “Pray, hope, and don’t worry,” as he advised many of his spiritual children to do. One could easily observe a deep joy, even laughter, depicted on the face and in the eyes of the statue, giving a glimpse into the heavenly bliss and beatitude that the blessed ones must enjoy with the Creator in heaven, even as we, the militant, continue our daily uphill trudge toward that promising destination. My spirits were instantly lifted as I considered Padre Pio was smiling – even laughing – with me! The saint, in fact, has been quoted as saying, “Joy, with peace, is the sister of charity. Serve the Lord with laughter.”
The encounter was a welcome boost, especially now as our nation and our world have been dealing with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, the division and violence of racial tensions, and other difficulties. As I entered the church, I could not help but be aware of the fact that even our places of worship have been affected and bear the marks of the pandemic, with limited capacities, face masks, and lists of cautionary instructions as we enter the buildings. In the midst of all the fear and adversity, Padre Pio was seemingly saying to me, and to all of us, “Smile, rejoice! Have hope! He is alive!”
During my prayer, I entrusted to the saint a difficulty which I have been dealing with for a long period of time. With his jovial demeanor, Padre Pio seemed to me to be saying, “The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of the trial and in the exaltation after the combat,” words of advice which he gave during his lifetime. These words of wisdom can encourage each of us today, as we walk through our own personal struggles and carry our individual and collective crosses.
We can take courage from his comforting advice and realize that the hard times and difficulties do not last forever, and that God will always help us if we turn to him in prayer and trust him to aid us in our distress. We must remember that Jesus said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). The greater our faith and trust in him, the more fruitful are our prayers.
Even with the difficulties which we see in the world today: violence, injustice, disease, and disunity, to name a few, if we listen to the words of the gospel and the echoes of the voices of the saints, we are reminded to persevere in faith and also in joyful hope in the midst of darkness. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, resurrected and ascended into heaven, who has overcome all darkness and death.
Discouragement is a tactic of the devil, and with the tribulations we as a nation have faced in recent months, many may be tempted to become disheartened and to give in to negativity or even despair. The disciples of Jesus were similarly tempted after his Passion and death and before the Resurrection. Jesus appeared to them repeatedly and encouraged them to have peace and not to be afraid. We recently celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, when Jesus breathed on the disciples, who were locked in the Upper Room out of fear. On this day, Jesus bestowed upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with it, they were emboldened and delivered from their anxiety, and they were empowered to go out and proclaim the gospel. Similarly, if we ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we receive this courage and inspiration and are given the power to bring the light of Christ to the world.
As I returned home following my visit with Padre Pio, I realized that this day was, in fact, the birthday of this beloved saint, May 25! I know it was no coincidence that I was drawn to pause at his shrine on this particular day for the first time in many months.
I am continually amazed at the intercession and aid that the heavenly friends of God give us if we are trusting and open to receive them.
Like so many delightful roses obtained from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Padre Pio certainly showered me today, on his birthday, with many small favors and treasures of wisdom and comfort, and for this, I am so grateful. We should remember that the saints, the heavenly friends of God, are our friends too, and they are ready and willing to act on our behalf if we confidently turn to them in prayer and are attentive to hear their voices and the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.
Copyright 2020 Christina Mayeux
Photo of Padre Pio statue copyright 2020 Christina Mayeux. All rights reserved.
Additional image by Irina Iriser (2018), Pexels.com, CC0/PD