Wednesday, November 25, 2009
By: Kimberly Hahn
Where I am, I am to be.
This is my path to sanctity,
Though toil and strife—the affairs of life —
Draw my attention away from Thee.
I begin again, afresh, anew.
Today I choose to follow you.
Though others’ demands require my hands
Clasped in prayer to open and do.
I want to make each task a prayer,
Each word—each thought—your love to share.
Though sins abound
Forgiveness I’ve found,
As the cross you’ve made for me I bear.
I ponder, at the close of day
On the manifold graces that came my way.
Through trials and pain and joy, I exclaim,
Where I am, I am to be.
This is my path to sanctity!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
If you're interested in watching some of this meeting, Telecare will cover the public sessions of the U.S. Bishops’ meeting, airing coverage Monday, November 16, from 1-6 p.m., Tuesday, November 17, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday, November 18, 9-11 a.m. If no TV station in your area is carrying Telecare's coverage, the USCCB will also provide coverage. The USCCB Web page will post document, vote tallies and link to live streaming at http://www.usccb.org/meetings/2009Fall.The USCCB Office of Media Relations will provide Web coverage of the meeting via Twitter (www.twitter.com/usccbmedia) on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and on the USCCB Media Blog (http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com). The Twitter handle will provide updates of the meeting’s proceedings in real time, while the blog and Facebook posts will include longer reports and photos.
Come Holy Spirit!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Well...the rumors have been confirmed. We have a new Bishop!
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has a population of 1,262,788 people, with 157,703, or 12 per cent, of them Catholic. [More information on the diocesan website.]
Happy Saturday everyone! Please pray for our new Bishop, whoever he may be. That the Holy Spirit would inspire the selection and that he too would have a heart for fertility/infertility and be willing to work with me/us to make the conference and future plans a reality.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
At the risk of crying "bishop!" one too many times, I'm being told this afternoon that Bishop John D'Arcy of the diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend, Indiana has summoned the priests of his diocese for a "once in a generation" announcement tomorrow.
At a local Mass in the diocese celebrated today, the celebrant mentioned the rising rumors that the new appointment would be announced soon.
Bishop D'Arcy himself admitted in a statement posted to the diocesan website this Wedesday that his successor "cannot be too far away." He spoke in a way that could suggest he already knows who that individual will be.
Finally, Vatican-rumor blog Whispers in the Loggia noted a flurry of recent activity undertaken by Bishop D'Arcy, which would also imply that he is wrapping up the last of his unfinished business.
Saturday morning announcements of new bishops are not unheard of. Tomorrow will tell.
For the record, my bet is Bishop Thomas Paprocki, as it was over a month ago.
~ Thomas Peters
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
2.5 Lbs Bananas * 1/2 Gallon Apple Cider * 2 Lbs Lemons
* 1 Pomegranate * 1 Lb Kiwi Fruit * 1.5 Lb Red Grapes
* 1 Pineapple * 4 Lbs Oranges * 1 Mango
* 3 Lbs Fuji Apples * 1 Coconut * 2 Grapefruit
* 2 Fuyu Persimmons
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
As a friend said, “This evening was an unqualified success.” It really was. I laughed and told someone that you know the Holy Spirit is in charge when you can get nine doctors together on the same evening! It’s hard enough to get ONE to come someplace, but NINE? Come Holy Spirit! There were 20 of us total for the evening, a beautiful mixture of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, fertility care practitioners, etc) in a variety of fields (Family Medicine, OBGYN, Orthopedic Surgery, Pharmacy), with varying years of experience (from 20+ years in the field to others in their first year of residency), and we were about a 50/50 split between those who were already affiliated with Creighton Model NFP and NaPro Technology and those that were either interested in learning more so they could become affiliated, or those who were open to learning about what Creighton and NaPro were all about. We got together around 7:30pm and had about 45 minutes of social time with drinks and desserts before heading into the presentation portion of the evening. Dr. Parker, my NaPro OBGYN from Ohio was in town and had agreed to present Creighton/NaPro and his personal journey and we were so blessed that he did. It was a powerful and very moving story of his journey to an NFP only practice. It was certainly an evening of hope. Presenting medically sound, scientifically-supported authentic women’s health care that has incredible documented results not only in the areas of postponing pregnancy (99.5% effective..the same or better than the pill) but also in the area of achieving pregnancy. Especially in the areas of infertility, the results are amazing (pregnancy rates that are 30-40% greater than IVF treatments...and a fraction of the cost). It was wonderful to hear Dr. Parker share the information from an OBGYNs perspective, and relate to his medical colleges the history of where he had been, why he decided to look into Creighton/NaPro, and what brought about his conversion to a Natural Family Planning Only practice.
Following his presentation, we had some questions and conversations as a group and I really appreciated the courage of the medical professionals present to ask the questions that were most on their minds. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their willingness to come to the event, to be open to learning more and to asking the questions which are most pressing in their minds. It was a beautiful evening! I think we were done around 9:45, but the last guests left the house at 11:45pm!!! They just kept conversing, swapping business cards and networking! People just didn’t seem to want to leave! I think that we could all sense that something special was happening.
There were so many aspects of the evening that struck me, I’ll list just a few:
· The opportunity to network. The Creighton docs supporting those interested in learning more, and especially those in residency...that they would have contacts who have “gone before them” and can help give them a hand a long the way. The doctors who had been “in the business” for awhile, reaching out to the residents to encourage and support them.
· Hearing one of the young residents talk about how they wanted to have an NFP-only practice when they were done with residency. It was so exciting to know that there is fresh blood coming in to the NFP-only medical community!!!
· Dr. Parker talking about his family and six children saying, “We have to get past the mentality that I have six children because the Creighton Method failed [in preventing pregnancy]. I have six children because the method worked.” And this is a huge point when talking to those that do not respect large families. They can’t imagine why anyone would want more than one or two children...so clearly the youngest four children in the Parker family must have been accidents where the Creighton method failed. On the contrary he said. He has six children because each one was wanted and the method helped he and his wife to conceive them. This really is a huge point.
· Dr. Parker talking about how he had resisted making the decision to no longer prescribe birth control and do sterilizations, (and thus move to an NFP-only practice) because he didn’t want to force his morality on his patients….Then one day he realized, why was he allowing his patients to force their morality on him? He was allowing them to dictate what he did. If they still wanted birth control or something else, they could always go find it somewhere else...he had to make the choice to be faithful to what he knew to be true.
· Dr. Holly, a Family Medicine Doctor/Creighton Medical Consultant from Fort Wayne connecting with Dr. Parker. Previously, Dr. Holly had referred his patients to Omaha to Pope Paul VI Institute to see Dr. Hilgers. But now that he’s met Dr. Parker, perhaps he will be able to refer some of his patients to them? It’s a lot closer and the wait time for surgery is about half that of what it is to get into Omaha! These are the types of connections that were awesome to watch Friday night.
· Dr. Parker talked about how it was the prompting and encouragement of his patients that lead him to look into Creighton/NaPro. He said that patients would come bring him information about Creighton/NaPro and he would put it in his white coat pocket, and then later dump it on his desk, of course never reading it. Finally he agreed to go to Omaha and look into it all further. At the end of the first night, he was moved to tears and the conversion had begun. What struck me about this was that it was the encouragement, prompting and insistence of the patients that really made the difference for him. Why is this important to me? Because I think those of us who are in the Creighton/NaPro family really do owe it to our medical professionals to encourage them to look into this. Why don’t more doctors know about this? Because no one has told them. Creighton/NaPro certainly isn’t being taught in medical school (why? I have no idea.), and thus, we have to stand in that gap. We need to host events like this, help make introductions, and foster a community. If you are interested in hosting an event similar to ours in your community, let me know and I’ll help you set it up!
· I was struck by pressures that doctors face when they decide to stop prescribing birth control and go to an NFP only practice. Instead of understanding that doctors are doing this to promote better health in their patients (see Dr. Parker’s letter to patients), many look at them as if they are somehow denying care to the women they see. How contrary that is to the truth. If every woman knew about birth control what she deserved to know (see What a Woman Should Know about Birth Control), I don’t think many would be on it anymore. And I say this not from a moral or religious or ethical point of view, but merely from a health point of view. If women could truly see that Creighton Model NFP is JUST AS or MORE SO effective than the pill (Creighton is 99.5% effective), that it costs a fraction of the cost (I pay $2.00 for six months of charting supplies), that it is HEALTHY for them, and that using Creighton would actually strengthen their marriages!!!! … if women truly grasped this, it would change our world forever! But yet somehow, there is this cloud and fog over the concept of NFP. I think many mistakenly view it as old fashioned, scientifically-lacking and confuse it with the Calendar Method or the Rhythm Method which were not effective at all. Creighton is different. There is a reason they talk about it “Unleashing the Power of a Woman’s Cycle.” It deserves to be looked into by doctors and patients alike. And for those of us who already understand the power, beauty and truth of NFP, we must pray that others will be open to learning more and to understanding, and especially for our doctors...that they would have the courage to be faithful to the truth and to their calling as instruments of God’s healing! Especially close to my heart are those married couples who are both doctors...when one is ready to embrace NFP-only and the other is still resisting...we must continue to pray for them in a special way.
· Dr. Parker sharing that I was the 9th woman he had done this surgery on, and that 6 of the nine were already pregnant...he shared his hopes that I would be the 7th shortly. Me too. :)
The evening really was incredible. Those are just a few of the highlights and I probably could keep on going! Doctors came from Fort Wayne and Michigan (driving 2+ hours to get here), the Co-Directors for the Office of Family Life came as well to encourage learn and support….it really was an amazing evening. As we were wrapping up the evening, numerous guests thanked me profusely for hosting the evening and said, “we have to do this again.” Don’t worry folks...another is already in the planning! :) My prayer is to do something similar to this every 3 months, to keep networking, to keep learning, to keep encouraging, to keep supporting, to keep growing together in truth.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for this evening and for those that would come. The real work is now beginning as the medical professionals return to their practices and consider how they will respond to all that they heard and experienced! My prayer is that we will soon have a NaPro Center for Women’s Health here in South Bend. You think I’m crazy? Why not? With God all things are possible! :)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I received a phone call today from the Bishop’s secretary. My meeting with Bishop D’Arcy is scheduled for 4pm tomorrow (Thursday, November 5th). I am excited to get to talk with him more, to follow up on our conversation from the Bioethics Conference (see post) and to talk to him about Hannah’s Tears and also the upcoming US Bishops’ Conference meeting.
As I have mentioned before, I have been feeling a very strong call to help prepare a conference on the truth, power and beauty of the Catholic Church’s teaching in the areas of fertility. As I have prayed about a name for this conference, the title that keeps coming to me is “Life Giving Love.” Imagine my shock when a few days ago I learned that the US Bishops will be debating a document at the conference which will encourage couples struggling with infertility to embrace “legitimate” treatments to fulfill their desire to be parents….and that the title of this document is “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology.” LIFE-GIVING LOVE! The same name that has come to me again and again!
Thank you for your prayers as I prepare to meet with Bishop D’Arcy. I am thrilled at the role God is allowing me to play in helping development fertility/infertility awareness! Here’s more information on the upcoming Bishops’ conference:
U.S. Bishops to Urge Ethical Infertility Treatments
Seek to Offer Hope and Encouragement to Couples
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops will debate a document next month that encourages couples struggling with infertility to embrace "legitimate" treatments to fulfill their desire to be parents.
During the bishops' fall meeting -- Nov. 16-19 -- the prelates will debate and discuss a document titled "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology," drafted by the conference's Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
The text affirms the necessary link between the sexual act and procreation, and explains the Church's moral opposition to artificial reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, embryo donation and adoption, egg and sperm donation, cloning, and surrogacy.
"The Church has compassion for couples suffering from infertility and wants to be of real help to them," explains the draft document. "At the same time, some 'reproductive technologies' are not legitimate ways to solve those problems. We bishops of the United States offer this reflection to explain why.
"We also offer it to provide hope -- real hope that couples can fulfill their procreative potential and build a family while fully respecting God's design for their marriage and for the gift of children."
The text will include a section of questions and answers, testimonies from couples, and encouragement.
Valid treatments for infertility, the text explains, include hormonal treatment and other medications, surgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes, natural family planning, and means for alleviating male infertility factors.
The document explains that these methods are acceptable because they "do not substitute for the married couple’s act of loving union; rather, they assist this act in reaching its potential for giving rise to a new human life."
The text requires the approval of two-thirds of the bishops.
This document is a companion to the 2007 educational resource "Married Love and the Gift of Life," which explains the Church's teaching on contraception.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Last night I had the incredible honor of sharing my conversion story with the Knights of the Immaculata at St. Boniface Parish. To retell the story of my conversion to the Catholic faith is something I do with joy, because not only can God use that to strengthen others in their walk, but He also uses the opportunity to remind me of how faithful He has been to me over the years. How He has always kept me within His sights, and has never failed me.
I have told my conversion story many times in the six years that I have been Catholic, but for some reason, sharing my journey last night made me want to go back and reread my journals from that beginning of that specific part of the journey. So late into last night, I was up re-reading my journals from 1999, and my first visit to the Monastery of Heiligenkreuz in Austria. I was overcome with emotion and gratitude. To see the love with which God has shown me, how He drew me to Himself through His real presence in the Eucharist, and how Our Lady was guiding and mothering me every step of the way...it is incredible. To see the moving of my heart and the stirrings that were just the beginning of my search for the fullness of Christ’s Truth was enlightening. To see my desire to be open to Christ’s Truth when it was revealed to me was encouraging, even when I had to struggle and humble myself to do so. To see my efforts to assimilate all that I was learning and experiencing I think can best be related to the experience of watching a sunrise...you can see light on the horizon and things start to be clearer the closer you get to that one moment when the fullness of the sun’s radiant light breaks forth into day. This is the same way that my journey to the Catholic Church began. I saw light on the horizon and caught glimpses of the truth of the Catholic Church at least five years before the sun burst forth into day and I was confirmed and received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. And yet God’s love it so patient and His mercy never-ending. I am so blessed. Looking back over the beginning of my journey to the Catholic Church has been inspiring and has encouraged me in my walk today. The journey is far from over.
By now, you’ve probably realized that I have a real appreciation for the musical genius of Matt Maher. His music, every single song, seems to accompany some part of my life journey. Today, I focus on a new song he released recently called “Alive Again.” It is, in fact, the title of his newest album. There’s a link on YouTube where Matt talks about the song, and his thoughts mirror my own and the conversion experiences I just mentioned. I thought you might enjoy listening to it, or you can read my summary below. The full video version of the song follows the lyrics.
May each of us, welcome Jesus into our lives to break through our deafness, shatter our darkness and wash away our blindness. May we each be open to that light on the horizon which leads us to the Son and may we truly be Alive Again in Christ. Amen.
God bless you!
(Summary of the Video)
The video takes place as Matt is driving through Tempe at 5:45am. Cup of coffee in hand, we are riding in his car with him as he takes us through town and then we join him on a climb up the mountain. He says this is his favorite time of day. Even when it’s dark, there is light on the horizon. According to Matt, the whole notion of waking in the dark, is something we can all grasp. “When we think of our life in Christ, it probably came out of a crisis moment when ever other answer failed and every idea we thought of didn’t pan out and so we started to ask deeper questions. “ For him, the sunrise is an allegory..waking up in the dark. You can see the light on the horizon but you don’t know where it’s coming from. In this, Matt sees the presence of God in world. You see the effects of Him everywhere but you don’t recognize the source yet.
This is the image that inspired the song. You can slowly see more and more light but you can’t see the sun yet. The second part of the song was inspired by St. Augustine of Hippo, who was probably one of the most universally agreed upon Christian writers. Augustine lived a very sinful life, but the mercy of God reached him, and later in his life he had a profound conversion experience and became a Bishop and now he’s a doctor of the Church. Augustine wrote a poem that says “Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient and ever new.” As young man he went into the world in search of God but because he didn’t encounter God first in his own heart it was in the lovely places of the world that he basically got stolen away further and deeper away from God. For him this is a perfect analogy of Western culture as it stands right now. We dive deeper and deeper into world in search of God and beauty and truth and love but without God in our hearts the world ends up being the thing that steals us further away from God. In order to see the world for what it truly could be you need the eyes of Christ. Otherwise you don’t see the potential, you see just the brokenness...all you see is the reality of sin, and you don’t see the reality of grace. You can only see the reality of grace through the eyes of Jesus who lives inside of you.
When the sun breaks the horizon it’s like everything else around it loses perspective. And it’s kind of like why the early Church looked to the rising sun in the east as the strongest example of Christ because it really takes everything else over. And it’s just very compelling. There are not many objects in the natural world that could adequately describe what happens when God breaks into your life, but the rising sun is a pretty good one. That’s what it’s like for most of us when God breaks into our life, when His voice speaks. It’s the only thing on the horizon that you see and the only thing that can really reach into your heart. That is really what it was like for me when I knew that God loved me and was reaching into my life, it became the only thing that I could see. God is the only thing worth seeing.
I woke up in darkness
Surrounded by silence
Oh where, oh where have I gone?
I woke to reality
Losing its grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone? '
Cause I can see the light
Before I see the sunrise
You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again
You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again
Late have I loved You
You waited for me, I searched for You
What took me so long?
I was looking outside
As if Love would ever want to hide
I'm finding I was wrong
'Cause I feel the wind
Before it hits my skin
'Cause I want You,
Yes I want You I need You, and I'll do
Whatever I have to just to get through
'Cause I love You,
Yeah I love You
Monday, November 2, 2009
Today is the day that the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls. We remember those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and sleep in peace. "And for this, today the Church invites us to pray for our beloved dead and to spend time at their tombs in the cemeteries. Mary, star of hope, make stronger and more authentic our faith in eternal life and sustain our prayer of suffrage for our departed brothers." ~ Pope Benedict XVI
There was a beautiful reflection from http://www.catholic.org/ that I came across today and thought was worth sharing:
"Dear brothers and sisters!
Yesterday, on All Saints' Day, we dwelt upon "the heavenly city, Jerusalem, our mother" (Preface of All Saints). And today, our souls turn again to these last things as we commemorate all the faithful departed, those "who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and sleep in peace." It's very important for us Christians to live our relationship with the dead in the truth of faith, and to look at death and the afterlife in the light of Revelation.
Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the first communities, exhorted the faithful to "not be downhearted, like the others who have no hope." "If in fact" he wrote, "we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also God, by means of Jesus, will gather up with him all those who have died" (1 Thes 4:13-14).
It's necessary even today to spread the message of the reality of death and eternal life -- a reality particularly subject to superstitious and syncretic beliefs, for the Christian truth cannot risk itself to be mixed up with mythologies of various sorts.
In my encyclical on Christian hope, I myself investigated the mystery of eternal life. I asked: even for the men and women of today, the Christian faith is a hope that can transform and sustain their lives? Even more radically: the men and women of our time likewise desire eternal life?
Or maybe their earthly existence has become their only horizon? In reality, as St Augustine already observed, everyone wants the "blessed life," that happiness. We don't know what it is or what it's like, but we feel ourselves attracted toward it. This is a universal hope, shared by people of all times and places.
The expression "eternal life" gives a name to this insuppressible expectation: not a progression without end, but the immersion of oneself in the ocean of infinite love, where time, the beginning and end exist no more. A fullness of life and of joy: it's this for which we hope and await from our being with Christ.
Let us today renew our hope in eternal life, one really drawn in the death and resurrection of Christ. "I am risen and now I am always with you," the Lord tells us, and my hand sustains you. Wherever you might fall, you will fall in my hands and I will be present even at the gate of death. Where none can accompany you any longer and where you can bring nothing, there I await you to transform for you darkness into light.
Christian hope is never something merely individual, it's always a hope for others. Our lives are deeply linked, one to another, and the good and bad each one does always impacts the rest. So the prayer of a pilgrim soul in the world can help another soul that continues purifying itself after death.
And for this, today the church invites us to pray for our beloved dead and to spend time at their tombs in the cemeteries. Mary, star of hope, make stronger and more authentic our faith in eternal life and sustain our prayer of suffrage for our departed brothers".
A fullness of life and of joy; it's this for which we hope and await from our being with Christ! Our sufferings do not define us, nor are they the goal of our life. They are merely temporary moments on our progression towards love Himself. We commit those we have loved and lost to the infinite mercy of God the Father and trust in His love for us. To each one of us, no matter our circumstances or cross, Jesus says, "Wherever you might fall, you will fall in my hands and I will e present even at the gate of death. Where none can accompany you any longer and where you can bring nothing, there I await you to transform for you darkness into light!" May we always be with hope , desire eternal life, and with eyes fixed upon the cross, run to Him who showed great love!
(By Matt Maher)
Let no one caught in sin remain
Christ is risen from the dead
Beneath the weight of all our sin
O death, where is your sting?
O death, where is your sting?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
What a beautiful celebration this is. As I was at mass this morning, I was overwhelmed thinking about all of the holy men and women who have gone before us and who are interceding for us even now from heaven. I couldn't help but think what it will be like when one day I am (Lord willing) with them, surrounded by a cloud of heavenly witnesses. Wow. It is awesome to consider.
We had a wonderful Halloween last night. Not too many trick-or-treaters, but we were blessed with great friends who came for dinner and stayed for Notre Dame football (boys in the basement) and a movie on Padre Pio (girls upstairs). Us girls decided that watching a movie about a saint really was a wonderful way to tie up the American celebration of Halloween and transition into the really celebration of All Saints!
I know that I have mentioned Padre Pio before on the blog (July 28 and October 30), but he is one of the saints that I have only recently begun to get to know. The more I learn about him, the more in awe I am and the more I long to be his spiritual daughter. The movie we watched was called "Padre Pio, Miracle Man" and it was absolutely incredible. After three hours, I was still enthralled and was moved to tears by almost ever scene and I felt that I truly had been watching Padre Pio himself. If you're looking for an uplifting movie which affirms the faith, the value and reality of suffering, and the promises of Christ, this is it. You will not be disappointed. One note of caution though, it is an Italian film which has been dubbed over in English. The English voices are quite lacking though, so my suggestion (and what we did) is to choose the Italian audio and put on the English subtitles.
This man's ability to endure suffering with patience out of a love for God is beyond anything I have ever seen. He truly was a saint! His life still inspires, even from beyond the grave. And speaking of the grave, if you haven't seen the photos of Padre Pio (taken 40 years after his death), you are in for a huge surprise. He is incorrupt! I have attached a link to some photos I received recently from a friend. Are they incredible or what?
|St. Padre Pio|
I also thought that I would include an article I read recently on Padre Pio. I hope you find it interesting as well. May the prayers of Padre Pio bring us ever closer to Christ. Amen!
Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry
During World War II, many Allied pilots failed to complete their missions over the Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo. It seemed a Franciscan friar flying through the sky was staying their hands, preventing them from dropping their bombs. One aviator after the other testified to this otherworldly phenomenon, corroborating one another's incredible tale of supernatural intervention in the midst of battle. The friar, of course, was Padre Pio of Pietrelcina -- now St. Pio, whose feast the Church celebrates on Sept. 23. And the story, of course, is private revelation; Catholics are free to believe or disbelieve its veracity according to their own prudential judgment. Either way, its widespread acceptance throughout the Church is itself testimony to the great love and respect many have for St. Pio. Along with bilocation (being able to be in two places at once, including the sky), the humble friar's extraordinary spiritual gifts, it is said, included the ability to read souls. In the confessional, where he often spent upwards of 15 hours a day, he often told people their sins -- accurately -- before they had a chance to tell them for themselves. And, most famously of all, for 50 years he bore the stigmata -- the nail wounds of Christ -- on his hands.
Although he spent nearly his entire 60 years of religious life at San Giovanni Rotondo, he became a household name around the world during his own lifetime. Before he died in 1968, and before John Paul II canonized him St. Pio of Pietrelcina in 2002, pilgrims came in droves to San Giovanni Rotondo. "People felt they could really experience Christ through him," says Frank Rega, author of Padre Pio and America (Tan, 2009). St. Pio's example and spiritual guidance are beams of light for individuals and families striving to live out the Catholic faith in a sin-darkened world. Of the Mass, he said: "It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!" To many who came to him with every manner of trouble, he said simply: "Pray, hope and don't worry."
"Look at all the people from all over the world he gathered around him! Why?" said Pope Paul VI in 1971. "Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was -- it is not easy to say it -- one who bore the wounds of Our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering." Despite his suffering, he was unfailingly compassionate and jovial. Rega (who is online at SanPadrePio.com) points out that Padre Pio was kind and loving toward children and always gave them special blessings. "Many couples not able to have children asked for his prayers," he adds. "He would tell them, 'You will have a son in a year' or 'May you have eight children.' He believed in large families."
Eternal Word Television Network host and author Father Andrew Apostoli of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal identifies one reason Padre Pio is a great saint and so important for families today: because his life reflects the character-forming influence of his own close-knit family. "We can see in his life how the nurturing of faith plus the human qualities, the love and concern for one another, became very evident," says Father Apostoli. For instance, his mother taught each of her children to have a special devotion to their baptismal patron saint. Pio's was St. Francis. Father Apostoli also finds in Padre Pio "a certain charm" to which many can be drawn, from grandparents to young children. The saint gave and continues to give spiritual and even physical assistance to families, including many healings, he adds. "He had that concern, knowing the family is 'the first school and the first church,'" says Father Apostoli, "because that's where the children learn to pray, learn about God, and learn the things they need for the rest of their life, by words and example." The saint's intercession and help can come at any time. Sometimes it comes at unlikely times and in unforeseeable ways.
"Padre Pio is the reason we are in the Catholic Church," says Californian Diane Allen. She converted to the Catholic faith in 1995; her husband, Ron, followed two years later. Raised as Protestants, then members of what she calls a "self-realization fellowship," Diane had heard a brief mention of Padre Pio. Until then, she'd had no contact with Catholics, but she couldn't get that story out of her mind. "I thought about it hundreds and hundreds of times over the next 20 years," she says.
Upon waking one morning, she decided to find out who Padre Pio was. Once she read his biography, she quit her fellowship and began walking the road to becoming a Catholic. First, though, she spent two years studying about the Church, listening to tapes 40 hours per week. Discouraged by a significant roadblock hindering her progress, she found none other than Padre Pio dispelling her doubts and leading her on into Holy Mother Church.
Today, along with Ron -- a deacon who heads the religious-education program at their parish, Our Lady of Grace in El Cajon, Calif. -- she leads the booming Padre Pio Prayer Group at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in San Diego.
"Padre Pio gave five steps for spiritual growth," Diane says. "One is daily Communion; another is daily Rosary." She and Ron are faithful to these, joining others for daily Mass followed by the Rosary.
"This is what makes us tick," she says. "We're a Padre Pio family." Indeed, her daughter converted to the Catholic faith after college. So did her son-in-law -- and her mother, at age 84. Today, Diane writes extensively on Padre Pio and edits the monthly online newsletter Pray, Hope and Don't Worry (online at padrepiodevotions.org), which has received well over one million hits.
Let God Be God
In everything, St. Pio constantly counseled people, by word and example, to "pray, hope and don't worry." Could there be a more fitting message for our time of stress and uncertainty -- or a more effective means to spiritual growth? Father Apostoli thinks not.
"Once you make known your needs, fears, hopes, concerns, doubts and struggles to God in prayer, and have asked for his help," explains the Franciscan priest, "you have to now trust the Lord to listen because of his great compassion."
Padre Pio asked his spiritual charges to show the sincerity of their trust by working hard at not worrying. As Father Apostoli explains, "It's a big order. We tend to push the panic button, to look at the things that can go wrong. We worry like mad."
And worry may signal that we're trying to take control of matters that belong to God. "If I really believe God does love me and will truly take care of me, I should not worry," concludes Father Apostoli.
As St. Pio himself put it: "The Lord is a father, the most tender and best of fathers. He cannot fail to be moved when his children appeal to him."
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Joseph Pronechen. "'Pray, Hope and Don't Worry': St. Padre Pio's Prescription for Eternal Health." National Catholic Register (September 20-26, 2009).