|St Pio closely followed Christ the Redeemer
On Sunday 16 June, after canonizing Padre Pio before the Gloria of
the Mass, the Holy Father gave the homily which was a commentary on the
passage of the Gospel of Matthew 11,25-30 that summed up the life of the
new Saint. In the life of Padre Pio, the Holy Father highlighted St
Pio's bearing trials patiently, seeking greater conformity with Christ
Crucified, prayer ("I am a poor Franciscan who prays"),
charity and generosity in administering the sacrament of penance. Here
is a translation of the Holy Father's homily.
1. "For my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Mt 11,30).
Jesus' words to his disciples, which we just heard, help us to
understand the most important message of this solemn celebration.
Indeed, in a certain sense, we can consider them as a magnificent
summary of the whole life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, today proclaimed
Yoke of Christ: he bore trials with faithful love
The evangelical image of the "yoke" recalls the many trials
that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo had to face. Today we
contemplate in him how gentle the "yoke" of Christ is, and how
truly light is his burden when it is borne with faithful love. The life
and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if
accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness,
which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to the Lord.
He sought greater conformity with the Crucified Lord
2. "But may I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord
Jesus Christ" (Gal 6,14).
Is it not, precisely, the "glory of the Cross" that shines
above all in Padre Pio? How timely is the spirituality of the Cross
lived by the humble Capuchin of Pietrelcina. Our time needs to
rediscover the value of the Cross in order to open the heart to hope.
Throughout his life, he always sought greater conformity with the
Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to
collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness
cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross.
In God's plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation
for the whole of humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to
those who wish to follow him (cf. Mk 16,24). The Holy Franciscan
of the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the Assumption
in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching our
ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead
the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I
say, of abnegation and the Cross" (Epistolario II, p. 155).
Welcomed sinners, heard their confessions
3. "1 am the Lord who acts with mercy" (Jer 9,23).
Padre Pio was a generous dispenser of' divine mercy, making himself
available to all by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and,
especially, by the administration of the sacrament of Penance. I also
had the privilege, during my young years, of benefitting from his
availability for penitents. The ministry of the confessional, which is
one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate, attracted great crowds
of the faithful to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo. Even when that
unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the latter,
becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant,
almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental
forgiveness. May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and
zeal this ministry which is so important today, as I wished to confirm
this year in the Letter to Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday.
God above all else: prayer and charity
4. "You, Lord, are my only good".
This is what we sang in the responsorial psalm. Through these words,
the new Saint invites us to place God above everything, to consider him
our sole and highest good.
In fact, the ultimate reason for the apostolic effectiveness of Padre
Pio, the profound root of so much spiritual fruitfulness can be found in
that intimate and constant union with God, attested to by his long hours
spent in prayer and in the confessional. He loved to repeat, "I am
a poor Franciscan who prays" convinced that "prayer is the
best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God". This
fundamental characteristic of his spirituality continues in the
"Prayer Groups" that he founded, which offer to the Church and
to society the wonderful contribution of incessant and confident prayer.
To prayer, Padre Pio joined an intense charitable activity, of which the
"Home for the Relief of Suffering" is an extraordinary
expression. Prayer and charity, this is the most concrete synthesis of
Padre Pio's teaching, which today is offered to everyone.
Mysteries of the Kingdom revealed to this little one of the Gospel
5. "1 bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because ... these things ... you have revealed to little
ones" (Mt 11,25).
How appropriate are these words of Jesus, when we think of them as
applied to you, humble and beloved Padre Pio.
Teach us, we ask you, humility of heart so we may be counted among
the little ones of the Gospel, to whom the Father promised to reveal the
mysteries of his Kingdom.
Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what
we need even before we ask him.
Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will be able to recognize right
away in the poor and suffering the face of Jesus.
Sustain us in the hour of the combat and of the trial and, if
we fall, make us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness.
Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our
Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed homeland,
where we hope to arrive in order to contemplate forever the glory of the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.