Last year I read a compilation of stories about Padre Pio. The book – and Pio as a mystic- had been dogging me for a while, almost begging me to stop holding onto my fear of Christian mysticism in the wake of years as a New Ager.
But finally, I acquiesced and made my way through the book, asked St. Pio of Pietrelcina to be my spiritual father, and was healed in many ways of many things.
Through Padre Pio’s life, I grew in trust in the Lord, and my love of our Blessed Mother and the Infant Jesus grew exponentially.
One story in the book fascinated me: Nazis were going through the streets of a town, busting down doors and hauling people out. As they broke into one home, the picture of Padre Pio the family had framed and hung on the wall fell, face-up, onto the floor.
The Nazis took one look at his face staring up at them and then to the terrified family expecting the same fate as everyone else on the street, and said: “Sorry, wrong house.” And they left!
You better believe I immediately put this image of Pio up by our front door.
I don’t have answers for why God is allowing this evil to run rampant in our world. I’ve got some ideas – including the gift of free will, that He is separating the wheat from the chaff, and that our faith is forged in the hot fires of persecution.
I know some Catholics think it is time to retreat, create a sort of Benedictine community, but we can’t retreat too soon. We’d be giving up too much ground. And besides, they would come for us in our religious communities anyways. We must stay and fight.
And for this battle, I offer the guidance of our dear St. Pio: pray, hope, and don’t worry.
Do what we can do. So pray: Pray for strength. For wisdom. For clarity. For discernment. For courage. For patience. For your and your family’s faith. For the Precious Blood of Jesus to cover you. For Mary’s mantle to lay over and protect you. For your guardian angels to shield you and bring you to holiness.
Yes, God allows deep suffering, from within ourselves and without. But don’t panic. Don’t rush. Don’t worry. Have faith. Have hope. Increase in charity. God made us for this time, and He gave us the saints who lived through similar and worse, to guide us.