Pontiff Urges Holiness Through Prayer and Charity

Highlights Padre Pio’s Example While Visiting Saint’s Tomb

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SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy, JUNE 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is highlighting St. Pio of Pietrelcina’s example of holiness through prayer and charity, and in encouraging people to follow this path while fighting activism and secularization.

The Pope said this today in the homily of a Mass he presided over at the Church of San Pio de Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo.

The Pontiff is spending the day in the city where St. Pio of Pietrelcina, popularly known as Padre Pio, is buried.

Benedict XVI arrived this morning and took the popemobile through the city to Our Lady of Grace Sanctuary, where representatives of the community of Capuchin Friars Minor, along with the Church and civil authorities, welcomed him.

The Holy Father spent some time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and then visited the monastery’s cell where Padre Pio died in 1968.

Benedict XVI next went to the crypt to pray before the tomb of the saint, and he lit two candles to symbolize his apostolic visit and that of Pope John Paul II.

The Pope vested for Mass in the sacristy there, and was transferred by popemobile to the church where he presided over the Eucharistic celebration.

Force of love

In the homily, the Pontiff referred to the Gospel passage about Jesus’ calming of the stormy seas, stating that the strength of Christ’s love is a force «able to transform and renew creation.»

The apostles are afraid, he noted, but «Jesus’ trusting abandonment to the Father» is «total and pure.»

However, the Holy Father said, a «time will come when even Jesus will taste anxiety and fear,» and this will be «a terrible storm, not cosmic, but spiritual.»

He continued: «But in that hour Jesus did not doubt the power and presence of God the Father, even if he had to experience the full distance of hatred from love, of lies from truth, of sin from grace.

«He experienced this tragedy in himself in a lacerating way, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the arrest, and then during the entire Passion, until his death on the cross.»

Some saints, Benedict XVI noted, such as Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, «have lived intensely and personally this experience of Jesus.»

He added, «The stigmata, which marked his body, united him closely to the Crucified and Risen One.»


Though transformed into the image of Christ, he did not lose his personality, the Pope explained.

He continued: «God never annuls that which is human, but he transforms it with his Spirit and he ordains it to the service of his plan of salvation.

«Padre Pio kept his natural gifts, and even his own temperament, but he offered everything to God, who has been able to freely use them to extend the work of Christ: to proclaim the Gospel, forgive sins and heal the sick in body and spirit.»

The Pontiff added, «Guide souls and relieve suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.»

He stated to his listeners, «You are the heirs of Padre Pio, and the inheritance that he left for you is holiness.»

«Padre Pio attracted others to the path of holiness by his own testimony, showing by example the track that leads to it: prayer and charity,» the Holy Father affirmed.

He added: «From prayer, as from an ever-living source, love flowed.

«The love that he bore in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, always attentive to the real situations of individuals and families.»

Benedict XVI warned his listeners against the «risks of activism and secularization.»

He explained: «Many of you, men and women religious and laity, are so taken by the complex duties required by the service to pilgrims, or to the sick in the hospital, that you run the risk of neglecting that which is truly needed: to listen to Christ to do the will of God.

«When you see that you are close to running this risk, look to Padre Pio: to his example, to his sufferings; and invoke his intercession, so that he obtain from the Lord the light and strength that you need to continue his mission permeated with love for God and fraternal love.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-26235?l=english

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