“We can ask ourselves: do we Christians pray enough?” That was a key question Pope Francis posed in his March 17, 2018, homily in San Giovanni Rotondo. The Holy Father visited that day the Italian towns of Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with Saint Padre Pio.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina receiving the stigmata, as well as the 50th anniversary of his death. St. Pio was born in Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887, and died on September 23, 1968, at his Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.
In his homily, the Holy Father focused on three words: prayer, smallness, wisdom.
He first noted that Jesus frequently prayer, often withdrawing to a place of solitude. The prayer was spontaneous, but not “optional.” And because of the example Jesus set, the disciples perceived the importance of prayer and asked him how to pray.
“Jesus in the Gospel also shows us how to pray. First of all, he says: ‘I praise you, Father’; He does not begin by saying, ‘I need this and that’, but, ‘I praise you’. One does not know the Father without opening oneself to praise, without devoting time to Him alone, without adoring.
“How we have forgotten the prayer of adoration, the prayer of praise! We must resume this.”
Pope Francis next moved to “smallness”.
“In the Gospel, Jesus praises the Father because He revealed the mysteries of His Kingdom to the little ones,” the Pope recalls. “Who are these little ones, who know how to receive the secrets of God? The little ones are those who are in need of the great, who are not self-sufficient, who do not think that they need only themselves.
“The little are those who have a humble and open heart, poor and needy, who are aware of the need to pray, to entrust themselves and to let themselves be accompanied. The heart of these little ones is like an antenna: it captures the signal from God, immediately, they understand immediately.”
Finally, the Holy Father talks of “wisdom”.
“True wisdom does not lie in having great qualities and true strength is not in power,” stressed the Pope. “Those who show themselves to be strong and those who respond to evil with evil are not wise. The only wise and invincible weapon is charity inspired by faith because it has the power to disarm the forces of evil.
“Saint Pio fought evil throughout his life and fought it wisely, like the Lord: with humility, with obedience, with the cross, offering pain for love.”