Thursday, September 23, 2010

When the world was growing cold...


In every age O Lord you have been our refuge. [Ps. 90]
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If I remember correctly the collect for the feast of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi contains those words, "When the world was growing cold..."  - the Lord saw fit to impress upon his servant Francis the Holy Wounds of Christ.  Indeed, the seraphic Francis and his followers set Europe on fire with their evangelical poverty, simplicity, penance and devotion.  Likewise, in the last century, the son of St. Francis, St. Padre Pio inspired - inflamed - the hearts of the faithful by his example of penance and suffering, his fidelity to prayer, his priestly ministry and devotion; but above all, his conformity to Jesus Christ crucified... just as the world was growing cold...
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Pio was and is a sign of contradiction in our secular age, when science, intellectualism, and materialism still seems to triumph, and faith and devotion is continually mocked...  when the world was and is growing cold.  Yet as in the time of Christ, and again in the days of St. Francis, it has always been the simple, the lowly and afflicted, the lame and the crippled, the poor and the laborer, who are irresistibly attracted to the holiness we witness in Padre Pio, the humble Italian friar marked with the sign of faith.  Padre Pio was a living book and treatise on the mystical life - a living Gospel.  He demonstrated authentic holiness and spirituality, the call to repentance and conversion.  It is amazing to have witnessed the humble devotion of his followers and clients over the years, be they great men or simple peasants.
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Great men and learning, education and riches, all of these are vanity, as today's first reading at Mass tells us: 
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"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." - Responsorial Psalm 90
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For the past few days I have been thinking of some friends of mine who are dead now.  One was an actor/model, a guy from a rich family, well educated at Catholic schools and college.  Some say he killed himself, others that he died from complications of alcoholism.  He was still quite young when he died.  I pray for him all of the time.  I wanted to write about him and searched for a photo or any trace of him online.  He died in the '90's - but there was nothing at all online.  Again today's reading comes to mind, "There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them." - [Ecclesiastes 1: 11]
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Very few of us will ever be remembered - despite all our ideas and convictions, our learning and accomplishments, even beauty and grace... "Vanity... all things are vanity.  What profit has man from all the labor he toils at under the sun.?"   What does it profit one to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?
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One thing lasts however.  Padre Pio and his simple followers know what it is.
 

5 comments:

  1. Sweet reflection, Terry. Thank you.

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  2. Lovely meditation, Terry.

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  3. That's sad about your friend. I have more dead friends than living ones now. And none of the deceased ones were very old when they died. It makes me feel like the old man with a stick, who was left behind. ( Although I'm actually not an old man with a stick, I'm a middle aged woman with a bit of a dodgy hip, trying to establish itself( the dodgy hip, that is, not me)).

    God never forgets who we are, He planned us to last forever, and I remember your friend now Terry, and ask God to draw Him closer to Himself. Thank God for your friend's life and ultimate purpose, known only to God.

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  4. To just love Jesus, offering our suffering, being faithful, and when we sin, being repentant, going to confession; loving our Lady; being very open to God...
    this is the legacy of St. Padre Pio...
    so absolutely what we need today!
    Thanks, Terry!

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