20 years have passed since the canonization of Padre Pio, the friar of Pietrelcina who spent most of his life in San Giovanni Rotondo. To honor his life, yesterday June 16, the twentieth anniversary was celebrated in San Giovanni Rotondo in the churchyard of the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The words of Jesus to the disciples, “My yoke is sweet and my load is light ” they helped more than 10 thousand faithful present to understand the most important message of this solemn celebration. In fact, we can consider it, in a certain sense, as a magnificent synthesis of the entire existence of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
The evangelical image of the “yoke” evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo found himself facing. And it is easier for us to understand how sweet Christ’s “yoke” was and how light his load was carried with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and pains, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged path of holiness, which opens towards perspectives of a greater good, known only to the Lord. Isn’t it really the “boast of the Cross”What shines most in Padre Pio? How current is the spirituality of the Cross lived by the humble Capuchin of Pietrelcina! Our time needs to rediscover its value in order to open our hearts to hope. Throughout his life, he sought ever greater conformity to the Crucifix, having a clear awareness of having been called to collaborate in a particular way in the work of redemption. Without this constant reference to the Cross, his holiness is not understood.
In God’s plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation for all humanity and the way explicitly proposed by the Lord to those who want to follow him. (cf. Mc 16, 24). The Holy Friar of Gargano understood this well, who, on the feast of the Assumption of 1914, wrote: “In order to reach our ultimate goal, we must follow the divine Head, who does not want to lead the chosen soul by any other way except for the one he has beaten; for that, I say, of self-denial and of the Cross“(Letters II, p. 155).
Padre Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all through hospitality, spiritual direction. The ministry of the confessional, which is one of the hallmarks of his apostolate, attracted countless crowds of faithful to the Convent of San Giovanni Rotondo. It’s still attracts many young people looking for a meaning in life, for something to believe in. Many young people who are looking for Christ and not a pagan church, all exterior, a true church, which is an example, and not empty ceremonies. Many young people who look to Padre Pio why they seek values and faith and not power, creeping servants, robbed robbers, the roasted mourners who crowd the front rows when there is TV, the slimy “powerful” cocaine addicts who frequent the palace. Many young people who seek an awareness of the gravity of sin and a pacifying embrace of sacramental forgiveness and not an avant-garde showman.
I have actually seen many young people head bowed, so different from the unhappy young drunkards already defeated by an empty life, who seek the ultimate reason for Padre Pio’s apostolic efficacy, the profound root of so much spiritual fruitfulness which is found in that intimate and constant union with God of which the long hours spent in prayer were eloquent testimonies. He loved to repeat: “I’m just a poor friar who prays“, Convinced that”prayer is the best weapon we have, a key that opens the Heart of God ”. Prayer and charity, here is a very concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching, which today is re-proposed to everyone.