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Speaker Tells Zoom Audience . . . About The Life, Sufferings, And Sanctity Of St. Pio

February 17, 2021 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — Saints are warriors on a spiritual battlefield, some of them with physical wounds to show.
The twentieth-century Italian friar and mystic Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II only a third of a century after he died in 1968, was widely known for his stigmata, but the suffering of those unearthly bleeding wounds reflecting Christ’s crucifixion wasn’t the only assault on his flesh. Sometimes demons beat his body.
St. Pio’s life was the topic of a February 6 talk by Zoom through the Institute of Catholic Theology (ICT), an evangelization program based here at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, given by Jen Arnold, a Phoenix writer, catechist, and mother of five children.
Arnold holds master’s degrees in both catechetics and evangelization from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio, and a bachelor’s in English literature from the University of San Francisco, according to biographical information from the ICT.
St. Pio both was in intimate contact with Heaven and regularly assaulted by the forces of Hell. Arnold said he had ecstasies two to three times a day and communicated with his own guardian angel, Jesus, and the Blessed Mother.
However, she said, immediately before or after an ecstasy, St. Pio would be assaulted by demons, mentally and sometimes physically.
“Satan went after him like crazy because of his level of virtue and closeness to God,” said Arnold, who pointed out that she was wearing a Padre Pio tee-shirt for her talk.
Various online articles quote St. Pio: “These devils don’t stop striking me, even making me fall down from the bed. They even tear off my shirt to beat me!”
Prayer was the center of St. Pio’s life, Arnold said, and when people asked him to pray for them, great miracles could occur.
There are nine grades of prayer, she said, beginning with the first, vocal prayer, which is any form of prayer, whether written or spoken, all the way up to the ninth grade, the prayer of transforming union, “where you and God are inseparable.”
St. Pio probably is one of the better-known saints of the twentieth century. Many more people could find peace if only they recalled and practiced his admonition: “Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
His spiritual powers were wide-ranging. Still, Arnold said, he always was humble and quick to say the many healings from his intercessory prayer were due to God’s will and the Blessed Mother.
He was born “to a simple farming family” in 1887, she said, and entered the Capuchin friary when he was nearly 16 years of age. He first received the invisible stigmata, which meant he suffered the pain of the wounds without their being seen, then St. Pio received the visible stigmata beginning in 1918 and for the rest of his life.
The saint had “so many charisms,” she said, commenting that a charism is given to benefit other people, not to enrich those with the charism.
One dictionary definition of charism is an extraordinary power, given by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church.
St. Pio’s charisms included prayer, providing the Sacrament of Confession, communicating with angels, bilocation, and clairvoyance, Arnold said.
“He was a great confessor” and had the ability to know if someone was truly contrite, she said. If people were not, St. Pio would tell them to go home and increase their remorse, then come back to him for absolution, she said, adding that if penitents deliberately or unintentionally omitted confessing a sin, he’d prompt them that they forgot to mention something.
Because of his “God-given ability” through clairvoyance to know people’s minds, hearts, and souls, the best time to ask St. Pio for something was just to think of that during his Mass, Arnold said, then, after Mass, he would respond to their thoughts.
In addition, he could bilocate, meaning he was seen in two distinct places at the same time. There’s “story after story after story,” she said, of how St. Pio would visit people to help them or advise them, even though he didn’t leave his monastery.
Only a few saints in addition to St. Pio had this ability, she said, including St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua.
A suffering for St. Pio had occurred when he was ordered to say Mass in private and couldn’t carry out his ministry while he was being investigated over the suspicion the stigmata wasn’t authentic but was only self-inflicted wounds, she said, which caused him the distress of not being believed.
He also underwent the suffering of spiritual aridity, receiving no consolation when meditating on the agony of Jesus, she said.
St. Pio had a gift for providing spiritual direction and always gave sound advice on how to grow in virtue and holiness, Arnold said.
Although he performed many healings, St. Pio also founded a nearby hospital, whose name in English is “Home for Relief of Suffering,” because he understood that miraculous physical healings are not always God’s will and medical intervention is necessary, she said.
Pope John Paul II said St. Pio was in endless spiritual combat, sustained by the weapons of prayer, Confession, and the Mass, Arnold said.
When a confessor tested St. Pio by writing him letters in languages the saint didn’t understand, his guardian angel interpreted the letters for him, she said — part of his life of “seeing angels literally everywhere,” angels laughing, crying, and driving cars. She didn’t describe why angels needed cars.
However, an online site for St. Pio and “The Guardian Angel” says the friar informed a man that when he fell asleep at the wheel, his angel drove for him.
His public funeral attracted nearly 100,000 people, she said, and when his body was exhumed in 2008, it was found to be incorrupt.
Asked by a member of the Zoom audience if St. Pio ever called out an angel’s name, Arnold said no, he’d only refer to “my angel” or “your angel,” although angels are individual to each person.
Although St. Pio wasn’t a strong man but was “feeble,” she said during the question period, he might hear Confessions for 12 hours straight. “He must have had 72-hour days” for all he did.

St. Pio’s Canonization Day

The ICT’s assistant director, Bill Marcotte, told the Zoom audience of receiving St. Pio’s assistance on the very day the friar was to be canonized.
Marcotte said he had a devotion to Padre Pio but didn’t realize as he flew into Rome one day that this was the canonization day. When he discovered that fact, he began trying to find a driver to take him to Vatican City for the ceremony, but five people turned him down, saying it was no use trying to attend because of the crowds.
But he discovered a man with a van who was willing to make the drive, which not only transported Marcotte there, he said, but enabled him to walk into the center of St. Peter’s Square.

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