Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán O’Malley shares his reflections and experiences

Padre Pio Mass & Celebration

Today was a wonderful celebration. The church that was built in San Giovanni Rotondo is designed to accommodate huge crowds coming regularly. At the Mass there were a number of Bishops concelebratinga Capuchin Bishop from Argentina, one from Africa, the Bishop from Iraq, as well as the local Archbishop who is in charge of the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo and the works of mercy that Padre Pio initiated. It was wonderful to see so many young Friars from Italy. The Friars are still getting so many vocations. I attribute this to St. Padre Pio making such an impact on the Italian people.

People today were very gracious. The Friars are always very warm and fraternal and always make us feel at home. I feel that Padre Pios spirit of prayer and his mystique are part of that community, that Monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo. As the Superior said, that whole Monastery has become a relic of Padre Pio.

The local mayor was here and the head of the hospital. Some of the local dignitaries came as well. People from the Italian TV and Radio also came to cover the event.

I was gratified receiving a wonderful reception and the unexpected ovation from the Mass attendees at the end. It was a real privilege to celebrate this Mass. I said the entire Mass and Homily in Italian. I have not had many opportunities to celebrate Mass in Italianand I have to laugh because the Capuchin Superior said to me, Your Italian is really much better than our former Father General, who lived here 18 years and still had that heavy Canadian accent. lolsoI guess I did alright!

I was asked if I was nervous about celebrating Mass today at Padre Pios Shrine for the over-ten thousand people who came to worship. I actually felt excited, not nervous.

In my homily todaywhich I hope to post soonI tried to reflect on the meaning of the life of Padre Pio. The great themes of Padre Pios life are, first of all, his prayer life. He was a man who spent every free moment praying. He would say many rosaries everyday and lived to pray. Of course that prayer transformed him spiritually and allowed him to become a symbol of Gods presence. His ministry in the confessional was the third theme you see in his life. The first being prayer, second being charity.his great love for people, his passion to put up that hospital despite every obstacle he had to face.and third: the joy of forgiveness.

Over a million people went to confession to Padre Pio seeking Gods forgiveness and reconciliation and peace in their lives. Certainly in Boston that is a theme that is very important for us. It is one of forgiveness because of the errors of priests, errors of the Church, errors of the Church authoritiesthe forgiveness on the part of victims, those who have been wrongly accused, and on the part of all the Catholics who have suffered from the sex abuse scandal, we pray that the grace of forgiveness will heal us and make us whole.

I think that Padre Pios was a special vocation, a very contemplative life. The special ministry he had was one of prayer and hearing confessions and celebrating mass. Sometimes he would take hours celebrating Mass.with such piety and devotion.

Although each person has many demands on our life we must make time and space for God each day. That is why I always recommend to my seminarians, priests, and religious, to have a rule of lifea plan when one is going to pray, read the scriptures, say the rosary, go to confession. I always tell my priests what my Dad would say, When it is time to get a haircut, it is time to go to confession.

If we have some plan it helps us to incorporate prayer into our daily life. We do not have to be overly ambitious, because when we are overly ambitious the danger is that we will start off with great fervor and after a week, everything will be abandoned. It is better to start slow and build on our life of prayer. Simply, plan and make time.

I mentioned in my previous post that it was Pope John Paul II who canonized Padre Pio. The Pope actually went to San Giovanni Rotondo as a young priest and went to confession with Padre Pio. There are many people who speculate that Padre Pio told him at that time that someday he would be the Pope. At that time he was in his twenties. He also went back as a Cardinal. Then as Pope he went back to celebrate what would have been the Anniversary of Padre Pios 100 years.

After meeting Padre Pio early in his life, we went back to Poland. Pope John Paul II was teaching at the university at that time and one of his colleagues, a woman, came down with a very serious form of cancer. Pope John Paul II, who wasnt yet Pope, wrote to Padre Pio asking for his prayers on behalf of this fellow teacher. Padre Pio wrote back and said that the woman was going to get well. Soon after, when they took her to the hospital, the tumor had disappeared.

I have some pictures of the last two days to share with you. I will be sure to post more pictures from the Shrine and events with you in the coming days. I am looking forward to the upcoming week here in Rome and especially the Mass at Bostons Titular Church, Santa Maria della Vittoria next weekend.

I hope to meet with the Vatican Secretary of State, if hes available. While we are here, I will also make inquiry about the new Auxiliary Bishops for Boston.

Well, it was a wonderful celebration for Padre Pio. I feel so honored to have been asked to be a part of the event. I look forward to speaking with you tomorrow.

Good Night and God Bless,

Cardinal Sen