FROM THE LETTERS OF FATHER PÍO: THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT
Written by: Br.William Trauba OFMCap.
Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
Peace and goodwill to each of you!
At times it seems that the pace of life in the modern world accelerates and becomes more complicated day by day, even with the quarantine imposed on all of us by Convid-19. We become more anxious trying to take advantage of new opportunities that modern living offers. Amidst the frustrations and desires we discover that the greater part of what the world offers us surpasses our capacity to obtain and assimilate in a useful manner. There is always one more thing to buy, to do or to learn. The currents of globalization have inundated us with their values and priorities. Although we know that God created all things good, with so many options and possibilities it is difficult to always make the best decision to use things for the good of others and as a means to God instead of only as a means to satisfy our particular whims and pleasures.
The rapid evolution of possibilities and opportunities in our world transfixes our attention on what is temporal and material, on what our five senses can perceive. The deep inner desires of our spirit often remain in waiting until there is time, time that we never seem to have. We risk developing an unhealthy disequilibrium if we fail to nourish our spiritual needs as we do our corporal deeds. We risk becoming worldly and egocentric. This is bad because it cuts us in half. We live life surviving more that enjoying the fullness of being alive. The nourishment of our soul with spiritual food is an interior process that is done and completed in silence, simplicity, with deliberate consciousness and tranquility. With good reason, then, Padre Pio directs himself to his spiritual daughter, Raffaelina Cerase, on the topic of simplicity in the context of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His observations and recommendations to her are direct, clear and profound and can help orient us also. They are found in his letter to her of July 14, 1914:
Unite your heart with the Heart of Jesus and be simple-hearted as He desires. Make an effort to reproduce in yourself Jesus’ own simplicity and keep your heart far from earthly prudence and the shrewdness of the flesh. Take care at all times to keep your thoughts pure, your ideas straightforward and your intentions holy. Let your will seek nothing other than God, His pleasure, His glory, and His honor.
Let us look at ourselves in Jesus, my dear, as our mirror, in Jesus who led a hidden life. All His infinite majesty was hidden in the shadows and silence of that modest little workshop in Nazareth. So let us, too, make every effort to lead a completely interior life, hidden in God.
This simplicity that Padre Pio recommends does not imply being indifferent to what is around us but rather being more sensitive to what is most important. It this context our scale of priorities becomes apparent because we give priority and attention to what is most interesting or meaningful to us. Padre Pio proposes that our union with God be our priority. If this is so, we will develop a right intention in our use of things and Jesus will become our model and interior reference. This inner reference of Jesus will help inspire us to make appropriate decisions in our use of things so that they may be means of our sanctification and union with God and help us engender an authentic love for others.
If God is not our priority, perhaps it is I! If I am what is most important to me, sooner or later I will end up very alone and needy. Death will overtake me and rob me of life and being so alone I will be quite powerless and defenseless before Death’s inevitable domination of me. I do not want to be dominated by Death! I am made for living not for dying! This frustration begs me to reconsider the doctrine that says that I was created by God to know, love and serve him and after the example the Divine Trinity, made to live in community one with another. In this way the frustration of my bodily impulses and needs gives voice to the transcendental aspirations of my spirit.
Our priorities engender a series of values that become references for our decisions. My decisions always change me. If I am to be authentic, the decisions that I make more or less consciously and freely call me to assume their consequences and implications. If my goal is to gain the whole world, I will dedicate myself to being satisfied as much as possible in this world and will accept the consequences. But if I follow the inner impulse of my spirit for the fullness of life, the Holy Spirit will direct me to God, and I will encounter the victory of life over death through Jesus risen from the dead.
Our outer world is rapid, conditioned by circumstances, temporal and changing constantly. All this is stressful and causes anxiety and insecurity. Our inner world and spiritual life, when healthy, experience an enduring peace and a yearning for God. Try it and you will see that it is true. Perhaps the quarantine of this pandemic will give us an opportunity to be more recollected and attentive to our spiritual needs. Nevertheless, the decision to take advantage of this situation as an opportunity for renewed spiritual growth is up to each one of us. If we want peace, wellbeing, and happiness we will be docile to our inner yearning for fulness and happiness and accept this yearning as a personal invitation on the part of Jesus to eat at his table.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus infuse light, love, and peace in your soul, especially in this month of June dedicated to his most Sacred Heart.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin