FROM THE LETTERS OF PADRE PIO: A LIFE OF CONVERSION

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FROM THE LETTERS OF PADRE PIO: A LIFE OF CONVERSION

Written by: Brother William Trauba Capuchin

Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
Peace and good will to each of you!
If everything is going my way, why change? This is the way we think and live most of the time, trying to make things go my way. I want to be comfortable in this world and content with the way I live. What more is there? And so, with good will and abundant hope I go along arranging this world as I am able, to live a better life today and tomorrow. This is the way most of us think and live. But the problem is that our efforts are inadequate, and our plans almost always lack resources and are full of short cuts and short comings, and even when we think we are getting ahead of the game we find that the results are not what we had thought and that the good fruit that we do enjoy is so precarious and temporal that one is constantly occupied to keep the plan working. The paradox is that to be comfortable I must always be uncomfortable! I find myself sacrificing my immediate comfort for a future comfort that never comes! And, in the end, death robs me of everything I have worked for. Is there a better solution?
It seems that there is. Padre Pio responds to a person who wants to be his spiritual daughter. Padre Pio answers that yes, she can but with the condition that she convert from her worldly style of living. His advice to her, Elena Bandini, is included in his letter to her written January 25, 1921:

My dearest daughter,
May Jesus always be totally yours; may he look upon you always with benevolent eyes, assist you always in everything with his vigilant grace, guide you always in everything, and may he sustain you and make you holy!
With these most sincere prayers which I assiduously say for you to Jesus, I reply to your letter which you sent me through Miss Serritelli. I am happy to hear you are always full of good will, and I render heartfelt thanks to God for this. Try more and more to make use of the talents you received from God.
Work assiduously for the salvation of our brothers and sisters and bring the spirit of Saint Francis to the knowledge of everybody; a spirit which is entirely that of Jesus Christ. Society needs to be reformed, and I know of no more efficacious means except that all should become Tertiaries of Saint Francis, and that they live with his spirit. On this condition and agreement, I number you amongst my dearest children.
Recommending myself and all those who belong to me, to your prayers, I bless you with paternal and redoubled affection.

The reply from Padre Pio that it is necessary to become ta Franciscan Tertiary to be accepted as his spiritual son or daughter makes us reflect on the importance of the change implied in this new focus on living. It seems clear that Padre Pio is demanding a conversion of the heart, a reordering of priorities in one’s life and a radical seeking of God in everyday living. Basically, it is a conversion from attachments to the pleasures and attractions offered by this world and all that this implies, in favor of a new attachment to the joys of the Reign of God and all that this new lifestyle implies.
This is a fundamental change. Saint Francis of Assisi reformed his heart from a comfort and contentment sustained lifestyle to seeking an interior spiritual happiness through living a relationship of love with God, with all persons, in particular with the poorest; and with all of creation. His new life option had for him sufficient meaning to break his slavery to the pleasures of a party lover. He negotiated the sale of his bodily comfort to purchase happiness for his soul. The reign of comfort and convenience no longer enjoyed this egocentric presence. Francis exchanged building churches with rocks and stones in favor of reenforcing the structure of the Church with ties of love, compassion, and faith in God. A follower of Saint Francis then, leaves behind his or her slavery to appetites and attachments to the things of this world and reorders them as means that promote faithfulness to seeking the face of God without distraction. Our instincts and bodily needs are good necessary guides for our survival in this temporal life but are insufficient to respond to the needs of our soul which is spirit with its own voice and right to the food that it needs for eternal life.
To live as a citizen in the Reign of God is to live in a relationship of love and appreciation with God, with all other persons, and with all creation. Padre Pio does not treat lightly the things of God, nor does he want to waste his time with persons nurturing a divided heart. Therefore, Padre Pio insists in a seriousness of intent as a starting point to be accompanied and directed by him towards a vibrant relationship with God. A Franciscan Tertiary and son of Padre Pio then, has chosen his road clearly and firmly. Perhaps not every person who wants to be accepted as a son or daughter of Padre Pio must become a Franciscan Tertiary, but each must exchange his or her citizenship from this world for that of the Reign of God. This is done by wanting to and deciding to fix the heart sincerely and humbly on the face of Jesus and to follow him wherever he may go.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin

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