FROM THE LETTERS OF PADRE PÍO: A NEW YEAR FULL OF HOPE
Written by: Br. William Trauba Capuchin
Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
Happy New Year!
How are you doing with your New Year resolutions? Perhaps the pandemic leads us to fix our hope on freeing ourselves from this shadow of death which has oppressed us for almost a year. But if we merely want to return to a normality that we enjoyed previously, this trial and suffering will have taught us nothing. Thus, this year past will have been a year “lost”. But if we have learned something through the sufferings and insecurities caused by this pestilence, we can affirm that this time has helped me to give new meaning to my life. For some persons, this plague is a light that invited them to choose more profoundly the Reign of God and to invest their treasure, time, and talents more consciously in the pursuit of eternal life and happiness that Jesus promises us.
For the persons who have come to see the presence of God in spite of all the disorder caused by the covid-19 virus, and in this darkness have heard an invitation to return home, Padre Pio offers five counsels to guide their return to the home of their Father. His counsels are found in this letter to his spiritual daughter, Antonietta Vona, written November 15, 1917:
In order to live a devout life constantly, there is no need to do anything except imprint some excellent and generous maxims in your soul.
The first one I desire to see in you is that of Saint Paul: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him”. And in truth, given that the Lord can and is able to obtain good even from evil, for whom he will; would not he do this even more for those who have given themselves to him without reservation? Even sins themselves, which God keeps far from us by his goodness, are used for the good of those who serve him, by way of his divine providence. If the holy King David had never sinned, he would never have acquired such profound humility; nor would Mary Magdalen have so ardently loved Jesus if he had not forgiven her so many sins, and Jesus would not have been able to forgive her those sins if she had not committed them. …
The second maxim which I desire you to always keep imprinted in you soul is that God is our Father. So, what have you to fear while you are the child of such a Father, through whose providence not even a single hair will fall from your head?…
The third maxim is that you must observe is what the divine Master taught his disciples: “Did you lack anything?”. If God did not abandon you in the past, how can he abandon you in the future, when you want to be his from now on, even more so than you did in the past? Have no fear at all about any future harm which could happen to you in this world, because perhaps it might not happen to you at all, but in any event if it were to come upon you, God would give you the strength to bear it. …
The fourth maxim is that of eternity. The children of God should have very little interest in living these short moments which pass, as long as they live for eternity in the glory of God. ….
The fifth maxim which I beg you to keep constantly imprinted in your mind is that of the apostle Saint Paul: “I glorify myself only in the cross of my Jesus”. Keep Jesus Crucified fixed in your heart and all the crosses of the world will seem to you to be roses. …
If one is interested more in spiritual advancement this year than in material gain, he or she will not be disappointed by following the counsels of Padre Pio. Our environment and surroundings grow more worrisome day by day. Violence, poverty, insecurity, and the progressive contamination of our common home close opportunities and dampen hope to advance as before. One does not know where to go from here. But to go to the Reign of God would be a good option, one more advantageous than previously thought. This change of priority requires a change in mentality, a transformation deep within one’s soul. Only with this new interest and vision will the counsels of Padre Pio have sufficient meaning to guide us among the diverse circumstances that will confront us during this new year and sustain our hope of happiness. Nevertheless, if Christ and our life in him is really our goal and treasure, these five guidelines of Padre Pio will serve as references in our decisions and actions. With each affirmative decision made with sincere love for the Reign of God, the life of Christ increases in us and consequently our inner happiness as well. The stimulus that can start us moving in this great adventure toward wholeness and happiness is to meditate and experience “how much Christ loves me!”.
To everyone: Enjoy this new year as never before! Let it be a new beginning for your future of happiness and fulness of life!
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin