FROM THE LETTERS OF PADRE PIO: LIVING THE EASTER
Written by: Brother William Trauba Capuchin.
Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
Happy Easter! May the joy, hope and peace of the Resurrected Christ fill your hearts with new life!
In this month of April, the liturgy of the Church invites us to meditate on the Easter mystery: the death and resurrection of Jesus. This mystery, like other mysteries concerning God, are mysteries not because they are unknowable but because they are always more and more comprehensible. One can always learn something new by an attentive listening to the experience of an encounter with these mysteries. Usually, these moments of light are surprising and widen our horizons, heal our wounds, and engender peace, happiness and hope in our soul. Before a mystery one is taught in silence and in solitude to imbibe the brilliance of the truth, to receive the tender embrace of his mercy and to be seduced by the enchantment of his beauty that includes all in itself and gives itself as a breath of love and life in all that exists.
Padre Pio, 27 years old, was already experiencing the mysteries of God in new and unfamiliar ways. His commentaries of these experiences to this spiritual director, Father Benedetto de San Marcos in Lamis, can encourage and orient us in our own encounter with Jesus crucified and risen from the dead. A portion of his commentaries is found in his letter to Father Benedetto written March 26, 1914:
I no sooner begin to pray than my heart is filled with a fire of love. This fire does not resemble any fire on this lowly earth. It is a delicate and very gentle flame which consumes without causing any pain. It is so sweet and delightful that it satisfies and satiates my spirit to the point of insatiability. Dear God! This is a wonderful thing for me, something I will perhaps never understand until I get to heaven.
Far from diminishing the satisfaction of my soul, this desire increases it. The delight I feel in the depth of the soul is not diminished by desire, but rather perfected by it. The same is to be said of the desire to enjoy continually this intense flame, for the desire is not extinguished by the delightful experience but is rather perfected by this delight.
From this you will understand that the occasions on which I can use my intellect in discursive prayer and avail of the activity of my senses are becoming increasingly rare.
We note particularly the surprise Padre Pio experienced in his new encounter with God. His experiences of the Divine become more and more ineffable to the point in which he feels incapable of expressing what they are. It is also noteworthy that these experiences are sweet, subtle, and delicate. Not any spirit is able to perceive them. Only spirits that are docile, pure, attentive, and disposed are capable of synchronizing with the shimmering of the Spirit who blows where he will. The sufferings of Padre Pio were assumed with his full comprehension and willingness in love and faithfulness to God. Padre Pio’s steadfast faithfulness and love in these trials purified his soul so that the grace of God might permit him to perceive the subtleties of his spirit in relation to the Spirit of God.
Our experience of these movements of the spirit of God in our soul is difficult in great part because of the many distractions that invade our attention. So many stimuli bombard us daily in our environment physically, emotionally, and now more recently virtually as well. They carry us along pushing us to make precipitous decisions and act imprudently. We are on the run much of the time and the world applauds our efforts because it sees that we are doing more and producing more, and we are seduced by this praise into thinking therefore that we are more important. Nevertheless, our soul remains empty and longing for something more substantial and enduring.
To renew our life through the paschal mystery we need to value silence and solitude as moments for listening and encounter. This is a looking inward instead of outward. Our encounter with God is always inside of us and not outside because God is spirit, and our spirit remains within our body. This encounter presumes attention and disposition. It implies leaving aside social networks for the present to connect to the network of our inner being. At first, we will feel bored and frustrated because we have not yet synchronized with the frequency in which God speaks to us. We still expect his voice in the way in which we are accustomed to hearing the world outside of ourselves. With time, attention, patience, our spirit becomes more still and disposed, and its perceptive powers are refined in the silence of our heart. Our inner awareness begins with being present in the here and now and in being attentive to the beauty of the ordinary and simple things. One becomes aware that the plants and flowers sing like the birds, the trees reveal their secrets, and the mountains recount the history of the ages. Intertwined in all of this, the voice of God comes to us as a whisper as he did to Elias, soft at first but yet piercing, sweet and attractive. All this newness can make one uncomfortable at first because it is unfamiliar, but this insecurity is overcome by the tenderness and nearness of our Lord and by knowing that we are really important to Him, who is both creator of the universe and our loving, merciful Father.
With eagerness and thankfulness bursting from our heart, let us resolve to plan these inner spaces of silence and solitude during these fifty days of Eastertide. All of a sudden, we will find ourselves surrounded by the mystery of life, which is the resurrection; love coming to life at every glance perceived with new eyes that see as never before our place in the Father’s heart, our future home. We see our way there in Christ with each decision we make to participate in Love loving and Life living in us.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Fray Guillerm Trauba, Capuchin