FROM THE LETTERS OF PADRE PIO : THE JOY OF THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD
Written by: Br. William Trauba Capuchin
Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
The resurrection of Jesus is the cry of victory of Life over Death! With good reason we can rejoice during this Eastertide with sentiments of gratitude, joy and hope in our hearts knowing that we also are recipients of this victory. Nevertheless, daily trials and difficult moments with other persons distract us from this benevolent frame of mind. How can we maintain this sense of joy and optimism in the monotonous routine and unexpected trials of daily life?
Padre Pio lived the death and resurrection of Jesus as perhaps no other. We usually assume that he lived more the passion and death of Jesus than his resurrection; but that is not true! It is not possible to suffer such trials with so much coherence and good fruit, even miraculous fruit, without having recognized that this suffering be also an act of love that engenders in an astounding way life itself. One cannot separate neither love from life-giving nor the passion and death of Jesus from his resurrection. When our suffering is directed by love, we are live-giving instruments in God’s hands and our happiness is coalescing within us without us being sensibly aware of it. Consequently, it is necessary to maintain this fecund intention of loving during the daily trials to participate in the happiness that is the result of a fulfilled life.
Attention to the presence of God as “Love loving”, in the routine activities of our life is the recipe for happiness that Padre Pio offers to this spiritual daughter, Raffaelina Cerase. His counsels are directed to her in a letter dated December 17, 1914:
Take care, moreover, not to lose the presence of God by any action whatsoever. Never undertake any work or any action without first raising your mind to God and directing to Him with a pure intention the action you are about to perform. You should do likewise at the end of every action. Examine yourself as to whether you have done everything with the right intention you had at the beginning and if you find you have been at fault, then ask pardon of the Lord with humility while making a firm resolution to correct your faulty conduct.
You must not be discouraged or let yourself become dejected if your actions have not succeeded as perfectly as you intended. What do you expect? We are made of clay and not every soil yields the fruits expected by the one who tills it. But let us always humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are nothing if we lack the divine assistance.
The counsel of Padre Pio to maintain our inner gaze on the divine presence seems so simple and obvious. But in practice, we find ourselves distracted almost continually from this divine presence in ourselves. Psychologists tell us that our behavior is the result of our emotions and that our emotions are caused by our perception. If this is so, maintaining our perception on the divine presence within us should result in these sentiments of gratitude, joy, and hope.
With the joy of the Easter Season in our hearts, we are avid to ask the Lord, “what do you want me to do?” Automatically we think that he wants us to initiate some activity or work of charity because our culture has educated us to believe that these outward actions are valued as efficacious, useful, and productive. But is this “productivity” what God wants most of us? I believe, rather, that God wants something more intrinsic like our personal relationship with him sustained day by day more than some extrinsic work, however good and productive it may be. This does not mean to do nothing! A relationship of love must express itself. Love, by nature goes outside of itself and engenders healing, health, and life. It seems that, to have a sustained relationship of faithfulness and life with God, he wants us to seek his face, to gaze upon his countenance. This is what pleases him, for us to look at him and him to look at us. This interchange of glances is without words and without concepts but is sustained consciously in humility by intentions of faith, love, respect, gratitude, and hope. Moreover, during these interchanges of looks the Holy Spirit secretly infuses itself in our soul and then indicates to us what to do and how to do it; always respecting our free will. God invites us, he does not force us.
In this interchange of glances between our soul and God, we can appreciate two beautiful aspects of Eastertide. The first directs our attention to the mystery of the resurrection and our participation in it which is to say our citizenship in the Reign of God. The second prepares us to receive the Holy Spirit who will strengthen our testimony of the goodness of God as we live the Good News. These two aspects of the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ and the infusing of the Holy Spirit act simultaneously in the soul well-disposed by the grace and mercy of God. We distinguish them for clarity and so to better appreciate these actions of God within us.
Let us start then, to enjoy this season of new life and the beginnings of eternal life within us. Our future is no more palatable than during the Easter Season. May God bless each of you with the beauty of his face.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin