But you won't hear about that. You won't hear about the Holy See's efforts to help the refugees in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. You won't hear about Caritas, or about Archbishop Paul Cordes special trip to Macedonia this past week to express to the people that the Holy Father understands and is with them. He was personally sent to Skopje, the birthplace of Mother Teresa to assure that the supplies and humanitarian provisions being dispensed are being distributed accordingly to the proper people and not being abused. You won't hear about Cardinal Camillo Ruini president of the Episcopal Conference in Italy, or Bishop Benito Cocchi, president of Caritas, or Bishop Elvio Damoli, director of the Italian Caritas of Bishop Diego Bona, head of Pax Christi. These are all humanitarian efforts originated by the Church to help victims and refugees with no regard to ethnic background, culture or creed. You won't hear about Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and his efforts to call on leaders of world medical and pharmaceutical organizations to pitch in and provide medical assistance to those who are in need in the Balkans. You won't hear about the Salesian emergency refugee camp in Tirana, called the "Don Bosco Camp" which are taking care of 750 refugees, including 312 children, 132 of which are school age and being taught by thirteen teachers from Kosovo. You won't hear about Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, top foreign-affairs official for the Vatican and his around-the-clock efforts to effect a cease-fire, including the Easter Truce which was first offered by Tauran and the Holy See but the secular media gave credit to both Slobodan Milosevic and/or Madeleine Albright. You won't hear about the behind-the-scenes negotiating with the UN by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, president of the Council of European Catholic Episcopal Conferences. These countless Catholic efforts have gone largely unnoticed except being reported by L'Osservatore Romano as well as reliable Catholic news services such as ZENIT International News Agency, Catholic World News and Church News - all of which the DAILY CATHOLIC is proud to be associated with and carry regularly.
Longtime respected Vatican writer Antonio Gaspari railed earlier this week about the snub the secular media has perpetrated on the world by omitting Rome's influence on the peace process even though no sovereign nation has done more to bring an end to the bombing and ethnic cleansing than Vatican City. Gaspari asked, "Where are all the correspondents now who flocked to Cuba to report on the Pope's trip to the island? The same ones who spoke about the importance that must be given to John Paul's opionion in world affairs. The Pope's calls for peace aren't politically correct. Since they don't like what the Pope is saying - essentially, stop the bombing - they simply ignore it. There is an 'unspoken veto' being exercised against any news that comes out of the Vatican about the Kosovo wrar. Now, how can you call that objective journalism?' The bottom line is you can't and even more reason to doubt what you read or hear on the evening news because it is all carefully orchestrated as propaganda, not news you can use. That is another reason we began the DAILY CATHOLIC two years ago, to be able to bring you the world news from a Catholic perspective. Hey, if Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch can do it, why can't we? True, we're a few cents short of their budget...wayyyyy short, but the truth doesn't have to cost a cent. It's the lies that are being fostered that cost so much. The world still thinks the Iron curtain fell because of the United States and Ronald Reagan. How dense can they be? It fell because of the prayers Our Lady asked for at Fatima and Pope John Paul II's behind the scenes efforts directly with Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev, but you didn't hear anything about that. Pope Pius XII went out of his way and behind the scenes to shelter and protect thousands and thousands of Jews during World War II, and up until recently you hadn't heard anything about that until some liberal Jewish factions accused him of not helping enough, of ignoring the Jews and then, Katie bar the door, proof came out of the woodwork on Pius' behalf proving without a shadow of a doubt of Pius' involvement. The difference is that the Holy See during the time of Pius and the current pontificate of John Paul II operate in silence, striving to decrease so God can increase.
Speaking of silence, this weekend we celebrate the feast of one of the most silent of saints, yet most effective and truly most obedient: Saint Joseph the Worker. The significance of this feast, unfortunately, has been lost on the last generation or two as well as many in the secular media since many do not fully comprehend the word "worker" or what truly constitutes work ethics. Ever since God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden with the edict, "In the sweat of your brow..." (Genesis 3: 19) man has worked and toiled to eat and provide for himself and his family. For centuries this work ethic was a proud tribute to the determination and fortitude of countless generations, leaving behind memorials of their labors from the proud cathedrals of Europe to the writings and teachings of the saints and doctors of the Church. Only in the last quarter of this century has the work ethic slagged. This, in turn, eroded our concept of common sense and decency. We've become soft and lazy especially in America where convenience has replaced ingenuity; where the ACLU has created an atmosphere of skating and sue someone to get ahead, where laziness is the goal and where love and the sanctity of procreation has become lust and "anything-goes"; where man's dogged self-will has replaced God's Divine Will.
It's time to return to the values and virtues exemplified by the foster father of Jesus and chaste protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Too often, in our daily hustle and bustle coupled with the streamlined liturgy of today, we have lost the concept of the saints and their importance in our daily lives. No saint is more misunderstood yet more effective than St. Joseph. With his feast always falling inside of Lent and lost amidst the fasting of that season, it is fitting that Holy Mother Church has given him another feast day to celebrate his attributes. How many realize that St. Joseph is the "Patron of the Universal Roman Catholic Church," "Safeguard of Families," "Patron of a Happy Death," "Hope of the Sick," "Consolation of the Poor," "Rescuer of Sinners," "Model of Righteousness," "Solace of the Afflicted," "Patron of Priests and Seminarians," "Model of Single Men and Married Men," "Guardian of Virgins," "Protector of Children," and, of course, "Model of Christian Workers?" In the Litany to St. Joseph there are even more titles, but those are the main ones. Many have attested to his intercession in selling their homes by praying to him and burying a statue of this treasured saint upsidedown in their yard. Sellers claim within days, even hours and minutes, they have sold their real estate. Others might consider this superstitious, but when you combine all the miraculous phenomena associated with this holy saint, it makes perfect sense. And the work ethics he instilled in his young foster Son are the same we should emulate today if we truly hope to attain Heavenly retirement. No gold watches, rather a gold-mine of graces. But those graces are harder to attain if we succumb to the slothful ways of the 90's where walking to the corner store is a chore and if something doesn't cook in 30 seconds why bother. Service, the watchword of so many companies in the forties and fifties, has become a dinosaur. For young people, getting a job such as a grocery clerk, lawn mower, paper carrier, or fast-food server during the summer or after school used to be a rite of initiation into adulthood. Today these jobs are looked upon begrudgingly. "Why do I have to work?" and "What's in it for me?" have become the watchword. Gimme, gimme, gimme is the cry with nary a thought to giving to others. Slackards posing as sloven, wretched homeless, covet busy intersections holding up hand-scribbled signs depicting their plight. Yet, investigators have revealed that so many pass half-a-dozen Help Wanted signs in walking from their out-of-sight parked car without once applying for a job. Why? Because reliable estimates have set their daily take at $100. to $200. a day tax-free for maybe three to four hours of prime-time rush-hour begging. Christ said in Mark 14: 7, "For the poor you have always with you" but the manner in which so many have misrepresented those truly unfortunate and the way they have bilked the government and generous passers-by are truly ridiculous and shameful. Teaching young people to work is a task in itself as those who teach and mold the youth have been supplanted by the more-than ever arrogant movie, rock and sports idols who seldom do anything to contribute positively to society. Yet it's their example and lifestyles that are glorified by the false prophets of today, giving the past few generations a totally wrong impression of values, common sense, decency and priorities. Parents and teachers are curtailed today from carrying out discipline because of liberal laws that protect the guilty, the lazy, those not old enough to vote, our innocent children who won't stay innocent long if we can't help them through loving discipline.
It is no coincidence that Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is going to be beatified this weekend. First of all it is the month of May, the month dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady has said so often that "Obedience bears the greatest fruit." and few saints in the annals of the Church were more known for obedience than St. Joseph and the newest addition Padre Pio. The latter, because of the political climate of his order and jealousies, was forbidden from saying Holy Mass or ministering to the people. For someone with his gifts and great love for God and His Church, this had to be the ultimate sacrifice. But, like Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, this mystical Capuchin monk loved God that much to be humble and obedient and now he is being rewarded this weekend when nearly a million people convene in Rome to celebrate his elevation to the ranks of the beatified. He couldn't have done it without prayer, hard work, dedication, sacrifice and fortitude and it is only through prayer, hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and fortitude that we can reinstate these values of human life to our own life, our family, our society and our world. Joseph and many great saints throughout Church history have set the bar for running the good race. Padre Pio is known to bilocate mystically, appearing to two people at the same time thousands and thousands miles apart. You see, he gets around a lot. And the answer to this is the same answer we seek in life. The answer lies not in riches, conveniences and lax living, but in peace of mind and contentment with all that God grants. If we could but return to this mentality, the Tabernacle of Our Lord would have many, many more frequent visitors and the tabernacle of satan would be properly turned away in a corner collecting cobwebs. This then is the answer to true happiness. But it is a utopia few can fathom or long for after they have experienced the times we currently live in - the era of the Seven Deadly Sins. Only through prayer and a dedication to emulate St. Joseph can we entertain any hope of reversing the trend toward self-destruction and revive the pulse of hard work, common sense, decency and honest reporting. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to invoke the help of Blessed Padre Pio!
Conservative estimates expect at least half a million people but, on the street, most agree with Guido from Bologna who says: "at least a million, maybe more. Ain't been nothing like this since the times of St. Francis!" Perhaps. The fact is that even the government television station is suggesting that people stay home and watch it on TV so as not to overburden the already strained public transport system that is not-quite-ready for the enormous influx of pilgrims expected this weekend in Rome.
Of course, true to style, the Italians go about their business with little regard for "official" suggestions and are turning out from every corner of the country if only to be able to say "they were here." They are arriving in buses, campers, cars, trains, and planes, even an Italian pilgrimage on bicycles has added to the popular folklore sure to be remembered for years to come. Or at least until next year's Jubilee begins and shatters all previous records.
This weekend in Italy is shaping up to look like St. Patrick's Day in Ireland where the only two kinds of people are devotees of Padre Pio, and those who wish they were.
In order to better understand the person of Padre Pio, the Vatican news agency 'Fides' interviewed Fr Fidel Gonzales, Consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who has read 104 volumes of documentation on the life and work of this humble friar. Fr. Gonzales is a Comboni missionary who worked in Africa for 11 years and currently is professor of Church History at the Pontifical Urban University and the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Tell us about the holiness of Padre Pio.
FR. GONZALEZ: The life, work and virtues of a Saint are an expression of Christ's mystery. A Saint is a person who at a certain time in history reveals the face of Christ to those around him. Tommaso of Celano, who wrote a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi, writes in the prologue: "Francis renewed the Church by showing that poverty and inner freedom are a path to holiness". The foundation of the Order was an extension in time and space of St Francis' charity. This also applies very well to Padre Pio: he was a "Franciscus redivivus," a new Saint Francis, gifted with the very same charisma. He brought the charisma of Saint Francis nearer to our day.
People were drawn to Padre Pio while he was alive and they still are, indeed even more since his death. In 1997, Pope Paul VI held him up as a model of holiness: "Look at his fame. Look at all the people from all over the world he gathered round him! Why? Was he a philosopher or a man of great wisdom, or a man of many means? ... Because he said Mass with deep humility, heard confessions from morning to night... because he was a man of prayer and of suffering!"
What would you say was at the heart of Padre Pio 's experience?
FR. GONZALEZ: A reflection by Cardinal Siri touches, I think, the nucleus of Padre Pio's charismatic experience: intimate sharing in the spiritual pain of Christ's passion. "It is in Our Lord's agony in the Garden -- the Cardinal writes -- that Padre Pio has the most profound and intimate spiritual experience (...) His mission was to renew Christ's Passion". This is the nucleus of Padre Pio's experience, found again and again in the documentation and in his writings.
Would you say Padre Pio was a missionary?
FR. GONZALEZ: His suffering itself had clearly a missionary dimension, since the suffering of Christ is a redeeming suffering, for the salvation of all mankind. Padre Pio was fully aware that through his physical and interior suffering he shared in Christ's saving mystery for the salvation of the world. He realized that he was completing the Lord's Passion for the good of the Church, as Saint Paul says: "I complete in my body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for his body, that is the Church". (Col 1,24). Indeed he was ever more aware of this as the years passed. On November 6th 1919 he wrote: "Poor me, I am exhausted and plunged into the deepest sadness, amidst the most profound anguish, not that I will never see my God, but that I will not be able to win all people for God". His one concern in life was the salvation of sinners. His whole life was centered on the fact that salvation is universal and must be communicated to all men and women.
Another missionary trait of his life was that he saw time, not at his own, but as belonging to others. He devoted himself entirely to encouraging and consoling other people. For many sinners Padre Pio was the embrace of Christ which is a new beginning. Although, like Saint Teresa the Little Flower, patroness of Missions, was never to go on mission, he participated in the mission of communicating salvation.
Moreover the great works he left us are signs of his profound missionary spirit. These works are also a demonstration of his sociability: he was not a mystic. He was acutely aware of the suffering of mankind and his great desire was to alleviate it. Padre Pio could not remain passive in front of human suffering: he felt he had to do something. The hospital is but one fruit of his concern, his charity. He involved prayer groups formed of people wishing to share his spiritual experience and so his missionary charity was immediately concretized.
What gift did Padre Pio bring to the Church?
FR. GONZALEZ: With Padre Pio the Church has been enriched in many ways. He helped thousands of people to renew their life as Christians, to rediscover their faith or to find it for the first time. In November 1922 he writes in his notes that he heard a voice saying "Be more holy and make others holy!" Moreover his life was lived within the Franciscan charisma. His consecration to Christ followed the charisma of Francis, an awareness which never left him. He also brought a strong new thrust to this Franciscan charisma, making it more vital and active in the Church.
As a missionary priest yourself, what have you learned from Padre Pio?
FR. GONZALEZ: I was struck by his total adhesion to the Passion, the love he showed in prayer with the Lord, his charity, love towards others, born of an experience of divine love. As a missionary I feel keenly his concern for the sufferings of the whole world, but also the harmony which the Holy Spirit breathed into his being: he lived a spiritual infancy, always a child, just like Saint Teresa, joyfully expectant of the Holy Spirit's surprises. I was also moved by the way he said Mass, by his gentleness in the confessional. Both as a missionary and a priest, I have benefited from knowing Padre Pio. He strengthened my vocation, helping me to be a more committed priest, open to the whole Church. I approached him not only as a scholar, that was my task: drawing near to Padre Pio has been a special grace for my spiritual life, as a priest and as a missionary. ZE99042920
O! Behold my Glorified Son who came at once to many of His loved ones that they might bear witness to His Resurrection, and the Glory which awaits the soul in Heaven, and the fulfillment of God's promise to raise the body which shall likewise be glorified.
In many countless places, the Risen Christ revealed Himself. In Jerusalem, in Bethany, in Nazareth to His cousins, in districts far and wide where those who loved Him needed to see Him, that the full truth of His Gospel might be preached to all the world.
My soul flew with my Son upon such a glorious mission, for the Father allowed His handmaid the privilege of being in constant adoration before the Only-Begotten Son of the Father. With what joy did my prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and petition rise continuously to the Throne of God. As my Divine Son revealed His Glory and gave instructions to each, I was there to allow my humble prayer to cause a flood of graces to descend upon all mankind.
Little children, every day as you pray the holy Rosary, you will walk the same path as the Holy Family did. You must suffer the Passion fully, dying to self, willingly dying of love for my Divine Son. Only in this way can you fully meditate upon the Glorious Mysteries, and their fulfillment, which is about to come upon the face of the earth.
Beloved children, look upon all who were privileged to see my Divine Son in all of His Glory, and allow the Holy Spirit to lift your heart and soul beyond the finite, tangible world you know into the supernatural realm you believe in but have not seen. I solemnly tell you that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you, mold and transform you into the image of my Divine Son, so that, at length, called home by the Father, you shall not only see, but also partake in the Glory which has been prepared for all who heed my Divine Son's Word and believe and live His Gospel.
Your world has known the Gospel, but has distorted it, weakened it, and in many places, it has been lost completely. Thus are my Divine Son'' words as recorded in Sacred Scripture about to be fulfilled, for you live in the last days.
Therefore, lift up your eyes and heart and be strong of faith, fervent in hope and ardent in love, for then shall you be the faithful remnant who will cause my Heart to triumph and then shall come the Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Age of the Divine Will.
Pray fervently. Be gathered with me in the room of the House of the Last Supper. Remain in prayer, keeping vigil. That which God has revealed shall come to pass and you who are gathered together in unity of mind and heart shall know the Truth of the Mysteries, which only Heaven knows, but yearns to give to mankind.
Come, my little ones. Pray with me, your Heavenly Mother. Together we will beg the Father to show forth His Glory upon the world, which is lost in darkness.
I love and bless each one of you. Know your prayers advance the moment of Glory. Therefore, be constant and do not waver. You are God's little children. Trust Him!
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part one: Chapter Thirteen The Ascension of Jesus
April 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message
Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. Little children, be joyful carriers of peace and love in this peaceless world. By fasting and prayer, witness that you are mine and that you live my messages. Pray and seek! I am praying and interceding for you before God that you convert; that your life and behavior always be Christian. Thank you for having responded to my call.
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