This handy little book contains hundreds of direct quotes and short sayings of St. Pius of Pietrelcina
(better known as Padre Pio), arranged according to the Christian virtues and other spiritual topics, allowing the reader to encounter his thoughts about particular aspects of the Christian life in a more organized manner.
The first fifteen chapters are arranged under virtues corresponding to the classical Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, making this ideal for anyone to use for daily spiritual reading and inspiration. Reading these sayings while reciting the Rosary is like praying it with Padre Pio, joining both prayer and the study of his writings in one great journey of advancing all the more in holiness and the love of God.
Padre Pio (1881 – 1968) received visible stigmata in 1918 and for the next fifty years bore the wounds of Christ as the first stigmatist priest in history. Despite his constant suffering he heard confessions for several hours every day and guided countless souls to holiness. He was a model of humility despite the fame that he gained because of the mystical gifts attributed to him. The richness of his interior life is revealed in his letters, from which the quotations in this book are drawn. He was canonized in 2002.
The challenging call of today’s Catholic Church leaders for a New Evangelization is actually a revitalization of the Gospel mandate to Go out and make disciples of all nations. And yet this mandate had in fact never been forgotten; to use the expression of St. Augustine, it is ever ancient, ever new. One of the most beautiful examples of evangelization in the history of the Church is that of St. Francis of Assisi. He became God’s instrument for the evangelization of those times when he came to understand that the world and the Church had grown cold in loving the Lord. St. Francis and his followers fell in love with Jesus Christ. The fire of their love for God and the zealous joy that flowed from it made them the instruments of the Holy Spirit as He invigorated the hearts, minds and attitudes of the people of God. And so it continues, thanks be to God, into our own times.
For all this to come to pass, St. Francis of Assisi first experienced a radical transformation as the Word penetrated his being with a joyful awe at Christ’s ever-present Providence, an awe that fuelled an immense trust in Christ as the Living Light Who is on fire with love for mankind. St. Francis insisted that the Lord Himself showed Him what he should do as no human or ecclesial influence determined the path he was to follow. He said: The Lord has told me that he wanted to make a new fool of me in the world, and God does not want to lead us by any other knowledge than that. (Cf. the Legend of Perugia.) Francis clarified for his followers that God desired their witness to Him in the world to be that of living the apostolic life; living according to the form of the Holy Gospel indicated for the 13th century Church something radically new. And yet again, the little poor man from Assisi insisted on the centrality of the human heart in receiving the Word: But that which is sown on good soil are those who hear the word with a good and noble heart (Lk 8:15) and understand it (cf. Mt. 13:23) and keep it and bear fruit in patience. (Lk 8: 15). This Holy Founder of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters did not have a fundamentalist understanding of the Gospel but rather a heart open to the inspiration of the Spirit, who conforms the person to Christ.
And from all this flowing of grace down through time, culture and Church life, a gift to the Church and the whole world would come to draw breath in a poor portion of Italy in the year of our Lord 1887. He is known to us as the humble mystic and canonized Saint, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. He fell asleep in the Lord in 1968, having endured the Sacred Stigmata in his body for over fifty (50) years. Padre Pio was a true forerunner, in his life and ministry, of the new evangelization that we speak of today. Writers and researchers of mystical theology will be mining the life, work and words of this mysterious Franciscan Friar for years, as is true also in the continued studies of the writings of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order that Padre Pio joined as a young man and persevered through to his holy death.
John McClernon, in yet another volume of Sermon in a Sentence, highlights the wealth of wisdom which flowed through Padre Pio. From the Capuchin Franciscan friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio served as a spiritual father to people from all over the world. His voluminous correspondence advised, cajoled, challenged, remonstrated, reassured, encouraged, and consoled. Truly, his life personified the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis and this book traces the holy Padre’s wisdom and loving-kindness, perspectives and attitudes to their core essence.
The dictum popularly said to have been given by St. Francis to his earliest followers, preach always, use words when necessary was manifested in Padre Pio’s life. It is said that St. Francis of Assisi not only prayed, but that he was a living prayer. Surely it can be said of Padre Pio that he was a living word of Jesus Christ. In his life, work and words we feel his deep union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus who burns to pour out his love on aching mankind. We may never understand fully all that Padre Pio experienced in his soul throughout his long life. Perhaps it is not for us to know, as we walk by faith, not by sight. Nevertheless, when taken into prayer, these pages will open to the reader a glimpse of how this great soul who would one day literally bear the marks of Christ’s Crucifixion on his body, came to know the Lord. This book you hold in your hands will thus serve you, with the help of the good God, to come to an appreciation of what is possible when one humbly joins one’s will to the Will of the Father.
This Sermon in a Sentence volume on Padre Pio provides a rich and aromatic bouquet of the beauty of God’s love for each of us. Each quote serves as a provocative stimulation to look deeper, ponder longer and trust ever more in the Lord. Here is a rich treasury of wisdom to inspire spiritual directors and those whom they direct. RCIA Directors, Faith Formation Parish Teams, and clergy will take great joy in this work, as all of us are life-long learners even though some of us have the ministry of teaching. I recommend this to parents too, since, according to the Baptismal ritual, they are the first teachers in the ways of our Faith.
I recommend this to preachers of the Word in particular. Truly, in breaking open the Word of God for His people, the discipline of singular focus on a particular aspect of the Gospel and the spiritual life is necessary. A very good aid in this can be found in John McClernon’s selections, which can be of great help to those who want to make their sermons or homilies clear, precise, and focused. Every one of these sayings reflects its roots in the Gospel and Padre Pio’s own prayerful insights into the work of priestly ministry.
This text should never be far from one’s reach both in good times and in the more needy moments when we need some anchor to ground us when the way is unsteady or profoundly shaken. These quotations reflect the Gospel and Padre Pio’s prayerful discernment of the workings of God in and among us. The format is clear and theme-specific. It is liturgy-friendly for preaching, retreats, private prayer and group discussions for all seasons of the liturgical year. God is glorified here. How Christian! How Catholic! How very Franciscan!
Fr. James Gigliotti
Fort Worth, Texas
There are many Catholics who greatly desire to deepen their spiritual life and love of Christ by delving into the treasured writings of the Church’s great spiritual masters. But how many do so? The culture of today leads us to embrace such busy lifestyles. All too often the time needed to feed the soul takes a back seat, and we end up spiritually starved. The Sermon in a Sentence series is designed for just such a person.
Imagine spending a few minutes each day with St. Padre Pio, the famed Italian mystic graced with the stigmata of Christ. Millions of souls sought the spiritual guidance and counsel of the humble friar during the course of one of the most remarkable priestly ministries in the history of the Church, especially in the confessional, where he directed souls for as much as 16 hours a day. The recently canonized Franciscan friar has been considered by many as the most influential person in the life of the Catholic Church in the 20th century, and may well go down in history as one of her greatest mystics. God granted extraordinary graces to this humble servant of His, not the least of which was a great power of intercession for those who sought his advice and counsel. Millions of souls continue to visit the remote Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo each year to pray before the tomb of Padre Pio, making his earthly home one of the most visited shrines in Europe, even more than Fatima and Lourdes. There is no doubt that the great love for souls and miraculous spiritual powers that Jesus Christ blessed Padre Pio with during his earthly years continue to this day from heaven. St. Padre Pio was beloved of millions because he was able to lead and guide them to Christ and His Church, and was a shining example of holiness in the midst of the spiritually-starved and confused secular culture we are living in this day. Sermon in a Sentence has been designed to bring the inspiration of Padre Pio’s words to you in a very simple and direct format.
Hundreds of short quotations taken from the writings and sayings of St. Padre Pio have been classified by the Christian virtues of which they speak and then arranged to complement the classic fifteen-decade Rosary, proceeding from the first joyful mystery (the Annunciation, with its virtue of humility) to the fifth glorious mystery (the Crowning of Mary, with its virtue of devotion to Mary). The Luminous Mysteries, introduced by John Paul II as an optional addition to the Rosary, are also included. For those who choose to use these excerpts for meditation while reciting the Rosary, we have placed a type ornament after the tenth one, to mark the end of a decade. Additional quotations follow, for use with the Rosary or for separate meditation. A selection of quotations on other spiritual topics of interest follows, bringing the reader a sample of St. Padre Pio’s insights into such subjects as prayer, the Church, and the priesthood.
It is hoped that this little book will serve as an effective introduction to one of our world’s greatest spiritual masters and director of souls. May these quotes and short sayings find a place in your heart and soul, and draw you closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ, who St. Padre Pio so faithfully and without reserve loved and served so well.
John P. McClernon
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