On Wednesday 23 September 2020, we jubilantly celebrated the feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. This great humble saint as well as my dear Capuchin brother (without personally meriting such an awesome grace!) gives us a practical yet profound reflection on who Mary is. The Holy Spirit inspired Padre Pio to delineate Mary’s role within our lives. Since his reflections on Mary are endless, I am going to limit myself to some few, simple but very resourceful quotes taken from his numerous writings.
For Padre Pio, Mary is an excellent guardian of our souls. He openly confessed: The Mother of Sorrows is my confidante, my teacher, my counselor, and my powerful advocate. Thus, by confiding ourselves to her maternal care through our filial trust in her, we shall rest assured that she will take a very good care of us, as a good mother worth her salt will surely do, after all! Thus, the stigmatised Capuchin advises you and me: Give yourself up into the arms of your Heavenly Mother. She will take good care of your soul. But, you may rightfully ask, how can Padre Pio be so sure that Mary takes good care of us? How did he know that? Well, he experienced her excellent maternal care first-hand! In fact, when troubled with the most atrocious turmoil which his life undoubtedly and constantly portrays and brought upon him, Padre Pio found Mary there, for him, ready to help him! In other words, where no one dared to set his and her foot in to assist him, there was the Virgin Mary, his beloved Mother, to support him as a mother certainly would do! He said: In my greatest sufferings, it seems to me that I no longer have a mother on this earth, but a very compassionate one in Heaven.
By praying the Rosary, Padre Pio could appreciate, more and more, Mary’s love for all of us, particularly when she gave us Jesus. Hence, he advises us: Hold on tightly to the Rosary. Be very grateful to the Madonna because it was she who gave us Jesus. For Padre Pio, if you and I really want to love our Blessed Mother and communicate her motherly love to those around us, we should pray the Rosary. He says: Love the Blessed Mother and make her Loved. Always say the Rosary. By praying the Rosary we are truly fortified against the evil which surrounds us! Padre Pio notes: Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother. It is exactly because all graces from God pass through Mary that we are to ask continually for her powerful intercession. He reminds us once again with his characteristic paternal insistence: Go to the Madonna. Love Her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!
In recognizing Mary’s role within his life as mediatrix of all graces that Padre Pio would, convincingly, advise those who told him they wish to support him to entrust him to Our Heavenly Mother: Recommend me to the Lord and to the Virgin Mother because I am in extreme need of their help. Obviously, his total trust in Mary had, as its basis, her undisputed humility. The latter is the key virtue for you and me if we really want Mary to be our confidante, teacher, counselor, and advocate. Therefore, Padre Pio duly emphasized: Always keep in mind the humility of our celestial Mother, who the instant she became the Mother of God, declared herself servant and handmaid of God.
Another interesting detail in the mariological reflection of Padre Pio is the fact that Mary is our encouragement when our sins seem to weigh so heavily on us! He said: If our ingratitude for God terrorizes us, if the memory of our faults hinders us from presenting ourselves to God our Father, let us then have recourse to Mary our Mother. She is all sweetness, mercy, goodness, and love for us because she is our Mother. After all, it is by following in the footsteps of Mary that we can really love and follow Jesus till the very end. Padre Pio’s prayerful wish for you and me, in this regard, is all the more clear and concrete too: May the Most Holy Virgin, who was the first to practice the gospel perfectly and in all its severity, even before it was proclaimed, spur us on to follow closely in her footsteps.
Padre Pio lived to its brim the loving invitation Jesus offers to us in the Gospel of Matthew: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:28-30). However, Padre Pio could detect Jesus’ qualities in His Mother too! That is why he would entrust himself to her! He says:
How many times I have entrusted to this Mother (the Virgin Mary) the painful anxieties of my heart. And how many times she has consoled me…..With what great attention she accompanied me to the altar this morning. It seemed to me that she had nothing else to think about but me, filling my heart with holy sentiments. I felt a mysterious fire in my heart, which I could not understand. I felt the need to put ice on in in order to extinguish the fire that was consuming me.
Though being so appreciative of the Virgin Mary’s loving protection of him Padre Pio honestly and brokenheartedly admits that he can never reciprocate enough her loving attention of him. My only regret is that I have no adequate means with which to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary, through whose intercession I have undoubtedly received so much strength from the Lord, to bear with sincere resignation the many humiliations to which I am subjected day after day. . . And I do not believe this strength comes to me from the world.
If Mary’s powerful intercession was the strength of such a great saint like Padre Pio, how much it would be of strength to us, sinners! Thus, let us never let a day pass in our lives without putting ourselves under the Madonna’s mantle by praying with deep faith and filial devotion the Rosary as Padre Pio always did, much to his personal benefit and, most of all, to the benefit of the innumerable people who entrusted themselves to his fraternal intercession!