By: Andrew Gutierrez
St. Padre Pio is man who continues to produce awe and mystery.
Standing beside his relics at St. Rita Church on Wednesday, I watched each person approach to venerate them. They brought rosaries, holy cards, journals, scapulars…anything to help them be more connected to the Lord.
I wondered what was going through their minds as they touched the relics with these objects. Some used rosaries which, in dear devotion to our Blessed Mother, they have held close. Others used the holy cards provided at the entrance to the church. What I saw next moved me most: a young woman dressed in scrubs after what, I presume, was a full day at work knelt down and embraced one of the relics with both hands, holding something small in one of them. What did she bring to Padre Pio in hopes of his intercession? Her wedding ring.
Recall what the wedding ring symbolizes, what her husband told her during their wedding Mass: “Receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” She brings her husband’s love and fidelity to Padre Pio! This girl has got it! She brings what she holds most dear to her heart to the Lord through Padre Pio. She brings her vocation, her means of sanctification, her marriage and family!!! For the rest of her life, those rings are connected with the intercession of Padre Pio over her marriage and family.
To bring our vocations to the Lord – whether married or celibate – through the saints affirms the ecclesial and sacramental nature of our vocations. Our marriages are not to be locked up within homes, and diocesan priests cannot run away from the messiness of the world. BOTH vocations are to be massive lights and signs to the world that love still exists. That both human and divine love exists!!!
Padre Pio remains an icon of the Lord’s mercy and fidelity. He is known most of all for his repeated experience of the stigmata – the wounds of Christ on his own hands. But do we realize that the most important actions he ever performed were not his miracles, bilocations, or reading of souls – it was celebrating the mass in which the stigmata would bleed most heavily. Because in that moment, Padre Pio most imaged Christ. In fact, in celebrating the sacraments, the priest is Christ. Regardless of whether he ever had the visible signs of the stigmata, his celebration of the mass holds highest honor.
It is because he embraced his vocation to the priesthood and to holiness that the Lord granted him the gift and burden of the stigmata. That woman may never experience the stigmata as Padre Pio did, but by embracing her vocation to marriage as Padre Pio embraced priesthood, she will experience the invisible stigmata – a sign of her love and fidelity to the Lord and to her husband.
About the Author: Andrew Gutierrez
Andrew is a seminarian in Third Theology.
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