was PADRE PIO?
IN UNION WITH CHRISTS SACRIFICE
By Joachim Bouflet
When he was ordained to the priesthood on 10th August 1910, Pio de Pietrelcina had holy picture cards printed on which the following prayer appeared.
" Jesus, my breath and my life,
Trembling before you today,
I elevate You in the mystery of love,
So that with You I may be - for the world
The Way, the Truth and the Life ;
And for You - a holy priest, a perfect victim. "
This prayer expresses the aspirations of the newly ordained priest. In it he announces what his life will be ; a sacrifice to the praise and glory of God. For Padre Pio there was no possiblity of seeing the priestly ministry without this dimension of self oblation which unites the priest to the sacrifice of Christ. In the words of a document of the Second Vatican Council we find a reference that applies, in posteriori, perfectly to him. " As ministers of the liturgy, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass, priests represent Christ in a special way. They represent Christ in person (persona Christi), who offered himself up as a victim for the sanctification of men. " (Presbyterorum ordinis) Father Pio was to represent, in the strongest sense of the word, " Christ offered up as victim " for more than fifty years. The grace of the visible stigmata, of charismatic significance in his case, was a constant reminder of this identification of the one Eternal High Priest and His priest.
From the beginning, because of his poor health, his confessor said to him at his first Holy Mass : " Your health is not too good ; youll not be able to be a great preacher. So, my wish for you is that you should become a great confessor. " Prophetic words. The priestly life of Father Pio flourished between the altar and the confessional, totally dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist and the ministry to souls.
A priest according to the Heart of God
In 1913 he wrote ; " The Lord has shown me as in a mirror that my whole life will be nothing short of a martyrdom. Jesus himself wants my suffering ; He needs it for souls. " The grace of the stigmata, which is a sign for the Church and the world in the person of Father Pio, is the seal of the mystical identification with Jesus, Priest and Victim. Despite the apparent anachronism of this view of the priest today, it is nonetheless fundamental and Vatican II has not hesitated to draw our attention to it. At a time when certain forms of the priesthood were being considered questionable, Father Pio came on the scene as a the figure par excellence of the "total" priest in whom precisely those priorities of the ministry were being emphasised. These were namely, the celebration of the Eucharist to bring the people of God together in ecclesial communion, and the cure of souls. His entire ministry was ordained to the Eucharist, " the source and summit of the whole of Christian life. "(Lumen Gentium) In the sacrament of Confession he brought people back to the Eucharist, back to true life. Through spiritual direction and his apostolate in letter-writing, he encouraged souls to abandon themselves without reserve to the love of God. His leitmotiv was love of God and of neighbour. He devoted his own life to this without reserve, spending 19 hours in the confessional like the holy Curé dArs and directing souls with the certainty of a Don Bosco with whom he is comparable as regards his charisms of discernment. His celebration of the Mass, the highlight of his day, gathered together the people of God in the celebration of the God of Mercy who gave His Son for the redemption of mankind. He was a priest according to the heart of God, burning with zeal for the Glory of God and the salvation of souls.
See : Il est Vivant 1996 1999