padre pio smile

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I saw my Padre Pio statue on the dresser. I didn’t think much about it. But then, this thought came into my head: “When are you going to say something about me?” I stood there in shocked silence. I had every reason to, but I hadn’t and I should. Much is written about St. Pio’s life, his miracles, the stigmata, the powers of bi-location, of scents, his ability to read the souls of penitents before him. I have done some reading, but not enough to qualify it as research. I can only speak of my personal experience with this holy man.

In 2008, the month of April, I had my bladder removed because of cancer on the outer wall. I was blessed to find a doctor that knew how to provide me with a neobladder and not just an external collection bag. It was after this operation that Padre Pio came, in a very dynamic way, into my life.

I had been home from the hospital for close to five weeks. My bed had been moved down into the living room, since it was awkward for me to climb the stairs. During this time, the temporary catheter and bag were my constant companions. They were to stay with me until such time that I would get clearance from the doctors. Unfortunately, during this time, I was continually emptying an extemely dark red urine bag. There was no sign of it letting up. It would start out lemony colored, but would eventually turn out to be this burgundy, bloody color.

One Friday afternoon, I was sleeping in bed, and woke up suddenly. It was around 2:30 in the afternoon. I smelled my pajamas. I sniffed the bed clothes. Moving my head clear of the bed, I realized the room also smelled the same. It was the sweet smell of cinnamon. It was like I had just finished baking some apple pies. The whole house was permeated with the pleasant aroma. I was truly confused and mystified, but could come up with no explanation. My wife was still at work, and no one else was in the house. Eventually, I dozed off again. This time I was awakened by the phone. A nurse from the doctor’s office inquired about the color of the urine. I had not been expecting this phone call, since we had mentioned this problem a while ago, and another nurse had been in contact with us about it. I looked over the edge of the bed and told her that it was lemony colored, right now, but it would probably turn reddish before the end of the day. She simply said, “Keep your eye on it.” With that, she hung up. No goodby. I thought it strange, but decided that she must have been busy.

When my wife came home, I told her about the phone call and the strange smell of cinnamon. She was as mystified as I about both events. The color of the urine was still yellowish when she emptied it that night. The next morning, it was still lemony. At some point, my wife reminded me that Friday was the day I was supposed to go to the Padre Pio retreat. I took out some literature about the retreat, and began reading both about the retreat and Padre Pio. While reading, my eyes became glued on the phase “the power of scents”. Whenever Padre Pio would be present with a person, the smell of roses, other flowers and sweet smelling perfumes would also be present. I looked hoping that it would say something about cinnamon, but it didn’t. My wife wisely said to me, “You were supposed to go to him on retreat, but you couldn’t, so he came to you.” I cried and cried, because I knew down deep, she was right. My urine… two years later, has never once been darker than lemony yellow.

I can’t prove that he came to me, and that he corrected my bloody issue. But, in my heart of hearts, I know he was there helping me.  I know that my cancer was the tool that he used to wake up my Christian life. And more importantly, he helped me grow in the realization that Christ has been waiting for me, all along.

As it turns out, I am writing this on Pentecost Sunday. I am not speaking about the Holy Spirit. But I believe all of this is happening today, because it is Pentecost. The Spirit comes to us today, to strengthen us, so we can speak to others, to show them how Christ is working in our lives. The Spirit comes to us so we can encourage others in their growth with Christ.

There are many websites devoted to Padre Pio. The one that seems to be the most informative is the one entitled the Padre Pio Shrine, it can be reached by going to http://shrine.padrepio.us/padrepioshrine/

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