I was thinking about Padre Pio, and reading about how he not only accepted the pains of the stigmata, but that of all the pains that he had to endure. Very selfishly, I thought, “How easy it must be to accept the pains if you know they are given by God.” I immediately felt guilty for having that thought. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t really grasp just why it was wrong. That guilt started me on a path of thought that I believe enabled me to view how all pain and suffering can and should be endured by us.

If you really believe that God is God. If you really believe that God loves you and is truly concerned about you. Then I hope that the following will help you with your pains, with your suffering.

Yesterday, was Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate three persons in one God. A mystery, yes! Can our finite minds understand it? No. We cannot understand it anymore than we can understand infinity. The glass can only hold so much liquid. Our finite minds can only hold (and understand) finite things. We, as Catholics, believe that God, a perfect Being, has three persons (aspects, If you will) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “…he that sees me sees the Father”. -1 And later, He said, “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete (Comforter/Advocate…my insert), that he may abide with you for ever” -2 For ever? The Holy Spirit, also must be a person in God.

God, our God, is a loving God. His creation of love continues even now. He loves us so much, that He sent His Son. “By this has the charity of God appeared towards us, because God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him.”-3 All of these above references show the Love of God, the Persons in God, (or, if you will… aspects of God, that because of God’s perfection must take on existence , and do so separately, but one.) This digression, I feel, was necessary so that we can address the loving nature of God. God, truly does loves us, and said in very simplistic terms, can do anything. (This is not a treatise or proof about the Trinity. No amount of writing can explain the infinite.)

At the beginning of this article, I spoke of Padre Pio’s acceptance of all the pain that he experienced. How should we, you and I, view our pain? What pains do you live with? Physical pain and suffering that stays with you every day. You feel the ache every time you move? Does someone in your family, or maybe you, yourself, have an addiction to alcohol, to drugs, to pleasure? What worries or fears consume you? What are all of the negative experiences in your life that you wish would just go away and disappear?

If God loves us, and can bring about anything He wishes, why does He allow us to suffer, to bear these pains, to experience all these worries and cares? If we view St. Pio’s life we would see an emerging growth. The more he suffered, the more pain he endured, the more closely he became united with Jesus. He, Padre Pio, did not glory in the pain itself, but rather the acceptance of the pain was his gift back to God. It was his thank you.

Our attitude towards God, where we allow Him to be in our lives is extremely critical for us. If He is distant to us, if we talk to Him only when we want or need something then our fears, our worries, our hurts and pains will consume us. Our life without God will revolve solely around ourselves. The more distant we hold Him, the more we will focus on the pain to ourselves. We will only see our life and the things that are good and bad for us. How can we willingly accept the pain or the hurt if we do not cherish the existence of God in our lives?
St. Pio’s words, in one of his letters to his spiritual director, say it best. “My face blushes. I know very well that the cross is a token of love, a pledge of pardon, and that a love not fed and nurtured by the cross is not true love, but rather is reduced to a fire of straw.” He continues on that he “…feels the cross weigh heavily on his heart, and many times (do not be scandalized or horrified, O father, by what I am about to say) he goes in search of a merciful Cyrene to relieve and comfort him.”-4
Each of us is asked to establish our own love affair with God. Each of us is unique to God and He wants nothing more from us than to love Him. He allows our pains and hurts, just as He allowed the stigmata of St. Pio. The fire of our love is tested, is tempered, and is enhanced through our sufferings and pains. We may understand all of this intellectually, but until we allow this love of God, this understanding to flow deeply in our hearts we will be offering God an empty or half-filled bowl. It should help us to realize that even Padre Pio, at times, wished to find someone else to carry his cross. It is easy to say, “I must accept my sufferings.” This, however, is a task that will carry on throughout the rest of our lives, becoming easier and easier as we grow in the love of our God.

-1 John 14, 9
-2 John 14, 16
-3 John 4, 9
-4 Secrets of a Soul (Padre Pio’s Letters to his Spiritual Directors)   Pauline Books and Media