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St Pio of Pietralcina
(southern Italy) Priest and Religious (entered heaven this day, 1968)
You keep forgetting why your life is different than the Solar System. I will be happy to remind you. The Solar System stays in order without any effort. The planets don’t have to decide whether they will revolve around the sun or something else; they have no choice. Gravity is not one option among many physical laws they can choose from; gravity holds them in orbit whether they like it or not. That’s how the physical world gives God glory: by doing exactly what God created it to do.
You, on the other hand, can only give God maximum glory by CHOOSING to do exactly what God created you to do: live in friendship with him, build his Kingdom, maximize your God-given talents, achieve human and spiritual maturity and the happiness that goes with it by following the moral law… The moral law, the law of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, is not like gravity. You aren’t forced to follow it. You have to choose to follow it. You have to choose what will be the center of your orbit. You are not a planet, my upstart young nephew, nor a satellite, but a human being.
Today’s saint has something to say about this. Rather, I should say that he has something to say about what your center of moral and spiritual gravity should be. That is the most important decision you have to make, by the way. Just as the entire solar system derives its order and beauty from having the sun at its center, so the order and beauty and meaning of your life will depend on what you put at its center. Here’s where Padre Pio’s maxim comes in handy: “It would be easier for the earth to carry on without the sun than without Holy Mass.” Think about that for a second. Really think about it. Can the earth carry on without the sun? Impossible. It would turn into to a huge ice cube floating randomly through space. Just so, the human race would freeze (morally speaking) and be completely lost without the Mass, the prayer that fully plugs us into Christ even while we’re still in our earthly exile. That’s how Padre Pio saw things, and he knew what he was talking about.
He entered the Capuchin Order when he was only 16, after a mighty struggle against the attractions of the world. He was a normal, humble, obedient monk, but his prayer life, from the beginning, was extraordinary. And soon enough, other extraordinary phenomena began to surround him. At the start of World War I, the Italian army drafted a lot of young priests; Padre Pio was among them. But during his preliminary physical examination, he was found to have a fever so high that it shattered the thermometers (literally). Even so, he wasn’t delirious. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on, but they eventually declared him unfit for service, so he was permitted to go to a monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he would live out the remaining fifty years of his life. Soon after his arrival, he received the stigmata. Then his uncanny ability to read souls in the confessional began to attract huge numbers of penitents. Then his miracles, his prophetic proclamations, his frequent bilocation appearances (to assist the thousands of souls who came to make up his “flock”), the steady stream of unlikely conversions – these remarkable manifestations of God’s Spirit made him a fascinating and popular religious figure. Above all, however, people were moved by witnessing his celebration of the Holy Mass, during which he seemed to suffer exactly what Christ had suffered on Calvary.
In short, my precocious nephew, this saint knew what he was talking about when he talked about spiritual things. And you happen to be suffering from a spiritual malaise – lack of a spiritual center of gravity – so you should take his recommendation to heart. The earth can survive better without the sun than without Holy Mass. If I were you, I would make Mass the center of your young life.
Yours truly, Uncle Eddy