CHARISMATIC IN THE CHURCH: PADRE PIO
we say that Padre Pio was a charismatic figure we immediately place him in a
certain category of persons who in some way are outstanding by reason of
supernatural powers and gifts which they possess through the Holy Spirit. This
is not to say that the gifts or "charismata" as they are called are
primarily extraordinary or, in any exclusive sense, limited to a special group
of persons in the Church. Indeed the gifts of God are of infinite variety and
their distribution in the Church is unlimited according as the Spirit
"blows wherever he pleases" (Jn 3:8). But at the same time, the Church
as always held that besides the gifts and graces received by the faithful for
the living of the Christian life there are others of a manifestly more
supernatural nature bestowed by God on certain specially
How often during this Mass did it seem as if some vehement argument were being thrashed out as the bargained and pleaded with God for the souls of men! And after all this, the return, or perhaps even the beginnings of new life! Surprised, astonished, tearstained, crushed beneath the unbearable sorrow of repentance, they saw in this victim soul a glimpse of the Eternal Shepherd going after his lost sheep. In his voice they heard and echo of the Lord reaching down the ages, calling out to men... inviting them: "Come to me...". Padre Pio was a prophet of the times. He discerned the massive shift away from God as well as the deliberate effort by many so-called Christians to drop the whole idea of the Cross. And being a prophet he spoke out boldly against these false trends. Not of course in so many words but by his "lived" proclamation of the Word: in season and out, he was telling us how Jesus not only loved us but did so by the supreme sacrifice of suffering and dying for us; he was telling us that this agony and sacrifice did not cease at the historical moment of Calvary but reaches far beyond it to embrace all the centuries and all the ages of man. He proclaimed in his person how Christ Jesus in mystical manner continues to suffer in souls of his choosing. Man so easily forgets what was accomplished so long ago on the Cross and it seems that in the providence of God there should always be men and women of the same claim as Padre Pio to be forceful reminders of this event.
Documented accounts of cures and miracles, of healings,
both bodily and spiritually, clearly attest to the presence to other unusual
gifts in Padre Pio. The instances of bi-location,
the fragrance which signified his presence, foreknowledge, the reading of hearts
and consciences ó all these are too well known by now to be seriously denied.
All was given by God and exercised by his servant on behalf of all who had come
to know the surpassing love to be found in Christ Jesus.
But besides these
extraordinary gifts of Padre Pio let us not forget the many others, less
discernible perhaps to the unobservant eye yet no less remarkable for all that.
For instance, the sublime gift to bear heavy suffering day in and day out for
prolonged periods; or the willingness to spend oneself for long hours cramped in
the physically restricted area of a tiny confessional; or, again, his utterances
of wisdom and knowledge (cf. 1 Cor 12:8), his sayings etc. Which were an
inspiration for so many; or, yet again, his words of exhortation and consolation
(Rm 12:8). All of these, too, must be viewed from a charismatic perspective for
they are in the order of gifts received from the Holy Spirit.
is, however, one charism which has not received the attention it merits and that
is the gift of "spiritual father".
Pio was indeed, truly a father, exercising rights, duties and responsibilities
similar to those of fathers in the temporal order.
he said to one of his spiritual children: "You
think you know my love for you.But
you donít know that it is much greater than you can imagine. I
follow you with my prayer, with my suffering and with my tears".
when all is said and done, beyond all the rare charismata and extraordinary
spiritual phenomena, it was love that was the essence of Padre Pioís life and
activity, the very foundation of all he taught. Let the love which he
demonstrated in his life and taught to his children be the monument by which he
will always be remembered. He would desire nothing else. On the fiftieth
anniversary of his first Mass he said: "I desire nothing other than to
love, to suffer another fifty years for my brothers; to burn for all with Thee,
Lord; with Thee on the Cross". We may certainly implore Padre Pio in Heaven
to teach us this love for it is the "bond which makes us perfect" (Col
This article was reprinted with permission from the
issue of the ICCRS Newsletter.