Homily for Padre Pio Triduum – Ennis Friary – September 23rd, 2018
Tonight we celebrate the final night of the Triduum to St. Pio and what a suitable night to mark the occasion with the feast of St. Pio and the blessing after Mass with the relic of St. Pio.
First night – Friday
On Friday night Bishop Phonsie Cullinan spoke of the difficulties and challenges in the Church at this time. He compared the difficulties Padre Pio had in his own life in relation to faith and with the Church. He encouraged us to “hang in there” using the great proposal, idea and image “if you feel cold – don’t run away. Come closer to the fire”.
Second night – Saturday
On Saturday night, last night – the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Jude Okolo took the simple line from the response to the psalm – the Lord upholds my life and developed the theme of our lives being upheld by God and the Christian Community to which we belong.
Third Night – “The Lord upholds my life” and the mystery of the Cross
This evening I propose to further dwell on that line from the response to the psalm “The Lord upholds my life” and also reflect briefly on the theme of the mystery of the Cross at the heart of St. Mark’s message for us this evening and was so much the life, example and preaching of Padre Pio or St. Pio.
The Lord upholds my Life
The great response to the psalm – “The Lord upholds my life” is somewhat akin to the famous quotation from St. Pio – “Pray, Hope and don’t worry.” Two great mottos or rule of life, “Pray, Hope and don’t worry” and “The Lord uphols my life”!
The Phrase to uphold as the Nuncio outlined for us last night is very significant.
We tend to think of upholding in terms of firstly “presenting” – holding it up, in offering and also secondly upholding someone who has fallen down or stumbled:
- When a gift is being given out of generosity – it is often upheld, held up in a symbolic gesture of giving. We uphold the gifts at the offertory at Mass…
- We tend to upholda new born baby or animal as soon as it comes on this earth.
- The captain of a team – upholdsthe cup with delight after victory.
- The bread and chalice of the Eucharist – upheld at the moment of consecration for adoration and worship.
Bearing all that on mind what a great phrase the line in today’s psalm is – the Lord Upholds my Life. “Pray, Hope and don’t worry!”
The Lord upholds Creation and the world around us
We are conscious during these September Creationdays of Autumn and of Harvest and Equinox of the turn of the seasons and at this time of a shared spirit of thanksgiving for the harvest. The Lord upholds usin providing for us, despite the conditions of weather extremes or change that prevails around us. We are thankful for life, energy, strength, health. The Lord upholds my life.
Even when things do notgo well for us. Still – The Lord upholds my life and helps me to survive no matter what the challenge is.
The Lord upholds my life…
Messianic Secret in St. Mark
The other big theme that stands out for me in the Word of God today and it is actually a follow on from last week’s Gospel and is so central to the life of Padre Pio is the profound message of the Cross. It’s is the words of Jesus that reminds us that central to His message is not so much food and drink and celebration and wonder and delight but also and importantly the Cross, that gives meaning to the suffering and challenges of our lives. Spiritual happiness, wisdom, well-being, life itself does not come about without first of all taking up the Cross and following Jesus.
The Messianic Secret
In the Gospel of St. Mark scripture scholars call this message the Messianic Secretas Jesus gradually lets this message unfold and become clearer in the course of the Gospel. In the Gospel of St. Mark he has a profound knowledge and awareness of this and is anxious to share it, bit by bit. St. Mark’s Gospel is often called a Passion Narrative – with a lengthy introduction. Central to our faith is belief and embrace of and taking on the Cross of Jesus Christ in so many ways in our life.
You may or may not have noticed every Saturday morning from 7.00 am onwards over 50 hardy souls in orange t-shirts out jogging on the streets of Ennis and the surrounding country roads. As you look out the window from the comfort, warmth and cosiness your Saturday morning sleep-in you probably marvel at the lunacy of chasing around the streets at such an un-godly hour (or perhaps any other hour for that matter!!!). The group in question call themselves the Clare Crusadersas they are preparing to run the Dublic City Marathon for a most worthy charity cause (the Clare Crusader’s Clinic) – helping Special Needs Children who attend a facility for them in Barefield.
Conversation about Padre Pio – the attraction of the Saint
Taking up the rear with some of less speedy and more philosophical ones – I’m normally included in that bunch at the back and we have great chats, seeing that we’re not running very fast! Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman, who spoke warmly of Padre Pio, his knowledge and his faith in him. What drew him to the saint was the fact that he was not literally an ideal “plaster model” saint for whom everything was rosy in the garden. He was drawn to and could relate to his struggle, both in terms of suffering and also his struggles in terms of faith and belief. We spoke about Mother Teresa being similar in her struggles with faith and “the dark night of the soul” she often endured.
Real saints, full of honest humanity like Padre Pio and Mother Teresa and Francis of Assisi speak to us through our struggles (we feel because of that we have faith in them to intercede for us because they know us) and we can relate to them to put flesh on the meaning of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the message of the Messianic secret of today’s Gospel.
In summary I have tried to reflect a little on the duet of themes:
Firstly – The provision and the presence of God in our lives: The Lord Upholds my life. Pray, Hope and don’t Worry.
Secondly – The centrality of the Cross at the heart of our faith.
May we always be wise in spiritual terms, know that God upholds us always and know that the saving reality of the Cross is the hope and heart of our faith today and forever!
Happy feast of St. Pio
A very happy feast of St. Padre Pio to you all on this special day. May God bless us. May you be enriched with his grace as a result of praying for these three days. Beannacht Dé agus go mbeire muid beo an t-am seo arís! Amen!