Monday, June 22, 2009

Letter from Rome, #3: The Message in the Bottle

insidethevatican - Jun 22, 2009

The Pope and St. Padre Pio, Lefebvrist ordinations, a summer rainstorm, and the message in the bottle...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

What does holiness mean? What do we mean by the word "holy"?

It's a serious question, just as serious as saying what do we mean by other words, like rain, or snow, or sunsets, or matter, or energy, or money, or life itself...

For a Christian, for a Catholic, the word "holy" has a central importance; that we know, even if we are at pains to give it a meaning.

The word "holy" is connected with God, with the nature of God, this we know -- in the "Our Father," which was the prayer Jesus himself taught us, the third phrase is "hallowed be the name" or "thy name be made holy" or perhaps even "your name is 'HOLY'."

Someone may contradict me, but it seems to me that this is near to the truth: that God's "name" is to be regarded as holy, and, in fact, is "holy."

So holiness is a quality of divinity, or the essence of divinity, or the nature of divinity. Which is a way of saying that holiness is something important, something truly real, not a dream, or a vision, but a reality connected to the eternal, and not just a word we use in this passing, temporal world.


The odd thing about Padre Pio is that we find it almost redundant to call him "St. Padre Pio."

"Padre Pio" by itself seems sufficient... By this I mean that the fame of sanctity of Padre Pio, who died in 1968 and was canonized on May 2, 1999 -- 10 years ago -- was so great, that his reputation for being close to God was so great, that to say "Padre Pio" was already to say "St. Padre Pio."

Yesterday, on the turning point between spring and summer, Pope Benedict XVI went from Rome across Italy to the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo where Padre Pio, St. Padre Pio, lived, died and is buried.

What was the essence of Benedict's message?

That St. Padre Pio's devotion to the Church's sacraments, thos mysteries of holiness we call the Eucharist and Confession, made him a model for all priests.

The Pope, who has just inaugurated the "Year of the Priest," urged priests around the world to look to St. Padre Pio during this Year for Priests.

Confession, which has become much less common in recent years, whould be renewed in our time, Benedict added (Padre Pio spent many hours each day in hearing confession).

"The sacrament of penance must be valued more highly and priests must never resign themselves to seeing their confessionals deserted, nor limit themselves to noting the faithful's lack of appreciation for this source of serenity and peace," the Pope said.


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