Lent reflection

Padre Pio receives ashes at the beginning of Lent

 It is of capital importance that you emphasize what is the basis for holiness and the foundation of goodness. I mean to talk about the virtue of which Jesus presents himself explicitly as the model: humility (cf. Mt 11,29). Inner humility; more inner than outward. Recognize who you truly are: a nothing, something quite miserable, weak, full of defects, capable of turning good into bad, to let go the good for the bad, to attribute to yourself the good, and to justify yourself in doing bad, and for love of evil, to despise the One who is the Supreme Good. 

Never go to bed before having first examined your conscience to consider how you spent your day. Turn all your thoughts towards the Lord and consecrate your person to him as well as all the Christians. Then offer to his glory the sleep you will get, without ever forgetting your guardian angel, who is always at your side. 

Saint Padre Pio  

Morning Prayer

I adore you, my God, and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, made me a Christian and kept me this night. I offer you my actions of this day: Grant that they all may be according to your holy will and for your greater glory. Keep me from sin and all evil. May your grace be always with me and with all my dear ones. 


"In the end, the gamble of our life is all in this Child"

On Christmas night celebration, at the end of the Holy Mass, Padre Pio used to carry a little Baby Jesus statue, and put it in the Nativity scene.

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Saint Padre Pio

"Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one"

Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don't think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage; we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally. Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.

Saint Padre Pio

St. Ignatius of Antioch on the Eucharist

"I hunger for the bread of God, the flesh of Jesus Christ ...; I long to drink of his blood, the gift of unending love."

"I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God's bread, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave His Blood which is love that cannot perish."

"Be careful, therefore, to take part only in the one Eucharist; for there is only one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us with His Blood."

"I am God's wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ's pure bread."

St Ignatius of Antioch

Prayer of Trust to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most Sacred and Adorable Heart of Jesus, I know not what trials may come to me, but I am certain that nothing will happen to me which You have not foreseen and decreed. I trust your love for me in all, and through all, and in spite of all:
In all my trials and crosses, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In dangers and difficulties, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In doubts and anxieties, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In failure and disappointment, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In unemployment, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In spite of my past, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In spite of my sins and evil Habits, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
When I cannot Pray, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
When my Prayers are Unanswered, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
When temptations are strongest, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
When my dear ones are in danger, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
In sickness and suffering, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.
At the hour of my death, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.

The Story of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

In 1498, the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was in a church on the island of Crete, in Greece. The picture had been there for some time and was known to be miraculous. One day a merchant from Crete stole the picture of Our Lady. He hid the picture among his things, boarded a ship and set out to sea. When a great storm arose the terrified sailors begged God and Our Lady to save them. Their prayers were heard and they were saved from shipwreck.

A year later, the merchant went to Rome with the picture. There he got a disease and became terribly sick. He asked his Roman friend to take care of him. The merchant grew worse and realized that he would soon die. He called on his friend and with tears in his eyes, begged his friend to do him one last favour. When the Roman promised to do so, the weeping merchant continued, “Some time ago I stole a beautiful, miraculous picture of Our Lady from a church in Crete! You will find it with my belongings. I beg you, please place it in some church where the people will give it much honour.” In time the merchant died. The Roman found the picture and showed it to his wife. She wanted to keep the picture, so she put it in her bedroom.

One day, the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Roman saying, “Do not keep this picture, but put it in some more honourable place.” But the Roman did not do as Our Lady asked him and kept the picture. Some time later Our Lady begged him a second time not to keep the picture, but to place it in a more honourable place. Again, he did not do as Our Lady asked him to do. 

Then the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Roman’s six year old daughter, and told her to warn her mother and her grandfather saying, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help commands you to take her out of the house!” 

Finally, after many delays, the Virgin Mary appeared to the little girl a second time, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help commands you to tell your mother, to place my picture between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran, in the church dedicated to St. Matthew the Apostle!” The mother did as she was told and sent for the Augustinian Fathers who were in charge of that church. Then on that very day, March 27, 1499, the picture was taken to the church of St. Matthew the Apostle on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. It was placed between two beautifully carved columns of black Carra marble above a splendid white-marble altar.

For three centuries from 1499 until 1798, the church of St. Matthew in Rome was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Rome, because of the miraculous picture. Many pilgrims who came to the shrine: saints and sinners, Cardinals, Bishops and priests, kings and princes, rich and poor. They came to see the miraculous picture of Our Lady and pray before it.

But this was not to last. The French armies led by Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded the Papal States in 1796. Rome was in danger of being attacked and taken over by the enemies. By February 17, 1797, the Pope was forced to sign the Peace Treaty of Tolintino. The Holy Father did not want to do this but he had to, in order to protect the Papal States from the enemy. 

A year after signing the Treaty, the French General Berthier marched into Rome and proclaimed the “Free Roman Republic.” He lied, there was no freedom. Then shortly after, Berthier was replaced by the French General Massena. On June 3, 1798, General Massena commanded that thirty churches be destroyed! One of them was St. Matthew’s! He cried out, “There are too many churches in Rome. The church land can be used for better things!” He wanted to make the people realize that worse things would happen if they did not obey his every command. The terrified Romans prayed to Our Lady and she helped them in all their troubles.

Because the Augustinian Monastery was destroyed, the monks were allowed to return to Ireland, their homeland. A few returned but most of them stayed in Rome. Some went to St. Augustine’s, the main church and monastery of the Augustinian Fathers. The rest of the monks took the miraculous picture of Mary and moved to St. Eusebio’s, a poor old church with a huge monastery. St. Eusebio’s was in terrible condition and needed much cleaning and repairing.

The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help stayed at St. Eusebio’s for twenty years. Since the place was too large for the few monks who lived there, in 1819, the Pope asked the Jesuits to take over St. Eusebio’s. The Holy Father gave the Augustinian’s the small church and monastery of Santa Maria, in Posterula, on the other side of the city. The monks took the miraculous picture of Mary with them, and gave it a place of honour in the monastery chapel. 

In 1788, Augustine Orsetti joined the Augustinian Order at St. Matthew’s and became Br. Augustine. As a young religious, he used to spend much of his free time praying before the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He studied and memorized the history of the picture.

When St. Matthew’s was destroyed, Br. Augustine was transferred to St. Augustine’s. Then in 1840, he was transferred to the Monastery of Santa Maria in Posterula. When he arrived at Santa Maria he went to the community chapel. There he saw the beautiful miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was just as he remembered it, when he had been at St. Matthew’s.

Br. Augustine looked after the sacristy at Santa Maria. He cleaned the chapel and its holy images. He also trained altar boys and taught them how to serve Mass. Michael Marchi, one of the Altar boys, became a good friend of Br. Augustine. The Brother often spoke to him about the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help saying, “Do you see that picture Michael? It is a very old picture. Know Michael, the Madonna from St. Matthew's is the one that hangs here in the chapel. I am not trying to deceive you. It certainly is. Have you understood, Michael? It was miraculously saved from destruction. Many people used to come and pray before this miraculous picture. Always remember what I am telling you.”

In 1854, the Redemptorists, founded by St Alphonsus Liguori, bought a piece of land in Rome, called the Villa Caserta, on the Esquiline Hill. Also included with their property, was the old site of the church of St. Matthew, where the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help had been given great honour.

In 1855, Michael Marchi joined the Redemptorist Monastery. On March 25, 1857, he made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He continued his studies and was ordained on October 2, 1859. 

One day when the community was at recreation, one priest mentioned that he had read some ancient books about a miraculous image of Our Lady and that it had been venerated in the old church of St. Matthew. Fr. Michael Marchi spoke up, “I know about the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Its name is Our Mother of Perpetual Help and it can be found in the chapel of the Augustinian Fathers, at their monastery of Santa Maria in Posterula. I saw it often during the years of 1850 and 1851 when I was a young college student and served Mass in their chapel.

On February 7, 1863, Fr. Francis Blosi, a Jesuit priest gave a sermon about the famous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He described the picture of Our Lady, and said, "I hope that someone in this crowd of faithful listening to me today, knows where this picture is! If so, please tell that person who has kept the picture hidden for seventy years, that the Mother of God has commanded that this picture be placed between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Hopefully the person will repent of his thoughtless act and will have the picture placed on the Esquiline Hill once again, so that all the faithful may honour it.”