Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
May your hunger for God be your guide to him!
Advent introduces us to an unsatisfied hunger that prepares us for the banquet of Christmas. When we live and breathe in the atmosphere of Advent we experience an interior pain, ache, and longing to live the fulness of life and to be forever well and happy. Unfortunately, the response from most of us toward this admirable goal is superficial. We look to satisfy our interior hunger with pleasant memories of past events and wish to repeat and prolong them. They represent our conditioned response to this yearning as taught by our culture and family. We want to enjoy our life in peace and harmony with our family, other people and with all of nature. These desires are not bad, but the are incomplete. The yearning of our spirit needs to be heard and distinguished from the yearnings of our body. Our body yearns for pleasure while our spirit yearns for happiness, and we often confuse the two. While our soul is oriented more consciously toward God its creator and seeks to find happiness in him, our body is oriented to the world as a necessary supplier for its needs. Our soul also desires to be happy and to live in peace and harmony with God and neighbor in a love relationship that is authentic, integral and for all time. How we respond to our “yearning” is important. Is God our goal and satisfaction or do we frivolously prioritize the convenient pleasures at hand as if looking for a snack at the local convenience store?
Padre Pio was distraught and wounded because of the strong impulses he suffered to be with God and his inability to satisfy them. He expresses these sentiments passionately with his friend and brother religious Father Agustine de San Marco in Lamis in his letter to him written October 17, 1915:
I accept, O my God, all the torments of this earth bunched together. I desire them as my portion, but I could never resign myself to being separated from you for lack of love. Ah, for pity’s sake do not permit this poor soul to go astray; never allow my hope to be deluded. Never let me be separated from you, and if I am at this moment, unknowingly separated from you, then rescue me this very moment. Enlighten my mind, O my God, so that I may know myself fully and recognize the great love you have shown me and allow me to enjoy for all eternity the supreme beauty of your divine countenance.
O dear Jesus, never let me lose this precious treasure that you are for me. My Lord and my God, I experience too vividly in my soul the ineffable tenderness that pours forth from your eyes, the love with which you, my only God, condescend to gaze on this miserable creature.
How can the torment of my heart be placated, the agony of knowing I am far from you? My soul is well aware of the terrible battle I endured when you, O my Beloved hid yourself from me! O my most tender Lover, how clearly is this terrible and frightening image imprinted on my soul!
Knowing what is best for us is not always what we desire to do. How is it possible for us to be satisfied with the palliative pleasures of this world when God our Father is offering us his very Divine Life? Perhaps it is because since Adam and Eve we have the custom of looking away from God and fixing our gaze and desire on the forbidden fruit: on creatures instead of the Creator to satisfy our desires. Since then, the beauty of the countenance of our Father has been hidden from us. But our heavenly Father is merciful and has revealed his face once again to the pure of heart through faith in Jesus whom he sent among us. But even so, we must clarify and chose: to use God to satisfy my yearning for the pleasures of this world, or to employ the pleasures of this world to unite me with God. The decision in in our hands and there is now way to avoid choosing between the two.
In the recent feast of Christ, the King, Love reveals itself and King and Victor over Death. This epiphany makes obvious the difference between he who engenders life from what only receives life. It makes obvious the difference between the creator and the creature. Advent sharpens our hunger, our appetite for life in its fulness and the discovery that this fulness is accessible to us in our Creator. Jesus made this possible. This understanding perceives love as the necessary bridge between life and happiness. Therefore, Jesus came among us to satisfy our desire to live by teaching us how to love. In practice this loving is being faithful to love of God for us and at the same time being faithful to the presence of God in the dignity of every person.
God is among us as the Word speaking and as Love loving, revealing itself as the origin and completeness of all that is. We, as daughters and sons of God, yearn to participate in this current of vital love because it is our very life. Therefore, we feel wounded when we are separated from this life and distant from this love. This woundedness is that hunger and yearning we cultivate during Advent. With this voracious appetite for life engendered by love, we are more than satisfied at the banquet of the Incarnation, uniting ourselves to Love loving among us.
Merry Christmas to each of you my sisters and brothers!
Fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin