Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
Peace and goodwill to each of you!
A person seeks what he or she does not have. And everyone searches for something, even if nothing more than to survive and enjoy a modicum of life. We say that we want to be happy without knowing what it is nor how to obtain it. Most people think that happiness is a pleasurable, idealized state that we commonly identify with various pleasurable moments in our past. Nevertheless, almost as if we were bewitched, lasting happiness seems to escape our best efforts to attain it.
Part of the problem of our persistent dissatisfaction is that we do not know who we are and because of this we are ignorant of what we really need to live well. We are certainly aware that we need many things; our daily life makes us conscious of this. But there is something that is neither temporal nor material in us that remains frustrated before all the world may offer. We react formulating ideals that we can neither attain nor are they adequate to provide full satisfaction and quality of life. At times we remain trapped this these chimeras or idealizations.
Padre Pio adverts us not to remain sterile before the hope of living life fully, given that our Father has placed this desire in our heart and what God does is never in vain. With his characteristic profundity Padre Pio teaches his spiritual son, Luis Bozzuto, to differentiate between a sterile idealization of life and a fecund loving. His counsels to Luis are found in his letter to him dated November 25, 1917. Padre Pio comments:
Suspect all those desires, which in the opinion of prudent and pious souls, are incapable of attaining their objectives. Among them one must include those desires of a certain Christian perfection, that can be precisely conceived but never practiced, and about which many good exhortations have been elaborated but that no one can perform. And, in the same way, let go also of the doubt that you shared with me in relation to what you say that you have read in those books. Reflect seriously on the vanity of the human spirit, so prone to error and inner anxiety; because I assure you that from this reflection you can easily deduce what I have told you so many times before: that those inner resolves that you have considered and of those which still worry you, have been provoked in you by a multitude of considerations and desires produced by that great anxiety to arrive as soon as possible to that imagined perfection, that you had wrongly conceived. Your imagination had formed in your spirit an idea of absolute perfection, to which your will wanted to arrive. But what happened? Your well know. The will, terrified before the great difficulty and impossibility, remained pregnant, but without being able to give birth; and therefore, went multiplying so many useless desires, that, like big flies, devoured the honey form the comb; leaving the good and true desires starving for consolation. It has been a great benefit for you that the good God has had compassion on your soul to liberate you from them in time by way of your guide confided to you.
The refection continues: Although recognizing the needs of our soul as distinct from the necessities of the body, the idealization of sanctity can trap us in an egocentric posture. Our insecurity and desire to control everything can occupy our attention and initiatives to such an extent as to impede an introspection and openness to necessary means beyond our reach but freely offered to us by God. For instance, the programming that one receives from conception due to adverse circumstances to a good life even in the womb of the mother affects us by causing an insecurity which hinders our development. Nevertheless, we know that a recently born baby seeks first the face of its mother to be reassured that from her he or she will receive all the means to live and be satisfied in this new world into which he or she has been born. Precisely in this way the person recently born by God seeks his face hoping to receive from Him all that is necessary to realize his best desire to live and be happy. To fulfil our desires our Father sent us his only son to redeem us from our imperfections and offer us a full and happy life with him in his kingdom. Do you believe that the Father would deny his son or daughter their petition to live and be happy in the life that he had just given them?
So then, in your heart, remember that instinct most deeply embedded in your soul, the desire to be happy and fulfilled. This is no vain illusion mocked by the cruel circumstances of the world nor is it a formulized idealization necessary to bring meaning to one’s life. It is rather a personalized invitation of love from your Father to you and put into your spirit even before conception. You were conceived whole and happy in your Father’s heart, and with this same hopeful gaze, we seek to give back our spirit to him who has loved us from the beginning.
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Fray Guillermo Trauba, capuchin