Dear Friends of Padre Pio,
May our Lord bless each of you!
The world pretends to offer us opportunities without limits, but under the condition that we act now to take advantage of what is on sale today. “Today only!” proclaim the radio announcers every day. The world promises us more than our resources allow and despite knowing this, we are seduced to take risks on the chance that it might happen. All this expectation is promoted colorfully and without shame in the social media to distract and hold our attention. incessant voices and faces animate us to reach out to fulfill our greatest desires and even our fancies as well. We are led “by the nose” to idealize our future in the world, and to seek a utopia here amidst the buffet of the marketplace as presented to us. As dutiful subjects to this reign we invest our best efforts to make it happen.
Yet we know that the world is also capricious. It gives and it takes away without previous notice. It frustrates us without mercy after we have succumbed to the seduction of its enchantments. If we do not know how to refrain our desires and impulses, we risk failure and frustration, anger or even despair. We are quite able to trip ourselves up in the present running after the future. The ability to restrain ourselves that permits us to maintain our balance amidst the onslaughts of the social media and other impingements on our attention is the virtue of patience.
Padre Pio esteems patience as a virtue necessary to achieve perfection, not only in this world, but also in the Reign of God. This perfection, as he so explains it to his spiritual son Luis Bozzuto, is obtained more in the present moment that in the future if we know how to grab it. Padre Pio elaborates on the theme of patience in his letter to Luis dated November 25, 1917. Padre Pio comments:
The virtue of patience, more than any other, assures us of perfection; and, if it behooves us to practice it with others, even more so with oneself. He who aspires to the pure love of God does not need so much to have patience with others as to have it with himself. To attain perfection, one must tolerate one’s own imperfections. I say tolerate with patience and no longer seek their soft, seductive touch. This suffering promotes a concurrent increase in humility. In order to proceed well, my dearest son, it is necessary to be diligent in applying yourself well to that stretch of road in front of you, most near to you and which is possible to achieve; to do well the first half of the day and not lose time desiring to complete the last when you have not yet finished the first. So often we focus so much on our desire to become angles of paradise that we neglect being good Christians. With this I do not want to say or imply that it is not opportune to direct the soul to its highest desire, but rather to affirm that one cannot desire or pretend to achieve all in one day, because this presumption and this desire will dishearten us too much and without results. Our faults, my dearest son, are to accompany us to the tomb. While it is true that we cannot walk without touching the earth, it is also true that we do not have to fall over the edge or look away from where we are going; and neither should we think of flying, because regarding the ways of the spirit, we are like little chicks whose wings have not yet grown.
The reflection continues: It is difficult to live in the present when the future so idealized, entraps us in unreal expectations, provoking us to run after a mirage on the horizon. Nevertheless, it is in the present moment where perfection is within our reach, and it is patience that permits us to grasp it. The key to obtaining this perfection is to visualize it not as some perfect circumstance nor as something that we can achieve. Rather, perfection lies in establishing a relationship. This relationship is one of intentional love and faithfulness on our part to God, to all other human beings, and to every creature. Although the quality of this relationship depends on the degree of consciousness and freedom that one uses, the fact of intending this relationship in fact establishes it. It is called “trying” and this is what God invites us to do. He does not ask for more, nor that which is beyond our ability. This sincere “trying” incorporates us into the Reign of God and introduces us into eternal life which is the life of grace illuminating us from within; all this we experience more vividly and meaningfully. Patience permits us to remain in the present moment to deepen and intensify our relationship with God, with our neighbor starting with ourselves as Padre Pio noted, and with every creature. Humility then permits us to experience an acceptance and reconciliation with our reality in the context of the unconditional merciful love of God.
In summary, perfection already exists inside of us. It is called sanctifying grace or the life of Christ in us. In this world we are continually distracted to look outside of ourselves to find what is already inside of ourselves. Remaining with ourselves in the present moment and with patience and humility we encounter a doorway to enter and explore the most recondite secrets and corners of our spirit and there discover the love of God illuminating us and calling us to life. To live our “today” in love and faithfulness is to give witness to this light. The gratitude that emanates from within us upon discovering this great mercy of God made present in history through Jesus, moves us to remain faithful to him always. Our gratitude is then a continuous “giving” in response to a continuous “receiving “from God. In this way we begin to breathe our resurrection having already tread the umbral of Eternal Life.
Your brother in Christ,
Fray Guillermo Trauba, Capuchin