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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

St. Padre Pio's Christmas Meditations

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.
There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.
Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.
He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.
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So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savior, who would come into the world with human renown and power. 

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
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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. 

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

St. Padre Pio's Love for Christmas

It was a well-known fact that every year, Padre Pio looked forward to the holy feast of Christmas with great anticipation. As a child, he loved to sculpture little clay figures of Joseph, Mary, and the Infant Jesus in the manger. Throughout his life he had a tender devotion to the Nativity of the Lord.

Long before Christmas, if anyone asked Padre Pio how many days there were until the feast, he could always answer immediately and with accuracy. He counted the days until Christmas with a childlike expectancy. He loved the Christmas Carols, the special devotions, the beautiful gold priestly vestments, the Nativity scenes, and all of the festive preparations. He once wrote, “Christmas has a gentleness, a childlike tenderness that captures my heart.”

Traditionally, during the Christmas Mass, Padre Pio would carry a statue of the Baby Jesus in procession from the choir loft of the church through the cloister of the monastery and then down the corridors and halls. In the darkened church, the friars held candles and sang hymns of praise. Padre Pio finally made his way to the altar and from the altar to the Christmas crib where he placed the little statue of Jesus. Softly glowing candles illuminated the rustic 16the century church of Our Lady of Grace and added to the solemnity of the holy celebration.

At Our Lady of Grace monastery, the statue of the Baby Jesus would remain in the crib throughout the octave of Christmas. Padre Pio had the crib placed where he could see it from the confessional and would often look at it throughout the day. Padre Pio used to say, “Stay very close to the crib of this most beautiful Child.”

On December 24, 1922, Lucia Iandanza, one of the residents of San Giovanni Rotondo, was to witness a Christmas Eve like none before. She arrived at the church early in order to attend Padre Pio’s midnight Mass and on that particular night, the church was so cold that the Capuchins brought a stove into the sacristy hoping to take the chill off. Lucia along with three other women, sat beside the stove to warm themselves.

Lucia’s three companions soon fell asleep but Lucia remained awake and was praying the Rosary. When Padre Pio came down the stairs that led to the sacristy, Lucia saw that he was holding a baby in his arms. It was not the little statue that was used each year at the Christmas Mass. It was a real baby, very much alive. It was the real Infant Jesus. A halo of light encircled the Infant and Padre Pio’s face was shining with a beautiful radiance.

Lucia stared wide eyed in astonishment. It was then that Padre Pio noticed that she was staring at him. As he walked toward her, the halo of golden light and the Infant Jesus suddenly disappeared. So too did the radiance on Padre Pio’s face.

Padre Pio asked Lucia what she had seen. “I saw you holding the Baby Jesus surrounded by a halo of light,” she replied. “Lucia, you must never tell anyone what you saw. Do you understand? Never!” It was always Padre Pio’s desire to keep the many graces that God had given him hidden from others.

From: Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio

"Come, Lord Jesus" by Mother Mary Francis, PCC

"Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting"

This is a fantastic book by Mother Mary Francis, PCC written for everyday of Advent plus the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe (maybe others that fall during Advent but haven't read the book yet!).

The book is as collection of talks she gave her nuns over the years during Advent.  It is sectioned off for each Sunday of Advent and each day (Mon-Fri) during each week and a few feast days so you read a few pages a day.  

Despite today being Wednesday in the second week of Advent, everyone should get this book now and read several pages (days) to catch up to the current day as this book is THIS good!  So filled with wonderful teachings on Our Lord and Our Lady for Advent, the coming of Little Jesus that it is not just for nuns!

You can buy the book at Amazon at:

or at Ignatius Press, the publisher of the book, at:

Book description:

These Advent reflections by the abbess of a Poor Clare monastery, an accomplished spiritual writer, focus our attention on the coming of Jesus into our lives. There is a double movement to this coming; both our active preparation to be ready for him and our patient waiting for the Lord to arrive in his own good time. There is also an art to this simultaneous preparation and waiting, and no one knows better than the beloved Mother Mary Francis how to encourage us in our attempts to master this art. 

Meditating on passages from Scripture about the coming of the Messiah into the world and our hearts, Mother challenges us to persevere in overcoming our faults and keeping our eyes on the Lord who has called us to himself-for it is he, through the gifts of his grace, who will complete in us the work of sanctification which he has begun.

Though written for Advent, the wisdom of Mother Mary Francis collected by her sisters is profitable at any time because a Christian life is one of constant growth into the very likeness of God.

"But it is a wonderful thing that we are not happy with ourselves, because the most terrible thing would be that we are at peace with our faults, absorbed in ourselves, blaming our faults on other people...the tenderness, the sweetness of Advent is wedded to that great mystery which begins with the call: Now is the time. Now is the hour. Wake up and be made perfect in holiness."
- Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.

"In these meditations, Mother Mary Francis teaches us that the liturgy keeps offering us precious insights that most of us do not perceive as precious jewels, for we have not learned the art of listening to the Divine voice speaking to us through the liturgy. All this is sketched with the powerful hand of someone who has lived it."
- Alice von Hildebrand
"The Poor Clare Abbess opens her precious sanctuary, the inner life of her vocation, disclosing the simplicity of the Franciscan gifts for a life of prayer by artfully sharing meditations on the weeks of Advent preparing for Christmas. With wit and sometimes deft humor, she redefines perennial values through contemporary analogies. Anyone needing to be re-established in the essential goodness of our Catholic traditions will find these meditations healing and consoling. You will certainly have found a new friend in the Franciscan cloth-as a Benedictine nun, I did!"
- Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B. Prioress, Abbey of Regina Laudis

Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., (1921-2006) was for more than forty years the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico. She became recognized as an authoritative voice for the renewal of religious life through her many books, including A Right to Be Merry, But I Have Called You Friends, and Anima Christi.

Read Holy Books - St. Padre Pio

"Don't consider me too demanding if I ask you once again to set great store by holy books (beginning of course, with Holy Scripture!) and read them as much as you can. This spiritual reading is as necessary to you as the air you breathe."
- St. Padre Pio