of Light: Inspiration From the Letters of Padre Pio was
released at the end of February of this year. This book is edited by
Father Raniero Cantalamessa who is also a Franciscan Capuchin lke St.
Pio and of course Fr. Cantalamessa continues to be the preacher to the
Previous editions of this book
have been released in Italian and the
recent edition is by Paraclete Press. After the very good
introduction by Fr. Cantalamessa we get a very brief biography off
Padre Pio and his life. The thrust of the book though are his
letters and we end up getting a biography of St. Pio’s interior life. I
had previously heard that during his lifetime at one point he was
receiving more letters than anybody else living at that time and it is
quite obvious that he wrote quite a large number of letters to people
giving spiritual advice.
What Fr. Cantalamessa has done with this
book is to select portions of St. Pio’s letters and to divide them up
by topic into various chapters. By doing this we get a very
good idea of the type of advice he gave and about his deep prayer life.
The dark night of the soul is quite evident in his letters to
his spiritual director and to other priests and when you combine this
with the spiritual and physical attacks by Demons you can see just how
stark his sufferings were. Like the Cur of Ars, St. John
Vianney. who also poured himself out in the confessional and suffered
similar attacks we see a life of pure faith. That even as he
cries out in suffering he is crying out to the person of Christ, Mary,
and the saints.
Many of the segments of letters written in
some of the earlier chapters lets you feel to some extent the torments
that he suffered. There are many tensions in what he
describes. Like St. Paul there is the driving desire to be in
Heaven while at the same time to be totally obedient in using his time
on earth to save souls. For him Fiat is a continuous living
of his live. The love of Christ and love of neighbor is so evident in
St. Pio as it is with all saints, but you get to look into his though
process on this to a greater extent than we can with most saints.
Much of what he has written in his letters reminds me also of
the struggles that Blessed Mother Teresa also wen through and I find it
rather interesting that so much was made of her dark night of the soul
in the press and nothing as far as I am aware of was mentioned about
this in regards to St. Pio.
Though there is so much more to this saint
than the behind the scenes torment and total faith despite
deprivations. I found the letters that referenced Mary to be
quite beautiful, for example this one snippet. “May she who entered the
world without stain, obtain for us from her Son the grace to leave the
world without fault.” The chapter on letters in reference to
his spiritual direction show the wonderful effects of his deep prayer
life and the encouragement he would give others.
So often when we hear of St. Pio it is
focused on things like his stigmata and the supernatural events
surrounding his life such as bilocation. It is quite moving
to see the supernatural movements of grace in his spiritual life that
directly lead to him helping so many towards repentance and growing in
grace. Fr. Cantalamessa selection of segments of letters
helps you to get a much better of St. Pio the person. I
certainly recommend this book to anybody interested in Padre Pio.