CNA STAFF, Sep 20, 2009 (CNA) - Known affectionately to the many who venerate him as Padre Pio, this humble Capuchin priest became one of the most popular saints of modern time, attracting the largest crowd to ever attend a canonization ceremony in 2002. The Church will celebrate his feast day this Wednesday, on September 23.
Padre Pio was born Francisco Forgione to a poor shepherd family on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. He entered the Capuchin Order in 1903, took his solemn vows in 1907 and was ordained a priest in 1910.
Suffering from poor health, he was sent immediately home to live with his parents where his mother could care for him. It was there that he stayed until 1916 when he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he spent the rest of his life.
He was devoted to the Sacraments and was famous for hearing confessions, often spending entire days in the confessional attending to penitants who had come from all over the country to confess to him. He was said to be able to read the souls of those who held back sins or those whose confessions were not sincere, and brought about many a heartfelt conversion in those he rebuked.
On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio became the first priest known to have received the stigmata - the wounds of Christ - and he is also thought to have lived with them for the longest amount of time, 50 years.
He was reported to be able to bilocate and levitate and he is known to have healed many by touch. In 1956 Padre Pio opened the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital for the poor in San Giovanni Rotondo which treats tens of thousands of patients every year.
All his life he was accosted by the devil and would even withstand physical beatings by him at night. He endured all by the power of the Cross of Christ, never losing his faith in the Lord despite all his tribulations.
Pio of Pietrelcina died September 23, 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II, June 16, 2002.
Even though he was aware during his lifetime of his worldwide fame, Padre Pio persevered in humility realizing always that "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross.”
Padre Pio also said, "I am a poor Franciscan who prays…prayer is the best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God."
Hays, Kan., Sep 20, 2009 (CNA) - It was at a barn dance near the small community of Munjor, Kansas in the middle of the Great Depression when Marcellus Ruder asked 17-year-old Marcella Rohr to dance with him. Little did either realize that moment would change the course of their lives forever. In October, they will be married 70 years and will celebrate with their four children, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, as well as many family and friends.
However, on Saturday they started the festivities early at the second of two Jubilee Celebrations of Marriage in the diocese. The Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was celebrated by Bishop Paul Coakley, with Father Kevin Weber and Father Joshua Werth concelebrating and Deacon Tom Koerner assisting.
Two weeks early, the bishop celebrated a similar Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Salina.
On Saturday, Bishop Coakley acknowledged in his homily that each couple has learned a lot in this “journey of love.”
“It is likely that all of you held a secret in your hearts the day you married — the secret that your marriage would be different, that all times would be for good, for better and for richer. In order for love to be deepened, it is precisely in these difficult times that we need to recommit ourselves to one another. It is in these times that we discover the real meaning of love. Love is a decision, not a feeling,” he said.
From the start of their marriage in 1939, the Ruders can tell you story after story about difficult times — and good times as well.
Because of the economic times, the couple began their marriage living with Marcellus’ parents. There also was another married sibling living at home, as well as seven younger Ruder children.
Marcella’s mother died when she was 11, and her father depended on her and her sister to care for the younger ones. After Marcella married, she went to town two days a week to help care for her siblings and her father’s household.
Marcellus and Marcella later moved to Hays and Plainville, then to Wyoming, Texas and back to Hays — wherever Marcellus’ job with an oil company took him.
“We lived in Wyoming for nine months, and that was one hellacious winter,” Marcellus said. “I asked for a transfer, and that’s when we moved to Texas.”
Through all the moves and the raising of their children, the Ruders continued to give of themselves. If it was a new school that needed to be built, Marcellus came home from work, skipped supper and helped to build the school until late into the night. If he could help to do anything for the church or its school, he did. In addition, each summer he took vacation to return home to help with the harvest on the family farm.
Marcella worked as a nurse’s aide in the hospital and in the community and church whenever she could.
“Wherever we moved, my mother introduced herself and made friends,” Ann Ruder, the couple’s daughter, said.
Practicing their Catholic faith and handing it down to their children was an important element in their married life.
“Every time there was a church service of any kind, the Ruder family was there,” Ann Ruder said. “We prayed the Rosary every night, often kneeling on a hard, wooden floor.”
Marcella chuckled at the memory.
When St. Nicholas of Myra Parish was formed in Hays, the Ruders were there to help contribute in any way they could. Marcella was well-known for cleaning the linens used for Mass.
The couple has some advice for those beginning their married lives.
Everything a couple does, they must do as a team, they said.
“There’s lots of things you don’t agree with, but you just have to give in,” Marcella said.
“Oh, it’s difficult at times, especially being young and married,” Marcellus chimed in. “But we made a commitment for better or worse. We got married and we were going to stay married.”
It is this commitment of love that Bishop Coakley celebrated as he honored more than 3,600 years of marriage during the Mass.
“You loved through the good times, the bad, through sickness and health. We lift you up, and we bless you. We thank you for being witnesses for the Church of the dignity, sacredness and goodness in this divine sacrament,” Bishop Coakley said.
Printed with permission from The Register, newspaper for the Diocese of Salina, Kan.
Memphis, Tenn., Sep 20, 2009 (CNA) - The second annual Worldwide Rosary for Unborn Babies is scheduled to take place from Friday Oct. 16 to Sunday Oct. 18.
Participants in the event will pray at least one Rosary on any of these days for the intention of an end to the killing of the unborn.
Last year’s Worldwide Rosary was one day only. A press release from the Memphis-based St. Michael the Archangel Organization, which is coordinating the event, said the addition of Friday was particularly intended for students at schools, while the addition of Sunday was intended to help encourage people to pray the Rosary before or after Masses.
St. Michael the Archangel Organization is also seeking volunteers to publicize the Worldwide Rosary and to translate information into other languages.
The group’s website is at http://www.SaintMichaelTheArchangelOrganization.org.
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2009 (CNA) - Before Sunday’s Angelus prayer in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, Pope Benedict XVI turned to the day’s reading from the Letter of James and noted that while reflecting on true wisdom may not "resolve all problems of daily life," it aids in confronting "them more serenely and effectively."
St. James "describes true wisdom in contrast to that which is false," the Holy Father explained. "While the latter is ‘earthly, material and diabolic’ and recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousy, disputes, disorder and every sort of bad action, on the contrary, the wisdom that comes from on high is above all pure, peaceful, tame, compliant, full of mercy and of good fruits, impartial and sincere."
The Pontiff added that wisdom "has no need to impose itself by force because it possesses the invincible vigor of truth and of love, taking hold by itself. Accordingly it is peaceful, tame and compliant, does not use partiality, or does not have recourse to lies. It is indulgent and generous and recognizes good fruits, which it provokes in abundance."
He went onto say that above all, those who are called to be promoters or "weavers" of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relationships and in international relations should stop to contemplate every so often the beauty of true wisdom.
"To do works of peace it is necessary to be men of peace, to begin to learn ‘the wisdom that comes from on high, assimilating its qualities and producing its effect," he explained. "If everyone, in their own state, could succeed in rejecting lying and violence in intention, word and action, cultivating with care sentiments of respect, comprehension and esteem for others, it might not resolve all problems of daily life, but it could confront them more serenely and effectively."
Following the Angelus, the Pope addressed the recent deaths of Italian soldiers in Afghanistan. He said, "I unite myself with prayer to the suffering of their relatives and to the civil and military community and at the same time, I think with equal sentiments of other international contingents, who have recently suffered death while working to promote peace and institutional development, so necessary for human coexistence."
He also renewed his "encouragement of the promotion of solidarity among nations so as to contrast the reason for violence and death, to favor justice, reconciliation and peace and to sustain the development of peoples."
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2009 (CNA) - Following the Angelus today, Pope Benedict spoke of his upcoming visit to the Czech Republic. He gave details about the September 28 trip and emphasized that the country must "rediscover reason for faith and hope."
The Pontiff noted that while he will reside in Prague, the country’s capital, he will also visit Brno and Stara Boleslav, the place where the country’s patron, St. Wenceslaus, was martyred.
He added, "After the drama of the past century, the Czech Republic needs, like the entire continent, to rediscover reason for faith and hope. In the footsteps of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, who visited that country three times, I will also render homage to heroic witness of the Gospel, ancient and recent, and encourage all people to move on in love and in truth."