Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sept. 29, 2016: Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel

Sept. 29, 2016: Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel

Padre Pio's devotion to St. Michael the Archangel

Vincent Falco was born in 1929 in Naples, Italy. His childhood consisted mostly of hard work and long hours spent in helping his parents in the family lime kiln business. Vincent moved to the United States in 1951 when he was twenty-one years old. He had an employee at his cafe that troubled him. Someone suggested that he consult Padre Pio. Although Vincent had been baptized into the Catholic Church, he was not a practicing Catholic. He believed in God and in the power of prayer, but his Catholic faith was like a distant memory to him. He had not seen or spoken to a priest in a long time. He estimated that he would spend less than an hour in San Giovanni Rotondo and go straight back to Naples. It would undoubtedly be a very short trip. If Padre Pio could not supply any answers, he had lost nothing but time, and not very much time at that.

Shortly after his arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo, an unusual feeling came over Vincent. He felt a kind of disassociation from all of his ordinary concerns and preoccupations. He felt detached from his life, from his senses, from his surroundings and from everything else for that matter. He didn’t feel like himself. As he analyzed it, he realized that the feeling started almost as soon as he stepped out of the taxi and started walking toward the church of Our Lady of Grace. The next morning at 5:30 a.m. Vincent attended Padre Pio’s Mass. The Mass was held in an outdoor arcade, by the church. It was very crowded for a week day Mass and Vincent had to sit in the very back. As a matter of fact, for all of the days that Vincent was to spend in San Giovanni Rotondo, he never managed to find a seat close to the altar. When Padre Pio came to the altar to celebrate Mass and Vincent saw him for the first time, he was deeply impacted. Vincent said, “From the moment I laid eyes on him, I believed in him. Everything about him - his expression, his bearing, his person, spoke of holiness. He was so humble and so holy. He was too holy for this world. And not only that, he was not of this world.”

On the eleventh day of Vincent’s stay in San Giovanni Rotondo, his ticket number was called and he was finally able to go to confession to Padre Pio. At that time, the men’s confessions were face to face. A kneeler was provided right beside the chair where Padre Pio was seated. Confessions to Padre Pio were characteristically short, no more than five minutes and often less. Due to the large numbers of people waiting, the individual confessions had to be of short duration. And yet, the time sufficed. A few words from Padre Pio were sufficient to impart the spiritual direction that so many of the pilgrims were seeking.

Vincent had many things he wanted to say to Padre Pio but for some reason, the words would not come. He wanted to tell Padre Pio that he had been away from the sacraments for a long time and he was now ready to make his life right with God. He wanted to confess his sins and to receive forgiveness. He had only been to confession once before and that was when he was seven years old. At that time, he had run away from the confessional in fear and had to be coaxed back by a relative. It had been so long since he had been to Mass that he could not even remember. His desire was to receive Holy Communion from Padre Pio before he returned to Naples. Now, suddenly, he was ready to reform his life.

Although Vincent could not find the words to speak to Padre Pio, it did not seem to be an obstacle in communication. Padre Pio was reading Vincent’s mind and responding to his thoughts, just as he was thinking them. He said to Vincent, “I cannot give you Holy Communion. You must go back to where you came from.” Vincent understood that Padre Pio was telling him that he must return, not to Naples, but to his home in Miami.

Padre Pio tapped Vincent three times and then showed him a little wooden statue of St. Michael, the Archangel that he was holding. “St. Michael wants to protect you,” he said. He pointed to the snake that was under St. Michael’s foot, a symbol of the power of St. Michael to crush Satan’s power. “You have been running from the devil for a long time. But if you do not stop what you are doing, the devil will have you,” Padre Pio said. The confession was over.

- by Diane Allen
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II