Tuesday, September 22, 2009

St. Padre Pio Novena - Day 8

"I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more. I have restored them to Jesus with pain and with love. I can forget myself, but not my spiritual children, and I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will say to Him: ‘Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise; I shall enter only when I have seen the last of my children enter’.”             - St. Pio of Pietrelcina

On this eighth day of our novena we consider what it means to be a spiritual child, and pray that we may be considered the spiritual children of Padre Pio.  He was like a father to many during his life, and even today supports those who ask for his intercession and guidance.  Padre Pio said, "I belong to everyone. Everyone can say, 'Padre Pio is mine'."But what does it mean to be a spiritual child?  There are subtleties worth examining and applying to our own lives. Most importantly, let us claim Padre Pio as our spiritual father, and seek the benefit of his intercession and protection.

I am very good at being childish. I suspect there are others like me.  A childish person believes the world revolves around him, that the purpose of others is to satisfy his personal needs.  Childish people tend to be  quick tempered, selfish, easily hurt, dramatic, and petty.  I can recall many circumstances in my life where I behaved childishly, even if only internally. Sometimes our childish thoughts remain internal, but sometimes they express themselves outwardly, to our eventual embarassment.

Several years ago I was promoted to a supervisory position in the hospital.  This was a big deal for me - I had not been a nurse for very long, and the promotion was a boost to my ego.  I tend to be fairly extroverted, and enjoyed many friendly relationships in my workplace...until the promotion.  Then I was no longer funny Dave, charming Dave, helpful Dave, etc.  Now I was BOSS Dave, and that was a whole new ball game. Friends became distant, and I recognized that the complaint "sessions" I participated in about managment suddenly were conducted in my absence, and were now about ME.  How did I respond?  Childishly, of course.  I became distrustful, hurt, gruff, and condescending.  I distanced myself, "licked my wounds", and behaved unfairly and uncharitably more than once.

Childish behavior is like yawning on a subway car: once someone starts, it spreads quickly to everyone else.  This was no exception.  The worse the situation got, the more I dug my heels in the ground, and the situation grew toxic.  Someone had to give in, and each of us waited, with the self-righteous expectation that the other had to make the first move.  Sound familiar?  How many experience family dynamics that mimic my story?  What about the atmosphere at church, among those serving in various ministries?  Work?  School?  The dynamics of my situation are played out daily in every corner of society.  Being childish is certainly NOT what Jesus meant when He said, "amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3.

Jesus goes on to say, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven."    Humility is the key to understanding spiritual childhood.  How are children humble?  They cannot provide for themselves, and rely totally on those who care for them.  They trust implicitly that they are loved. They understand instinctively that they cannot survive alone.  They surrender their well being to others, and do so readily and without hesitation. They love sincerely and overtly.  Can you imagine if we lived that way in our relationship with God?  To rely totally on his provision?  To trust Him implicitly?  To instinctively know that without Him we cannot survive?  To surrender our will readily to His will, His direction, His desire for us?  To express our love for Him openly and joyfully?  To do so is to humble ourselves like children, and Jesus has promised that those who do will enter the kingdom of heaven. 

My amazing, beautiful wife has a wonderful outlook on relationships.  When there is an impasse, a difference of opinion, and tension, she almost always gives in first.  She realized many years ago that the only recourse she has when someone needs to make the first move is to make that move herself.  She is humble, and in that humility she is strong. Ultimately, she changes hearts with her humility far more powerfully than digging in and refusing to budge ever could.  She taught me well, and I applied her direction to my work situation, and the tension broke almost immediately.  True humility calls us to consider others, to rely totally on God for our well being, and to love with no conditions or criteria. 

Padre Pio calls each of us to be his spiritual children, seeking his guidance, intercession and direction.  He calls us to trust God, love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to submit ourselves to His will.  In this call Padre Pio guides us in our relationships with our families, co-worker, friends and relatives, calling us not to be childish, but humble spiritual children.  St. Pio promises to lift us in prayer, and to wait joyfully for us to join him in heaven.  What an invitation!  Take him up on his offer!

1 comment:

I am always interested and appreciative of your comments and thank you for taking the time. God bless you.