A LETTER FROM PADRE PIO TO HIS SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR7
I reply to your last letter after a slight delay, not because I felt less need to speak to my father, but solely on account of the exceptional state of my health… Your own letter… brought some slight relief to my poor soul, sufficient to make it possible to bear – I do not say lightheartedly, but at least steadfastly – the cross to which the Lord in his mercy has been pleased to subject me. For this may the goodness of the heavenly Father ever be blessed. To you my most heartfelt thanks and infinite blessings, while I solemnly promise before the Lord to continue to raise my voice to heaven for you and with greater fervor than before.
In order that God may more readily hear my poor prayers, I will make every effort with the assistance of divine grace to be a good religious priest, so that I may be able to say one day with the Apostle: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ”. I promise myself this much with Jesus’ assistance. Unfortunately I don’t deserve his assistance but I am led to hope for it by his inexhaustible charity towards all of us.
I told you, Father, that your letter, thank heaven, brought me a little relief. But I submit to you also the very great terror I experienced when I learned that you consider suspect those threats which I mentioned in my last. As you know, Father, I would not wish to be a victim of the devil in anything whatsoever and although I am more certain of the reality of those locutions than I am of my own existence, I am still struggling against myself and protest that I want to believe nothing of all this, for the sole reason that you, my director, have cast a doubt upon it. Am I right or wrong in this?
You must know, moreover, Father, that Jesus has not shown offense by any means at my failure to attach importance to what he said and to give my accidental assent to it. I say accidental to distinguish it from that deep and substantial conviction which still endures after all the efforts of my soul not to believe it. I am not free to divest myself of this conviction. What am I to do, Father? Am I unwittingly a victim of the enemy? Enlighten me, for pity’s sake, on this point, which I too would prefer to remain obscure.
How difficult, dear Father, is the way of Christian perfection for a soul as ill- disposed as mine! My wickedness makes me fearful at every step I take: may the good God sustain me and prevent me from betraying him! You know, Father, that I attach no importance at all to this extraordinary state of mine. For this reason I never stop asking Jesus to lead me by the ordinary path followed by everyone else, for I am well aware that the way by which divine mercy is leading me is not suitable for my soul, accustomed as it is to very material food. What I say to the Lord is that I am seeking the amendment of my life, my spiritual resurrection, true and substantial love, the sincere conversion of my whole self to him.
Speak to me at length, my dear Father, about all this and if you find me at fault, do not keep silence. Raise your voice, punish me again: I want to love Jesus as I should. I desire this love; I know I love him, but – dear God! – how inferior my love is to my desire to love! Ought it not be the opposite, that my love should surpass the desire for it? Speak to me about this, knowing as you do that it is one of the many thorns which contribute my spiritual martyrdom… I kiss your hand and ask you not to refuse me your fatherly blessing.
7 Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Letters, vol. 1, p. 622, Editions “Voce di Padre Pio”, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, 1980.