23 September, Thursday — “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry”

Sep 23 – Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest

St. Pio (1887-1968) was ordained when he was 22. He founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920s, he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.

His canonisation miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, aged 7, the son of a doctor who worked in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo founded by Padre Pio. On the night of 20 June 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning, doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy´s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life.

That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo’s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio’s monastery, the child’s condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: “Don’t worry, you will soon be cured.”

– Patron Saint Index

Hag 1:1-8
Lk 9:7-9

“…fetch wood, and rebuild the house: I shall then take pleasure in it, and be glorified there, says the Lord.”            

If you have been following the latest world events, there is much to despair – the virus and its seemingly unending variants, the unrest in Afghanistan, the plight of the refugees and all who are left behind, the state of the world, the economy and loss of livelihood… all of that on top of our own personal problems. I confess that I worry so much about everything, that it can feel so overwhelming sometimes. I try to lift my anxieties to God yet with everything that is going on, my own problems seem so small in comparison that I don’t even want to trouble God with it at all. The worst part is that sometimes I feel like if I don’t worry about something, it’s like I don’t care about it! That’s the hallmark of a serial worrier!  

Pray, hope and don’t worry.

Amidst all that chaos in my head and heart, St Pius’ quote is simple and reassuring: “Pray, hope and don’t worry”. St Pius (more popularly known as Padre Pio) said that “Worry is useless. God is merciful and will answer your prayer”. He encouraged us instead to meditate and pray to God, unleashing our whole heart to Him and not to worry about the devil’s assaults. Rather, be obedient and patient and have courage. Matthew 6:27 exhorts “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Indeed, worry achieves nothing. Zero. In fact, it breeds fear and unrest and it blocks out God’s grace for us. When will we ever understand that we can take our foot off the worry pedal because really, God has got this. God is in the driver’s seat and He’s got the wheel.

I’m working on telling myself now that I should be less of a worrier and more of a prayer warrior, to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) instead of worrying. I need to build a better faith in myself and to work on my relationship with God, which I have sorely neglected due to all my day’s cares. “Bring timber and build the house,” says the Lord in the gospel reading for today, “so that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory”. My “house” definitely needs some repairs for it has been neglected and not strong enough to withstand the tempest of trials. I took a review on my internal state recently and submitted to God, asking Him for the peace beyond all understanding — God’s peace. And I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in a while. It was almost like an alien feeling, but in that moment, it gave me the space and peace of mind to be truly present for what mattered instead of being caught up with anxiety. It was a small but glorious moment for me, and in that moment, I truly understood what Padre Pio meant by worrying is useless.

All this time I had been blocking out God’s blessing and achieving nothing but more stress, just because I was afraid to let go and let God take control, just so that I could be – be present, be prayerful, be loving, be the person He wants me to be, be doing the work that He wants me to do. Just be.

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul” says Padre Pio. I am discovering that, and in doing so, I am finding the ability to breathe and hope again.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord God, help me to relieve my heart of the cares, fears and anxieties that I carry with me. I pray for the peace that is beyond all understanding, for God’s peace to reign in my heart that I may forever be present to receive Your grace, and to be the person that You have destined me to be.

Thanksgiving: Lord, I give you thanks for carrying my burden, for catching all my fears so that my load can be lighter. Thank you for rescuing me from the abyss of my anxieties.

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