“The Greatest Tragedy is Wasted Suffering”
Padre Pio considered his hospital to be his work. He even named his hospital ‘The Home for the Relief of Suffering.’ He said that God would bless those who bless his work. Pope Pius XII, on the day of the hospital’s opening on May 5, 1956 stated, “A seed has been sown on the earth that will warm with the rays of His love. A new army made of sacrifices and love will rise in God’s glory and comfort the souls and bodies of the sick.” On the first anniversary of the hospital’s opening, May 5, 1957, Pope Pius XII again stated, “In the House for the Relief of the Suffering we pray constantly for the Pope.”
The sick have much to offer. In many ways they are the Church’s most powerful army. Please know that your suffering is precious and needed for the Church. Fulton Sheen said that the greatest tragedy is wasted suffering. It is critical that you not only pray for the Pope, but for all the needs of the Church and world. Your prayers, united to your suffering, are precious treasures and gems in the sight of God. Pope Paul VI said on May 5, 1966, the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, “The almighty and merciful Lord, who accepts for Himself every benefit given to his suffering brothers, will repay them many fold with generous measures and great abundance.” The Pope’s words echo Padre Pio’s words when the Padre said,
“God will bless those who bless my work.”
When you offer up your suffering and give from the treasures of your pain, rest assured that God will abundantly bless you for your selflessness.
THE HIDDEN ARMY OF THE CHURCH
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, it appears that the age of men will fail and that evil will win. Suddenly, there appears the army of the dead. “Malbath the Seer prophesied that a day would come when need and haste would drive one of Isildur’s heirs to take The Road under the Mountain, and that the dead would answer to his call.” The Prophecy came true. In the War of the Ring, Isildur’s heir, Aragorn, called on the Dead Men. Summoning them to the Stone of Erech, Aragorn commanded them to fulfill their oath and be free.
Aragorn led the Army of the Dead through Lamendon and Ciril. As they went through the lands of Gondor, they found them deserted, since everyone who hadn’t gone to war fled the approach of the dreaded “King of the Dead.” Even the men of Umbar and Harad, who had been attacking the fords at Linhor above the mouth of the river Gilrain, stopped fighting and ran off in terror. The only person who had the courage to stay was Angbor, the Lord of Lamedon. Aragorn told him to gather his men and follow the Grey Company to Pelargir. For four days and nights after Aragorn first summoned the dead to the Stone of Erech, they rode.
Our mission at the hospital is to create this hidden army. Every day I am at the bedside of 1 to 3 persons who are actively dying. As they are dying, I ask them to pray for me and the Church when they first get to Heaven in thanksgiving for receiving the Sacraments of the Church. In this we are creating our hidden army of the dead to pray for the Church in her hour of need. We read in the book of Revelation that the martyrs under the altar in Heaven are praying for the Church in all her needs on earth. This is the hidden army of little souls we are gathering up. Cardinal Newman writes often in his sermons of this hidden army. He states that at the time of greatest need, the saints in Heaven pray all the more earnestly and that God will answer their prayers in a more dramatic way when the Church is most in need. This is the army of the dead that we are creating in much the same way that was prophesied in the book The Lord of the Rings. The devil doesn’t have this hidden army. We do! Gather this army is part of our mission in the hospital ministry. Pray God and His Saints!!!
SPIRITUAL CHILDREN OF PADRE PIO
Fr. Stefan is the author of the book Miracles: Healing for a Broken World