Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prayer of the Day

Prayer to Padre Pio

Beloved Padre Pio, today I come to add my prayer to the thousands of prayers offered to you every day by those who love and venerate you. They ask for cures and healings, earthly and spiritual blessings, and peace for body and mind. And because of your friendship with the Lord, he heals those you ask to be healed, and forgives those you forgive.

Through your visible wounds of the Cross, which you bore for 50 years, you were chosen in our time to glorify the crucified Jesus. Because the Cross has been replaced by other symbols, please help us to bring it back in our midst, for we acknowledge it is the only true sign of salvation.

As we lovingly recall the wounds that pierced your hands, feet and side, we not only remember the blood you shed in pain, but your smile, and the invisible halo of sweet smelling flowers that surrounded your presence, the perfume of sanctity.

Padre Pio, may the healings of the sick become the testimony that the Lord has invited you to join the holy company of Saints. In your kindness, please help me with my own special request: (mention here your petition, and make the sign of the Cross).

Bless me and my loved ones. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Ez 9:5-9

At the time of the evening sacrifice, I, Ezra, rose in my wretchedness,
and with cloak and mantle torn I fell on my knees,
stretching out my hands to the LORD, my God.

I said: “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you,
O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads
and our guilt reaches up to heaven.
From the time of our fathers even to this day
great has been our guilt,
and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up,
we and our kings and our priests,
to the will of the kings of foreign lands,
to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace,
as is the case today.

“And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the LORD, our God,
who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place;
thus our God has brightened our eyes
and given us relief in our servitude.
For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us;
rather, he has turned the good will
of the kings of Persia toward us.
Thus he has given us new life
to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins,
and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.”

Responsorial Psalm
Tobit 13:2, 3-4a, 4befghn, 7-8

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

He scourges and then has mercy;
he casts down to the depths of the nether world,
and he brings up from the great abyss.
No one can escape his hand.

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

Praise him, you children of Israel, before the Gentiles,
for though he has scattered you among them,
he has shown you his greatness even there.

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

So now consider what he has done for you,
and praise him with full voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
and exalt the King of ages.

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

In the land of my exile I praise him
and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give him praise.

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

Lk 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Saint of the Day

September 23

St. Padre Pio da Pietrelcina (1887-1968)

In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity."

Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.

(repeat antiphon*)

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
and set it firm over the waters.

(repeat antiphon*)

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
The Lord, strong in battle.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
– he is the king of glory.

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

Thanksgiving for salvation and victory
Psalm 17 (18)

I will love you, O Lord, my strength.
I will love you, Lord, my strength:
Lord, you are my foundation and my refuge,
you set me free.
My God is my help: I will put my hope in him,
my protector, my sign of salvation,
the one who raises me up.
I will call on the Lord – praise be to his name –
and I will be saved from my enemies.
The waves of death flooded round me,
the torrents of Belial tossed me about,
the cords of the underworld wound round me,
death’s traps opened before me.
In my distress I called on the Lord,
I cried out to my God:
from his temple he heard my voice,
my cry to him came to his ears.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


I will love you, O Lord, my strength.
Psalm 17 (18)

The Lord was my deliverance, for he held me in favour.
The earth moved and shook,
at the coming of his anger the roots of the mountains rocked
and were shaken.
Smoke rose from his nostrils,
consuming fire came from his mouth,
from it came forth flaming coals.
He bowed down the heavens and descended,
storm clouds were at his feet.
He rode on the cherubim and flew,
he travelled on the wings of the wind.
He made dark clouds his covering;
his dwelling-place, dark waters and clouds of the air.
The cloud-masses were split by his lightnings,
hail fell, hail and coals of fire.
The Lord thundered from the heavens,
the Most High let his voice be heard,
with hail and coals of fire.
He shot his arrows and scattered them,
hurled thunderbolts and threw them into confusion.
The depths of the oceans were laid bare,
the foundations of the globe were revealed,
at the sound of your anger, O Lord,
at the onset of the gale of your wrath.
He reached from on high and took me up,
he lifted me from the many waters.
He snatched me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hate me, for they were too strong for me.
They attacked me in my time of trouble,
but the Lord was my support.
He led me to the open spaces,
he was my deliverance, for he held me in favour.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The Lord was my deliverance, for he held me in favour.
Psalm 17 (18)

Light my lamp, O Lord, bring light into my darkness.
The Lord rewards me according to my uprightness,
he repays me according to the purity of my hands,
for I have kept to the paths of the Lord
and have not departed wickedly from my God.
For I keep all his decrees in my sight,
and I will not reject his judgements;
I am stainless before him,
I have kept myself away from evil.
And so the Lord has rewarded me according to my uprightness,
according to the purity of my hands in his sight.
You will be holy with the holy,
kind with the kind,
with the chosen you will be chosen,
but with the crooked you will show your cunning.
For you will bring salvation to a lowly people
but make the proud ashamed.
For you light my lamp, O Lord;
my God brings light to my darkness.
For with you I will attack the enemy’s squadrons;
with my God I will leap over their wall.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Light my lamp, O Lord, bring light into my darkness.
All were astonished by the gracious words
– that came from his lips.

Reading Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the Lord was laid on me, and he carried me away by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley, a valley full of bones. He made me walk up and down among them. There were vast quantities of these bones on the ground the whole length of the valley; and they were quite dried up. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘You know, Lord.’ He said, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Say, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord says this to these bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am the Lord.”’ I prophesied as I had been ordered. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a sound of clattering; and the bones joined together. I looked, and saw that they were covered with sinews; flesh was growing on them and skin was covering them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, “The Lord says this: Come from the four winds, breath; breathe on these dead; let them live!”’ I prophesied as he had ordered me, and the breath entered them; they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great, an immense army.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They keep saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope has gone; we are as good as dead.” So prophesy. Say to them, “The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.”’

Reading St Augustine's sermon On Pastors
Do what they say, not what they do

Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!” What must you shepherds hear? Thus says the Lord God: behold, I am above the shepherds and I will call them to account for the sheep in their hands.

Listen, sheep of God, listen and learn: God will call the bad shepherds to account for his sheep and for their deaths. As he says elsewhere in Ezekiel: Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man, “Wicked wretch, you are to die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin but you yourself will have saved your life.

You see, brethren? Do you see how dangerous it is to keep quiet? If you remain silent, you die; and rightly. You die for your impiety and sin – it is your negligence that kills you. He who has said, As I live, says the Lord might have found a living shepherd – but since the shepherd was negligent, not warning those he had been given authority over, those whose sentry he was, he will die justly and the sentry will be justly condemned. But if – the Lord continues – you say “you are to die” with one I have threatened with the sword, and he does not avoid the sword and it comes and kills him, he will die in his sin but you will have set your soul free. That is why we must not keep silent – and you, even if we did keep silent, must listen to the words of the true Shepherd in holy Scripture.

Since I raised the question, let us see if he takes the sheep from the dead shepherds and gives them to good ones. I certainly see him taking the sheep from the bad shepherds: I am above the shepherds, and I shall take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. For when I say to them, “Feed my sheep,” they feed themselves and not my sheep. I shall not allow them to feed my flock.

How does he stop them from looking after his sheep? Do whatever they say, but do not do what they do. It is as if he were saying, “Their words are my words but their actions are their own.” When you avoid what the bad shepherds do, they are not in charge of you any more: when you follow what they say, it is my words you are following and it is I who am tending you.

Concluding Prayer

O God, you have summed up the entire Law as love of you and our neighour.
Grant that we may obey your commandments
and deserve to come to eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.