I think the best biography of Padre Pio is by Bernard Ruffin–a Lutheran. What struck me in reading the biography was that the saint used to put on weight while fasting. I exclaimed, “Why that’s just like me! I’m always putting on weight while eating next to nothing. I mean it was only two chocolate bars, a cheeseburger a donut and a bag of chips….
Seriously, what really did hit me between the eyes was the fact that he was persecuted…not by unbelievers, but by his fellow priests and the church. Has anyone ever figured out this mysterious aspect of being Catholic, that all the good people seem to get kicked around by the church? How many saints can you name who have been maligned or ostracized or ignored or humiliated or persecuted by some bishop or prelate or abbot or mother superior or cardinal or some other (from a human perspective) goofball in high office? Loads of them.
It seems to be one of the things that goes with sanctity. Did you become a Catholic and expect a wonderful, caring and sharing fellowship of good Christian people? Well there’s plenty of that, but also, if you want to do God’s will and become a saint, then get prepared to get kicked around a bit by precisely the people you thought were going to support you, praise you, help you and aid you.
But guess what, remember your master. Wasn’t that exactly what happened to him? It was the religious leaders who took him out and nailed him up. Now I’m not encouraging pious persecution complexes. Lord knows there’s enough of that lunacy around already without encouraging it, but on the other hand, if you’re serious about following Christ, don’t be surprised if he calls you to walk with him in the say of the cross, and that means bearing the stigmata. (Whether you can see them or not)