The Holy Spirit is incredibly helpful when it comes to nudging us towards the Saints that will help strengthen our Catholic faith. Recently, the Holy Spirit has moved in such a way with the actor Shia LaBeouf through Saint Pius of Pietrelcina. Shia has a new film, in which he portrays Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known as Padre Pio, whose memorial feast day is celebrated on September 23rd.
In preparing for his role, Shia experienced the Latin Mass and learned about Padre Pio’s life and suffering. This sparked a desire in him to learn more about the Catholic faith, form a relationship with God, and drastically change his life. He even sat down with Bishop Robert Barron and had an in depth conversation, which you can watch here on YouTube.
A Little Bit About St Padre Pio
Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione and came from a small farming village in southern Italy. He was called to the priesthood and joined the Capuchin friars when he was 15 years old. After being discharged from the Italian army in World War I he began to live at the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo.
A year after coming to the friary, in 1918, Padre Pio received the stigmata, on his hands, feet, and side. The stigmata are bodily markings that correspond to the wounds Christ received during His Passion. When a person receives the stigmata it can sometimes be temporary or it can last throughout their entire life. There were concerns about the authenticity of Padre Pio’s wounds and because of that, he was not allowed to say Mass or hear confessions for a period of time.
Once his experience of the stigmata was verified and he was allowed to serve again, Padre Pio developed a large following. Oftentimes he would hear confessions for over ten hours a day. Through his own suffering he was drawn to help the sick and established a 350 bed hospital that is known as “The House for the Alleviation of Suffering.”
A Way To Teach Your Kids About This
Padre Pio's experience with the stigmata and the suffering he endured gives us an excellent example of how one can offer up their pain and unite it with Christ’s. But teaching young children about the stigmata can be complicated.
I was able to find a very simple, creative activity to introduce my children to the stigmata. First, we would talk about Jesus’ scourging, His Passion, and the wounds that he endured when he was nailed to the cross. Then using a printable from Callherhappy’s Etsy shop, I would let my children trace their own hand and then color it with red to symbolize the stigmata. The printable also has a great quote from Padre Pio that will help inspire our dessert for the day, so it helps tie our activity and our food together.
St Padre Pio Inspired Dinner
Several years ago, my family started abstaining from meat on all Fridays, except Solemnities, as a way to commemorate Jesus’ Passion on Good Friday and to make a small sacrifice throughout the entire year. This year Padre Pio’s feast day falls on a Friday, which makes celebrating the memorial with dinner challenging since we cannot just prepare pasta with Italian sausage and call it good.
Instead, I looked for inspiration from the homily, Saint Pope John Paul II gave at Padre Pio’s canonization. The gospel at his canonization was from Matthew 11: 25-30, in which the last verse reads, “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”. In his homily, Saint Pope John Paul II stated that, “The image of the "yoke" recalls the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo had to face; The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness, which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to the Lord.”
Using this idea of a yoke, I found a meat-free pasta recipe from Smitten Kitchen that incorporated eggs with a runny yoke. I will read that gospel with my family so that they understand why we are having this particular meal. Even though it is a simple play on words, I like making these connections, especially when they can incorporate scripture too.
End with Something Sweet
For dessert, we return to our stigmata activity and use the Padre Pio quote, “Pray, hope, and do not worry” as our starting point. Creating another play on words, we celebrate Padre Pio by having donuts to bring together the “do” and “not” from the quote. We are fortunate where we live to have several bakeries that have specialty donuts on the menu, so my children have a variety of choices for dessert on this feast day.
Incorporating activities, making meals that honor the Saint, and having fun desserts into our lives take some planning, but they have become a fun tradition that my children look forward to each year. Just like Shia LaBeouf was moved by the Holy Spirit, do not be surprised if the Spirit brings a new Saint into your life as well. Enjoy the Feast of Saint Pius Pius of Pietrelcina and Padre Pio, pray for us!
If you are looking for more ways to bring the rich traditions of the Catholic Church's liturgical year into your family life, be sure to check out the Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney. If you have no idea what the liturgical year is, but want to bring your faith home from Sunday Mass—in every season, all year long—this is the book for you. These are a best seller and I know you'll love it.