Blog 92 September 17, 2018
MIRACLES NEVER CEASE Robert Wise explores the world of Divine intervention from an objective point of view. Can 21st Century people believe that the hand of God touches people in today’s world?
The first time I heard of Padre Pio was during a conversation with a Roman Catholic Priest in Oklahoma City. I asked Father John W. Scheller what influenced him to become a priest. He told that during World War II, he was in the infantry that invaded Italy. Somewhere along the way, he heard about this amazing priest in San Giovanni Rotondo and found the church. That afternoon Padre Pio was officiating at the Mass. My friend had worked his way around to the side of the altar where he could observe everything that was happening. Padre Pio was wearing gloves with the fingers cut out. Because he had the stigmata (the wounds of Christ), his hands bled when exposed.
My friend watched Pio pick up the chalice and lift it up to the heavens for the concentration of the host. At that moment, Padre Pio began to rise up from the floor and hovered suspended in the air. As he put the chalice down, the priest came back down to the floor.
Father Scheller watched in total amazement.
As I listened, I found his story difficult to digest. I had to tell him that this sounded like something from science fiction. The priest smiled, but said what he saw in those moments with this Italian priest changed his life. Those few moments caused Father Scheller to spend the rest of his life as a celibate priest.
What a challenging story! The early portion of Padre Pio’s life was prior to Vatican II. Anyone from that era immediately finds the many stories of miraculous happenings easy to accept. After Vatican II in 1963, everything changed. The hallowed sense of stillness and quiet in a service gave way to shaking hands, talking, and priests telling funny stories in their homilies. Believers from this era look at the stories of divine interventions with more of an askance questioning point of view. On the other hand, Protestants have been raised with grave doubts about Roman Catholic saints and miracle stories. The tendency is to distrust the whole works. The point of view you bring to these accounts is probably more important than what you are actually reading. I know readers will be subjective in what they read.
However, I had no reason to doubt my friend. He had spent six decades as a humble man of the cloth. Consequently, I had to know more about this Padre Pio. As the years that I spent traveling in Italy went by, I heard many, many more stores about this extraordinary man’s ministry. Subjective? Yes, but when a man spends the rest of his life in a profession because of what happened in such limited contact, I had to take a long second look at what might be more objective than it was at first glance.
Let me tell you more about what I discovered about Padre Pio. Next week I will tell you more about what I learned over three decades. You’ll be fascinated!