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The Secret of Padre Pio

Part II

Continued from The Fatima Crusader, Issue 60, Summer, 1999

Padre Pio is the great miracle worker of the Twentieth Century. In an age of secularism and widespread disbelief, Padre Pio could read consciences and bilocate. The saint bore, for 50 years, the wounds of Jesus in his hands, his feet and in his side. Those wounds never healed until after his death. Padre Pio did not eat anything for many years, except Holy Communion. He bled one cup of blood every day, more than what he ate. Yet he did not lose any weight. All of these miracles point to the Cross of Christ, to the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. It is not without reason that Padre Pio had such a deep love of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Long before the changes from the old to the new liturgy, Blessed Padre Pio intensely disliked the 1965 reforms of the Old Mass: Latin to English, facing the people, free standing altars, truncated prayers. Dietrich von Hildebrand, called by Pius XII a Twentieth Century Doctor of the Church, quotes Padre Pio as saying: "At least they left Christ in Holy Mass." Not happy, then, with the liturgical reform, the saint asked to be exempted. The humble Capuchin never lived to see the New Mass. Yet even before the 1969 reform, he was persecuted for his attachment to the unchanging Mass of Always. Padre Pio was silenced and isolated by the Vatican under Pius XI because of doubts concerning the authenticity of his wonders and miracles. The persecution stopped under Pius XII who once asked: "What does Padre Pio do all day?" The response of the Archbishop of the blessed monk, "He takes away the sins of the world." The persecutions started again under John XXIII. Like Padre Pio, Father Gruner has been silenced and isolated for his attachment to miracles (Fatima), and to the Mass celebrated by the Holy Capuchin. We continue now with Part II of a conversation between Father Nicholas Gruner and James Demers.

J.D.: Padre Pio retained the right to say the Latin Mass?

Fr.G.: He always said the Latin Mass. In fact, he had special permission to say the Mass of the Immaculate Conception, the Mass of Our Lady of December 8. He said that every day.

J.D.: I find it ironic that when Paul VI was elected as Pope, one of the first things that he did was to lift the restrictions on Padre Pio, giving him more freedom. People were more accessible to him. In the book detailing this, the writer referred to Padre Pio and Paul VI as being friends.

I don’t know what their relationship was, how well they knew one another. But it seems ironic that the Pope who released the restrictions on Padre Pio did two things that are so confusing!

Firstly: Paul VI, in 1965, at the closing of the Council, with all the bishops present, supposedly consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart. Did he in fact?

Secondly: he changed the Mass of the Ages with the help of non-Catholic advisors.

Fr.G.: Actually it was November 21, 1964, that Paul VI sent a golden rose to Fatima and another one to Our Lady of Guadalupe’s shrine as a commemoration of this event. He consecrated the world, he didn’t ask the bishops to join him. They were there and listened to him make a prayer for the consecration of the world, But it was of ‘the world’, not of ‘Russia’, thus not fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. He also wrote Marian encyclicals and promoted the Rosary on occasion.

Secondly: I think it is interesting that Paul VI changed the Mass in 1969, one year after the death of Padre Pio.

According to one researcher, a diocesan priest in northern Italy (whom I met in 1976) had spent most of his life researching and writing on Padre Pio. Padre Pio is reputed to have said: "I have two weights on my shoulders. One is the whole Church minus the clergy, and one is the clergy. And the weight of the clergy is much heavier than the rest of the Church."

Padre Pio is, judging from the externals, the greatest stigmatic. There have been several hundred laypeople or priests or religious who bore the stigmata over the centuries but of all of them, Padre Pio had the most gifts and the most extraordinary life. This is not to take anything away from St. Francis of Assisi, of whom Padre Pio, in humility, considered himself a son, since he was a Franciscan friar, a Capuchin.

One time someone said to him, "Do you have the crown of thorns, too?" Padre Pio said, "Don’t you see it?" And the person saw the crown of thorns on Padre Pio’s head. Padre Pio then bent his head forward and touched the person who was facing him with one of the thorns. The thorn scratched the other person on the forehead and it was several weeks before that scratch healed.

The Crucifix of the Stigma, as it is called due to the fact that Padre Pio, who bore the wounds of Our Lord for eight years, invisibly, was praying in front of this crucifix when the stigmata were impressed upon his body permanently and visibly. They remained so for half a century.

J.D.: That’s amazing. I’ve never heard that before. It echoes The Imitation of Christ, Meditation 12, Part II: "If you carry your cross unwillingly, you will make a greater burden for yourself and you must go carry it in any case. If you fling aside one cross, you will certainly find another, and perhaps a heavier one."

Padre Pio said: "The habit of asking ‘why?’ has ruined the world."

He never seemed to ask why he had this kind of physical life. He accepted it without any hesitation. One doctor said to him, "Why do these wounds appear on your hands and your feet?" And he said "Well, where else would they appear?"

He was very practical about the fact that he be seen as ‘a living Crucifix’, and never asked ‘why’?

That ‘asking why?’ may have ruined the world, brings us back to Fatima and the question so often asked, "Why is it necessary for the Consecration of Russia to be to the Immaculate Heart?"

Fr.G.: Like everything else, if it is the will of God, that is reason enough. Besides that, God has many good reasons for this. Why, first of all, the Consecration of Russia? And why to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Firstly, we’ll deal with ‘why’ Russia.

Sister Lucy has told us that many times the Blessed Virgin told herself and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta that Russia is the instrument of chastisement that has been chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world (understood, for its sins) unless we obtain the conversion of that poor nation.

God is going to be glorified in His Justice or in His Mercy. Even regimes that set themselves up to fight against God still serve God’s purpose. There is nothing in creation that does not serve God’s purpose. Even a sinner serves God’s purpose. Even a sinful regime serves God’s purpose.

The Communist/Leninist regime enthroned itself in Moscow, and declared war on Christ and on His Church. God has allowed that.

God has not only allowed it, God has a purpose behind it. What that purpose is, according to the Message of Fatima is, in Justice, to punish the world for its sins. Nevertheless God, in His Love for us, wants to manifest His Mercy, on very small terms. The very small terms are: the Pope and the bishops on the same day, and the same hour, consecrate, specifically, Russia, to the Immaculate Heart.

If they do that, God says: "For this little act of obedience, for this little act of reparation, for this little act of public acknowledgment, that I, God, Who have been insulted by this upstart regime that uses My creation and uses My people to fight against Me around the world, I will manifest My Power under those circumstances, I will convert Russia to the Catholic faith and give peace to the whole world."

The terms that God is offering mankind are so beautiful and so rewarding, even more rewarding than if someone were to say to you", If you’ll walk across the street one time and carry this one-pound parcel, I will give you $10 million every day for the rest of your life." We have that kind of proposal, very small in comparison, to the promise of Fatima, but you have to at least walk the parcel across the street to get your reward.

That’s all you are being asked to do. It’s not very much. You don’t have to sweat, you don’t have to do anything else. You can wait until the cars are stopped. You can walk across safely. But do it in the next little while. Or if you don’t do that, tremendous evil consequences are going to happen to you.

The conditions for the Consecration of Russia laid down by God are infinitesimally small. But God is saying you have to at least show good will. You have to at least do something.

Why ‘Russia’? Why not the whole world? As Sister Lucy says, "Russia is a very well-defined territory." In other words, we all know where the border is and everyone knows where the Russian people are. So when Russia, specifically, is consecrated, then the Russian people and the Russian institutions are converted away from their hatred of God (I’m not saying every Russian hates God) but their institutions and their regime publicly make it their purpose to promote atheism and anti-God secularism or whatever it is that you want to call it. The entire communist system and regime is there to promote that.

By the Pope and the bishops consecrating that country, that people collectively will be converted away from their purpose of fighting God to the purpose of glorifying God and promoting His love and promoting His gospel.

This conversion of Russia will be the major turning point in the history of mankind for centuries to come. The miraculous, sudden, complete conversion of specifically Russia will be so impressive and dramatic that people will easily see that the only thing that could have brought it about is the act of faith and obedience of the Pope and the bishops, to Our Lady of Fatima’s request.

That’s why it has to be a specific country, and that’s why it’s that specific country, either we can obtain by our prayers and by our efforts the Consecration of Russia and thus the conversion of that poor country or it becomes the instrument of chastisement of the whole world, including ourselves. That’s why ‘Russia’.

The second thing, why the Immaculate Heart of Mary? We have the teaching of both St. Bernard and St. Alphonsus, (in the Glories of Mary we are told) that if we want our offering to be accepted by God, we must be sure to offer it through the hands of the Blessed Virgin. There are many things which are imperfect in our own hearts, and in our gifts. If we offer it on our own, God sees all the imperfections. He finds no imperfections in the Immaculate Conception. There is no imperfection in Her, and just because it comes from Her, God will accept it.

She also knows how to present it to God, so She takes out the imperfections and offers it to God in a much more acceptable way than if we offer it ourselves. God is saying about Russia, I want you to rededicate this country back to My service, but rededicate it through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The other reason, given in the Message of Fatima itself, why God wants this consecration to the Immaculate Heart, is because God wants Our Lady to get the credit for the conversion of Russia and world peace.

The 20th Century is one of the most sinful times. Never before has the sin, the crime of abortion been promoted and justified on such a wide scale. Pope Pius XII taught in 1951, "the world today is worse than before the flood." Today is even worse still. We do not deserve the gift of world peace, but God in His love for us wants to give it to us.

As St. Augustine tells us, there are certain favors, there are certain graces that God wants to give us, but God knows we don’t deserve them. God still wants to give them to us. So, so to speak, God has a dilemma: "How can I give these gifts to mankind when I know they don’t deserve them? They are going to become proud. They are going to think that they somehow deserved this gift of peace."

St. Augustine teaches that God has found a way around this dilemma. God will give us these special graces but only through the merits and intercession of the Saints. That way, God gets to give us these graces and we get to realize that it is not because we deserve them, but only because of the great merits and intercession of the Saints that the graces were given.

In the Message of Fatima, we are told that God has entrusted the Grace of world peace exclusively to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and furthermore, God wants us to recognize this.

So God has laid down the condition: “NO. You are not going to have peace, you’re not going to have the conversion of Russia without the Blessed Virgin. It is on Her merits and Her prayers that this is going to take place. I will give it to you, I want to give it to you, but I will only do it through the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

That is why Jesus says to Sister Lucy when she asks Our Lord "Why will You not convert Russia without that consecration?"

Our Lord says: "Because I want My whole Church to recognize that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary thereby later on placing devotion to My Mother’s Immaculate Heart beside devotion to My Sacred Heart."

That’s why God commands that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As Padre Pio would say, if God wills it, that’s sufficient reason for me.

Another reason for this command is that God wants the authority and the prestige of the Pope and the bishops to be recognized for what it is. He gave them authority on Ascension Thursday: "All authority is given to Me in Heaven and earth. Go forth and teach all nations."

He wants them to get the prestige, not because of who they are but because He wants the authority He gave them to be recognized throughout the world. That is why He is reserving world peace to the Pope and the bishops exercising their authority of consecrating a country in God’s name and with the authority God gave them to do this. Thus will God glorify the Pope and the bishops. That way the world will recognize that all Graces come from God, through the Sacred humanity of Jesus Christ, through the Blessed Virgin, then through the Catholic Church to mankind.

Pope Boniface VIII pointed out in 1302 in his bull Unam Sanctam that there are two authorities, the temporal authority and the spiritual authority. The spiritual authority is higher than the temporal authority. Even the temporal good of world peace — God wants to point out comes through that spiritual authority.

I’ve written on this in more detail in my book, World Enslavement or Peace.

J.D.: Can you think of any justification whatever for a member of the hierarchy today to be resisting the Consecration of Russia?

Fr.G.: I can’t think of any real justification. Nor has any bishop, priest, theologian or anyone else ever even offered a serious reason for not doing the consecration. I can understand that some of the members of the hierarchy are deceived. I am not here to judge them. In brief, to answer your question, there can be no real reason for resisting the command and express will of Almighty God requesting the Consecration of Russia as specified in the Fatima message. I can only urge everyone to pray, work, sacrifice and support all good efforts to take away any resistance to this divine Command. We must work to make it known, understood, appreciated and obeyed.

Father Gruner prays daily for the fulfillment of Our Lady of Fatima's requests and also for the special intentions of all Our Lady's helpers and supporters.

On Inner Comfort

J.D.: Meditation 54 of Part III of The Imitation of Christ, On Inner Comfort says: Nature is crafty and seduces many. It entangles them and deceives them, and it is always self-centered in the end. But grace walks in simplicity and turns away from all forms of evil. It offers no deceit and does everything purely for God, in Whom it rests as its final goal.

Padre Pio said: "Remember every sect in the world feeds off the Catholic Church. The Holy Catholic Church is like a great and extremely precious unpolished diamond from which every so often someone takes a particle and polishes it, not without the help of the Evil One, so that it begins to shine better than part of the great unpolished diamond."

In the world of Russian Orthodoxy there has been the idea that Rome is, sort of, the one who walked away from them and that they are the polished diamond.

There has been a report that Lucy says that the conversion of Russia would come through Orthodoxy. Is there any truth to that?

Fr.G.: I have heard it said that the conversion of Russia would come, not through the Orthodox, but through the Catholic Ukraine. In 1985, on April 26, the Chernobyl explosion took place. A year later Our Lady appeared at Hrushiw, in the Ukraine. Her appearances have converted whole villages to the Catholic Faith. She has converted groups of practicing Jews, Russian Orthodox, commissars, communist members with various degrees of power, and so forth.

At Hrushiw She said that unless the Church obeys what She asks for, Russia will destroy the world. That is a clear reference to Fatima. I talked to a Catholic bishop from the Ukraine on my TV program FATIMA: "The Moment Has Come" and asked him, "What do the Catholic bishops of the Ukraine think?" He said they were very sympathetic to Hrushiw. I can see, certainly, the conversion of Russia coming through the Ukrainian rite because, first of all, they are Catholic; and secondly, their liturgy, their form of worship, is closer to what the Orthodox are used to. So it would make a lot of sense to me, logically, that they would find it easier to become practicing Catholics in the format given to the Eastern Catholic rite, sometimes known as the Uniate rite.

J.D.: If the conversion of Russia means the return of Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism then certainly the proof is in the numbers, that the consecration has not been done correctly nor the conversion taken place. The current Papal representative to federated Russia, Archbishop John Bukovsky, reported to the National Catholic Register this month that, in Russia itself, not the former whole Soviet assembly of countries but in what is left of Russia itself, there are less than 100,000 practicing Catholics and there are only 10 Russian-born Roman Catholic priests in the entire country.

Fr.G.: Yes, that’s amazing.

J.D.: The numbers are pretty bleak.

Fr.G.: In 1917, there were 500,000 Catholics in Russia. The highest number I have ever seen is 300,000, I am not saying it is accurate, I am saying that is as high as anyone has dared go. If you don’t count the other, federated nations, there are 140,000,000 Russians and 300,000 represents much less than 1%. We can hardly say this country has converted to the Catholic faith.

Remember, Our Lady appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, in Guadalupe, near Mexico City. In nine years She converted 9,000,000 to the Catholic faith. That’s the whole country of Aztecs at that time.

She left behind a miraculous image of Herself, Her self-portrait, on Juan Diego’s outer garment (his Tilma), which still exists to this day even though it should have fallen apart after 25 years (1556). The Aztecs would come on pilgrimage, they would hear the story about it, they would go to see it. It was hanging up on a very poor hut, a chapel. They would look at this Image and they would immediately want to be baptized. Our Lady only brought them there as fast as the Catholic priests could baptize them. They would come by the hundreds or thousands each day. All the priests had time for was to get up, say Mass, baptize all day long, bless marriages and go back to bed, their day was over. And the next day the same thing. They did this for 10 years. Our Lady would have done this faster if there had been more priests; the conversion of each individual person looking at Our Lady’s self-portrait was itself instantaneous.

Yes, Our Lady can convert. Then there is the dramatic conversion of Ratisbonne in 1838, a man who was a Jew and hated the Church because his brother had been converted and had became a Catholic priest. On a dare, Ratisbonne put a Miraculous Medal around his neck. Within two hours Our Lady appeared to him. When he saw Her, he immediately knew the faith, and wanted baptism just as the Aztecs had. Ratisbonne became a Catholic priest himself, and founded a religious order.

If Our Lady can convert 9,000,000 Aztecs, the whole country, in 10 years, surely she could have converted 9,000,000 Russians by now, if the consecration had been done 15 years ago.

J.D.: It is interesting that Archbishop Bukovsky, the Nuncio to Russia, was appointed because he was very much in tune with the Ostpolitik that had been started back in the reign of Pius XI; accelerated in the 1940’s and then became sort of a by-word for the policy of Cardinal Casaroli when he was Secretary of State. Yet Bukovsky, hand-picked for the job that he has right now, says that the Church will never grow any bigger with the Vatican’s current policy towards Russia. Whereas Moscow is allowing entrance into Russia of clergy from denominations other than Roman Catholic, the Roman Catholics are forced to register and cannot take root with the people because every six months they are forced to return to their own country and apply for visas once more. He said this to Rome itself, through the National Catholic Register, a very interesting choice of speaking forum — He is saying to Rome that with the current policy in place, the Church is not going to grow, it will remain as it is or get smaller. That certainly flies in the face of all the propaganda that we hear about how the opening to the East has been so successful.

Fr.G.: As I’ve explained many times in public, on my speaking tours, the very simple fact is the Church has been presented with an ultimatum by the enemies of the Church. Basically, the enemies of the Church have said "We’re going to kill you. We’re going to bury you."

That was a very clear message of Marx, Lenin, and their successors. Gorbachev, who is a Leninist and doesn’t hide it, as recently as 10 years ago, said "The war on religion has to go on unabated. We can’t be faithful to our cause and not war against religion." Particularly, I would add, he means war against the Catholic Church.

The Church has a choice, like anybody faced with a mortal enemy has a choice. If you want to live, you have three choices: you can either run, or you can fight, or you can negotiate. You can run away, hoping that whoever wants to kill you doesn’t catch up to you; or you can fight, hoping to win; or you can negotiate and try to get him to change his mind. The Church has chosen to negotiate, contrary to what Our Lady has said. She said: "You have to fight with the weapons I give you. Nothing else will work." But the Vatican negotiators and the Secretariat of State have said "we’ll negotiate." In effect, they negotiated to NOT use the Message of Fatima, to NOT listen to Our Lady and to be silent about the errors of communism, the errors of Russia.

On the Sacrament

J.D.: Part 4 of The Imitation of Christ, Meditation I says: "You are present to me here on the altar, my God, Holy of Holies, Creator of human beings and Lord of Angels."

There is a sentiment that Padre Pio reveals about the Faith, the wording of which allows one to imagine him standing in the Cova da Iria in Fatima: "For those who don’t possess it, but desire it, our beautiful Faith can be found everywhere. It can be found even in the limpid eyes of an innocent child. As long as we don’t close our eyes to that chalice brimming with graces which God always places at a hand’s breadth from our noses, as long as we don’t turn away out of contempt and carelessness as if it were some base instinct from our own noble aspirations, that of uncovering in ourselves the imprint of God." — It is almost as if he is talking about the Faith and the children of Fatima at the same time. Would you piece together for us where he stood on Fatima? His very choice of words seems like they could have come out of those very poor people who lived in that region.

Fr.G.: His attitude was one of love and respect for Our Lady as evidenced by his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the presence of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Those words you just quoted from him remind me of an incident which took place in the lives of the three children.

There was a woman living in sin in the village of Fatima, who was mocking the children, Jacinta, Francisco and Lucy, well before the great Miracle of the Sun took place. She was standing at her window and opened up the shutter, to call out to them and make fun of them. They were, no doubt, cut to the core and very much hurt by this. But they did not reply in kind. The woman shut her shutter but didn’t go away. She saw Jacinta offering her hands up to God in supplication and offering up this pain they had just been given by this unmerited remark and undeserved sarcasm. Jacinta offered this up to God, to Our Lady, for the conversion of sinners.

I would say, as Padre Pio did, this woman was presented with something, literally, under her nose, and was very touched. That prayer and that gesture were enough to convince her of the truth of the whole Message of Fatima. She proved that by her change of life as well.

Through them God did an extraordinary thing. Jacinta and Francisco are up for beatification. The Pope will beatify them this year. The innocence of a child and at the same time the child offering up this cross was very touching, no doubt, to this woman and touching to people who read about it and hear about it as well.

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