The more we thank God for what He has done for us, the more we create the conditions for further blessings.
[Adolfo Affatato is one of the last living spiritual sons of Padre Pio. At 82 years old, he continues his ministry speaking and writing about Padre Pio. The following is adapted from his book, Padre Pio and I.]
Gratitude was important to Padre Pio, and he spoke of it often.
One evening, Adolfo asked Padre Pio if God forgives all sins.
He answered: “My son, God is a good Father, and He forgives everyone. Yet, there is one sin He has difficulty forgiving: the ingratitude of man.” He then added: “But He knows how to wait.”
Here emerges one of the missions entrusted by God to Padre Pio: bringing lost sheep back into the fold.
One day Adolfo was asked to accompany a politician who wished to visit Padre Pio. They met at the train station in Foggia.
Over lunch, his new friend spoke in a manner that struck Adolfo as full of presumption. He came across as someone who felt he could do whatever he wanted. He went on to say that in his lifetime, he had made three vows, but had failed each time. Now that he heard of Padre Pio, he said he wished to meet the Capuchin saint and place himself under his direction.
When they arrived at the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Adolfo and the politician went upstairs to wait for Padre to come out of his cell. When he came out of his cell to go down to hear the men’s confessions, Padre said, “Praised be Jesus Christ,” to the friars as was his custom.
Turning to Adolfo, he said: “Who is this you have today?”
Adolfo responded, “Father, this gentleman would like your blessing.”
Instead, Padre Pio said, “Nice stuff you brought me here. Tell him that he made a vow three times and three times he failed. This is the last chance God is giving him. He should go before the Blessed Sacrament and ask forgiveness for his sins.” Without greeting the politician, he went down the stairs to hear confessions.
Adolfo was struck. And yet it was another episode, one of many, in which he experienced firsthand the supernatural gifts of Padre Pio.
Though Adolfo usually experienced the endearing, paternal side of Padre Pio, here was his other side – the harsh friar who was stern toward those who sinned against God and neglected their duties as a Christian. Padre Pio suffered enormously before such manifestations of ingratitude.
No one except the politician himself and Padre Pio knew exactly what sins he was guilty of and what vows he had broken. Having the gift of reading souls, Padre Pio could see what others could not.
Adolfo sensed the icy emptiness that overcame the politician at that moment. He watched as he broke down in tears, a crisis of redemption.
Fr. Onorato later told Adolfo that he asked Padre Pio that evening if perhaps he had been too harsh with that politician.
Without hesitation, Padre Pio responded: “If you could scrutinize souls, you would have seen in that man’s heart not just seven deadly sins, but seventy.”
Pointing to a glass of water on his bedside table, he continued: “Do you see that glass full of water? If you don’t empty it of its filth and fill it with God’s love, there will never be peace.”
Adolfo later heard that after that encounter, the politician began to radically change his life. Through Padre Pio, the power of God unlocked the doors of his heart, blocked by pride and possessions, and filled it with charity.
The time had come. As Padre Pio said: “God knows how to wait.”
Through Padre Pio, Adolfo understood that gratitude is an eternal virtue. The more we thank God for what He has done for us, the more we create the conditions for further blessings. God desires nothing more, and in turn, we become like angels ready to help those in need.
(Adolfo’s book, Padre Pio and I, is available on Amazon. 100% of royalties are donated to the friars of San Giovanni Rotondo.)