St. Padre Pio’s celebration of Mass is legendary, as many people have related that it could last up to three hours.
Why did his Mass last so long?
For Padre Pio, the celebration of Mass involved his entire being. It was the highlight of his day and the source of his strength.
Pio would begin his day at 3:30 a.m., rising to begin his preparations for Mass, which wouldn’t start until 5:30. He spent this time in meditation and prayer, preparing his heart for Mass.
When it came time for Padre Pio to celebrate Mass, he would become very emotional, with full knowledge of what he was doing.
According to Padre Pio: The True Story, Pio was able to enter into the Passion of Christ each time he celebrated Mass.
Apart from any merit on his own part, he believed that he was allowed to relive Jesus’ Passion in a direct way. “All that Jesus has suffered in his Passion, inadequately I also suffer, as far as is possible for a human being. And all this against my unworthiness, and thanks only to his goodness.”
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Pio was very emotional during Mass, often visibly crying, as one individual described the experience of observing him.
At the altar Padre Pio was transfigured. His face was deathly pale, radiant, and sometimes bathed in tears. There was an intensity in his fervor; there were painful contractions of his body … Great silent sobs shook him from time to time. Everything about him told us how intensely he was living the Passion of Christ. One had the impression that space and time had been canceled between that altar and the hill of Calvary.
Furthermore, another reason behind the length of Pio’s Mass was his attention to detail in every rubric.
Padre Giovanni of Baggio observed: “He seemed to be meditating on every word, and to be carried out of himself by every action of the rite. He read with emotion, in a low and almost weary voice, unhurriedly, pronouncing each word distinctly.
The consecration was the high point of the Mass for Padre Pio, and, “Father Clement Naef noted that Padre Pio seemed to spend ten to fifteen minutes adoring the consecrated bread and wine.”
Later in his life St. Padre Pio was not able to sustain such a long Mass, and his Masses were only about an hour long.
St. Padre Pio reminds us that the Mass is much more than the eye can see and is meant to transport us to Calvary, where we encounter Jesus Christ, our Lord.