Merlin Carothers and Padre Pio are two of my favorite holy people. Each has played a significant role in moving me to love and serve the Lord. Merlin’s autobiographical book “Prison To Praise” caught my attention over 50 years ago when I was trying my best to keep the Lord at a distance. I re-read this great book every few years and it continues to speak to me. Padre Pio, of course, is a great saint who’s stories have inspired thousands over the years. I even met a person who went to confession to Padre Pio….”woe and wow”.
Recently I found myself a little weary…. dreading certain aspects of my life…. getting tired of fighting particular battles for holiness; my prayer seemed dry, some of my spiritual practices were becoming routine. I was just getting a bit weary. Anyway, both of my holy friends spoke a similar word to me….coincidence?
Padre Pio reminded me “to not be frustrated or cast down, for the Lord is faithful and will not allow you to be overcome by temptation. In order to reach our final goal, we must follow our divine Leader, who usually leads chosen souls by the path he himself has trodden and by no other; by the path, I tell you, of self-denial and suffering (Yikes) : If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me… the continual crosses to which he subjects you, giving you not merely the necessary strength, but superabundant strength to bear them meritoriously, are most certain and singular signs of his deep love for you.” (Padre Pio, Magnificat Sept 2022)
Merlin Carothers joined in, saying “we can decide to be content with our situations, even those we don’t like; we can decide to rejoice regardless of what other thoughts may try to make us unhappy. If God has given me a task to do, I should be happy doing it. Decide to be content doing God’s will and you will find joy in this work.”(Merlin Carothers, Praise News, October 2009)
Well, it looks like the balls back in my court. These great men confirmed what the Lord had already been speaking to me about. I have a choice every day. I can listen to the Lord and follow his promptings or feel sorry for myself and grumble about some aspect of my life. The first leads to joy and peace and gratitude … the latter leads to discouragement and complaining. It really is my choice. God clearly gives me the grace to always choose his will.
I’ve been trying to follow this advice and things are looking up. So let’s encourage each other to “lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees, and make straight paths for our feet.” (Heb. 12:13-14) And all will be well with our soul.