Boomer film buffs might see Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as a kind of summative look back at the mafia culture depicted by Hollywood over the last few decades. But this film’s conclusion, in which an aged hitman attempts to make a genuine confession and find forgiveness with the aid of a priest, makes it a cautionary tale for our times.
As the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina today (1887–1968), who is more affectionately known as Padre Pio, Christians everywhere can draw important spiritual lessons from this beloved mystic’s balance of compassion and “tough love.”
Our secular society may speak too much about renewal in mundane, temporary terms (“renewing” a driver’s license) or as an impersonal, policy-driven turnaround (“urban renewal”). But on August 21, the feast day of Pope St. Pius X, it’s helpful to ponder how the Catholic Church thinks about renewal, especially in light of the motto associated with this first Pope elected in the 20th century: “to renew all things in Christ.”
The Church designates July 26 as a relatively quiet “memorial” of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For me, however, there are few days in the liturgical calendar that evoke more energetic memories of a geographical community and parish family than this one. This is a feast of visceral evangelization that immerses all five senses and brings people together—close together.
What could “tough love” possibly have to do with the dual sense of consolation I experienced last month in a special prayer service? My wife and I gathered with our parish family to express solidarity with fellow Christians and to see more clearly our need for trust in Our Lord and the Blessed Mother.