Padre Pio was truly a servant of God. He had a lifelong love affair with Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. To him, the Eucharist was the center of all spiritual benefits. It was the life breath of the soul. We believe the Lord gave him an insight as to the power and the magnitude of the Eucharist, from a very early age. As a young man, before he entered the priesthood, he spent hours in the church, adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. After his ordination, he took a long time for the Consecration of the Mass, to the point where parishioners complained about all the time he spent, in ecstasy, before the bread and wine as they became the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus. He had to control himself, to break out of his ecstasy, and force himself back to the Mass, at the orders of his superiors.
He began his preparations for Mass hours before the Mass began. He would constantly ask his fellow Friars what time it was. He always thought it was time to begin Mass, even though it might have been two hours early. When it came to celebrating the Eucharist, he was like a young race-horse, chomping at the bit, waiting impatiently to get out of the starting gate.
We read an eyewitness account in the Voice of Padre Pio, about Padre Pio and the celebration of the Mass.
“But as he started vesting for Mass, his body began to bend forward. As he slowly approached the altar, his body stooped over more and more as if he was being crushed under a heavy cross beam on his shoulders; his gait dragged, his face took on the sorrow of his Lord and Savior. As the mystery of the Sacrifice of the Mass unfolded, Padre Pio reached the pinnacle of suffering at the moment of Elevation of the Host in Consecration.
To quote a witness, `In his eyes I read the expression of a mother who assists at the agony of her son on the scaffold, who sees him expire and who, choked with suffering, silently receives the bloodless body in her arms, able only to give slight caresses.’
He cried during the Mass. It was not weeping so much as it was deep, involuntary sobbing. He cried from the depths of his soul. When he beat his breast during the Confiteor, it was as if he was accusing himself of all the sins committed by man.”
Giant tears cascaded from his closed eyes onto his beard. He took everything that was happening during that time so seriously.
“Padre Pio’s Mass put him into the drama of Calvary. For him it was reliving daily the pain which had wounded him in soul and body that morning of 20 September 1918. The Mass was his daily restigmatization.”