“You should not be discouraged, because if there is in the soul a continual effort to improve, the Lord will finally reward you by suddenly making all the virtues blossom in you as in a garden full of flowers.”

This past Sunday at a wonderful Mass at Hofstra University we sung: “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” which speaks of a Rose (Christ) blooming in the cold winter night.  It’s a beautiful, lyrical song of hope, and it reminded me of Padre Pio’s statement that we should not get discouraged about ourselves, that if we just continue in love we will blossom as Christ, as a Rose in the desert. 

Advent is a time to look at ourselves and take stock of our lives, and it is easy to be disheartened by what we see.  Often life is difficult, with no easy answers, no pat one-liners to get us through.  Sometimes we seem to fail just when we want most to succeed.  But Padre Pio, and indeed all the Saints, encourage us to persevere in our quest for holiness.  The prophet Isaiah also urges us on:

"The desert and the parched land will be glad;
   the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
   it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy...

 Strengthen the feeble hands,
   steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts, 
   'Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
   he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
   he will come to save you.'” (Isaiah 35:1-4)

Whatever you are going through in life, your God is with you!  In this season when the flowers have faded, remember Christ has the power to make our desert bloom.

St. Padre Pio, pray for us!