Mother Angelica, St. Teresa of Kolkata, and St. Padre Pio each had prayer lives to be admired. In the latter part of her life, a visit from baby Jesus gave Mother Angelica a new appreciation for the devotion to the Divine Infant; St. Teresa of Kolkata felt so sure that the Blessed Virgin would answer her prayers that she thanked heaven before receiving an answer; and St. Padre Pio’s great love and trust in the heart of Jesus inspired him to say the Sacred Heart of Jesus novena every night.
MOTHER ANGELICA wanted to spread devotion to the Divine Child Jesus
Imagine kneeling before a statue of the baby Jesus and suddenly seeing him move and speak to you! In 1996 Mother Angelica (1923–2016) was visiting the Sanctuary of the Divino Niño in Bogotá, Columbia, when the Divino Niño instructed her, “Build me a temple and I will help those who help you.”
Raymond Arroyo, Mother Angelica’s close friend and biographer, told Catholic Digest, “She was uncertain what a temple was supposed to be, but she moved forward. When she was called by God to do something — whether it was through the voice of the Child Jesus or in the inner whispers of her prayer life — she did these things without question.” Mother Angelica expanded her plans for the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, into the temple, which is dedicated today to the Child Jesus.
Mother Angelica shared with Arroyo that she wanted to be instrumental in spreading devotion to the Divine Child Jesus: “Not only is he powerful, but what you and I need is family. That Child Jesus will make us one again; he will put love in our hearts where it should be.”
The Child Jesus continued to appear to the feisty, no-nonsense nun. “She claimed to have seen him dancing and running down the hallways of the monastery,” Arroyo says. “She had a very close relationship with the Child Jesus; she loved him in the way that you would love a child that came into your home.”
From The Prayers & Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica by Raymond Arroyo (Image, 2010) is Mother Angelica’s prayer to the Child Jesus:
DIVINE CHILD JESUS, who sheds your blessing on whoever invokes your name, look kindly on us who kneel humbly before you and hear our prayers. We commend to your mercy the poor and needy people who trust in your Divine Heart. Lay your all-powerful hand upon those and help them in their needs. Lay your hand upon the sick, to cure them and sanctify their suffering; upon those in distress, to console them; upon sinners to draw them into your Divine Grace; upon all those who, stricken with grief and suffering, turn trustingly to you for loving help. Lay your hand upon all of us and give us your blessing. O little King, grant the treasures of your divine mercy to all the world, and keep us now and always in the grace of your love. Amen.
ST. TERESA OF KOLKATA trusted Our Lady
In addition to saying the Rosary, Mother Teresa (1910–1997) had two go-to Marian prayers. Jeff Young — better known as The Catholic Foodie — had the privilege of conversing with Mother Teresa on several occasions during his two years in seminary (1988–1990). The saint shared those prayers with Young in one memorable encounter. “Mother Teresa and I sat face-to-face alone in front of the tabernacle and talked for 20 minutes about Jesus, Mary, and my family,” Young told Catholic Digest. “There were no distractions for her. She looked me in the eyes and held my hands in hers as we talked. It was as if I were the only person on the planet.”
Mother Teresa urged Young to recite a simple prayer — praying it three times slowly and thoughtfully with heart — whenever he needed help: “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.” She frequently encouraged all the Missionaries of Charity to say this prayer.
Mother Teresa also shared with Young that he should always entrust himself to the Blessed Virgin “because she never forgets me or leaves me alone.” She said that praying the Memorare was “a simple and beautiful way to entrust myself and any of my needs to Our Lady.”
For Mother Teresa, the Memorare was a go-to prayer — especially in times of great need when the outcome seemed hopeless. When she needed an immediate answer to her prayers, she would recite what her spiritual adviser and biographer, Msgr. Leo Maasburg, called a “Quick Novena,” popularly referred to as “The Flying Novena,” which entailed saying nine consecutive Memorares and a 10th for thanksgiving. In his book, Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait (Ignatius Press, 2015), Msgr. Maasburg wrote, “The reason why Mother Teresa always prayed 10 Memorares is as follows: She took the collaboration of heaven so much for granted that she always added a 10th Memorare immediately, in thanksgiving for the favor received.”
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
PADRE PIO prayed to the Sacred Heart every day
St. Padre Pio (1887–1968), a Capuchin friar in Italy, recited the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in his evening prayers for all those who requested his prayers, according to Diane Allen, author of Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio, Book I (Padre Pio Press, 2012, second edition). Padre Pio recommended, “Keep in good spirits, abandon yourself to the Divine Heart of Jesus, leaving all your anxieties to him.”
One of the saint’s bishops, Paolo Carta, wrote in the Voice of Padre Pio periodical (June 1997) that Padre Pio “placed all his hope and all his trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” The bishop’s statement is supported by Padre Pio’s advice to his spiritual children: “Be of good cheer; abandon yourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and let him take care of everything.”
IN TRADITION AND SCRIPTURE
The Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that Padre Pio prayed originated with a 17th-century French nun named St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Jesus appeared to her and asked her to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart. However, although she popularized the devotion, reverencing the Sacred Heart did not begin with St. Margaret. The apparitions received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque popularized the devotion which was present in some ways in the early Church.
The devotion to the heart of Jesus is also rooted in Scripture. Consider when St. John lay against Jesus’ heart for comfort during the Last Supper (see John 13:23) and when the soldier pierced Christ’s heart, and blood and water poured forth (see John 19:34), to name two of several biblical references.
In his June 9, 2013, Angelus address, Pope Francis said, “The Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy. But it is not an imaginary symbol; it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which salvation flowed for all of humanity.”
Padre Pio would wake as early as 2:30 a.m. to pray. He said, “Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the key that opens the heart of God.”
Sacred Heart Novena Prayer
O MY JESUS, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.
O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.” Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of (here name your request). Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners, and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
(Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add): “St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.”
Bl. Solanus Casey’s Simple Prayer
In May 2017 Pope Francis declared Fr. Solanus Casey (1870–1957), a Capuchin friar from Detroit, blessed. If Bl. Casey is canonized, he will be the first male saint born in the United States. One of the hallmarks of Bl. Casey’s spirituality was an “attitude of gratitude.” According to the Fr. Solanus Guild (SolanusCasey.org), “The prayer of ‘THANKS BE TO GOD’ poured continually from his lips.”