The Saint of the Day
St. Pacific of San Severino – September 24
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
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Pacificus was born into the impoverished Divini family on March 1, 1653, in the city of San Severino, Italy. He was one of 13 children. At age three he lost his father and his mother. Along with his siblings he was brought to the house of an uncle to be raised. The children suffered greatly there, mistreated by two servants in the household.
From infancy Pacific had received a good religious formation from his mother, which helped him to not fall into despair and to follow the religious vocation that early attracted him. At age 17 he entered the Franciscans of Forano, where he studied and received Holy Orders on June 4, 1678, subsequently becoming Professor of Philosophy at the Monastery.
The words of Our Lord, “the harvest is great but the workers are few,” refused to leave his mind, and he concluded that the world did not need doctors, but apostles. He spoke about this concern to his Provincial, who directed him in 1683 to take up missionary work. For five or six years he actively preached to the people of the surrounding regions. His ideal was to convert the infidel and suffer martyrdom. But God had reserved to this hunter of souls another apostolate: suffering.
His feet became swollen and covered with wounds, which prevented him from walking, a condition he suffered until his death. For a while, he held the post of guardian in the Monastery and dedicated many hours to hearing confessions. However, he could no longer do so after he became deaf and could not communicate with those around him. This intensified his union with God.
The loss of this sense was not enough. Pacific also became blind. In the last years of his life he could no longer celebrate Mass or go to the choir. To these physical pains were added other psychological ones. Religious life for him became a pilgrimage through a desert where he suffered a great sense of abandonment and anguish.
And, since the worse enemies of man are his neighbors, St. Pacific found some persons in his Monastery – like the sacristan and nurse – who mistreated him with words and deeds. The Saint bore all this with an inextinguishable and firm patience. He became a model for all those who carry this cross. He died on September 24, 1721. (Scamoni, The True Face of the Saints)
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
Here we are before one of the most beautiful vocations that exist in the Holy Church, which is the vocation of the expiatory victim. No one should offer himself as an expiatory victim without the permission of his confessor, because Divine Providence can accept the offering in order to punish a man's presumption and give him sufferings for which he is not prepared. Despite this admonition of prudence, we should recognize that there is no vocation more beautiful than this one.
You see that St. Pacific first studied and became a professor. Later, moved by zeal, he dedicated himself to preaching, doing good to many souls. But Providence called him to a superior preaching, a superior apostolate: the most painful apostolate of the Cross.
He followed the pathway of other expiatory victims. Life becomes like a tunnel that grows increasingly narrow because of the adversities that fall on the victim until reaching a paroxysm and he dies. These victims follow the path of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who received in His most holy Soul and His divine Body more and more torments until He was crucified and died in extreme pain. So also, these souls are harassed and tormented until the moment when they die of pain, so to speak. They deliver their lives to God like pure, immaculate and holy hosts to expiate for sinners.
This is what happened to St. Pacific. You see that first he contracted a disease that condemned him to immobility. He could only be in the confessional where he could sit and hear confessions. Then, he became deaf.
Today, with so many hearing aids and surgeries readily available, people have lost the idea of the isolation into which a deaf man falls. He sees persons talking around him and he cannot hear. If he asks what they are saying, he becomes a nuisance in the group. A friend tries to explain the subject to him with hand gestures once or twice, but then ignores him. At the most, he makes a sign meaning: “I will explain it to you later.”
We could think that, being almost paralytic and deaf, he had reached the apex of his suffering. But, there was more to come: He became blind. So, he lost another means to communicate with the world, his sight. Being both deaf and blind, he could only communicate through touch. Two taps on his hand means “It is time to retire to bed;” three taps means “here is a glass of water,” etc. So, a man in this state relies on his nurse for everything. The nurse is his only channel of contact with the living world. A deaf and blind man is effectively entombed in the world. But, there was more still that he was called to endure.
Divine Providence allowed the nurse of St. Pacific to become another source of suffering for him. He was mistreated by words and deeds. When Catholic charity called for the nurse to exercise the greatest attention, patience and humility in dealing with a helpless person like St. Pacific, he did the opposite. The selection does not reveal the actual mistreatment inflicted by the nurse and the sacristan, but we can suspect that it could have even involved physical violence. It is very vile to persecute a person in this helpless condition.
St. Pacific received such maltreatment calmly, with patience, without holding any grudge or personal hatred in his soul. With this serene disposition of soul he ended his martyrdom in this life.
Expiatory victims are called to unite their sufferings to those of Christ Crucified
Besides the interior anguish that he suffered, you can imagine the temptations of the Devil he had to conquer. If he sinned, he could not even communicate with a confessor since St. Pacific could not hear his words or counsels. This is what comprised the journey of this poor soul on earth. When he died, we could say that he imitated Our Lord: From the top of his head to the soles of his feet there was nothing sound in him.
What is the reason for this mysterious vocation? Why should someone suffer this much? It is to expiate for sinners. Our Lord’s sufferings in the Passion were more than sufficient to redeem mankind. But He wants the sufferings of men to be added to His own. He desires some souls to closely unite themselves to His Passion to pay for the sins of men. This is the mission of the expiatory victims. They mix their blood with His.
In the liturgy of the Mass, there is a part that makes us think of this mission. It is the moment before the Consecration, when the priest puts a drop of water in a small spoon and places that water into the chalice with the wine. The water mixed with the wine, which will become the Body and Blood of Our Lord, indicates the human suffering that enters like a drop into the immensity of the divine suffering in order to expiate for the sins of men.
These victims also help us to understand, admire and love suffering. The great aim of life is to serve Our Lord and one of the best means to do so is to suffer the pain He sends us. This makes a fully realized vocation: St. Pacific walked to Calvary like Our Lord. This is his supreme glory, his magnificent example.
There are many who are willing to work for the Church, there are a good deal of persons to pray for the Church; there are just a few to fight for the Church, but, to suffer for the Church, there is almost none. Therefore, those who suffer serve the Holy Catholic Church in an eminent way.
The Carmelite life is one of prayer and suffering to expiate for the sins of others
A great number of souls went to Heaven and shine there forever, thanks to the sufferings of St. Pacific. If he had lacked faith, if he had not maintained the conviction of the efficacy of his suffering, he would not have endured it. He bore it with the idea that his suffering, his example, his prayers would do a great deal of good for many souls.
Today, we are here glorifying his name and his sufferings. He did not know that he would help the Counter-Revolution in this way in the future. He did not know then, but now he sees our meeting from Heaven and how his example is valuable to us today.
Generally speaking, as counter-revolutionaries we do not have the vocation to be expiatory victims. But we are given sufferings and we should love them as the gifts that Our Lady gives us, like pieces of the Cross of Christ that she wants us to carry.
We should endure these sufferings with valor, decision and joy, understanding that the more Our Lady makes us suffer, the more she shows her love for us and the more opportunity she gives us to earn merit in Heaven.
These are the considerations that the life of St. Pacific suggests to us tonight.
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira|
The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.
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