To celebrate the Jubilee for Prayer Groups on Padre Pio Pope Francis offered a reflection on St. Pio of Pietrelcina and prayer:
Prayer, then, is not a nice practice for finding a little peace of heart; nor is it a means of devotion for obtaining useful things from God. Were it so, then it would be an act of subtle selfishness: I pray in order to be well, just as if taking an aspirin. But this is just making a deal. No, it’s not like this. Prayer is something else, it is something else. Prayer is instead a spiritual work of mercy, which means bringing everything to the heart of God. “You take it, you who are Father”. It should be like this, speaking to him in a simple way. Prayer is saying: “You, take it, you who are Father. Look at us, You who are Father”. This is the relationship with the Father. Prayer is like this. It is a gift of faith and love, an intercession needed just as bread is. In a word, it means to entrust: entrust the Church, entrust people, entrust situations to the Father — “I entrust this to you” — so that you will take care of it. That is why prayer, as Padre Pio liked to say, is “the greatest weapon we have, a key that opens the heart of God”. A key that opens God’s heart: it is a simple key. The heart of God is not “heavily guarded” with many security measures. You can open it with a common key, with prayer. For his is a heart of love, a father’s heart. And it is the Church’s greatest strength, one which we must never let go of, for the Church bears fruit only if she does as did Our Lady and the Apostles, who “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14), as they awaited the Holy Spirit. Dedicated and united in prayer. Otherwise we risk relying elsewhere for support: on means, on money, on power; then evangelization vanishes and joy is extinguished and the heart grows dull. Do you want to have a dull heart? [the people respond: No!] Do you want to have a joyful heart? [Yes!] Pray! This is the recipe.
Pope Francis was so moved by Padre Pio that he made an unexpected visit to the remains of Padre Pio as they were displayed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.