8th May: On the Discernment exercise (Second Reflection)

One of the earliest documents we have from the Servant of God Joseph De Piro is a short set of notes listing the reasons, in favour and against, supporting his decision to leave his law course, and start preparing for the priesthood. These few notes are a small window into the heart of Joseph, a young man of 21. This young man was inspired by the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola who suggests that when one is at the point of taking an important decision in life, he or she should use this method of discernment.

In these notes, Joseph mentions that ever since he was a young boy, he had always wanted to become a priest. His brother Santinu, four years older than him, was also a priest and, moreover, the De Piro family home was next door to the Jesuit novitiate. Yet, at the age of 14, in obedience to his father, he put this desire aside and chose another vocation. He determined to become a lawyer, but never totally abandoned the desire to become a priest.

Joseph lists the sudden death of his father in January 1898 among the reasons indicating that God wanted him to become a priest. The obstacle of his father’s objection was removed and with his mother’s permission, he could pursue his priestly vocation.

When one meditates on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, one is invited to reflect on one’s sinfulness and on death. Those doing the retreat are invited to ask themselves whether they felt prepared for death. This meditation, remembering his father’s death, and his brother’s illness, made Joseph realize how vain life is, and therefore he felt compelled to dedicate his life totally to Christ.

Moreover, meditating upon his sinfulness, Joseph recognized God’s great love for him, having even deigned to suffer for him. The young man felt that by becoming a priest he would be somehow showing his gratitude to God for his great love.

For these reasons Joseph also adds that on May 8, 1898, during the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Pompeii, which he attended together with the other students at university, he felt compelled to decide to start his studies for the priesthood. He discussed this decision with his spiritual director, who also helped him confirm this decision.

God our Father,

through Your Servant Joseph De Piro you endowed the Church with a new missionary charism inspired by the missionary activities of the Apostle Paul.

Through the intercession of Mary Assumed into Heaven and Your Servant Joseph De Piro, we ask you to continue to inspire more men and women to follow in the footsteps of Joseph De Piro and commit themselves to become consecrated religious and lay missionaries in your Church today.

This we pray through Christ our Lord.