Dies Irae’s Allusion to Padre Pio

One conversation between a couple of Nazis in “episode zero” of Dies Irae caught my attention:

Dies 7

There is only one priest to whom she could be referring to; though, the gift of reading hearts has not been confined to one priest of the twentieth century–or to Catholic priests for that matter.  This particular priest almost certainly Padre Pio.

padre-pio-elevating-host

I have dubbed Padre Pio–more formally, St. Pio of Pietrelcina–“the last medieval saint.”  Though he lived from 1887 to 1968, accounts of the miraculous phenomena surrounding Padre Pio seem to belong to the saints of the thirteenth century, like St. Francis of Assisi whom Padre Pio referred to as “Our Seraphic Father.”  For, Padre Pio was not only a priest, but a Capuchin monk whose order followed the Rule of St. Francis.  Among the accounts of the miraculous surrounding Padre Pio, he saw visions of Jesus, Mary, and other saints, read hearts, received the stigmata, prayed successfully for the healing of people’s bodies and souls, bilocated, spoke in foreign tongues which he never studied, and had the gift of prophecy.

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Reflections on Mardock Scramble and The Problem of Evil

As I was watching Mardock Scramble, I thought to myself that Catholic ideas heavily influenced this show.  I wonder whether Tow Ubukata is Catholic himself or at least admires the Faith.  After all, he is known for writing Chevalier D’Eon, which contains many references to Catholic motifs, but it also takes on a cultish quality.  This leads me to believe that Ubukata admires features of the Faith without being part of it, but I don’t know for sure.

mardock scramble pair

But, the Christian motifs of Mardock Scramble alongside the terrible evils committed in that show remind me of how atheists think that the Problem of Evil suffices to prove that God does not exist.  Believers must be living on cloud nine, happily removed from evil and suffering!  If only the Christians of modern nations instead lived in the violent regions of Africa where where the evils of cannibalism, rape, torture, murder, mutilation, etc. were common, then we should be forced to conclude that God was absent from the universe!

padre-pio-of-pietrelcina

Yet, believers often experience more evils than most people, not less.  African Christians suffer the very evils I mentioned above.  Even if Christians choose a life of exclusion, as ascetics like St. Guthlac and St. Anthony of Egypt have done, then devil comes after them–at least, with greater frequency than those living in human society.  Then again, who can forget the example of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, who endured persecution from demons, unbelievers, skeptics, Church authorities, and even distrust from members of his own community!  Of course, we should also look to our greatest examples, Our Lord and Lady, whose perseverance through hardships and manifold evils earned them the titles of the Man of Sorrows and Our Lady of Sorrows respectively.  We cannot but know that the more one strives to be good and to attain the truest goods the more evil and darkness one experiences.  If one delights so perfectly in God so that all one’s works and loves must refer to God as their final end, then the very presence of God may be taken away from one–as famously happened to Mother Teresa.

You'd never suspect that such a happy person experienced much darkness.

You’d never suspect that such a happy person experienced much darkness.

The reason why God permits such pain often escapes us.  I can only suppose that God wishes His followers to be so free as to choose righteousness in the complete absence of reward.  At such times, the atheistic ridicule that Christians believe in a figment of their imaginations–an imaginary friend–particularly hurts.  To draw a comparison to Mardock Scramble, the person whom Rune Balot completely relies on is Oeufcoque (The name “Egg cock” is ridiculous in itself), a talking golden mouse which can transform into a variety of tools.  Her complete reliance upon Oeufcoque is reminiscent of the reliance that a Christian is supposed to place in God.  And I could imagine an atheist ridiculing a Christian’s faith in God as being similar to hoping in a talking golden mouse.  After all, do their arguments involving a flying spaghetti monster pose any less ridiculous a concept?

Oeufcocque

At some of the darkest points in these OVAs, I doubt that Balot feels Oeufcoque’s presence.  This is especially so in the thick of her fights and when she experiences the evil memories of the person who tried to kill her.  Yet, her love for Ouefcoque counts as a lifeline for her at such times.  Similarly, a Christian must count on Christ at the times when He seems absent and hell seems ever-present.  One must keep the memory of God alive through all kinds of troubles, remembering that when Jesus Christ felt the most darkness–His Passion and Death–he effected the salvation of the world.

Rune Balot I

In the same way, God also produces the most good in us and others when we act with God despite darkness.  So, the Christian’s solution to the Problem of Evil is by conquering evil through faith in the love of God and good works.  Keeping faith in difficult times and continuing to do the works Christ would have us do is more than enough proof of God’s victory over the devil and all evil.

On Joy and Suffering in This Life

The thought came to my mind that people use times of joy and suffering in the opposite way from which they were intended.  During good times, we think that God loves us very much (as He does regardless of circumstances) and we grow more attached to this life.  During the latter times, we become vexed with God and groan and complain for Him to improve our lot.  Perhaps the thought crosses our mind that God hates us–an impossibility.  Rather, prosperity is not a sure sign that we are pleasing to God.  It might even be a sign that our lot is not with God but in this life.  On the other hand, St. Pio avers: “Suffering is the sure sign that God is loving us.”

St. Pio carrying Christ's cross

I mentioned in my article on Arpeggio of Blue Steel that God wishes us to be His friends.  If we look at human friendships, we might rate them as follows from least to greatest: 1) friendships of utility, 2) fair weather friends, 3) friends of long duration, 4) friends who remain friends in difficult times, and 5) friends who suffer with us.  Though God loves all of us infinitely–even those who actively hate Him, who can doubt that those who most perfectly share the cross of Christ must be considered best friends?  He wishes to transform those of mercenary temperament to serve him out of love, is pained by seeing the unwillingness of second group to stay with Him in suffering, looks with great fondness on those who stay by His side though weakly, is consoled by those who remember His Passion often, and who can describe the joy and pleasure He takes in souls that share in His Passion through suffering?  And so, when we suffer, we ought to be more inclined to thank God for these very sufferings than complain of them.  As St. Peter writes: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Leonardo da Vinci's crucifixion of St. Peter

The whole purpose of prosperity is to prepare us to suffer.  We thank God for good things so that we might later be able to say with Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).  This time on earth is the most important time in our lives, but it pales in comparison to the eons we shall enjoy in the presence of God.  Such a long time is incomprehensible to us!  Everything good and beautiful here should lift our minds to the splendor and joys of paradise.  If the flowers and verdure of spring can give us such pleasure, how much more will paradise delight us with its beauties?

beautiful garden

Lest the thorny and rocky path to this delightful paradise disquiet us, let us remember that path smooth and strewn with flowers but leads to the gaping maw of hell.  Even if we allow the storms of life to choke our faith, God will never forget the least moment we shared His sufferings.  Who can doubt that He shall shine the warmest rays of His Mercy on such a soul even to the last moment of life so that it might still attain eternal life in heaven?