Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Book Review:


  The Soldier and the Saint, Memoirs of an American Soldier

The soldier is Private First Class Joseph W. Peluso from Western Pennsylvania. The core of this enjoyable book consists of Peluso’s own personal memoirs of his forty-five visits to Padre Pio, from October 1944 to July of 1945. It is also profusely illustrated with photos of many of the people he met at the time, including stills from movies he took. 


Joe passed on in 1996. This book was compiled from Joe’s notebooks by his son-in-law Thomas Konvolinka. You will meet here a different Padre Pio from the priest and man-of-God presented in his formal biographies. Instead this is a very informal close-up of an extremely affectionate, loving person, with a wonderful sense of humor. 


This is a fun read. Joe Peluso was so close to Padre Pio and to the Superior of the Friary, Padre Agostino, that he was allowed on some occasions to dine with the friars in their own refectory, sitting next to Padre Pio. “Padre Pio is served everything that the others are served, but he does not eat it because he eats very little. You could put all the food that he eats in one day in the cup of your hand. He eats no meat whatsoever, and eats fish only occasionally if it is fresh fish caught from Gulf of Manfredonia. […] Padre Pio sat there telling funny stories all during the meal, and the priests would have to hold their sides for fear that they would open over the laughter. Some even got up from the table in order to stop laughing and wipe the tears that were running down their cheeks.” 


The Friary was thirty-seven miles from his army camp, which was just south of the city of Foggia. When Joe could not arrange for a ride with his buddies, he would hitch-hike all the way up the mountain. During these journeys to the friary he was often given rides from colorful characters, such as a truckload of Gurkha soldiers, who were fighting alongside the British. You will meet Count John Telfener, Red Cross Director William Carrigan, Padre Pio’s father known as Nono, the Padre’s older brother Mike, and other family members. Not to be overlooked is Mary Pyle, the “Americana” who gave up her worldly life in the USA to live near the Padre. Her dining room hosted Peluso and his buddies quite a number of times. 


There were even a few miracles, such as the gift of tongues, and the aroma of sanctity. Although in most cases, the only word of Padre Pio’s Italian that Joe understood was “America.” He was there for Padre Pio’s fifty-eighth birthday party, for the Christmas eve Mass, and for the wedding of the saint’s niece Pia. 


After each visit he wrote an account of his experiences and the people he met. Here is a short excerpt from visit number thirty-eight. Joe is in the Friar’s refectory, sitting next to Padre Pio for dinner. “After finishing my dinner, dessert, and all of Padre Pio’s food and most of his wine, I was filled to the brim. However, he started to nibble on a little fruit and nuts in the little drawer under the table. He ate a few and gave me a handful to eat. I ate some and saved some for what I considered relics. Again, my glass was empty, and I had drunk all of my wine and almost all of his. He took his bottle and filled my glass down to the last drop of wine from his bottle. My glass was filled to the very top, not another drop could have fit in, and yet, it did not run over. After dinner we all sat around and everyone joined in the conversation. When it was time to leave, Padre Pio took me by the arm, and took me into the sacristy of the Church. We knelt and prayed together at the altar. After prayers, I went into the back room with the priests. All of them bid me goodbye, and then Padre Pio gave me a very fatherly and heavenly embrace, kissed my cheeks and we bid each other goodbye.”


Actually it was Joe Peluso who did the most to open the floodgates for the hundreds of troops who eventually come to San Giovanni Rotondo to receive the sacraments from Padre Pio. Peluso wanted to share his “discovery” of Padre Pio with the Allied soldiers stationed in southern Italy, and not just the Americans and Catholics. He asked Padre Pio if it was possible to change the 5 AM Mass to 9 AM, so that the troops could attend, and it was done. Peluso also desired to have an article appear in the “Stars and Stripes” armed forces newspaper about Padre Pio, and that also was done. 


In addition to the forty-five “memoirs” of his visits to the saint, the book also has a chapter on Padre Pio’s life and also on Mary Pyle, and closes with additional stories from Peluso’s note cards and his daughter, his return visit to Italy forty-three years later, and quotes from Padre Pio. 


This 140-page book is currently available directly from the author. For single copies, send check or money order for $17.45 (which includes $4.50 for S & H) to:


Thomas Konvolinka

6530 Leo’s Lane

Fennville, MI 49408

Please include your email address with your order in case of any questions.

For multiple copies or bookstore pricing, contact Tom at: konvolinka at gmail.com


Friday, October 21, 2022

Lord Jesus, Increase Your Love in Me.

Notice that this prayer does not ask ‘increase my love for You Jesus,’ but instead it petitions Jesus to increase His love in us. That is because the Lord needs to pour forth His infinite love for us, which is rejected by so many. “I pour it into those who love Me to receive comfort therefrom.” This is the secret for increasing in holiness. The more he effuses His love in us, the more we shall love.

The only place I have ever seen this prayer is in the writings of the mystic and victim soul, Maria Valtorta. On March 30, 1949 she wrote that the Lord told her this: “Along with the great John, you, little John, should repeat the short perfect request: ‘Lord Jesus, increase Your love in me.’ Repeat it! Repeat it! I need to pour forth this infinite love of mine, which so many reject. […] I pour it into you.”

The great John is the Apostle St. John, the Evangelist. The little John refers to Maria Valtorta herself, it is how the Lord often refers to her, because of her mission as an evangelist of the gospel.

The Lord said, “Along with the great John,” because it was St. John himself who first prayed this prayer, as recorded in a vision Maria received a few years earlier, on April 28, 1945. It takes place near the beginning of the second year of the public life of Jesus, and He is talking with his twelve Apostles – the topic is suffering and death.

I will endeavour to get accustomed to suffering,” says Bartholomew. […] “I am old and all I ask for is to precede You and enter peace with You,” says Simon Zealot. […] “I will be unhappy if I survive You. But I will be comforted by preaching You to the people,” says the Iscariot.

The Apostles continue to comment, and finally Andrew exclaims, “Oh! Keep quiet. You would think that the Master is to die soon! I do not want to think of His death!” Peter, his brother, responds that he is quite right, since Jesus is young and healthy. But the Lord interjects: “What if they killed Me?”

Peter replies, “Let that never happen to You, but I will avenge You.” “How, by a blood vengeance?” “Well, also by that means if You will allow me. Otherwise by my profession of faith amongst the peoples. […] The world will love You because I will be indefatigable in preaching You.” The Lord replies, “That is true and that is what will happen. And what about you John, and you, Matthew?” The latter replies, “I must suffer and wait until I have washed my soul by suffering a great deal.”

John on the other hand does not seem to know for sure what to answer. He affirms that he would like to die at once so that he would not have to see Jesus suffer. He would like to be near the Lord to comfort Him in His agony. Then he also says that he would like to live a long time in order to serve Him. He continues with, “I would like to die with You to enter heaven with You. I would like everything, because I love You. And I think that I, the least of my brothers, will be able to do all that, if I know how to love You properly." Then John concludes with, “Jesus, increase your Love!”

Judas the Iscariot tries to correct him. “You mean, increase my love,” he remarks.

John: “No. I say: ‘increase Your love.’ Because the more He will inflame us with His love, the more we shall love.”

Jesus is pleased by John’s words, and drawing him closer says, “It is not a mistake, but a wise prayer, to ask God to increase His love in one’s heart.” He says that John has revealed a mystery of God about the sanctification of hearts. “God effuses Himself to just souls, and the more they surrender to His love, the more He increases it, and their holiness grows greater. That is the mysterious and ineffable work of God and of souls. It is accomplished in mystical silence, and its power, which cannot be described in human words, creates indescribable masterpieces of holiness.”

Lord Jesus, increase Your love in me. Repeat it! Repeat it!

Based on The Notebooks, 1945-1950, page 520; and The Gospel as Revealed to Me, chapter 149.

View my Catholic books Here.




Tuesday, October 4, 2022

St. Paul’s Prison Mass – A Vision of St. Paul and the Early Martyrs.

Based upon a vision experienced by Maria Valtorta, reported in The Notebooks 1944, February 29, pp. 176-186.


It is one of the earliest persecutions, and St. Paul will soon be holding Mass in a dark chamber for the future martyrs incarcerated there by the Emperor Nero. It is not Rome’s Mamertine, but the Tullianum jail. It is a large, dark cellar made of blocks of stone and oozing moisture. Its small size is not sufficient for the great throng of Christian prisoners held therein. They are from every age and social condition, from the elderly who were not mercifully allowed to die a natural death, to little children only a few years old who should have been left free to play their innocent games.


Packed together, the rich and poor, the Romans, Greeks, Iberians and Thracians, and others of different origins, have one thing in common, their love for one another. The strongest give up their places, on seats of stone, to the weaker, and the healthiest aid those who are sick. They surrender their cloaks and togas to help bind the wounds of those suffering from tortures previously undergone. 


They sing from time to time, until a child moans in the darkness, halting the song.


Someone asks, “Who is crying?” and the answer comes: “It is Castulus. The fever and the burn give him no relief. He is thirsty and cannot drink because the water burns his lips, scorched by the fire.”


The face of the child Castulus is one big burn; perhaps once handsome, now he is monstrous. There are no longer cheeks and nose, but a bright red swelling, and instead of eyes and lips, there are just open wounds. Apparently they must have held his face over a flame, and only his face, for the rest of his body is not burnt. 


An imposing matron says, “I am a mother who no longer has her baby to give milk to, have Castulus brought to me, milk burns less than water.” It is Plautina, who is sitting on one of the blocks of stone against a wall. A man comes forward and carefully takes the child of about 8 years into his arms and lays him along the lap of the matron, as if upon a bed. Plautina looks like the mother of sorrows, as tears roll down her cheeks. She squeezes her breast so that the milk trickles into the mouth of the boy, and lets some of it fall upon his face to medicate it with its balm. Castulus caresses her hand in thanksgiving, and lets himself be rocked to sleep by the Roman matron. 


The singing resumes, until interrupted by a voice that says, “Fabius is dead; let us pray.” They all pray the Our Father and another prayer. An old man exclaims, “How fortunate is Fabius, he is already seeing Christ!” Another person answers, “We too shall see Him Felix, and go to him with the two-fold crown of faith and martyrdom. […] We sinned greatly – we who were pagans for long years – and it is a great grace for the jubilee of martyrdom to come to us to make us new, worthy of the Kingdom.” 


Suddenly a voice thunders: “Peace be with you my brothers and sisters.” 


Paul! Paul! Bless us!”


Peace be with you,” the Apostle repeats, as he advances into the area with two other priests. 


What about the Pontiff?” many ask. 


He [Peter] is alive for now and safe in the catacombs; he sends you his greeting and blessing. He would have come but he is too well known among the jailers. I, less well-known and a Roman citizen, have come. Brothers and sisters, what news do you have for me?”


Fabius is dead,”


Castulus is suffering martyrdom.”


Sixta has now been led to torture.”


Linus has been taken with Urbanus and his sons to Mamertinus or to the Circus, we do not know.”


And Paul, with his arms opened in the form of a cross, prays in the middle of the dungeon: “Let us pray for them – whether alive or dead – that Christ may give all of them his Peace” After their prayers, Paul asks: “Where is Castulus?” He is told that he is on Plautina’s lap, in the back of the jail.


Paul cuts through the throng and blesses the child and matron. Castulus has awakened, and meekly raises a hand to Paul, who says to him: “Be strong, Castulus, Jesus is with you.” But the child cries, and moving his scorched lips with difficulty, laments that he can no longer receive his Lord. 


Paul responds: “Don’t cry; can you swallow a single crumb? You can? Well then, I’ll give you the Body of the Lord. Then I’ll go to your mother – what should I say to her?” “Tell her fire does not hurt when the angels are with us and that she shouldn’t fear for my sake or for hers. The Savior will give us strength.”


The Apostle then relates to the jailed Christians how a fourteen year-old girl named Lucina “. . . was tortured with a thousand torments. Beaten, hung, stretched out, and twisted with tongs. And she was always healed by the work of God. […] Then, unable to break and destroy the lily of her purity in any way, the tyrant ordered that she be bound and hung in such a fashion that she would remain as if seated and then lowered swiftly onto a pointed wedge, which tore apart her viscera. […] She is now in peace. The barbarian thought he had thus taken away her beloved virginity, but her purity had never flourished so beautifully as in that bloodbath.


Courage, brothers and sisters. I had fed her yesterday with the Bread of Heaven, and with the taste of that Bread she went to her final martyrdom. I shall now give that Bread to you as well. […] The Circus awaits you. And you do not fear. In the beasts and snakes you will see celestial appearances, for God will work this miracle for you, and the jaws and coils will seem to you to be loving embraces; the roars and hisses, heavenly voices.”


All of the Christians, except for Plautina with Castulus on her lap, kneel and sing psalms of praise. At the same time, some friendly Roman soldiers and jailers enter, and mount guard over the group, while Paul prepares for the rite of Mass. 


You shall be our altar,” he says to Castulus. “Can you hold the chalice on your chest?”


The child answers “Yes,” and a linen cloth is spread over his little body as he lays along the lap of Plautina. The chalice and the bread are set upon the cloth. The Mass is served by Paul and the two priests accompanying him. 


The Mass seems to contain “...parts now lacking and to lack parts now in use [in 1944]. It lacks the epistle, for instance, and after the blessing – ‘May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit bless you’ – there is nothing else. But the parts are the same as now from the Gospel to the Consecration. The Gospel read was that of the Beatitudes.” [St. Matthew’s gospel was possibly written about ten years before Nero’s persecution began.]


After breaking the Host, Paul is about to bend over the little martyr to give him Communion as the first of all, with a tiny particle; but Plautina says, “He is dead.” Paul pauses for an instant, and then gives the matron the particle meant for Castulus. The child has remained with his fingers closed over the base of the chalice in his final contraction, and they have to disengage them from it in order to take the chalice and give it to the others. 


The Mass ends after Communion has been distributed. The Apostle removes his vestments and places them and the linen cloth, the chalice, and the receptacle for the hosts in a bag he is carrying under his cloak. Paul then takes the body of the little martyr Castulus, in order to give him a proper burial. As he goes out carrying the child, he blesses everyone: “Brothers and sisters, may peace be with you, and remember me when you are in the Kingdom.”

~ ~ ~

The victim soul and mystic Maria Valtorta was graced with over 20 visions of the heroic witness and martyrdom of the early Christians (e.g. St. Cyprian, St. Agnes, Pope St. Cletus), which occurred during the seminal years of the Catholic Church. The following depiction of St. Paul holding Mass for imprisoned Christians condemned to death under Nero is based on a detailed vision granted by the Lord to her in 1944, and recorded in her Notebooks. The treasury of this set of visions is especially relevant now, since it refutes the disgraceful lie of the modernists and revisionists that the death of Christians in the Colosseum and Circus Maximus is nothing more than a pious fabrication and myth. These visions are not included in her Opus, The Gospel as Revealed to Me, since they occurred after the Gospel era, but they comprise part of her three Notebooks. All of the chapters of the Gospel as Revealed to Me were lifted from her Notebooks, and that aforementioned book has received four Imprimaturs.

View my Catholic writings Here.