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Interview with Frà Elia

    Questions formulated by high school students and published on “Fra Elia pilgrim in the world and for the world” book.

    How and when did you begin to experience this state of deep connection with God?

    Already when I was a child, I was seven years old I saw angels flying around me. I already had a vocation as a boy, I always played with the friars, I attended the oratory and church on Sundays. Then when the Easter period came I was always sick, I was always in the hospital and not even the doctors knew what was wrong with me, what was happening to me. Usually they said to my mother: “Your son is going to die if you take him home”, but on Holy Saturday, after the angelus I was fine.

    And could she understand what was happening to her?

    I didn’t understand anything, I simply suffered, I was sick.

    What was your state of mind when the stigmata appeared?

    They appeared when I entered the convent and was in the Holy Novitiate of the Capuchins. I didn’t even know what they were, it looked like shingles to me. I had a red mark under my side, my wrists were burning.

    Why must a servant of the Lord undergo this suffering of the stigmata? Even the image of Jesus Christ is the emblem of suffering. Why does God need suffering?

    It is needed because God has been forgotten and no one goes to church anymore. If He gives these signs it is to open our eyes. It’s up to us to see that He exists, that He exists, that He is true!

    I wonder if instead of suffering God gave Grace: perhaps man would be able to believe in his power, in his goodness more easily.

    We have all been pardoned many times but let’s say it’s luck. We don’t understand its power because we want more, we always want to see something more. We do not see the reality of God. We see what we want to see,but we don’t see what there is to see. If I am a child of God I can see, if I am a Christian and go to church with my family, with my friends in serenity, then I can listen to his word and understand. Instead, these days, we are sometimes laughed at if we are Christians. These things are very serious. Mockery is a grave act against God.

    For examplewhat is the point of removing the crucifix from schools? Do we want to remove all Christian holidays too? Do we want to remove all Sundays? Do we want to forget that we are in the year of the Lord because Jesus was born 2000+ years ago?

    The calendar of our lives was made by God, not by man. This is what many fail to understand. They would like to turn workers, students into mere machines! Time, the universe did not make the Big Bang otherwise the pieces would have fallen in bulk …. God created the world in a harmonious and perfect way. An inimitable architect… and he created the seventh day to celebrate in his home, in his Church, to praise, thank and love him.

    Yours is a gift that demonstrates this closeness to God: is it a quality that everyone can experience, or is it a Grace that God grants to a few?

    I didn’t ask for anything, the Lord chooses, and the Lord does. I wasn’t expecting anything.

    In psychoanalysis or psychiatry it is thought that evil does not exist and that cases of diabolical possession are actually a form of mental illness.

    Exists! Exists! The devil exists! He is waiting for us outside, always at the gate. People who don’t believe it are, from my point of view, sick. They have no faith, they don’t have God in their hearts. The Lord gives to someone who chooses him, the cross to bear the attacks of the evil one. Choose someone of faith.

    What about prayers of deliverance?


    What is the afterlife, in your opinion, what is there?

    It’s the passage. There is everything there! There are the dead there but in reality the dead are not them but us. When the soul leaves the mortal coil, it finds itself before God.When God meets us, he asks us: “brother, sister, tell me about yourself, I would like to understand you” and he never judges us: this is the beauty of God because he is great and merciful, but we always point the finger to judge our neighbor. The afterlife is serenity, it’s bliss, what we don’t have here! There is no serenity on earth. We could also live well on earth, but the problem is that life has become hectic, we seek too many things, we want too many things, we have too many useless ambitions and we waste our lives on stupid things. Let’s think of the young people who die on the streets after an evening at the disco, they take drugs. For these, death is their choice. What did these young people understand about life? Nothing! These young people think they are ready for tomorrow, for the future… they think they know many things, but in reality they know nothing. That extra step they seek does not allow them to truly understand life.

    Recently there has been much talk of predictions about the imminent advent of terrible cataclysms. What do you think?

    We are already seeing them: just think of the earthquakes which are increasingly frequent and strong, but it certainly won’t be the end of the world! Absolutely not, there will definitely be no end of the world because the Lord never said so.

    What do you think of other religions? Many today speak of conflict between different religious traditions? What do you think?

    The central key to conflicts is always one: my God is different from yours. But that’s a misconception because God is always and only one no matter how you interpret him. We can call him in different ways, give him the names we want, but God is always one. However, for example, Muslims say that Christ is not God at all: they maintain that he is simply a messenger. You will understand that on these theological bases a doctrinal and Faith comparison is difficult for a Catholic.
    This is their interpretation. Muslims should respect the place that welcomed them. I respect them and they should respect the religious traditions of where they are. I respect their God because he is like my God.

    Today it is very difficult for man to speak of Faith since everyone expects a scientific verification that proves every assertion. What would you say to those who just can’t believe and have Faith in the Lord?

    The day that a man shall die and be found in awooden coatin the sight of God, the verification will find it in a moment. Even those who do not believe, even atheists will see the Lord. And there they will have the opportunity to understand.

    Who can non-believers believe?

    For example to science. Faith you have or not. Even the atheist is a child of God who, however, has not had a proper education, has not had a religious formation: it is not their fault if they have not understood why they are here, on earth.
    Why did the Lord take such a path? He ended up on the cross because of everyone’s fault, because of our mistakes and in the end this man even said “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing” This means that he loved us, he loves us. And this love is faith and happiness!

    For people who suffer it is difficult to believe in this happiness that comes from the Faith you speak of. Think, for example, of a terminally ill person

    It is difficult for people who do not want to believe to understand all this! Instead, those who have faith say: Lord, do with me what you want! In the face of life’s sufferings, which sometimes affect us, it’s difficult to be happy but if you are a Christian then you can be courageous. You must never lose hope. We need to pray and trust the Lord with confidence. He loves us and does not send diseases. Even in the face of evils we must not forget that as long as there is life there is hope! Until someone comes to take the sick person out of bed then there is hope of life, until the last moment! I always have to give hope, that spark, that joy, that strength, that smile. Smile! I too have lost a young niece. I also lost another nephew and another family member to cancer. What was I supposed to tell my sister? Does God punish? No. We all have diseases: in some they develop in others not. And there are other things we don’t like too. You have to be able to accept all of this. This is life, with its trials that the good Christian tries to overcome.

    The atheist scientist and materialist faced with these things would argue saying that the Faith is disarmed in the face of certain evils. He would say that science is at least trying to do something about, for example, cancer.

    Science hasn’t cured anyone so far, science hasn’t given any testimony so far, because science gets where man wants but can never get where God wants. This is science: a card in the wastebasket.

    Is faith in God happiness? She’s happy?

    Yes, of course not! I am very happy, I am serene, I am joyful with my growing family… my congregation is getting bigger and bigger! We must pass on faith and serenity. If we are not happy, what kind of men are we? The Lord has given us serenity and joy! Reading and talking about the Gospel is a Grace from God!

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