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 | By Michelle Sessions DiFranco

‘Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry’

Padre Pio’s wise words inspire a culinary treat

September 01, 2023 | We live in an age where busyness is the norm. And with all that is going on in the world, it is easy to get distracted from what’s truly important and be left feeling anxious. Fueled by an age of technology that demands our constant and immediate response, we are often driven to fret and worry about so much. So what is the solution? Some good advice can be found in a simple quote from a well-known saint whose feast day fast approaches on Sept. 23.

Recently my husband gave me very short notice that we would be hosting some important guests at our home for dinner. Various alarms went off in my head. What will I prepare? How will I get the house ready in time? Will dinner be to their liking? Now my own experience, as well as the quotes of countless wise people from across the ages, would all say … don’t worry, it benefits you not. Worrying is a waste of time. They are right, of course. But in his own way, Padre Pio, the stigmatic saint from central Italy who was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2002, provides the best response. He said, “Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

Why is this quote so special? Because it doesn’t simply tell us not to worry. It tells us that we shouldn’t worry because God is involved. In other words, don’t just suppress the inclination toward anxiety. But instead, redirect it to God. Padre Pio’s wise words advise us to convert worry, which is useless, into prayer, which is effective. And why? Because, he reminds us, God is merciful and will hear our prayer.

So I thought of this as my mind raced and panic set in with the 24 hours I had to get ready for my guests. And I prayed. I even called on St. Pio’s intercession. And in but a moment, my stream of consciousness took me from my prayer to St. Pio, to his life, to his home, to my own experience in central Italy, to a recipe associated with his birthplace of Pietrelcina, where artichokes are plentiful.

Just as the saint advised, my prayer was heard and my worry was gone. I knew what I would prepare for our guests.

Michelle Sessions DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

¡Lee este artículo en español! (Spanish Language Version)

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

  • 1 12-ounce box pasta (spaghetti or fettuccini is best)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large shallot (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • One 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons capers (drained)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • Grated Parmesan for serving

Bring large pot of water to a boil (and cook pasta according to package directions).

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until the shallot is tender (stirring constantly).

Add the white wine and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add artichokes, capers, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Continue to stir until the artichokes are well coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to a low simmer to thicken the mixture (slightly).

Setting some of the pasta water aside, drain the cooked pasta and add back to the pot. Add the artichoke mixture, parsley and remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toss to combine. If the pasta is still feeling dry, add a bit of pasta water and toss.

Serve with grated Parmesan and additional parsley.