"Verso l’alto" ("Always upward!") --the motto of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassanti
Today, July 4, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassanti (1901-1925), known as “The Man of the Eight Beatitudes.” Pope John Paul II said of Pier at his Beatification: “By his example he proclaims that a life lived in Christ's Spirit, the Spirit of the Beatitudes, is "blessed", and that only the person who becomes a "man or woman of the Beatitudes" can succeed in communicating love and peace to others. He repeats that it is really worth giving up everything to serve the Lord. He testifies that holiness is possible for everyone, and that only the revolution of charity can enkindle the hope of a better future in the hearts of people.”
“At an age in which the passions bubble in the hearts of young people and threaten to break all bounds, Pier Giorgio concentrated his vital forces and kept them in balance. Day by day, in front of God and men, he learned to conquer himself and to master himself. It would have to be said that, without realizing it, he was preparing for leadership; for it is true that, in order to know how to lead the others, first of all one must know how to lead oneself.
The designs of God are incomprehensible, because He sees things from so much higher and so much further than we: both in general and in particular. But it is permissible to think that, by calling to Himself Pier Giorgio, in the moment in which so many had placed their hopes in him, God intends that his unexpected death, which has caught us unawares, may put in relief the beauty of his life, and that it may attract the attention of you, the young people who will be able to take of inspiration from it.”
"Higher and higher-there you can hear the voice of Christ!" He frequently theatre and museums, and was well-cultured and well-liked by all he encountered. Despite his popularity, he was especially devoted to his faith, and brought many of his friends to Church with him.
“to serve Christ better among the miners,” in his own words. After graduation from high school, his father presented him with the choice of gifts: a new car or money. Pier Giorgio took the money, and then promptly distributed it to the poor, much to his father’s dismay. He undertook further acts of charity, finding homes for the homeless, medical care for the sick, and providing for needy children out of his own pocket. Pier Giorgio kept a detailed ledger of his money, and where it was going, and his continued charitable acts only became known to his family upon his deathbed when he instructed his sister to continue caring for those who depended upon his assistance. Pier’s friends questioned how he could stomach the stench of the slums he visited, he responded, "It’s to Jesus I go. Jesus comes to me every morning in Holy Communion and I repay Him in a very small way by visiting the poor. All around the sick and all around the poor I see a special light which we do not have." Pier Giorgio received the Eucharist every day, and spent the majority of his nights in sleepless prayer and adoration.
"Charity is not enough: we need social reform." To this end, he helped to establish the Catholic daily newspaper Momento, which was based on Rerum Novarum, the encyclical in which St Leo XIII articulated principles of social and economic justice.
"God gives us health so that we may serve the sick." He visited invalids in hospitals and at home, bringing medicine and food. In late June, 1925, at the young age of 24, Pier Giorgio fell acutely ill with poliomyelitis (polio), an illness he had contracted while ministering to the sick and poor. He died on July 4, 1925 at the age of 24, after many days of excruciating pain. As Pier lay on his death-bed, he handed his sister Luciana some pawn tickets to redeem for some of the poor. His last note, written with a nearly paralyzed hand, concerned the Converso family, who depended on him to pay for shots. Thousands of residents of Turin, knowing of his seven years of service to the poor—and many of them having been personally assisted by him-- stood in the streets to pay respects as the cortege passed. The steps for his canonization began immediately, and in 1990, Pope John Paul II beatified him. Canonization procedures remain in progress.
"When they opened Pier Giorgio´s tomb in 1981, his body was perfectly preserved," recalled one witness. "He had a smile on his face and a rosary in his hands. It was like meeting him for the first time." To this day, his body remains incorrupt, and was recently transported for veneration to World Youth Day in Australia, prior to returning to the Cathedral of Turin.
Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
"I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharist Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles."
“Our life, in order to be Christian, has to be a continual renunciation, a continual sacrifice. But this is not difficult, if one thinks what these few years passed in suffering are, compared with eternal happiness where joy will have no measure or end, and where we shall have unimaginable peace.”
"All around the sick and all around the poor I see a special light which we do not have."
“What wealth it is to be in good health, as we are! But we have the duty of putting our health at the service of those who do not have it. To act otherwise would be to betray that gift of God.”
"You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy."
"Each of you knows that the foundation of our faith is charity. Without it, our religion would crumble. We will never be truly Catholic unless we conform our entire lives to the two commandments that are the essence of the Catholic faith: to love the Lord, our God, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves... With charity, we sow the seeds of that true peace which only our faith in Jesus Christ can give us by making us all brothers and sisters. I know that this way is steep, and difficult, and strewn with thorns, while at first glance the other path seems easier, more pleasant, and more satisfying. But the fact is, if we could look into the hearts of those who follow the perverse paths of this world, we would see that they lack the serenity that comes to those who have faced a thousand difficulties and who have renounced material pleasure to follow God's law."
"Come, and your every sacrifice will be repaid in heaven, because Jesus Christ promises that everything we do for the poor in His name, we do for Him. You do not want to deny Christ this love, He whose infinite love for humanity gave Himself to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as our Comforter and the Bread of Life."
"A Catholic cannot help but be happy; sadness should be banished from their souls. Suffering is not sadness, which is the worst disease. This disease is almost always caused by atheism, but the end for which we are created guides us along life's pathway, which may be strewn with thorns, but is not sad. It is happy even through suffering."
"May peace reign in your soul... any other gift we possess in this life is vanity, just as all the things of this world are vain."
"In order to be Christian, our lives must be a continual renunciation and sacrifice. However, we know that the difficulties of this world are nothing compared to the eternal happiness that awaits us, where there will be no limit to our joy, no end to our happiness, and we shall enjoy unimaginable peace. And so, young people, learn from our Lord Jesus Christ the meaning of sacrifice."
"We who, by the grace of God, are Catholics, must not squander the best years of our lives as so many unhappy young people do, who worry about enjoying the good things in life, things that do not in fact bring any good, but rather the fruit of immorality in today's world. We must prepare ourselves to be ready and able to handle the struggles we will have to endure to fulfill our goals, and, in so doing, to give our country happier and morally healthier days in the near future. But in order for this to happen we need the following: constant prayer to obtain God's grace, without which all our efforts are in vain; organization and discipline to be ready for action at the right moment; and finally, we need to sacrifice our own passions, indeed our very selves, because without this sacrifice we will never achieve our goal."
"When you are totally consumed by the Eucharistic fire, then you will be able more consciously to thank God, who has called you to become part of His family. Then you will enjoy the peace that those who are happy in this world have never experienced, because true happiness, oh young people, does not consist in the pleasures of this world, or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we only have if we are pure of heart and mind."
"In God's marvelous plan, Divine Providence often uses the tiniest twigs to do good works... What would life be without acts of charity?"
"Foolish is he who follows the pleasures of this world, because these are always fleeting and bring much pain. The only true pleasure is that which comes to us through faith."
"We are living through difficult days because the persecution against the Church is raging more than ever, but this should not frighten you, brave and good young people. Always remember that the Church is a divine institution and it cannot come to an end."
"I ask you to pray a lot for me, because I desperately need from God the grace to carry out my projects to good effect... Only prayers can obtain from God the desired improvement."
"The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal."
"In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity, which is true and perfect love... Nothing is more beautiful than love. Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity, will last for eternity; if anything, I think it will be even more alive in the next life!"
"With every day that passes, I grow more and more convinced how ugly the world is, of how much suffering there is, and, unfortunately, of how it is the good who suffer the most. Meanwhile, we who have been given so many of God's blessings have repaid Him poorly. This is an awful reality that racks my brain; while I'm studying, every so often I ask myself: will I continue on the right path? Will I have the strength to persevere all the way? In the face of this pang of doubt, the faith given to me in Baptism reassures me of this: by yourself, you will accomplish nothing, but if you place God at the center of all your actions, then you will reach the goal."
"To live without faith, without a heritage to defend, without battling constantly for truth, is not to live but to 'get along'; we must never just 'get along'." "By drawing closer to the poor, little by little we become their confidants and counselors in the worst moments of this earthly pilgrimage. We can give them the comforting words of faith and often we succeed, not by our own merit, in putting on the right road people who have strayed without meaning to. Witnessing daily the faith with which some families often bear the worst suffering, their constant sacrifices, and that they do all this for the love of God, often makes us ask why we, who have received so many things from God, have been so neglectful, so bad, while they, who have not been as privileged, are so much better? And so we resolve in our conscience to follow the Way of the Cross, the only way that leads to eternal life."
"It is a difficult battle, but we must strive to win it and to rediscover our small road to Damascus in order to walk toward the destination to which we all must arrive... What is clear is that faith is the only anchor of salvation and we must hold tightly to it: without it, what would our lives be? Nothing, or rather, wasted, because in life there is only suffering, and suffering without faith is unbearable. But suffering that is nourished by the flame of faith becomes something beautiful, because it tempers the soul to deal with suffering."
"I hope that by the grace of God I will continue to follow these Catholic ideals so that one day, in the way God wishes, I will be able to preserve and promote these truths."
“One ought to go and one goes. It is not those who suffer violence that should fear, but those who practice it. When God is with us, we do not need to be afraid.”
"Charity is not enough: we need social reform."
"When God is with us, we do not need to be afraid."
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."