Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October is Respect Life Month

Once again, the Church has designated October as Respect Life Month. As Catholics, we can be proud to be a part of a Church that works to protect and defend the sanctity of human life. Here is a short video that deals with this issue:

According to 2005 census estimates, the 50 million babies killed by abortion would exceed the COMBINED population of the fifty largest cities in the United States by 4 million. That's New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Ft. Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Louisville, Washington DC, Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland OR, Oklahoma City, Tucson, Albequerque, Long Beach, Atlanta, Fresno, Sacramento, New Orleans, Cleveland, Kansas City, Mesa, Virginia Beach, Omaha, Oakland, Miami, Tulsa, Honolulu, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, and Arlington TX, PLUS 4 million (another Los Angeles.)

Can you imagine all those cities empty?

Pope John Paul II, in his letter Ecclesia in America, put it best: "Nowadays, in America as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless victims of abortion; the elderly and incurably ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism. Nor can I fail to mention the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty when other “bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons. Today, given the means at the State's disposal to deal with crime and control those who commit it, without abandoning all hope of their redemption, the cases where it is absolutely necessary to do away with an offender 'are now very rare, even non-existent practically'”. This model of society bears the stamp of the culture of death, and is therefore in opposition to the Gospel message. Faced with this distressing reality, the Church community intends to commit itself all the more to the defense of the culture of life."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Wanda!

Pier Giorgio's niece Wanda celebrates her birthday today! At 81 years young, she is still a world traveler. Her efforts to spread the spirituality of Pier Giorgio have taken her to many countries. She even made the long trip to Sydney, Australia, for World Youth Day 2008. One of my favorite memories with Wanda was actually a much shorter road trip -- from Torino to Pollone. We ran out of gas just after exiting the Autostrade and it ended up being a good laugh for everyone involved. After a talk I gave recently to the students in a religious education program, one of them asked how I knew so much about Pier Giorgio. The answer is Wanda! Through her, I have gotten to know Pier Giorgio much more intimately, and that is how FrassatiUSA came into being. One thing I know about Wanda is that it is not an easy task to get a picture of her. But here is one of my favorites that I snapped one night in Trastevere as she was arriving on her motorino. I have to believe that Pier Giorgio would love to see his spirit of adventure embodied in his niece as she zips through the streets of Rome! Tanti auguri, Wanda! Keep the top!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pier Giorgio and the K of C

More good news of how the devotion to Pier Giorgio is spreading came to me recently from Fr. William Kuchinsky in West Virginia. The newly formed Knights of Columbus Council 10011 will be named "Pier Giorgio Frassati Council" and Fr. Bill will serve as chaplain. It is always uplifting to receive news of how Pier Giorgio is being incorporated into parish and community life.

The Knights of Columbus has more than 1.7 million members worldwide and is the world's largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. The current Supreme Knight is Carl Anderson. Coincidentally, he was in Sydney, Australia, for World Youth Day festivities this past summer and visited with Pier Giorgio's niece Wanda Gawronska. They are pictured here, along with Fr. Tom Rosica, the head of Canada's Salt and Light TV.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila -- one of the great doctors of the Church. I don't know of any Pier Giorgio connection with her, however, she is the source of one of my all-time favorite quotes. It is a great meditation for any day, but especially during turbulent economic times.

"If you have everything but Christ, you have nothing.
If you have nothing but Christ, you have everything."

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Remembering Luciana Frassati

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we also mark the first anniversary of the death of Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana Frassati. She died peacefully in Pollone, in the family home, at the age of 105. I had the privilege of being there the last few weeks of her earthly life. On the morning of her passing, I was out of town to visit some Italian relatives. Luciana's daughter Wanda called to tell me the news and I quickly made plans to return for the funeral. That day, I remember thinking of the great joy in heaven with which Luciana would be welcomed. Also, I knew that she would continue her work of spreading the spirituality of Pier Giorgio from above as she had done for so many years during her lifetime.

It is one of life's mysteries to ponder: the length of our days. Pier Giorgio had 24 years, his sister had 105. And yet, we can reflect on both lives and see the fullness -- the richness in living out the Catholic faith -- that both shared. Together they remind us that how much time we have on earth is not up to us but what we do with it is.

It would be a fitting spiritual gift today to offer a rosary in thanksgiving for the life of Luciana Frassati and for the consolation of all those whom she has left behind. May God grant her eternal memory and blessed repose. Grazie, Signora, per tutto.