Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pier Giorgio in Japan

Another great story about Pier Giorgio's impact on today's youth came to me recently all the way from Okinawa, Japan!

From correspondence with Laura Wells, I learned that Okinawa is a small island south of the main island of Japan. There are 71 teens receiving Confirmation from five different military bases on the island. The bishop of the Archdiocese of the military will be present for the Confirmation (May 5th) and the teens are very excited. The retreat leader, Denise Loftesnes, used Pier Giorgio as the patron saint for the Confirmation Teen Retreat. All 71 teens received a pledge packet (The Pact) and Denise spoke about Pier Giorgio and showed the two posters of him. Laura writes that "The Confirmation retreat was very powerful and it was wonderful that so many teens were moved so much. I'm sure that Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was praying for all of the teens."

Thanks Laura and Denise for bringing Pier Giorgio into the lives of these teens so far away from the U.S.! And may God bless all of our servicemen and women and their families for the sacrifices they make to defend the cause of freedom. Verso l'alto!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Greetings

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen! This is the traditional greeting in the Byzantine Catholic Church throughout the Easter season. These few words provide an inexhaustible source of meditation on the great gift of Eternal Life with Christ that we have been given.

On Easter Sunday, I was sitting in church next to my little six-year-old friend who noticed a keychain tag of mine that says "God loves you." She whispered to me, "God really loves you because you work for one of his saints." I whispered back, "God really loves you, too. He really loves all of us. That is what we are celebrating today." The insights of this little girl never cease to amaze me. In fact, I felt Pier Giorgio's presence through her on Holy Thursday evening. We had processed together after Mass to the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament would be exposed for one hour. I explained to her how Jesus asked His friends to spend one hour with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. She knew the story well. She went and begged her mom for permission to stay and spend an hour with Jesus. When her mom said she could stay for a little bit, she ran over to me erupting with joy. Immediately, I thought of how elated Pier Giorgio was when he finally got permission from his mother to receive daily Communion. "I won, Father!" he exclaimed to the Jesuit priest at school.

That same, uncontainable, childlike joy at being able to spend time with Jesus is the joy we can experience today. For Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Celebrating Pier Giorgio's Birthday

It is a dreary, rainy, cold day here in Nashville and the start of Holy Week. It is a day for celebration, though, because we are marking what would be Pier Giorgio's 108th birthday! I'm sure many of you joined in the novena leading up to today. I admit that I keep hoping my phone will ring with news of a canonization miracle, but I know that it is all in God's perfect timing.

In the meantime, many wonderful things keep happening as knowledge of Pier Giorgio becomes more and more widespread. This past weekend, for example, I was in Boston for the Eucharistic Congress sponsored by the Archdiocese. What a beautiful event! (Thanks, by the way, to Fr. Dan Hennessey for the invitation to attend and to Maria Lucci for getting me to where I needed to go!) It is always inspiring to be around young adults who are joyfully living the Faith and it was an added bonus that Pier Giorgio was the focus of the Saturday morning event.

Often, I view my work at FrassatiUSA as merely planting "Pier Giorgio seeds." When even one seed bears fruit, it is a cause of great joy. Here are a just a few:
  • Last week, I spoke at a high school in San Antonio where only a handful of the 700+ crowd had ever heard of Pier Giorgio. I recently learned that the very next day one of the students presented a proposal to school administration to start a Frassati Society there.
  • A few hours after giving a talk in New Braunfels, Texas, I received a phone call from the mother of one of the youth in attendance. She called to say that her daughter never got excited about Catholic things but couldn't stop talking about Pier Giorgio. The mother could hardly believe that someone had gotten through to her daughter that quickly. (I didn't want to suggest it could have been Pier Giorgio's exceptional good looks but I am guessing that may have had something to do with it!)
  • After a presentation to K-4 children at a Nashville school, one little girl announced to her teacher that she no longer wanted to be a ballerina -- she wanted to be a saint!
These young people responded to the simple message of Pier Giorgio -- holiness is for everyone. Today, on his birthday, may his message also inspire you to reach for even greater heights in your spiritual journey. Verso l'alto!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Arrivederci, San Antonio!

Thanks for the prayers for my recent trip to San Antonio. It was a wonderful opportunity to plant a lot of "Pier Giorgio seeds" in the hearts of many young people.

Thanks to Josh Torres, Mr. Vega's Campus Ministry Class and the administration at Holy Cross of San Antonio for planning their weekly prayer service around the spirituality of Pier Giorgio. It was great to visit the school and have time to reflect on the Man of the Beatitudes.

Also, thanks to Father John Mary, Mother Magdalene and Dr. Paul Foster for welcoming the message of Pier Giorgio to the Mission of Divine Mercy in New Braunfels, TX. While there, I was able to climb "to the top" of the trail to the simple cross situated high above the Mission. The wind was absolutely wicked but it was worth braving the elements to enjoy the incredible view of Canyon Lake and the surroun
ding area down below! I know Pier Giorgio would have done the same! If you are ever in the New Braunfels area and want to enjoy the beauty of creation, be sure to visit the Mission.

Finally, thanks to Father Mark Clarke, Maria Gutierrez and the administration of Antonian College Preparatory High School for allowing me to share Pier Giorgio's message that "Holiness is for Everyone" with the entire student body -- a great way to start the school week!

Next stop is Boston for the Eucharistic Congress hosted by the Archdiocese. Keep those prayers coming as Pier Giorgio's message continues to spread. Verso l'alto!