Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy

God's timing is perfect. And so, I should not be surprised that Day Five of the novena this year falls on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul -- one of Pier Giorgio's name days. He famously said to the family maid on this day (less than a week before he died) that he would enjoy two cigars -- one for Peter and one for Paul!

Also not a coincidence is that his response in today's prayers refers to St. Paul.  It is taken from his speech to the Catholic youth of Pollone, in which he exhorted them to embrace what he called the apostolate of charity. "The Apostle St. Paul says, 'the charity of Christ urges us.'  Without this flame, which should burn out our personality little by little and blaze only for other people’s griefs, we would not be Christian, let alone Catholic.” 

Pier Giorgio was so inspired by St. Paul's Hymn of Charity (found in the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13) that he wrote it out and carried it with him. In a letter to his best friend Marco Beltramo, he wrote, "Maybe if all of us listened more to St. Paul, human miseries would be slightly diminished."  To his friend Isidoro Bonini, he wrote, "I would like you to try to read St. Paul: he is marvelous and the soul is exalted by this reading and we are prodded to follow the right path and to return to it as soon as we leave it through sin."

In addition to St. Paul, Pier Giorgio had a preference for St. Catherine of Siena, St. Augustine and Fra Girolamo Savonarola.   He made regular spiritual retreats and was often in the company of holy priests and religious. His closest friends were people whose goodness formed "a precious guide" for his whole life. "Surely Divine Providence in His Marvelous Plans sometimes uses us miserable little twigs to do Good," he wrote to Marco, "and we sometimes not only don’t want to know God but instead dare to deny His existence; but we who, by the Grace of God, have the Faith, when we find ourselves in the presence of such beautiful souls, surely nourished by Faith, we cannot but discover in them an obvious sign of the Existence of God, because one cannot have such a Goodness without the Grace of God."

May we today be inspired by the saints, especially Peter, Paul and Pier Giorgio, and strive to attain to their level of goodness until we too become "miserable little twigs" ablaze with love and mercy for the people around us.  Verso l'alto!

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