Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

One of the most well-known quotes attributed to Pier Giorgio Frassati is used in today's prayer response: 
To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.
It is taken from a letter written to his good friend Isidoro Bonini in which Pier Giorgio also says, "Every day I understand better what a grace it is to be Catholics."  

Pier Giorgio loved his Catholic faith during a time when being Catholic made one vulnerable to some degree of persecution.  He was fearless.  He took every opportunity to participate in public demonstrations of the Faith.  If there was a Eucharistic procession in the street, Pier Giorgio was there.  He spent endless hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, attending daily Mass, praying the rosary and numerous other prayers.  He belonged to many Catholic clubs and organizations.  He ministered to the poor through his membership in the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul.

But that wasn't all he did.  

He was actively involved in efforts to fight the rise of Fascism, Communism and Socialism.  He joined a new political party founded by a priest (Don Luigi Sturzo) to oppose the Socialist party.  Leaders of the party disappointed him when they failed to be strong defenders of the Faith, showing themselves to be Catholic in name only and siding with the Socialists on several issues.  Despite this disappointment, he worked tirelessly for social reform.  He embraced Pope Leo XIII's landmark encyclical, Rerum NovarumHe befriended the common laborers and was considered a brother to them for his efforts on their behalf. He loved Italy and mourned the decay of its moral fiber. 

I don't know what words are appropriate to express the similarities between Italy then and America now.  Would you call it sad, striking, ironic or something else when you see history repeating itself for the worse?  What will it take for the Church to survive the current attacks against her?  What will it take to restore the moral fiber of our own society?  It will take people like Pier Giorgio who are not content to merely exist but want to live life to the fullest.  It will take people willing to defend their country and struggle for Truth.  it will take people getting off of the sidelines and onto the frontlines.

Pier Giorgio considered it a grace to be a Catholic.  "Poor unlucky those who don't have the Faith," he said, adding that melancholy could "only exist when the Faith is lost." Even poorer still are those who have the Faith but fail to appreciate it for what it is worth and fail to defend it for fear of persecution.  

Pier Giorgio ended his letter to Isidoro with words that are very appropriate for us today:
...let us lift up our hearts and always go forward for the triumph of the reign of Christ in Society.

Verso l'alto!

No comments: