PETER, PAUL AND PIER GIORGIO
Five days before his death, Pier Giorgio celebrated his last feast of Saints Peter and Paul. And he really did celebrate -- joking with the maid saying, “Two cigars. Today you have to give me two cigars: one for St. Peter and one for St. Paul; it’s a double feast day today!”
Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable to see a picture of Pier Giorgio with a pipe in his mouth or a cigar in his hand. He certainly wasn't what we think of as the typical saint. But what kind of men were Peter and Paul? A fisherman who denied Christ three times; a Pharisee who persecuted the Jews! Certainly, these two personify the famous quote, "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." (Oscar Wilde)
Sainthood, after all, is not about being perfect, but striving for perfection. This is what Pier Giorgio best represents, I think. Saint John Paul II said it best during the beatification homily: "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."
Holiness IS possible for everyone. Like Pier Giorgio, you can come from a home where your parents don't attend church and still end up a saint. You can get average grades, even fail a class (twice!) and be a saint. You can have a girlfriend and be a practical joker and be a saint. Your parents can have a very troubled marriage and fight a lot; you can still be a saint. You can love sports and music and be a saint. And yes, you can smoke a pipe or a cigar and be a saint. Saints are not perfect people with perfect families and perfect lives. They are people who love God and strive to be perfect as He is perfect. (See Matthew 5:48)
As we celebrate two of the greatest saints of the Church, it is comforting to be able to turn to someone like Pier Giorgio and ask him to help us in our spiritual journey. Whether you are praying the international novena prayers or the traditional ones, or both, you've already made it more than half way. If you need a little boost to keep going, here's the prayer for the Courage to be Great:
"Heavenly Father, Give me the courage to strive for the highest goals, to flee every temptation to be mediocre. Enable me to aspire to greatness, as Pier Giorgio did,and to open my heart with joy to Your call to holiness. Free me from the fear of failure. I want to be, Lord, firmly and forever united to You. Grant me the graces I ask You through Pier Giorgio's intercession, by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.Amen."
Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Blessed Pier Giorgio, pray for us.