Thursday, July 3, 2014

Time for a Miracle -- Novena Day Nine


As a grand finale to this year's Frassati novena, I hope you will enjoy reading the story of Kevin Becker's miracle.  Kevin courageously and, at times, humorously, shared his story last month in front of a large crowd at CurĂ© of Ars Church in Merrick, NY.  It was a powerful and moving testimony which this blog post won't come close to capturing.  But the short version goes like this...

On August 26, 2011, Kevin fell 13 feet off of the roof of his college apartment.  He had been socializing with friends but was not inebriated.  By the sheer grace of God, a friend found him on the ground within about 15 minutes of the fall.  The timing of that and the ability of a surgeon to quickly address the swelling of his brain are two big reasons why Kevin even survived the night.  

Kevin's fall left him in a coma with multiple fractures to his skull -- in fact, every lobe of his brain sustained injuries.  Miraculously, as you can see for yourself in the above video, he was discharged to his home a mere 18 days later.  

While he was in a coma, Kevin's large and loving family rallied to his side both physically and spiritually.  Some began a novena to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  One of his cousins had recently been introduced to Pier Giorgio and told a family member, "He needs a miracle to be a saint and so do we!"  A picture of Frassati was brought to Kevin's room.  The next day he awoke and gave the thumbs up signal.  

On the day of his discharge, Kevin began to share with his family about an "angel" who had been with him the whole time he was in the coma.   When Kevin's mother heard the description of the "angel" and what he had done with Kevin during the coma, she found the picture of Pier Giorgio that had been placed in Kevin's room and showed it to him for the first time.  Kevin immediately exclaimed, "That's him!"  

During his public remarks last month, Kevin shared in greater detail the experience he had with the  "angel" -- a handsome, athletic, young man who allowed him to play FIFA and gently encouraged him to be patient until he was well enough to leave.  Kevin explained that he and this angel were in a "man-cave" sort of room throughout the coma period.  When Kevin asked for a name, the angel said, "Giorgio."

On November 11, 2011, a few months after the injury, Kevin had an appointment to review his neuropsychological exam.  Using the MRI and CAT scan of his injuries, the doctor is able to explain brain deficiencies revealed by the exam.  In Kevin's case, there were none to explain. "You are amazing," the doctor told him. "It's unbelievable you suffered this level of injury." She assured him that he was who he was before the accident and that he would never feel the effects of it.  He was restored to 100% functioning and completed his college degree.  According to Kevin's mother, his recovery has been described by doctors as "unique, unheard of, rare, not seen, amazing." 

I prefer to use the word "miracle."  I think Giorgio would, too.  :)

Verso l'alto!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Time for a Miracle -- Novena Day Eight


"This letter is to testify that Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati cured me completely overnite of a very bad case of shingles.  

It all started about a week before Easter 2013.  Several spots appeared near my right eye and in the inside of my mouth and instead of disappearing, it kept getting worse.  So on the 17th of April 2013, I went to the doctor.  She confirmed that I had the shingles and that it was too late to give me any medication except to take ibuprofen for the pain.  But the pain kept getting worse so I went back to the doctor again.  He saw them inside my mouth and under my skin up to my eyes, in my ears and 1/2 of my lips, upper and lower, were swollen. He gave me a pain medication ...  The pain was horrible, I couldn't sleep, could only drink with a straw and for 3 1/2 weeks I was in misery. 

On May 10, 2013, after a very painful night, pacing the floor and trying to find or do anything to stop the pain, nothing helped.  I finally went to Mass at 5:30 P.M. still in a lot of pain, the medication wasn't helping.  As I was leaving, Msgr. Michael asked me how I was feeling because I hadn't been out for 3 1/2 weeks.  I told him about the pain, the sleepless nights and could he pray for me.  He said he could do more than that.  He put his hands on my head and said some prayers and he prayed to Pier Giorgio Frassati to heal me and take away my pain.  I thanked him and went home.  I went to bed and fell off to sleep and slept the whole night for the first time in weeks.

I got up at my usual time around 7:30, had my breakfast and was cleaning up when I suddenly realized that I had no pain, that I ate normally that morning.  I couldn't believe that the pain and soreness had all gone.  I could touch the right side of my face again.  I had not been able to do that for over 4 weeks.  If visitors came to see me, I would tell them not to come near my right side.  No hugs or kisses.  

I've waited this long to write about this "miracle" that happened to me because friends of mine that had the same as I had said the pain never really left them completely and that the shingles would come back again.  But I have had no pain since then and no signs of the shingles thanks to Pier Giorgio Frassati and Msgr. Mike.  When I saw him a week later, he asked me how I felt.  When I told him that I had no pain and all soreness and signs of the shingles were gone, he said, "Pier Giorgio has worked his miracles again."  ...

Since then I have bought the prayer cards and given them out to everyone that needs them. I bless and pray to Pier Giorgio morning and night and lots of times in between.  I bless the Lord for being with me thru all of this and for the miracle that Pier Giorgio has worked in my life.  I thank Him morning and nite and I pray that He and the Holy Church and all the angels and saints will pray for him to be glorified and elevated into Heaven where he belongs. 

Bless You All
A faithful servant and true believer,

(Dora's last name is being withheld for privacy.  She submitted this testimony via a handwritten letter on March 29, 2014.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Time for a Miracle -- Novena Day Seven


It probably doesn't occur to many people in the United States, that the first of July is a pretty significant date for our neighbor to the north:  Canada Day!  Just three days separate the births of our two nations, but Independence Day definitely gets a lot more attention here -- and rightly so.  

The same three days separate the deaths of Pier Giorgio Frassati and his grandmother Linda Ametis.  If you haven't yet read the book, "My Brother Pier Giorgio: His Last Days" by Luciana Frassati, you may not be aware of the connection.  Because of his grandmother's illness and death, Pier Giorgio's illness didn't get much attention -- until it was too late.

On May 26, 1925,  Pier Giorgio wrote to his friend Marco Beltramo:  "Again I ask you to pray for my Grandmother, who unfortunately is not at all well, luckily it’s nothing serious right now but at 86 years of age her condition can change from one moment to the next."  Ten days later, he wrote again, "Please pray for my grandmother who is still not well."  For two months, the family dealt with her near-death crises and recoveries. It took a toll on the household, especially Pier Giorgio's mother.  

Pier Giorgio's fatal encounter with polio began about June 29th.  In addition to his illness, he was preoccupied with concern for his grandmother.  According to his sister Luciana, when Pier Giorgio learned his grandmother was about to die, he wrapped himself in a blanket, knelt by her bed and prayed the rosary. His grandmother recognized him and embraced him.  That evening, around 10 p.m., he was awakened and told her condition was worse.  He dragged himself to her bedroom and stayed on his knees until she passed away. It was the first of July. 

The funeral for his grandmother was held on July 3rd.  At the last minute, because of exhaustion, Mrs. Frassati decided to remain at home in Turin and not go to the cemetery in Pollone for her mother's burial.  Instead, she went to check on Pier Giorgio.  It was not until this point that the gravity of his condition was discovered.  The next evening, on the fourth of July, he went to his eternal reward.  

Two years earlier, Pier Giorgio had written to his friend Antonio Villani, 
"Since one does not know when Death will come to take him away, it is very prudent to prepare oneself every day as if one is going to die that same day; and so from now on I will try to make every day a little preparation for death, so that I shouldn’t find myself unprepared at the point of death and have to regret the beautiful years of youth, wasted from the spiritual side."  (July 19, 1923)
The rarely sung fourth verse of the Canadian National Anthem has a strikingly similar theme:  
"Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer /Hold our Dominion in thy loving care / Help us to find, O God, in thee / A lasting, rich reward / As waiting for the better Day / We ever stand on guard."
With people around the world now praying a novena in honor of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, we can safely say that he did not waste the years of his youth from the spiritual side.  He stood on guard and received his lasting, rich reward -- one that we will celebrate in three more days.  

Verso l'alto!