Wednesday 8 September 2021

Finding Frassati And Following His Path to Holiness - Christine M Wohar

Finding Frassati
And Following His Path to Holiness
ISBN 9781682782491
eISBN 9781682782507

Over the past couple of years I have read a few books about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and developed a deep devotion to his patronage. But this book is unlike many of the others I have read, or looked at about this incredible young man and his life. Pier Giorgio pack more into his 24 short years than many who live twice or even triple the years. In the forward we are informed that:

“What in part helps to make Blessed Pier Giorgio so fascinating is that we know such a lot about him, so many personal details, thanks to his younger sister, Luciana, with whom he was very close. After his death, she wrote several books and published collections of the family photographs. Many who knew Pier Giorgio also recorded their stories and personal impressions. A family friend who was an artist depicted him in paintings. A lot of short testimonies about his faith, his charity, and his commitment to social justice have survived from those who knew him or had met him. Above all, we have many of the letters he wrote from childhood to adulthood. These give us a deep insight into his daily life and concerns, his intimate thoughts and feelings. As he grew up and faced life’s ups and downs, these letters disclose his soul. More fascinating still, they clearly reveal the hand of God, the working of God’s grace, the growing aroma of God’s love.”

And later:

“Finally, what is most fascinating about Pier Giorgio is the intensity of his faith. Secretly in the slums, he gave away his wealth and much of his spare time serving the poor as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society: I see a special light around the sick, the poor, the less fortunate, a light we do not possess, he said. He was passionate about justice, economics, and politics, an advocate of authentic Catholic social teaching.”

And Rev Philip A. Egan, bishop of Portsmouth ends the forward with these words:

“Friendship with the saints is a personal affair. I always believe it’s the saints who choose and befriend us, not the other way round. I thank Blessed Pier Giorgio for his love and friendship, for enlisting me among his worldwide Tipi Loschi, and for encouraging me to reach verso l’alto, “to the heights” — to the Lord Jesus and the happiness and holiness He calls us to. I thank Giorgio, too, for his powerful intercession and for obtaining so many answers to my prayers. 

With the help of this fine book, may you also, through his intercession, receive the answers to your prayers.”

That is what I found in this book, and what I know you will find as well. There are saints that I have had a devotion to for seasons, some for a few years, others for many. And yet as I have aged, I find that my friendship with the saints is ever more important, and the circle of them is growing. Frassatti is an excellent companion for our journey. This book in many ways feels like it is written for a younger audience, teens and young adults. But We can all be blessed and benefit from reading this book and learning more about this man. The description of the volume states:

“His friends called him an explosion of joy. Mountain climbing, music, practical jokes and political debates were among his many passions. With film star looks, common sense intelligence, and amazing athleticism, Pier Giorgio Frassati had every reason to pursue worldly success. He chose to focus on higher goals instead.

Identified as “The Man of the Eight Beatitudes” and recognized as one of the most fascinating and relatable saintly examples of the 20th century, he was devoted to the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother and led a mostly hidden life of charity that ultimately cost him his life at the age of twenty-four. When his body was exhumed in 1981, it was found to be perfectly incorrupt. He was beatified in 1990. All three popes since then have commended this dynamic young Italian’s life to the Church—and especially to younger Catholics.

Author Christine Wohar, a noted expert on Frassati, has created this practical guide to Pier Giorgio’s short but spirited life. Writing in a simple, accessible style, she presents 40 reflections on aspects of his personal life and spirituality. Prayers and concrete action steps are included to help you make this future saint’s habits and methods your own.”

And Christine’s devotion and passion for the subject come through throughout the volume. The sections in the book are:

An Opening Note
A Brief Biography of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
A Transatlantic Leap of Faith
Nicknames and No Names
The Pool-Playing Saint
Mountains, Mountains, Mountains, I Love You!
The Waters of Baptism
Pier Giorgio’s Eucharistic Life
Pushed Around by the Holy Spirit 
Pier Giorgio’s Practice of Penance
Letters from the Sea
Living Lent (and Life) Like Blessed Pier Giorgio
Pier Giorgio’s Easter Wish
Like Father, Like Son
The Heart of a Mother
Pier Giorgio’s Sisters
The Love of an Italian Grandmother
Telegrams, Texts, and Test Scores
A Cup of Joe
Frassati’s Favorite Music
Sailing along with Pier Giorgio
Pier Giorgio’s Love for Our Lady
The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
O Come, Let Us Adore Him
The Great Family of Saint Dominic
Pier Giorgio’s Favorite Saint
Cultivating a Spirit of Sacrifice
Pier Giorgio’s Secret Love
Pier Giorgio’s Apostolate of Charity
Pier Giorgio’s Apostolate of Persuasion
Pier Giorgio’s Apostolate of Good Example
Politics and Pier Giorgio
“Pumping Iron” with Blessed Pier Giorgio
Suffering Like a Saint
Pier Giorgio and “His Poor”
Beggar of Prayers
Friend of the Friendless
To Lay Down One’s Life
Pier Giorgio, Public Protests, and Processions
Knowing Your Limitations
Passing Time in Pollone
Come and Pray
A Closing Note
Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Litany in Honor of Blessed Frassati 
Resources to Learn More 
About the Author

After the introduction and brief biography what follows is 40 reflections, meditations or recollections. They look at the life Frassati lived and his impact upon others. Each of those 40 chapters begins with a quote. Has the content of the chapter. This is followed by a prayer and a challenge to Act. Two samples are:

From the chapter Mountains, Mountains, Mountains I Love You:

Blessed Frassati, conqueror of life’s mountains, pray for us! 

Take a slow walk and try to appreciate the beauty of creation all around you.”

From Cultivating a Spirit of Sacrifice:

Fatima Sacrifice Prayer
O my Jesus, I offer this for love of You, 
for the conversion of sinners, 
and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

Are you dealing with a difficult situation in your life, such as physical pain, financial hardship, loss of or betrayal by a friend, mental anguish, an unpleasant task? Say the above prayer and try to offer up the situation out of love for Jesus.”

This book is wonderfully written. It is engaging, entertaining, and to be honest challenging. I plan to reread it next Lent and do one of the chapters each day. Christine has written a masterful book on Frassati, and one all Catholic could benefit from reading. I challenge you to consider picking up this volume, read, pray and act you way through it. I guarantee you will not be the same when you are finished.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

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