July 20, 2016
I've recently been reading through A Man of the Beatitudes, the Pier Giorgio Frassati biography written by his sister (I know, I'm kind of late to the party among a lot of Frassati Society members), and I wanted to share a brief reflection based on the impression he has left on me.
In the book, for many reasons, one gets the strong impression of Pier Giorgio as a person. He is not an idea, an icon, not merely a historical figure, but a person, whole and entire and integrated. When I hear about Frassati's life, it strikes me plainly that Bl. Pier Giorgio was wholly authentic, in possession of his entire being through his relationship to Christ. Prayer gave Frassati his strength and identity, and he spent little time considering how others viewed him. He was human, so no doubt it crossed his mind, but there is little evidence that this question captivated him for any length of time.
All this is to say that his example of sainthood touched on a growing fear in my life: that in fully submitting my life to Christ, I'd no longer be me; that "putting on Christ" means putting on a sort of costume to match my life to my imperfect version of holiness. But Pier Giorgio shines a great deal of light on that dark lie. He loved politics and Tuscan cigars because his mom loved them and hiking and practical jokes and felt heartbreak because he couldn't approach the woman he fell in love with.
What made him a saint is not that he changed his personality: he was vivacious and gregarious from the start, and even maintained his interests despite constant ridicule from his family. What made him a saint is that in all of his loves, he gave. He possessed nothing; as his sister said, money he received was "already given away" in his mind. His outwardness was expressed as a life completely oriented toward others, and he used his interests and passions as conduits to bring others along on his journey to the heights.
Let's never forget the constant example of the millions of saints, recorded or not, that have gone before us, and be not afraid to submit ourselves to Christ. I ask you to state, out loud, this short truth. I need it right now as much as anyone.
Jesus, you will never take from me anything that is truly mine. In you, I will be more whole, more at peace with myself than I have ever been. Your life is the fullness of life. Give me the grace to go beyond my fear and selfishness and give of myself, that I may constantly be renewed and refilled.
Praised be God the Father, who knew us before he formed us in the womb. Praised be Jesus Christ, who gives us life to the full.