His life: Modern yet Spirit-filled
The Pope's homily at the beatification Mass:
will ask the Father, and he will send you another Advocate to be with you
always, the Spirit of truth" (Jn 14:16). During the Easter season, as
we progressively draw near to Pentecost, these words become more and more
spoken by Jesus in the Upper Room the day before his Passion, as he took
leave of his Apostles. His departure—the
departure of the Beloved Master through his death and resurrection—prepares
the way for another Advocate (Jn 16:7). The Paraclete will come; he
will come precisely because of Christ's redemptive departure which makes
possible and inaugurates God's new merciful presence among people.
Spirit of Truth, whom the world neither sees nor knows, however, makes
itself known by the Apostles, because "it remains with them and will be
in them" (cf. Jn 14:17). And everyone will become witnesses to this on
the day of Pentecost.
Pentecost, however, is only the beginning, because the Spirit of Truth
comes to remain with the Church for ever (cf. Jn 14:16), endlessly
renewing itself in future generations. Therefore the words of the
Apostle Peter are addressed not only to the people of his day, but
also to all of us and our contemporaries.
Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to
anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1 Peter 3:15).
century, Pier Giorgio Frassati, whom I have the joy of declaring
Blessed today in the name of the Church, incarnated these words
of St. Peter in his own life. The power of the Spirit of Truth, united
to Christ, made him a modern witness to the hope which springs from the
Gospel and to the grace of salvation which works in human hearts.
became a living witness and courageous defender of this hope in the
name of Christian youth of the twentieth century.
and charity, the true driving forces of his existence, made him active
and diligent in the milieu in which he lived, in his family and school, in
the university and society; they transformed him into a joyful,
enthusiastic apostle of Christ, a passionate follower of his message and
of his apostolic zeal and holiness is to be sought in the ascetical and
spiritual journey which he traveled; in prayer, in persevering adoration,
even at night, of the Blessed Sacrament, in his thirst for the Word of
God, which he sought in Biblical texts; in the peaceful acceptance of
life's difficulties, in family life as well; in chastity lived as a
cheerful, uncompromising discipline; in his daily love of silence and
precisely in these factors that we are given to understand the deep
well-spring of his spiritual vitality.
is through the Eucharist that Christ communicates his Spirit; it is
through listening to the word that the readiness to welcome others grows,
and it is also through prayerful abandonment to God's will that life's
great decisions mature. Only by adoring God who is present in his or her
own heart can the baptized Christian respond to the person who "asks you
for a reason for your hope" (1 Pt 3:15). And the young Frassati knew it,
felt it, lived it. In his life, faith was fused with charity: firm in
faith and active in charity, because without works, faith is dead (cf.
Certainly, at a superficial glance, Pier Giorgio Frassati's lifestyle,
that of a modern young man who was full of life, does not present anything
out of the ordinary. This, however, is the originality of his virtue,
which invites us to reflect upon it and impels us to imitate it.
In him faith
and daily events are harmoniously fused, so that adherence to the Gospel
is translated into loving care for the poor and the needy in a continual
crescendo until the very last days of the sickness which led to his death.
His love for beauty and art, his passion for sports and mountains, his
attention to society's problems did not inhibit his constant relationship
with the Absolute.
immersed in the mystery of God and totally dedicated to the constant
service of his neighbor: thus we can sum up his earthly life!
his vocation as a lay Christian in many associative and political
involvements in a society in ferment, a society which was indifferent and
sometimes even hostile to the Church. In this spirit, Pier Giorgio
succeeded in giving new impulse to various Catholic movements, which he
enthusiastically joined, but especially to Catholic Action, as well
as to FUCI [Federation of Italian Catholic University Students], in
which he found the true gymnasium of his Christian training and the right
fields of his apostolate. In Catholic Action he joyfully and proudly lived
his Christian vocation and strove to love Jesus and to see in him the
brothers and sisters whom he met on his way or whom he actively sought in
their places of suffering, marginalization and isolation, in order to help
them feel the warmth of his human solidarity and the supernatural comfort
of faith in Christ.
young, at the end of a short life, but one which was extraordinarily
filled with spiritual fruits, setting out for his "true homeland and
singing God's praises."
celebration invites all of us to receive the message which Pier Giorgio
Frassati is sending to the men and women of our day, but especially to you
young people, who want to make a concrete contribution to the spiritual
renewal of our world, which sometimes seems to be falling apart and
wasting away because of a lack of ideals.
example he proclaims that a life lived in Christ's Spirit, the Spirit of
the Beatitudes, is "blessed", and that only the person who becomes a "man
or woman of the Beatitudes" can succeed in communicating love and peace to
others. He repeats that it is really worth giving up everything to serve
the Lord. 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.
"tremendous are the deeds of the Lord.... Shout joyfully to God all you on
earth" (Ps 66:1-3).
The verse of
the Psalm resound in this Sunday liturgy as a living echo of young
Frassati's soul. Indeed, we all know how much he loved the world God
see the works of God" (Ps 65/66:5): this is also an invitation which we
receive from his young soul and which is particularly addressed to young
Come and see
God's "tremendous deeds among men" (ibid.).
deeds among men and women! Human eyes—young,
be able to admire God's work in the external, visible world. The eyes of
the spirit must be able to turn from this external, visible world to the
inner, invisible one: thus they can reveal to others the realm of the
spirit in which the light of the Word that enlightens every person is
reflected (cf. Jn 1:9).
light the Spirit of Truth acts.
7. This is
the "inner" person. This is how Pier Giorgio appears to us. Indeed, his
entire life seems to sum up Christ's words which we find in John's Gospel:
"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,
and we will come and make our dwelling with him" (Jn 14:23).
the "inner" person loved by the Father, loved because he or she has
Is love not
possibly what is most needed in our twentieth century, at its beginning,
as well as at its end? Is it perhaps not true that the only thing that
lasts, without ever losing its validity, is the fact that a person "has
8. He left
this world rather young, but he made a mark upon our entire century, and
not only on our century.
He left this
world, but in the Easter power of his Baptism, he can say to everyone,
especially to the young generations of today and tomorrow:
see me, because I live and you will live" (Jn 14:19).
were spoken by Jesus Christ when he took leave of his Apostles before
undergoing his Passion. I like to think of them as forming on the lips of
our new Blessed himself as a persuasive invitation to live from Christ
and in Christ. This invitation is still valid, it is valid today as
well, especially for today's young people, valid for everyone. It is a
valid invitation which Pier Giorgio Frassati has left for us. Amen.