Tag Archives: beatitudes

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925)

Feast Day: July 4
Beatified: May 20, 1990
Patron Of World Youth Days, Italian Confraternities, Catholic Youth, Mountain Climbers, Skiers, Dominican Tertiaries

Pier Giorgio Frassati, “The Man of the Beatitudes,” was born in 1901 in Turin, Italy to an influential family. From his youth, the handsome and personable Frassati showed a devout nature, attending daily Mass, and joined the Marian Sodality and the Apostleship of Prayer.

An avid outdoorsman, Pier Giorgio organized mountain climbs and hiking trips with friends. He loved theater and was politically active, strongly anti-Fascist, and involved with the Catholic Young Workers Congress.

He became a professed Third Order Dominican, devoted to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine of Siena. Having a deep love for the poor, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and spent much free time tending to the needy

At just 24, he contracted polio – which some say he got from caring for people in the Turin slums. He suffered six days before dying on July 4, 1925. As a testament to his character, the local poor lined the streets of Turin for his funeral procession. St. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 20, 1990. Pier Giorgio has been a patron for several World Youth Days.

“Blessed is the one who takes no offense at Me”

Here is a more unfamiliar beatitude, a jarring statement of Christ found in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 11:6), apart from Eight Beatitudes given during His Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5).

Christine Valentine-Owsik

Right now, much of what Catholicism teaches – and none of it is new – is taken with great offense. Not from those outside the Church, but those Catholics seeing themselves as ‘sensitized’ to the modern human condition. The warm blanket of false compassion is everywhere, yet the reality is, it ultimately leaves souls out in the cold.

An acquaintance recently told me she didn’t call a priest to see her dying father because she didn’t want to scare him. Several cousins did the same thing – skipping the Last Rites to ‘keep their parents comfortable’ and unstressed. The parents were daily Communicants, and practiced their faith devoutly for 80+ years. They footed the tab for the kids to attend Catholic school. To deny them final sacraments was a spiritual act of betrayal. The kids even skipped having a Catholic funeral Mass. But the afterparty? Yep, went off without a hitch.

The deeper reality is, when people rebuff the teachings of God – teachings they have been raised in, but of late decide to defer to ‘keeping people comfortable’ over extending proper spiritual works of mercy — it’s like a spiritual hate-crime.

This past fall, a phone interruption I almost left for voice mail ended up being a major surprise. A long-ago friend from high school whom I had dated called out of the blue, to talk about his endstage cancer. I knew immediately that he wanted to talk seriously, and that he was scared. We hadn’t spoken more than a few times in almost 40 years. I left my office and went outside with the phone.

Three years of intensive treatment had beaten him down; he was in organ failure. His typically robust voice was crackly and higher-pitched, and his tone somber. He talked of strengthened faith throughout his illness, and worried about the well-being of his wife and child, and how his business would be managed in his absence. I tried to offer suggestions.

But he needed more, and trusted me to be straight with him. I braced and began.

“You’re approaching the most important meeting of your life, and soon,” I said. “Have you seen a priest for your sacraments?” He was quiet.

“No.”

I took a big breath. This was surreal.

“Listen, I could say a lot of things, but here’s the bottom line: you’ve got the gift of time to prepare to meet Christ. You want to embrace Him wholeheartedly, right?”

“Well, yes.”

I continued. “Would you call your favorite priest, today, and make an appointment? You won’t be sorry, I promise.” He agreed. His tone lightened, and he took no offense at the suggestion, but thanked me for ‘being like he always remembered.’ He died peacefully on a First Friday a few weeks later.

And somehow, I sense, things are all right at last.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

The Good Sense of Jesus: A Commentary on the Beatitudes

Fr. Iván Pertiné
TAN Books, 272 pages

Written as a retreat for men seeking consecration in the St. John Society, these meditations nevertheless apply to any layman who wishes to follow Christ more closely. The Beatitudes “reveal the character of Christ himself,” Fr. Pertiné writes, and “there can be no holiness in Christ without suffering, without the Cross.” As difficult as living the Gospel message may sometimes appear to us, it is far more difficult to live without God and to be subject to the whims of our passions and temptations that can lead us astray, diverting us from our eternal home. Spiritual exercises that end each chapter make this volume suitable for a self-guided retreat.

Order: Amazon

Does earthly success equal spiritual failure?

According to Webster, “beatitude” means perfect blessedness or happiness. But when you read the beatitudes, you seemingly find anything but happiness. It is the poor, the hungry, the weeping and the persecuted who are blessed in the sight of God. In Luke’s gospel (Lk 6:20-26), Jesus even adds woes for those who are rich, full, mirthful and popular. It would appear that worldly success inevitably leads to spiritual misery.

I once heard a preacher say that many of God’s people look more like they’ve been baptized in pickle juice than in water. Is this holiness? Is piety all about being miserable, unsuccessful and glum? What are we to make of Jesus’ alarming words?

The last thing we ought to do is to tame Jesus’ hard sayings. The Lion of Judah does not respond favorably when we try to domesticate him. But neither should we be literalists and interpret the beatitudes out of context.

Jeremiah helps us see what Jesus is getting at in the Beatitudes: “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer 17:5-8 ). Whether our possessions happen to be money, a business, a spouse, or children, they become an obstacle when we find our security and sense of self-worth in them. Our ultimate security can only be in one place, and our natural tendency is to look for it in someone or something we can see. To look for security in an invisible “Someone” is more than natural — it’s supernatural. To do this we need supernatural gifts called faith and hope.

Faith is really about finding our ultimate security and identity in God’s love, protection and help. Is it wrong to take pleasure in a growing business or a loving spouse? No. But to find your security in them sets you up for heartbreak. Ask the investor in Florida real estate who bought big just before the market plummeted.

The supernatural virtue of hope is about what you are looking forward to in the future, being more excited about the promise of heaven than any earthly blessing. Is it wrong to look forward to a vacation in Europe, moving up in the company, or your child graduating from college? Not at all. But if you think you will find your ultimate fulfillment in these things, you are under a great illusion. Ask the upwardly mobile executive who climbs to the top of the corporate ladder only to find emptiness there. Saint Paul said it well: “If our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men” (1 Cor 15:19).

We’ve all been given the supernatural gifts of faith and hope in baptism. But these two virtues are like spiritual muscles that must be exercised and developed. If you don’t use them, you lose them. And the only way to grow them is to put some stress on them. This hurts, of course.

So what have you done lately to develop faith and hope? Or better yet, are you grateful for the challenges God has permitted in your life in order to help you develop your faith and hope? Losses in business, declines in health, disappointments in relationships — these can all be seen as just so many lamentable annoyances … or as opportunities to grow.

When faith and hope are well developed, they impart a kind of strength and joy that cannot be taken away by the trials and tribulations that devastate superficial happiness. Saint Francis of Assisi had no possessions and was in constant pain in the last few years of his life, yet he was one of the most joyful persons that ever lived. That’s because faith and hope matured in him and produced beatitude here and glory in the age to come.

The beatitudes do not demand a morose Christianity. They are all about laying the foundations of an unshakable joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio is a Texas-based business owner and theologian. He has spoken to numerous Legatus chapters across the country.

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The Beatitudes and woes (Luke 6:21-26)

Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you that hunger, for you shall be satisfied.

Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil because of the Son of Man! Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation.

Woe to you who are full now, for you shall hunger.

Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.