To See God

There have been moments in my life when I found myself in prayer and suddenly the whole world made sense. This happened in a grand and miraculous way that I could not put into words when I emerged from that prayer. Moments of complete revelation are so intense and physically jarring that I actually cannot bear being in that place for long, no matter how wonderful it may be. If that is what a conversation with God is like, I can empathize with Moses when I read about the times he spent with God. I understand why there were reasons for what he had to do in order to be worthy to enter the presence of the Lord.

Thankfully, we have Jesus, our own advocate and savior, to enter into our presence and allow us to experience God, His Father, without fear. Nevertheless, we must always practice acts of reverence.

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 13:41-42

Being blessed to be found worthy to be in the presence of God might just be the greatest experience anyone can have. We are fortunate to live in a time where we don’t have to follow such intense traditions to come close to Him, but that is no reason we should think it’s easier for us than it was for Moses. It might have been easier for Moses because every time he went to approach God, he knew he was properly prepared to hear the word of God. I am not always so confident that I am totally open and ready to hearing the entirety of what the Lord has to reveal to me.


I listened to a homily given by a popular priest who streams his Sunday masses on YouTube. He observed that this world is currently dealing with the problem of indifference, and not because its people do not care or do not like to help their fellow men, but because they are constantly being overwhelmed by suffering. Society is bombarded by media streaming every catastrophe that occurs on this earth. The effect of this bombardment is we lose our ability to move, to take action. How can we help others when there is so much suffering everywhere?

The priest pointed out that we might need to limit our focus. He brought up Jesus as an example: His focus was always on the people right in front of Him. In fact, when Jesus lived among us, the idea of helping your neighbor actually meant you helped your own neighbor. Perhaps, instead of letting ourselves be distracted by everything affecting the whole world, we should concentrate on what is affecting our neighborhood, our family, or our friends. Jesus did this, and look what He accomplished. He saved us all.

One small act of kindness can create ripples that can truly make huge waves. As I read the first scripture for the day about Moses, I found myself wondering why God hasn’t done anything like that recently. It seems as though His people are once again in a situation similar to the Israelites in Egypt, oppressed by their government. Of course, it immediately occurred to me that if He were to part the Red Sea to save us, so to speak, would we even be able to recognize this miracle and act accordingly? With all the media to which we subject ourselves daily, would God’s saving grace be visible?

We as Catholics and Christians may crave a means to help our world, but the way we perceive its current state is causing indifference within us. We have the opportunity we crave right in front of us, in our own community, with the single mother of young children next door or the elderly couple across the street who have had their drivers’ licenses revoked. Together, we can begin to help the world with one act of kindness at a time.

Much is Given and Much is Required

To those to whom much is given, much will be required–this statement can be interpreted in many different ways. It is easy to take a purely materialistic view: if one has money, grand homes, a bountiful supply of food and many other goods, then that person will be required to give some of it away to help others. This is a valid interpretation, but God has never placed much attention on material goods. It is more likely that God is speaking directly to us, His children of deep faith. Our wealth lies in our love of and devotion to the Lord, and the greater our love for Him, the more will be required of us.

Take Moses, for example. He was given life, spared from slaughter and adopted by an Egyptian woman, when all other Hebrew male babies were being killed. His life was spared for a reason, though. God had immense expectations for Moses, including (but not limited to) saving God’s people from Pharaoh. Moses is just one of many examples of God choosing people to glorify the kingdom of Heaven.

It is crucial that people who are given much faith pay attention, for it is easy to forget or overlook all the blessings given to them.

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Psalms 95:8

We have the ability to say no to what God wills for us. It is all too common for people to harden their hearts because giving their lives to Jesus can be considered too much. During this current time in history, we are constantly lured by a desire to strive for an easy life. Society promotes this easy life through social media. God gives us a very different message, that it is only through struggle and hardship that we will find true happiness. Unfortunately, these truths are becoming more difficult to accept because they appear so far outside the realm of understanding.

The Gospel calls us to repent directly through Jesus and His humble request for us to do so. It will always be hard to choose the narrow road over the broader one, but if we have faith given to us by our Lord, we are guaranteed that it is the right road that will lead us to Heaven

Face God

“Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘Because I have seen God face to face,’ he said, ‘yet my life has been spared.'” Genesis 32:33

Jacob saw God and lived, and because human life prevailed, Jacob was re-named Israel. These are the type of stories from our Bible that we Catholics perceive as mysteries. We will never be able to fully understand them, but we are drawn to them because they resonate deeply within our souls. Perhaps this is because they are stories where God directly interacts with His creation.

We are part of God’s creation, and all human beings on this earth, whether they know it or not, long to be close to their Creator. Jesus, who is referred to as our Shepherd, sees His sheep and knows they desire to rest with their own Shepherd. In the gospel for today, Jesus is moved to pity because His people are abandoned and troubled. They are lost and need to return to the right Shepherd.

The biblical verses from both Genesis and the gospel are read as stories from the past. However, the world of today is changing, and more people are circling back to these past stories. Our modern times seem to hark back to an older time as we once again seek our Shepherd. “The harvest is abundant and the laborers are few.” Matthew 9:37

The time is coming when the sheep will go to their Shepherd again. God is drawing closer to us, and we may be fortunate enough to look upon His face and be spared, just like Jacob/Israel.

Feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Today we celebrate the feast of our patron, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. As we remember the life of this remarkable young man, let us reflect on four key components of his spirituality, the four pillars of our Frassati Fellowship of NYC.

Adoration of Christ in the Eucharist

The Eucharist was absolutely central to Pier Giorgio’s life. He received Christ with joy each morning in Holy Communion, and he carried Him forth to everyone he met throughout the rest of his day. Pier Giorgio knew that he could not rely on his own strength; rather, he sought to draw nearer to Jesus, that through relationship with Him and intimate communion, he might become a vessel for God in the world. He once wrote to his fellow young people, urging them to seek Jesus in the Eucharist:

And remembering that apostle of the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Father Pius X of venerable memory, I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles, the struggles against passions and against all adversities, because Jesus Christ has promised to those who feed themselves with the most Holy Eucharist, eternal life and the necessary graces to obtain it.

And when you become totally consumed by this Eucharistic Fire, then you will be able to thank with greater awareness the Lord God who has called you to be part of His flock and you will enjoy that peace which those who are happy according to the world have never tasted. Because true happiness, young people, does not consist in the pleasures of the world and in earthly things, but in peace of conscience which we can have only if we are pure in heart and in mind.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, in a letter to the members of “Catholic Youth” of Pollone, July 29, 1923

Spiritual Growth through Authentic Friendship

Within the Frassati Fellowship of NYC, we are blessed to have experienced firsthand the transformative grace of holy friendship. Pier Giorgio cherished his own friendships and prayed fervently for each of his friends. We can tell by reading his letters to them how sincerely he delighted in each of them, in all their little quirks and unique personalities. He was deeply grateful for the gift of his friends and was inspired and enlightened by their presence. Pier Giorgio fostered friendships in which each person encouraged the other to grow closer to God and become the people God had created them to be:

In this earthly life after the affection for parents and sisters, one of the most beautiful affections is that of friendship; and every day I ought to thank God because he has given me men and lady friends of such goodness who form for me a precious guide for my whole life. Every time I visit Clementina I’m edified by her great kindness and I think of the immense Good that such a beautiful Soul has certainly done and will do. Surely Divine Providence in His Marvelous Plans sometimes uses us miserable little twigs to do Good and we sometimes not only don’t want to know God but instead dare to deny His existence; but we who, by the Grace of God, have the Faith, when we find ourselves in the presence of such beautiful souls, surely nourished by Faith, we cannot but discover in them an obvious sign of the Existence of God, because one cannot have such a Goodness without the Grace of God.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, in a letter to Marco Beltramo, April 10, 1925

Love of the Outdoors

Pier Giorgio had a special awareness of God’s presence in creation. The mountains were the place where he could feel especially close to God, set apart from the distractions of everyday life and in awe of the beauty of nature. He reminds us of how powerful it can be to disconnect from all the noise that surrounds us and find peace in nature, appreciating the incredible beauty God has created for us:

Do you still intend to climb to the top of the Rognosa by the crest this spring, if God gives us life? I’m always ready because every day I fall in love with the mountains more and more and, if my studies would allow me to do it, I would spend entire days on the mountains contemplating in that pure air the Greatness of the Creator.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, in a letter to Marco Beltramo, August 6, 1923

A Heart for the Poor

Pier Giorgio’s devotion to God bore fruit not only in his friendships but also in his devotion to the poorest members of his community. He shared his joy with those most in need, never hesitating to sacrifice his own money or goods for the sake of others. He truly saw the presence of Christ in the poor, and he developed beautiful relationships with those he visited. He cared for them deeply, and his own faith was inspired by his encounters with them:

As we grow closer to the poor little by little we gain their confidence and can advise them in the most terrible moments of this earthly pilgrimage. We can give them the comforting words of faith and we often succeed, not by our own merit, in putting on the right path people who have strayed not out of malice. I think I can say that the Conference of St. Vincent with its visits to the poor serves to curb our passions, it gives us increasing incentives to get on the right road by which we are all trying to reach the great harbor. Seeing daily the faith with which families often bear the most atrocious sufferings, the constant sacrifices that they make and that they do all this for the love of God often makes us ask this question: I, who have had so many things from God, have always been so neglectful, so bad, while they, who have not been privileged like me, are infinitely better than me. Then we resolve in our conscience to follow the way of the Cross from then onward, the only way that leads us to Eternal Salvation.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, in a speech to FUCI students

On this ninety-sixth anniversary of Pier Giorgio’s entrance into heaven, let us remember his life with gratitude for the beautiful example he has given us of authentic holiness. Just as he was devoted to his friends on earth, he is still a most devoted friend to us in heaven. Let us seek his friendship, for he will be a sure guide to lead us closer to God.