The dawn of a new saint

The recent announcement of the probable canonization of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati during the upcoming Jubilee Year is tangible proof that the Lord continues to raise men and women that underscore the loftiness of our Christian vocation while at the same time providing concrete examples of heroic virtue we can imitate — each within our own vocation and state in life — during our own time.

The Christian witness of this young man who loved the outdoors and the arts has already gained him a couple of titles, including “the man of the Eight Beatitudes,” conferred on him by none other than St. John Paul II. His journey to the honor of the altars comes at a pivotal moment in the history of Catholicism worldwide, particularly in the United States. As with any canonization, every time the Church solemnly creates a new saint, it proclaims to the world the marvels God can do when we are open to His grace and docile to the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the U.S., his canonization will be celebrated within the framework of the National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative on the part of the USCCB to foment greater reverence and devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and to present, with renewed vigor and zeal, the great gift of the Eucharist through which Jesus fulfills His promise of remaining with us until the end of time. The multiple events that have been planned all aim at facilitating a personal encounter on the part of every participant with Jesus Christ in the sacrament of His Body and Blood.

This relationship with our Eucharistic Lord is the lens through which Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati saw his own life and the world around him. His youthful and joyful spirit spoke volumes about the importance of his faith to those who knew him personally then and constitute a great testament for the youth of today, especially as we see the dwindling number of young men and women who identify as practicing Catholics and are regularly engaged in the sacramental life of the Church. In addressing Catholic youth Blessed Frassati addressed these words to them: “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.”

The results of a survey carried out by the Pew Research Center in 2019 revealed that only a third of U.S. Catholics believed in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The statistic was both disheartening and scandalous. However, while many have — rightfully — endeavored to identify the societal and ecclesial factors that contributed to an erroneous understanding of the central mystery of our Catholic faith, the Catholic Church in the United States prepares to enthusiastically celebrate and reiterate that Jesus Christ is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist, veiled under the species of bread and wine.

The National Eucharistic Revival aims to reclaim what was proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council, mainly that “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” and as such is essential to our life of discipleship as well as part and parcel of our Catholic identity. As we prepare for this important ecclesial experience, as a Diocese and as a country, let us rely on the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. May Blessed Pier Giorgio aid us in cultivating a truly Eucharistic culture here in our Diocese and throughout the Catholic world.

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