“ Catholics, we and you, must bring the breath of goodness that can only spring from faith in Christ.” (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati)
Aloha mai kākou,
Happy New Year and Happy Epiphanytide!
In the gospel of Luke we read the narrative of Jesus meeting the fishermen at the lake of Gennes′aret and exhorting them, although they caught no fish throughout the previous night, to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) Even though these men were not yet familiar with Jesus they, moved by grace, did as He commanded. What resulted from this was not only a catch but an abundance of fish, so much so in fact, that their nets began to break and they needed the assistance of another boat in the area. Scripture says there was such an abundance of fish that both boats began to sink (cf. Luke 5:7) The story ends with these fishermen, having been overcome by the outpouring of God’s grace, leaving everything they had and following Jesus (cf. Luke 5:10)
The most common lesson gained from this narrative is that when we listen to the Lord’s voice, He will pour out a plentitude of His grace–which is indeed a great lesson. However, there is a small detail in that story that I think teaches us another essential lesson: The other boat that came to assist was also filled with fish.
You see, when we listen to the voice of God and open ourselves to His inexhaustible Grace, not only we but also those around us are immersed in His goodness and are transformed by His amazing love. The life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, one of the saintly patrons of EPIC Ministry, exemplifies this blessed reality and sets an important example for all Catholic young adults.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in Turin, Italy in the early 1900s and grew to be what seemed to be an ordinary young adult. Pier loved mountain-climbing, skiing, biking, gardening, reading poetry, photography, singing, visiting art museums, traveling and many other things that are common for young adults, even today. The letters he wrote discussed his love for his family, friends, and even his secret love for a special girl named Laura Hidalgo. Many accounts of Pier from his friends speak about how infectiously funny he was and how he was the life of the party. In short, he was a normal young adult. He reminds me of some of the young adults today in EPIC!
However, while enjoying the life of a young adult, he also had an extraordinary love for our Lord. He loved Eucharistic Adoration. Father Tommaso Castagno, writing about Pier shared “I remember Pier Giorgio well during adoration one night in the Turin cathedral: he was kneeling on the floor trying to pray as other young people were brushing past him as they went to and from Communion. Melted wax dripped from the candles onto his suitcoat, and he didn’t seem to notice it at all, so absorbed was he in his prayers. Then I understood what Communion and a Eucharistic life meant to him”
Pier also had a special affinity for serving the poor and those in need. He would spend what money he had on helping those who went without and would spend hours doing his best to cheer up those who were ill. He was, as St. John Paul II called him, a “Man of the Beatitudes”.
It wasn't until his untimely death at the age of 24 that his family and the world at large realized how much impact he made on others. His funeral was attended by an enormous crowd of the people he helped and inspired. Soon the world realized how this otherwise ordinary young man was driven by an abundance of God’s grace and a desire for others to experience that grace as well. Hundreds of people who knew him were brought to conversion and, in the years leading up to now, thousands have studied his life and have also been transformed by the tremendous grace of God and the salvation that comes through faith in Him. St John Paul II said at Pier’s Beatification that He (Pier) “left this world rather young, but he made a mark upon our entire century, and not only on our century.”
Of all his interests, Pier especially loved mountain-climbing. He would often bring his friends with him and they would pray the rosary while they climbed. There is a famous picture of him climbing a steep cliff and looking up to the peak. He later signed that picture with the quote “Verso Lʻalto”, which means “To the Summit”. There is no doubt that this quote takes on special spiritual meaning. Pier, although a young adult that loved young adult things, always journeyed towards God, his ‘summit’. He opened his heart to the abundant graces that God desired to pour out on him. His openness to God’s grace was so great that it not only filled him but also filled others that were around him.
This year I want to challenge the young adults of EPIC and anyone who reads this to live their lives to the fullest, enjoy the awesome things about life, and also open their hearts up fully to the grace of God. Perhaps, like Pier, the grace which God will pour out on us won't just fill us but will also fill those around us. Perhaps, like the fishermen, not only will our boat be filled but also the boats of those around us.
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Dallas Carter Jr., MPT
Dallas Carter is a husband, father of 6, high school director, small business owner, Catholic Apologist, National Catholic Speaker, and a Diocesan Catechist for the Diocese of Honolulu. Currently he is the Director of St. Michael High School, the President of the Board of Directors for EPIC Ministry 501(c)(3), a Director for Life is Sacred 501(c)(3), and Faith Program Director for the Knights of Columbus in Hawaii. He has his degree in Theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville and a Master's from Chaminade University in Honolulu.