Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

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At the start of last school year, the middle school teachers decided to base our back to school retreat on the life of Pier Giorgio Frassati. I first encountered the story of Blessed Pier when I was in college, and he has inspired me ever since.

A Man of the Beatitudes: Pier Giorgio Frassati is the definitive biography of a man who I believe will be a saint soon. Written by his sister, it tells the story of a man who decided from a very early age that he wanted to live a radically different life that the example set for him by an authoritarian, workaholic father.

Like Therese of Lisieux, Pier Giorgio Frassati only lived to be 24 years old, but unlike Therese, he lived those 24 years in a way that is much more relatable to many of us. He struggled in school, but eventually made it to college, where he studied engineering. While in school he was involved in many campus ministries and protested the new Facist government in his native Italy. He was an avid outdoorsman and spent most of his summer days hiking and prayer with his friends from college.

Pier never finished school or discovered his vocation. The summer when he was 24, he contracted polio from a man he had been helping. When he realized he was dying, he sent his medicine to the man instead, because he couldn’t afford his own. At his funeral, his family was shocked to see the streets lined with thousands of poor people that Pier had visited and helped. The poor were shocked to find out that the man who had been helping them had been from a prestigious and wealthy family.

Popcorn rating: 3. I seem to struggle a bit with translations. Also, Pier’s sister’s organizational style was a bit confusing to me.
Stars: 4. This is definitely more of a biography and less spiritual writing. But Pier’s zeal for standing up against immoral government and his love of friends and the poor really impacted the way I think about my faith. I was convicted after reading this book that I need to do more to stand up against laws and policies I find to be morally wrong.

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