Letter to the friends of Pier Giorgio Frassati, on the occasion of the Thirtieth Anniversary of his Beatification and the One- Hundredth Anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtila
by don Paolo Asolan
How is that two friends would greet each other who have only really known and loved one another through one’s reading of the other or one’s looking at some photographs of the other? And that, precisely in this way, they recognized themselves as sharing in the life of the other, one partaking in the life of the other? Perhaps in this way: in that secret and indescribable joy that is the expectation of meeting in person someone who is loved forever? What great power would such desire have in that moment; what amazement at being so found?
Karol Wojtyla read the Testimonies gathered by Fr. Cojazzi when he was young. “I, too, in my youth, felt the positive influence of his example and, as a student, I was impressed by the force of his Christian witness,” he recounted that day in the summer of 1989 in which he traveled to Pollone, thus revealing the extent and the force of the bond that united him to his man of the beatitudes: an outstanding impression that marked and modelled him.
Indeed, in the open pastoral style of of the Polish pope, which proved itself to be dynamic, humanly rich and straightforward and, while by no means clerical, nonetheless full of that kind of clear faith and prayer that are free from all human respect, in this style there is indeed much of the style and the human and spiritual qualities of Pier Giorgio. Those who know both of them see this bond easily, even in their mutual love for the mountains and skiing.
What would two such friends have said to one another, two friends so united, on the day in which they finally met and were recognized for eternity, in the light and life of heaven? In that great mystery that is the communion of saints, we can as of yet only imagine, remaining at the level of what our human experiences can afford us. And, nonetheless, thinking about it and re-presenting it to ourselves with the eyes of faith can allow us to participate in that friendship, in that life. It can leave us also with that same positive influence, an impression that truly forms us. This is something of which we all are certainly in need: making our lives beautiful and putting them at the service of the world, the same complex and secularized world which Frassati himself passed through, illuminating it with all the force of his charity.
For this reason we invite all of you to celebrate this year the holy friendship of Pier Giorgio and John Paul II by remembering these two anniversaries: the one-hundredth anniversary of Karol Wojtyla’s birth and the thirtieth anniversary of the beatification of Pier Giorgio, which his old friend bestowed on him on 20 May 1990 in a St. Peter’s Square filled to capacity with so many who, in union with the pope, who was himself officially celebrating what he had already recognized in his heart for some time, were impressed and positively influenced by Pier Giorgio and by the force of his Christian witness.
It will not be possible, due to the pandemic situation in which we find ourselves, to set a date for our celebration. We will see if, by the end of the summer or the beginning of autumn, we might be able to identify some suitable times and places. But, in the meantime, these anniversaries in this May of 2020 can certainly renew that friendship, wonder, and prayer which Pier Giorgio and John Paul II inspire, and in which we recognize the Lord’s gift of Providence that calls us to live by following after Him.
May the Blessed Mother, so intensely loved by our two friends, accompany us and raise us just as she raised Jesus Christ.
Attached are the texts delivered by John Paul II at Pollone and Rome. So that those who were present might be able to listen again; so that those who were not can take part.