Excerpt From Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati’s Notes for His Discourse on Charity (1925)

[Appunti per un discorso sulla carità (1925)]

[Quoted in A Man of the Beatitudes: Pier Giorgio Frassati, 2001, Ignatius Press, pp. 141-142.)

Every one of you knows that the foundation of our religion is charity. Without it all our religion would crumble, because we would not really be Catholics as long as we did not carry out or rather shape our whole lives by the two commandments in which the essence of the Catholic faith lies: to love God with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And here is the explicit proof that the Catholic faith is based on real love and not, as so many would like in order to quiet their consciences, on violence.

With violence, hatred is sown and then its evil fruits are gathered. With charity we sow peace among people, but not the peace of the world, true peace which only faith in Jesus Christ can give us by making us brothers and sisters.

I know this way is steep and difficult and full of thorns, whereas the other at first sight looks easier and more pleasant and satisfying. But if we look at those who unfortunately follow the wicked ways of the world, we see that they never have in them serenity that comes from facing a thousand difficulties and renouncing material pleasure to follow God’s law.

Today, after a terrible war that has affected the whole world, bringing material and moral ruin, we have a strict duty to cooperate in the world’s moral regeneration so that a radiant dawn may break in which all nations recognize Jesus Christ as King–not only in words but in all their people’s lives, as the Florentine Republic did in the Middle Ages. But to complete this enterprise, it is necessary to work enormously hard. One of the most appropriate tasks is that offered by the Conferences of St. Vincent.

This simple institution is suitable for students because it does not involve commitment apart from being in a particular place one day a week and then visiting two or three families every week. You will quickly see how much good we can do to those who visit and how much good we can do to ourselves.

The members who visit these families are, I would say, unworthy instruments of Divine Providence. As we grow close to the poor, bit by bit we gain their confidence and 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 road people who have strayed without meaning to.

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 incentives to get on the right road, by which we are all trying to reach the great gate.

Seeing daily the faith with which families often bear the most atrocious sufferings, and their constant sacrifices, and seeing that they do all this for the love of God, often makes us ask why 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 I. 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.