(For the beatification of Pier Giorgio Frassati on May 20th, 1990, the Master of the Order wrote the following letter to the Dominican Laity.)
LETTER FROM THE MASTER TO THE DOMINICAN LAITY
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, His Holiness John Paul II beatified Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901 - 1925) who was a member of the Dominican Laity! He was born in Turin and died there 4th July from polio.
Pier Giorgio was the son of Senator Alfredo Frassati who was the founder of the newspaper “La Stampa”. At the age of 18 years and while he was a university student in engineering he came in contact with the Order. He studied our charism and received the habit on 28th May 1922 as a member of the Dominican Laity. He was given the name Fra Girolamo out of esteem for the great Savonarola whose works he had studied. In addition, he was well versed in the works of St Catherine of Siena and St Thomas Aquinas.
During his short life as a Dominican, only three years, Blessed Frassati was a model of a modern member of the Dominican Laity. His life was an advent of the Fundamental Constitution of the present Dominican Laity. His understanding of himself as a person called to holiness in virtue of his Baptism and Confirmation gives witness to the very theology of the laity that we find in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
His ministry end spirituality were centered on the Eucharist and helping the poor. His prayer life was of an austere nature which was in a way driven by his great love of Jesus and Mary. But this love was not limited to a false piety which finds comfort only in oneself. His prayer was a call to action.
There was no fear of this world within him. He was.challenged by the cultural and political movements of the 20th century. He is not a holy person of the far distant past but a person who knows our times. He is of our century and knows where the needs of reform are today and can be a model for our true vocation as Dominicans.
As members of the laity you, in a particular way, have responsibility for the social commitment which can be realized in your own associations in the daily life of the world. The challenge to present to the people of our own time the divine message of redemption and salvation is more urgent than ever.
It is for the laity to translate into action the social teachings of the Church. It is for you to develop a culture of truth, in collaboration with the other members of the Dominican Family, which must replace the present culture of lies. This will necessarily involve you in the struggle against injustice, violence, racism, sexism, classicism and corruption in all aspects of human life. It will require that you construct new social structures which protect life in all its stages. It will be your task to reform our mentality in regard to the use of ecology.
If like Blessed Frassati you embrace the ministry of the laity which is proper to your state in life, the world will surely be a better place in the 21st century. In a special way like him we must take care that the young receive the values of the Gospel so that they can continue the process of divine compassion for humanity;
On this day of his beatification, I wish to place the Dominican Laity under the special protection of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Pope John Paul II, while still a Cardinal, called him ‘a man of the eight beatitudes’. May these blessings of Christ reign in your hearts and be expressed in the context of your Dominican lay vocation.
With my prayers and best wishes and to all the members of your families.
Fraternally in St Dominic,
Damian Byrne, 0. P.
Master of the Order
Edward van Merrienboer, O.P.
General Promoter of the Laity