I’ve often wondered what my life would’ve been like by now had I followed the call of God’s voice as a young boy. Erroneously believing that a life of pain and hardship lay in that direction, I hardened my heart and adopted a more “realistic” attitude toward my future.
To the Heights, Mr. Brian Kennelly’s novelization of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s life (1901-1925), showed me what such a life devoted to caring and loving, begun at a very early age, might have looked like. Pier Giorgio simply and humbly believed that no one is ever too young to love and to care for others, especially for the marginalized, the poor, and the disenfranchised.
I found the life of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti incredibly inspiring. I admit that before reading To the Heights I had not heard of this popular third order Franciscan. Mr. Kennelly does a great job fleshing out Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s love for his family along with his passion for the Catholic Church; his pious devotions to praying the Rosary; attending daily Mass; and spending time in adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is important to show young Catholics the rewards of a strongly-lived faith. This book does just that. To the question: given the current state of the world, how can I believe in a God? Mr. Kennelly replies, through Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s humble actions and words: take account of all the graces in your life. How can you not believe in God?
As a Vincentian, I was heartened to read of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s work in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The spirit of caring and charity rings true on every page. In a moving passage, Pier Giorgio explains to someone seemingly indifferent to serving the poor, “There is a special light behind the poor and unfortunate, one we do not have, one that has nothing to do with riches and health. I urge you to see that light tonight, not with your eyes, but with your heart.”
There are many echoes of past saints and sanctifying grace in the young man’s life: his fondness for hiking reminded me of Pope St. John Paul II’s passion for the outdoors; Pier Giorgio’s love of the poor and the sick, and the selfless acts of kindness with which he filled his days, brought to mind St. Vincent de Paul and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (especially in his love of flowers); and his limitless charity towards the poor is exemplary of St. Francis’ concerns.
But Mr. Kennelly also shows us that the tenderhearted and pious young man was no stranger to physical confrontations. Pier Giorgio lived through WWI and the chaotic political aftermath in Italy which gave rise to Mussolini’s infamous fascist (and anti-Catholic) Black Shirts. Pier Giorgio did not back down from unjust confrontations, although he would only fight when all peaceful avenues had been exhausted. In reaction to the Black Shirts, he remarked, “It’s a sad day when Catholics cower to evil and treat the teachings of their Church as if they are merely suggestions, abandoning them without the slightest sign of a troubled conscience.” How prophetic and timely this warning, as our Church continues to face relentless assaults from the secular world.
I truly enjoyed To the Heights and I will be recommending it to everyone for years to come. Mr. Kennelly not only understood what was in Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti’s mind, he showed us the care, love and charity alive in the blessed’s heart. We are grateful to such a talented author for revealing these graces. I also enjoyed the book’s short chapters, and I liked that Mr. Kennelly includes some actual prayers in the text, introducing some of the Church’s treasures, such as the Tedeum, to readers.
If you know someone, especially a young person concerned about the plight of the poor or injustice in the world, you must inspire them to action with a copy of To the Heights.
JT Therrien is a Catholic Canadian fiction writer working in a variety of genres: literary; commercial; children’s and young adult; inspirational (mostly based on the Theology of the Body and traditional Catholic doctrine); art-themed; paranormal; romance and love stories. He plies his craft in short story, novella and novel-length works. Readers who enjoy Brian Kennelly’s To the Heights might also like JT’s art-themed, Theology of the Body, young adult, dystopian novella Sprainter, available at all online e-book retailers. Readers can also follow JT online: https://twitter.com/jttherrien – Twitter, http://jttherrien.blogspot.ca – blog, https://sites.google.com/site/jttherrienauthor – website, https://www.amazon.com/author/jttherrien – Amazon author’s page, and at many other social networking sites.