Verso l'alto (To the heights) -- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
This past Saturday I went 'to the heights' of a nearby mountain, Monte Gennaro (1271 mt.), which is about an hour drive from Rome.
The day trip began with Mass celebrated by a priest-professor from Santa Croce University. What a powerful way to begin not only a day of outdoor activity but really a retreat to the beauty of God's creation. Father Juan drove the three of us seminarians out to the mountain. One of the seminarians (on the left) is from the Spanish college, while the seminarian next to me is from the NAC.
The weather was perfect. In fact I was over prepared for cold weather. I hiked to the top with a backpack full of winter gear that I never needed. Even though the top of the mountain was covered in snow the air was warm enough to wear long sleeve shirts. I even got a sun burn! What a wonderful day, a chance to stretch out and breath some fresh air. I've never really actually hiked to the top of a mountain before. Ever since learning about Bl. Frassati and venerating his relics at World Youth Day 2008 I've had a devotion to him. He is an Italian 20th century blessed whose spirituality is grounded in the beauty of God's creation. I never quite understood his great devotion to mountain climbing and hiking as a form of prayer. After Saturday I think I understand a little bit better. We made time for personal prayer, communal prayer and even songs while we were hiking. But for me the most powerful moment was simply walking. The only care in the world was where to put my next footstep. So simple yet so profound. Everything else sort of melts away into the distance while God's presence becomes so much more real as I move through the wilderness up the mountain one step at a time. Little by little I make my way towards God, or better to say he comes down into the valley to bring us to the heights. One step at a time...
On a related note: I recently found out that in our own diocese a Frassati society has sprung up in the Traverse City Area. That of course is really good news for young adults in the TC area looking for some solid Catholic community.