This hymn from St. Paul was a constant source of inspiration in Frassati's daily life, and gave him the strength to do good in the world.
Known as the “Man of the Beatitudes,” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati served the poor as much as he possibly could. When his family left for vacation to spend time at their summer home, Frassati would stay behind, saying, “If everybody leaves Turin, who will take care of the poor?”
At Frassati’s funeral his family was shocked to see a multitude of people they did not know. The streets were lined with the poor and needy people that Frassati had selflessly served during his short life. His life was marked by an extraordinary charity, which was daily fed in part by meditating on one particular passage from the Bible.
Frassati carried with him St. Paul’s “Hymn of Charity” from the First Letter to the Corinthians. It kept him focused on what truly counts in life and how no matter what he did in this world, if he did not have love, he would have be “a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”
Below is the full passage that Frassati transcribed by hand and kept in his pocket. It is a passage that can be recited over and over again, and if we take the time to incorporate it into our lives, there is no limit to the amount of love we can give to the world.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
Pier Giorgio Frassati, the “terror” with a big heart