venerdì 30 ottobre 2015


First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter Four

1. On the twenty-third of December, 1865 Father Piamarta was ordained a Priest. He was twenty four year's old. On Christmas day he celebrated his first Mass in Bedizzole where Father Pezzana was Pastor. The next day he went to Carzago Riviera to serve as a Parish Priest and help the Pastor there. After a short time Father Pezzana was able to move him to Bedizzole where the two of them worked together for one year. Following this both were assigned together to the central civic Parish of Saint Alexander. This brings us to 1870.

2. “O Lord, make me a useful servant” Father Piamarta had prayed when saying his first Mass. It soon became apparent that this young man had the makings of a good Pastor. “Look, he really is a Saint” whispered the people. Sick people waited for his visits, others, attracted by the fame of his wisdom, waited to speak with him, his homilies were very moving, he said the Mass in a way that helped the people enter in more fully, more deeply.... Finally, when he founded the Oratory of Saint Alexander the boys loved him so much they wouldn't leave him for a minute.

3. In a short time everybody was speaking about him. “We have a good priest.” one man said. “Thank God somebody thinks about our children” the mothers said. “How pale he looks”... “he runs all day”... “he is so devout”... “the young like him a lot”... “he never stops” …. “who knows if he will be with us for long” ...and so the talk went.

4. The Oratory of Saint Alexander consisted of a Sacristy, and a courtyard where the boys gathered around their priest. He involved so many boys that he left an unforgettable impression during those years. As Parish Priest, Father Piamarta gathered the boys together, spoke with them, organized walks, and sought out places where they could play. He roused their thoughts to the things of God. Letters gathered from this time period reveal something of the atmosphere of the environment he created: “For us this Parish Priest was something special, extraordinary”. “He wanted to save the young from indifference and the loss of religion”. In one letter a friend answered an anticlerical lawyer who wanted to build a lay community center: “Dear Lawyer, since in the oratories we have priests like Father Piamarta, your lay community center would be useless for you to build”

5. But this young Parish Priest had a secret wound. Every time he saw a poor and abandoned boy he felt a pang in his heart for that orphan. ...“the oratory is a very good thing, but what about those boys without a family, without love or support behind them; those who haven't the courage to come to the oratory because they are so poor and badly dressed? What will happen to them? Who will think of them? Will I have to resign myself to visit them in prison in the not so distant future? Those poor boys, sons of broken families, is it their destiny to live in the streets? From the deep wound within him he heard a voice: “What you do to one of these little children you do to me”. “You have to do something”. “Do not let others do what I have destined to you”. “What can I do? I'm alone and I have no money”, he answered himself.

6. However, the voice was insistent and it grew stronger; it deprived him of sleep and peace. “Is it really Our Lord? Does he really want me to consecrate my life to them?” He questioned. One day after praying for a long time in front of the Tabernacle, he realized clearly that this was his new path. “I will consecrate my life to those boys. They will be my life” Father Piamarta resolved. In the same moment a very precise plan took shape in his mind: Give them a family, teach them a job, teach them to live as men and as Christians in the city of Brescia, which was then experiencing a period of economic development. He immediately thought about discussing his plan with Monsignor Pietro Capretti.

Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi

mercoledì 21 ottobre 2015


First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter Three
1. “You have beautiful qualities”, began Father Pezzana, and “you could use them to do good”. The boy Piamarta was kind, swift and decisive: “Yes, I would like to become a priest, but I'm poor and I would not know how to do it”. “We will find a solution. Meanwhile, start to study. I will be your teacher.” Father Pancrazio Pezzana instructed. And he kept his word. He became John's teacher. Providentially, Father Pezzana had all the necessary qualifications, titles, and experience. He obtained all the books for young Piamarta and found a sponsor, an anonymous benefactress, who agreed to pay for his studies from beginning to end.

2. In the meantime, the political movement advancing the unification of the independent provinces of Italy was growing. Fierce passions ignited and revolts and demonstrations ensued including the famous “ten days” in which Brescia participated. In 1859 a few kilometers from the city the terrible battles of San Martino and Solferino were being fought with new lethal weapons which produced a frightful massacre. Thousands of injured refugees flooded the church in Brescia. Among the volunteers who came to assist was young Piamarta, generous and active like always, and by now eighteen years old. In this relationship with the wounded, he learned a little french and he grew in his humanity.

3. Generous and active, he had to face many difficulties. First, his studies were so demanding for him he was often afraid of not making the grade. Console yourselves students, young Piamarta had to sweat a lot at school. He had to earn his marks from the professors by an unwavering determination to succeed. He was not first in his class due to any lack of hard work. Instead, he had to read and reread, study and then review each book just to stay in the middle rank. He had a practical intelligence that lent more to concrete solutions than high philosophical or theological speculations. Nevertheless, he wanted to reach the goal at all costs, and if he needed to study, he studied. He always held firm to his intention of reaching the goal and had the good sense to pay the necessary price.

4. There were also other difficulties, the one of youth; he passed everything. He was afraid to be unworthy of the great ideal towards which he was going, and which sometimes seemed impossible to him, reserved for people better than himself. He felt far from what he wanted to be. One day he showed up at Father Pezzana's and told him he was in difficulty. “Do you like girls”, asked the priest. “Yes”, the boy answered, unarmed by the straight forward question. “Well, if Our Lord asks you, would you be willing to give up love for “The Love”? After long pause, “If He helps me, I will stay all in with Him”answered young Piamarta. Father Pezzana continued, “If the One-Who-is-Everything asks you for your little lot it is because He wants to give you His big lot”. “From that moment, it all seemed easier to me, I felt free, I felt like flying” the future Father Piamarta would later confide.

5. In the meantime, he became acquainted with a charming personality, a very nice saint and friend of young boys, Saint Philip Neri. Saint Philip Neri had lived in Rome three centuries before. Little by little John Baptist read his famous “maxims” and became acquainted with his way of doing things. Young John realized he was very small, like a dwarf in the presence of a giant. But he knew that if a dwarf jumps on the shoulders of a giant he can see further. “I would like to be like Saint Philip Neri, a Saint who could live with the young and make virtue pleasant and appealing to them.” Saint Philip Neri was one who permitted the young to be young, not encouraging them to be old in the spirit but helping them to face life with courage and joy. 

 Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi


sabato 10 ottobre 2015


First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter Two

The Heart of the Young Overflows With the Fullness of Life

1. God is also there. In the heart of this little boy, John Baptist, God's light had begun to shine and was beginning to outshine everything else. “If God is everything,” reasoned John, “why not focus everything on Him? If He is everything, what more do I need?” One day John left home with a friend, in essence running away. They were off on a great adventure to be hermits. Near Brescia is Mount Maddalena, an elevation of one thousand meters on which are many caverns that were once the dwellings of hermits; there, these hermits had lived alone with only the presence of God. The two young adventurers climbed steadily, stopped a little and enjoyed the beautiful panorama. “What now?” they soon asked themselves. Darkness was approaching, they had nothing to eat, and it was getting cold. “Why don’t we climb down?” they decided, and running home they made it before nightfall. From this experience, little John understood that being a hermit was not his calling but pointing “everything” to God was.

2. Young John had a lot of free time from school and was very lively, vivacious and even rambunctious. He liked playing outdoors with the neighborhood boys. They would play war games. They threw stones at each other and would hurt each other. Out on the street, they were at the mercy of unscrupulous people. Later, as an adult, when John would look back on that time he said he would have become a rascal had he not found the oratory of Saint Thomas. The oratory gave him the right direction in his life; it gave him healthy entertainment and most importantly it helped him to discover Jesus as his best and most trustworthy friend. It was here that John came to understand the importance of spending time with the young and helping them to grow in an environment where they feel good and learn how to do good and make the right choices.

3. Meanwhile, his father and grandfather began to think about what young John, lively, a dreamer, delicate and even sickly, would do as adult. They agreed to send him as an apprentice to Zanolini, a good mattress maker. This would be good preparation for a future job. The boy was happy to go and his employer liked him.

4. However, the job was repetitive and the strain of working many nine and ten hour days while living off a meager salary began to take its toll. His loss of strength soon became apparent. Was he malnourished? Was it an unhealthy environment? The job was not for him? Was his health poor? His employer, Zanolini, a caring and paternal person worried about his health and sent him to Vallio, a village twenty kilometers from Brescia in a healthy valley in the middle of the woods, where the change of air could help him recover. There, far from his friends and his job, he started to explore the woods with only his stick and his thoughts. He felt that there was somebody inside him—that it was his friend Jesus who was near him and with whom he could talk of the things he cared about most. Without noticing, his walks began to stop in the beautiful parish church, where he would enter to be close to his friend Jesus and better feel his presence. He was glad for the birth of this friendship and he was nurturing this one with care.

5. The Pastor of Vallio noticed those repetitive visitations in the church by that boy from the city, skinny and vivid, who was as much at ease in a cluster of boys as in the silence of the church. One day he stopped him and spoke to him. He became convinced that he was in front of a wonderful boy of ordinary appearance. He could see that this boy was called to do great things and so he asked him a question.

  Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi



First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter One

God’s Providence Is Over All

1. This is especially true in the lives of the Saints. In Brescia, in the latter half of the 19th century, while the industrial revolution was raging, a special intervention became necessary for the young boys of the area. There, in that same local, on the 26th day of November, 1841 a boy was born, the son of Joseph Piamarta and Regina Ferrari. The following day in the church of Saint Faustino he was baptized John the Baptist.

2. Our little John Baptist had a mission to help the poor. Born poor and growing up in a poor environment he suffered the privations of poverty. Instead of a jacket to protect himself from the cold he had to be satisfied with a wool shirt handmade by his mother; instead of nice shoes, wooden clogs. His parents would foster difficult boys with issues. All of this had an effect on young John. Growing up he did not have a nice character. This was particularly because he was disillusioned by the hypocrisy he noticed around him. He understood that saying nice words is one thing, but acting upon them is another. Furthermore, to grow up we all have to work, suffer and often fight against ourselves. John was no exception.

3. He didn't have a bad temper. He had a fiery one. He was steadfast and stubborn, and would blow up angrily when something did not go his way. His mother, Regina, watched over him and would take control. One time was when John was six years old he left his soup on the table because he didn't like it. The next morning his mother gave him the same soup and again at lunch and once again in the evening until the young protester had to quit. He learned that you cannot always get what you want. This was an important lesson for John.

4. Another important rule of life that John would learn is that we must first change ourselves before setting out to change things outside ourselves. We cannot always change or improve others or other things, but we can always improve ourselves.

5. John's mother would bring him to mass in the big church of Saint Faustino. They lived almost in front of the church and had only to cross a bridge so it wasn't a long walk. John gladly participated in the ceremonies and because he had a very nice voice he was given the honor to be the solo in the Saint Faustino parish choir.

6. His mother would lead him in front of Our Lady's altar and there she would talk to him of Our Lady's universal motherhood explaining to him that she is everyone's mother. This left a deep and abiding impression on little John Baptist who would never forget his mother's words. Instead he would repeat them a thousand times till this comforting lesson became a sweet experience of his heart.

7. When John was nine year’s old death came for the first time in his life and took his most beloved person, his mother, Regina. His father, a barber, worked all day. Sometimes when he came home in the evening he would drink too much. John, who had cared for the orphans his family fostered came to know first hand what it was to be an orphan and alone. Feeling rejected and abandoned, his home suddenly empty and silent with no one waiting for him, John suffered intense loneliness in silence.

8. John's Grandfather began to take care of him. In the evenings he would enchant little John Baptist with tales of Holy History, episodes of the Bible. Today, soap operas and television films captivate young audiences but for centuries grandfathers were the ones who carefully wove important life lessons into intriguing tales that would be well remembered and skillfully narrated them to their young charges. These, they hoped, would leave a lasting impression on the young child and guide them through life.
Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi
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