Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Everyday Saints

Readings for Tuesday of 14th week of Ordinary Time/Memorial of Saint Maria Goretti:
Hosea 8:4-7,11-13
Psalm 115:3-10
Matthew 9:32-38

A couple of weekends ago I was with the Mercy Teens Youth Group at the Steubenville South conference in Alexandria and one of the speakers asked the crowd of about 3500 people “How many of you think you’re going to be saints one day?” A few of the youth raised their hands, but it was very far from being the whole group. The speaker’s point was that so often we think that saints are extraordinary people and that most of us will never arise to such spiritual heights. In reality, though, a saint is simply a person who has entered into the eternal reward of heaven.

Today we celebrate one such person, Saint Maria Goretti, one of the younger canonized saints. Born in 1890, Maria lived with her family in a small town in Italy While her family went out to work in the fields, she would stay back to prepare meals, sew clothes, and keep the house in order. She did not have any great spiritual gifts like some saints have had. She did not work any great miracles before her death. She simply lived her life as a faithful Catholic. She prayed the rosary daily, attended Mass when able, and rooted herself in the Christian virtues.

One day when the family was out working, Alessandro, a young boy who stayed in the same house made sexual advances at Maria, who was then only 12 years old. She courageously fought him off, defending her purity and pleading for him not to fall into such a grave sin. In a rage, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times in the chest and stomach. She survived for another 20 hours before dying. In that time, she forgave her attacker and expressed a desire that he would one day join her in paradise. Present at her canonization 48 years later were Alessandro, who had been converted by a vision of Maria he had while in prison, and Maria’s own mother – marking the first time that the saint’s mother was present for the canonization ceremony.

Today honored as the patroness of purity, young women, and rape victims, she also stands for us all as a witness of the value of faithfulness in daily life. Having led a simple, faithful, and virtuous life, she passed from death to life eternal in heaven. Through her intercession, may we imitate her purity and faithfulness to Christ daily and so one day rejoice as we too enter into eternal life as saints.

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.