Today is the feast of St. Maria Goretti, an Italian girl who was martyred at the age of 12 because she stood up for what is decent and right against her 20 year old oppressor.
St. Maria Goretti has a lot to teach us today about standing up for decency and purity, and about forgiveness of great evil.
In spite of the savage death she endured at the hands of Allessandro Serenelli, she forgave him. In spite of the fact that he pursued her and demanded that she succumb to his wishes, she forgave him. In spite of the fact that he stabbed her 14 times with an ice pick, submitting her to a slow and painful death, she forgave him. How many times do we shut ourselves off from loved ones for much less than this?
St. Maria Goretti also teaches us to stand up for decency and purity. Many in today's society want to convince us that times have changed, that what was immoral and indecent years ago is not so today. There are some who would say that what the established authorities would never have allowed years ago, especially on television, or other mass media, is common course today.
This is shameful! Truth is truth regardless of what era we live in. Truth is still truth, regardless of whether everyone believes it, or no one believes it. To justify immoral behavior that drags human dignity through the mud by simply saying that “times have changed” is failing to see how law ultimately comes from God, that Natural Law is a reflection of God's Eternal Law. To let loose the demons of our human nature, promulgated by Original Sin, is to cause the perfect environment which killed St. Maria Goretti.
Her attacker was converted, because he was repentant. He saw the error of his ways. Let us pray for the grace to have such clarity of vision and throw away our tendency to justify or excuse our immoral ways by saying “times have changed”. I close with the last letter of Allessandro Serenelli:
"I'm nearly 80 years old. I'm about to depart.
"Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.
" My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.
"There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.
"When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.
"If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.
"Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I've been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.
"I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life."
Signature, Alessandro Serenelli
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!
For more information, please see: http://www.mariagoretti.org/index.htm