Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

St. Maria Goretti

Today is the feast day of my confirmation patron saint,
St. Maria Goretti.

It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: "Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and give me guidance." With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity.

The life of a simple girl - I shall concern myself only with highlights - we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage, and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God's grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished.

From Maria's story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult that course may prove. With determination and God's help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer.

Not all of us are expected to die a martyr's death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue.

So let us all, with God's grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.

from a homily by Venerable Pope Pius XII at the canonization of Saint Maria Goretti.

When I originally chose St. Maria Goretti as my patroness for confirmation I did so somewhat naively, based on the fact that she was martyred at the age as I was being confirmed. I was also attracted to her purity, simplicity, and uncompromising love of God.

Over these past few years though, as my own faith has slowly matured, my appreciation for and devotion to St. Maria Goretti has also developed. St. Maria Goretti has increasingly become for me a model of extraordinary virtue and holiness, as well as a dear friend. Recently I have been developing a growing relationship and friendship with this special saint.

As a young woman, St. Maria Goretti is obviously a model for me of chastity, purity, and modesty. She helps me to open my eyes to the true beauty of holiness. She reminds me that there is no room for compromise when it comes to obeying God's commands. She models for me what it is to live with a clearly formed and sensitive conscience.

St. Maria Goretti is also a great model of love. First and foremost is her love of God, which she clearly shared with her friends and family. Her yearning for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament reminds me never to take a single Mass for granted. Her faithful obedience to God reminds me to always be attentive to His will above my own. Her self-sacrificial love for her family, particularly for her mother and siblings, reminds me to move beyond mere words of affection to practical acts of charity towards my own family. She is a model of selflessness and an imitation of the love of the Suffering Servant.

St. Maria Goretti's commitment to learn study the Faith in preparation for her First Communion, though she could neither read nor write, remind me never to take for granted the many opportunities I have been given to formally study the Faith. Furthermore, her simplicity reminds me that although I have been given the opportunity to read many books and study theology at the university level, this knowledge of the Faith is worthless unless it is first and always rooted in a sincere love of God.

Moreover, St. Maria Goretti's simple faith of a child reminds me that unless we become like little children we shall not enter into the kingdom of God. Her pure and simple love of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary remind me to hold firm to the foundations of the Faith.

St. Maria Goretti is also a great model of courage as she faced her own martyrdom with humble confidence in God. This example helps me to carry the crosses, sufferings, trials, and burdens of my own life trusting in God and praying for the grace of the same courage exemplified by my patron saint. Furthermore, her sincere forgiveness for her murderer as she lay lying on her death bed and her apparent intercession on his behalf from heaven remind me that the love of God for those who may sin against me is always greater than any pain that has been caused to me and that I am called to share this love with them through forgiveness.

St. Maria Goretti is an example and model for me in many ways and is also one of my dearest friends among the communion of saints. I know that she watches over me and intercedes before God on my behalf. May this simple, virgin, martyr intercede for all of us that we may come to imitate her purity and chastity, but above all else, her ardent love of God.

Saint Maria Goretti, strengthened by God's grace, you did not hesitate, even at the age of eleven, to sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity. Look graciously on the unhappy human race that has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially our youth, the courage and promptness that will help us avoid anything that could offend Jesus. Obtain for me a great horror of sin, so that I may live a holy life on earth and win eternal glory in heaven. Amen.