July 6, 2009

St. Maria Goretti

This morning was the first time I have had the opportunity to offer the Mass of St. Maria Goretti. (Last year her day was impeded by a Sunday.) Her feast day is always a little special to us Capuchins, because her murderer and attempted rapist finished his days on earth as one of us. I found a page on him in Italian, with a couple of pictures.

Preparing for Mass I was very grateful for the chance to pray with a saint who knew the suffering of sexual assault. As I composed the petitions for the prayer of the faithful in my mind, I was inspired to pray for all the victims of human trafficking, pornography, abuse, and every form of sexualized violence in our society, and for a renewed spirit of repentance among us priests for our own crimes against the dignity of children and young people.


pennyante said...

I placed the name of her murderer into Google and came up with this in English.


I had not known the story of St. Maria Goretti... Thanks...

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the link!

MikeF said...

I'd stumbled through the Italian before I saw pennyante's link!

What a marvellous story... truly God's mercy is a strange and glorious mystery. Thank you so much for posting that!

KAM said...

Seen the story a couple of times on EWTN, and cried at the end both times. Very nice prayers you gave for her.

Julia said...

I was thinking yesterday of St. Maria Goretti being with St. Agnes of Rome in Heaven. Both were martyred at the age of 12 protecting their virginity. Amazing saints. It's hard to imagine children with such strong faith, hope, strength, love, and purity.

Kevin said...

See a description and preview of the one person show titled "Alessandro" by Jeremy Stanbary, Epiphany Studio Productions - http://www.epiphanystudio.com/alessandro

Paul A. Zalonski said...

In years past I've never prayed for a deepening of the virtue of chastity and virginity (in the sense of Msgr Luigi Giussani) and this year, asking St Maria to intercede for me, I prayed for this grace at Mass and in the Divine Office. Let's see what happens! I suppose I just presummed the grace to be given/present but I think now I've made a mistake by not praying for chastity--now I will. This is also raises the question of presumption in the spiritual life. A no-no for sure.

I wonder, nevertheless, how many religious, priests and married couples pray for the grace of chastity and virginity on a regular basis. Should I assume the answer?

The contemporary mindset is to be independent and not to ask for anything. I have to say, though, when I realize my place viz Christ I remember I am beggar as Christ is beggar before the Father who asks for things on our behalf life becomes clearer.

Brother Charles said...

I've been praying for and about chastity for a long time. Many years ago I asked Our Lady to my special patroness in this area. My sense of it has opened up a lot over the years. It's led me into realizations, such as how important it is to mortify our disordered needs to control other people and situations, which is the root of unchastity, to me. It's also led me to some ascetical practices, like learning to notice how attractive people are treated differently, and trying to work against it.

Julia said...

Paul, I was very happily surprised in Mass today when one of the priest's intentions in Prayers of the Faithful was for today's young people to embrace chastity and recognize the holiness of purity.

I pray frequently on this topic, usually to St. Agnes and Our Lady. I specifically think about purity - being pure in thoughts, intentions, relationships with others. The world is so cynical and tainted; purity is really something we need to actively seek.

4narnia said...

nice sharing on St. Maria Goretti, Fr. C! she is a Saint i have admired, along with Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, whose feast day is coming up on the 14th of this month, too. (they both have very inspiring life stories. i didn't know the man who murdered St. Maria Goretti had finished his days on earth as a Capuchin, though. PEACE! ~tara t~

M.A. said...

Fra Charles:

Glad I found your blog. I've just begun looking into entering the O.F.M. myself, and I find it very educational to read the thoughts of people in a related order.

Whenever I think about Alessandro Serenelli's later life, I find myself comparing it with the life of a man named Glen Sherley. Like the young Serenelli, Sherley was a rough character. After serving several stints in reform school, he graduated to the big time -- a long hitch in Folsom Prison. There, he found God, along with a talent for songwriting.

Sherley sent some of his work to his hero, Johnny Cash, along with an invitation to play at Folsom. Deeply impressed by Sherley's talent, as well as his conversion, Cash accepted the invitation and treated the Folsom inmated to a free concert, in the process recording the only country album I'll admit to owning. When Sherley came up for parole, Cash vouched for his good character, and promised to put him to work as co-writer and roadie.

Unfortunately, Sherley's reformation didn't last. Before very long, he was using speed, which turned him mean. After he threatened to "cut the guts out" of some of his fellow roadies, Cash was forced to let him go. Sherley ended up working on a cattle ranch and living in the cab of a truck. In 1978, he shot himself through the head.

Here's what I get when I consider that these two men, who were alike in so many ways, ended up so differently:

1) Whatever Serenelli saw in his vision was so mind-blowing that it sufficed to keep him on the straight and narrow for over fifty years.

2) A community of Capuchin friars is a much more spiritually nourishing environment than a rock star's entourage.