Friday, October 03, 2008
Tell Me About It
I didn't tell a lie. I really did plan to talk about Maria Goretti yesterday. I just put a few more paving stones in the road to Hell is all.
Before we talk about Maria, though, thank you all for popping over to vote for us at the Blogger's Choice Awards! Sister St. Aloysius is besides herself with glee. She may have to confess that. We're not sure. I think not. Contrary to popular belief, the whole point of being Catholic is to be happy at some point. Maybe not here on earth, though (we can ask little St. Bernadette about that one). Still, it's okay to have a some fun (as long as no one takes your picture and makes a calendar out of it).
Now! Onto Maria Goretti! Warning! My point of view may be slightly controversial. Bear with me.
Here was the question:
And from a reader:
St. Maria Goretti sprang to my mind, too. We have a whole host of virgin martyrs who lost their lives rather than lose their chastity. Most of them met a gruesome end. St. Cecilia was steamed to death in her own tub after she didn't die from being stabbed in the neck. St. Agnes lost her head. St. Agatha was tortured and burned and had her breasts cut off and finally lost her head. St. Catherine of Alexandra, St. Lucy....the list goes on.
Maria Goretti springs to mind , especially in reference to these modern day girls and their love of purity, because she was a modern day girl with a love of purity. A perfect saint match.
Here's the thing.
I love St. Maria Goretti not so much for her love of purity, but for her tremendous capacity for forgiveness.
Wait. Maybe we need to tell the story of St. Maria Goretti.
Little Maria lived in a small town in Italy. She was only 12 years old in 1902. There was this goof ball guy next door who had a penchant for smutty magazines. There's a word we need to bring back into our vocabulary: smut. What a great word! Anyhow, the smutty magazines also gave him a penchant for little Maria. He made terrible suggestive remarks to her and harassed her constantly with his smutty ideas. She told him God wouldn't care for any of it and he would go to Hell.
But that didn't stop this goofenheimer. He told her he would be back and she better be ready to give in. And then he showed up one day, just like he said he would, and when she wouldn't give in, he stabbed her 14 times.
Maria didn't die right away. She also met a gruesome end. She was operated on with no anesthetic to no avail. She lingered overnight in the hospital, which gave her enough time to say, out loud, that she forgave her attacker.
Now that is saintly. Not that the rest of it isn't saintly. I just think that the very hardest part of what Jesus asks us to do is forgive, especially after we've been harassed and stabbed 14 times and operated on with no anesthetic. That's what I find most remarkable about Maria.
The goofenheimer, Alessandro Serenelli , was only a teenager himself when he murdered Maria, that's why he didn't get the death penalty or life. He spent 30 years in prison, much of it unrepentant until little Maria appeared to him in a dream and forgave him in person. Alessandro became a brother and lived a peaceful holy life until his death in 1970. So Maria saved her own soul and his. Alessandro and Maria's mother stood side by side at Maria's canonization.
We love Maria Goretti. I just don't think she's the greatest modern day role model for young girls, unless we're talking about a role model of what not to do. Not the purity part, or the forgiveness part. The TELL SOMEBODY part.
The truth is we do not want you to fully follow the example of Maria Goretti. If someone is harassing you and making terrible advances toward you, TELL SOMEBODY. No one but Maria knew what Alessandro had been up to. The two families lived side by side, sharing the kitchen even. Everyone had noticed that Alessandro was a little mean to Maria. I suppose they chalked it up to the fact that he was a teen. We all know how mean they can be to each other. Maria didn't tell anybody was was really going on.
I'm still a fan of the old virgin martyrs for shear purity.
And Maria Goretti for the power of forgiveness.