Saint Maria Goretti and Youth
Jul 6, 2019
Has one ever really thought what it means to be filled with the Spirit of Christ? Whenever we feel that growl in our stomachs or that chalky taste in our mouths, we know it is time to fill ourselves with food and drink. In fact, it is amazing how many hours of the day are spent indulging our bodies: eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising, primping, etc. Yet if we were to honestly consider how often during one day we attend to matters of the soul, what would the concluding results be? Attending Mass once a week?
From ancient times, the soul has always been referred to as a feminine reality and it is in the nature of the feminine to be receptive, for in the receiving, new life and new love enter into the world. As spouses fill each other’s lives with their love for each other and extend that boundless love through the gift of children, Christ fills our souls with His presence and love, spiritually and yes, physically in the Eucharist, for it is His flesh and blood that we consume as well.
However, as Saint Paul reminds us…there is a competing spirit that hates the Spirit of Christ, and in this spirit of hatred wages a constant war against our souls and bodies. It seems more than anyone else, Satan and the world focus their corrupting attention upon girls. However, our Lord being aware of this inevitable confrontation, offers to girls and women a unique kind of strength and power…the strength that allows a woman to brave and endure the pains of child birth, is the result of the strength that exists in a woman’s soul. Women have tremendous reservoirs of physical stamina because they have particularly strong souls.
Our Lord envisioning the ruthless and relentless attacks of the world and Satan upon women, created woman with this strength in mind and her ability to overcome and conquer evil and thus safeguard the sanctity of life both in the individual and in the culture at large. As God reprimanded Satan with these prophetic words of his eventual defeat and destruction: “I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN, HER children and yours, and SHE will crush your head, while you strike at her heel (Gen 3:15).” Though pre-eminently said of Mary who is the Immaculate Conception, ALL WOMEN share in this feminine power.
One of the saddest developments in today’s culture is occurring in young adult literature: ideas influence hearts and minds. Some years back on the recent NY Times best seller list for children you will find Cecily Von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl number 7 at the top. Gossip Girl is a series of books that has been described by the media and even the author herself as Sex in the City for teenagers. These books exploit and perpetuate the typical stereotypes normally associated with young girls, as the title Gossip Girl suggests: so called building of self esteem is acquired through back stabbing, sexual promiscuity, drug use, alcoholism and whatever else one might add who is concocting a recipe for feminine disaster and future heartache.
As the author herself admits: “I always resented books that tried to teach a lesson, where the characters are too good: They don’t swear, they tell their mothers everything…I mean, of course I want to be the responsible mother who says, ‘oh, there are terrible repercussions if you have sex, do drugs, and have an eating disorder!’ But the truth is, my friends and I dabbled in all of those things. And we all went to good colleges and grew up fine.” It is a chilling assessment of the enormous cultural peer pressure that is exerted especially upon young girls, as though goodness, purity, holiness, courage to resist temptations were the real evils.
In glaring contrast to this spirit of the flesh mentality, enter one Saint Maria Goretti whose Feast Day will be celebrated July 6th. Saint Maria Goretti died a martyr’s death in 1902 safeguarding her virginal innocence and purity: At only twelve years old, Maria resisted her tormentor repeatedly, one Alessandro Serenelli who overcome by an addiction to pornography, sought to extend this addiction forcibly upon young Maria.
Rather than allow Alessandro to indulge mortal sin, Maria fought him off until in his rage, he stabbed her fourteen times. Her suffering was intense and it took Maria many hours to die. However, in that time with peace in her pain wracked body forgave her assailant who would spend the next thirty years in jail, be converted to Christ through a vision of the forgiving Maria in his prison cell, and with Maria’s mother actually be present in Rome at the Canonization of Maria to Sainthood in 1950.
Maria’s life was empowered by her love and appreciation of the Holy Eucharist and Confession. The spirit of Christ animated her whole person, inspiring her to heroic feats of courage and holiness. What a tremendous contrast to the attitudes of the day. Young girls who resist the emotional and spiritual brain washings of the culture are referred to as weak and prudish.
Incredible courage is required to live firmly, superior to every temptation, superior to every threat, superior to all seductive and taunting influences amidst the baseness of the world. Young girls who possess the spirit of a Maria Goretti or claim her as a patron Saint and ally are precisely the soon to be grown up women, whose awesome legacies of holiness God has written in His own best seller called the Book of Life…and that is number one forever.