“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but, if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

After the death of Jesus our Lord, the fruit of salvation is applicable for man’s salvation who desires and wants it. His death produces much fruit…fruit not only for the people of His time but also for the people before His death and for the people after His death until the end of the world. Whoever desires and wants it, the fruit of salvation is offered freely to all.

The words of St. Maria Goretti remains just her words in the private context of her tragedy toward the end of her life. After she died, her words spread among the Italians in Corinaldo, Italy where she was born in 1890… not just Corinaldo but throughout Italy and the world including here in Hanceville, Alabama. After she died at the age of only 11, her words produced much fruit.

What were her words? What were the words that came out of the pure little heart of Maria Goretti in July 1902 (just a little over 120 years ago)?

The first word was: “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”

That’s her first word to a young man almost 10 years older than her! He had been desiring her immorally for quite some times. He finally acted on his immoral desire in that Summer of 1902. Allesandro Serenelli (20 years old) made sexual advances toward 11 years old Maria Goretti. Her response was: “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”

This is a young courageous girl! She resisted his immoral desires. She never gave in for one moment to the point of actually getting stabbed. She was stabbed not once, not twice but fourteen times! She did not die right away. She was taken to an emergency. A priest was called upon to minister her before she died; he prepared her for the sacraments; he prepared her by asking her a question; the question was: Do you forgive the one who did this to you?

Her response is her second word in this homily: “Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him… and I want him to be with me in Paradise.”

She received our Eucharistic Lord so worthily and so devoutly after that; and soon after, she died.

The words of Maria Goretti – like I said – not just spread throughout Corinaldo, Italy after she died on July 6, 1902; her words spread throughout Italy and the world including to the United States and including here in Hanceville, Alabama.

Her first word can be a motto or motivation for those who struggle with pornography and the like. Perhaps, they can use these lines and put her first word as part of the screen on all of their devices. Perhaps, they can have these words printed and put it in front of the mirror that one looks at every morning. Perhaps, they can have it memorized and ask the Lord to engrave it deeply in their hearts and minds and souls so to remain pure for God.

“No! It is a sin! God does not want it!”

Her second word can be a motto or motivation for those who struggle with forgiving people. We all probably can think of one or two or more people that we have hard time forgiving or we’ve forgiven but we don’t have that desire that Maria Goretti had for her killer: to want to be with us in Paradise.

To forgive is an essential requirement for admittance into Paradise. It’s the first basic level for holiness. Jesus gives His own example from the cross. To get to heaven, we have to be like Jesus in this area: to be able to forgive any and all who have hurt us, injured us, or betrayed us and so on.

The next degree is more challenging and we may struggle with it our whole life on earth and we may not even get over it in this life to the point we need some purgatory time for God to finally purify it completely from us; and that is this degree of wanting those who hurt me, those who injured me, those who betrayed me, and so on… to be with me in Paradise. I want them to be with me! That’s a tough one!

Maybe I can say: I want them to be with me in Heaven but not next to me; get them to the other side of Heaven as long as they are furthest away from me; well, that’s not yet completely purified in our forgiveness and in our desire for them to be with us.

Perhaps, her second word can be our own motto or motivation to help us in this area of forgiveness or lack thereof. We can put her words at the door of our fridge or in front of our mirror we look at every day or on the screen of our devices:

“Yes, for the love of Jesus I forgive him… and I want him to be with me in Paradise.”

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but, if it dies, it produces much fruit.

After the death of Maria Goretti, her words not only led to her own beatification and canonization, but her words spread throughout Italy and the world because her words became gospel in action for our modern day. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

 

– Fr. Miguel Marie, MFVA

 

 

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