Be A Witness
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Maria Goretti, an Italian farm girl who died at the hands of her attempted rapist. The 11-year-old resisted her assailant’s advances, clinging to her purity and saying she would rather die than submit. As she died, she forgave Alessandro, her attacker, saying that she wanted him to be in heaven with her. While Alessandro was in jail for his crime, he had a dream about Maria which caused him to repent and lived a Christ-centered life. After his release, he asked Maria’s mother for forgiveness, which she granted, and he attended Maria’s canonization in 1950 with the Goretti family. Eventually Alessandro became a Franciscan lay brother and lived and worked in a monastery until his death in 1970.
Saint Maria Goretti’s example of forgiveness and mercy is a radical one. It’s hard to fathom how a young girl could endure such violence, courageously uphold the virtue of chastity, and immediately forgive her murderer. Maria lived and died for love of God, and this had no little effect on those who have heard her story. Many have been profoundly moved by little Maria’s remarkable love, most especially her attacker Alessandro. As I reflect on this, I realize that there is no heart incapable of being reached. If this young girl’s witness could transform a murderous man’s life, our witnesses can undoubtedly lead others to Christ, too. Although we, broken humans that we are, ultimately are not the ones who convert another soul, we can allow God to work through us to influence those in our lives. When we say “yes” to Christ, to a virtuous life, to the pursuit of holiness, we say “yes” to being a light in the darkness that can help guide others home.
I invite you to pray for the openness to be a witness to Christ, and for the trust that God can use your life to influence conversions. Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!