SAINT MARIA GORETTI (1890-1902), Martyr
Maria Goretti’s cause for sainthood was supported by the Italian Passionists, who had pastoral responsibility for her village. Maria’s mother taught her to prize her virtue, which was tested by a local nineteen year old man. Maria refused and was mortally stabbed. She died after saying: “I forgive him … May God forgive him’. Reflecting on Maria Goretti, today I find myself asking two very important questions.
For what exactly would I give up my life?
I think about the Ukrainian soldier putting his young family on a bus to safety as he remained behind to defend his village; the old Franciscan monk refusing expensive cancer treatment so that a young person might receive it instead; the single mother eating one meagre meal a day so that she can put feed her young children; the Portuguese Jesuits in Japan who faced terrifying choices. (See Martin Scorsese’s film ‘Silence’ based on Shusaku Endo’s novel). Faced with similar situations, loss of actual or symbolic life, what would I do?
Am I able to forgive others (and myself) totally, with genuine faith and love?
This question is perhaps more challenging because it is one that we face often in our daily lives. Forgiving in this way can cost ego, it can challenge the way one protects oneself and one’s world, and holds risks of vulnerability. It can also offer motivation to be a different action in the world. Such forgiveness starts in the little simple things that happen and can grow into responses that change lives and our world.
Pam Story is a member of the Passionist Faith Community at Holy Cross, Templestowe, and one of the founding members of Passionist Companions. After a very active and varied family, church and working life, Pam is now focusing on developing a slow spirituality.