Today we remember the short but poignant life of St. Maria Goretti, a martyr for the faith. The gospel we pray from Matthew 9 brings us another brave woman who has suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years:
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.
We know from studying the life of St. Maria Goretti that she was a pious child whose faith meant the world to her. At the tender age of 12, she so prized her chastity that she fought off her rapist until the point of near death. But what strikes me as equally courageous is the compassion she summoned to forgive that man before her death.
At her canonization, Venerable Pope Pius XII taught:
Not all of us are expected to die a martyr‘s death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. So let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.
Today, I will:
- Take my ailments in faith to the foot of the cross and believe with all my heart that faith can save me if only I draw near to Jesus with a heart full of trust. “Healing” may come in a variety of forms (not always my desired one!), and God’s perfect will for my life is always a cure.
- Live my life with the faith and trust of St. Maria, fighting for what I know to be right and true. I will also forgive those against whom I am harboring any hurt or ill will and seek the forgiveness of those who I have hurt.
I’ll leave you with a short prayer that comes from my second book and invokes the intercession of St. Maria Goretti:
Precious St. Maria Goretti, you gave your life to hold on to the faith you loved so dearly.
Be with us in those moments when we do battle against the pressures and images of today’s world.
Ask God to grant us the grace to withstand temptations and to wisdom to make choices based on our values.
Let us follow your example of loving, forgiving and praying for those who have harmed us.
May we be like you were, a light for a world that is desperately in need of hope, of change and of love.
A question for you: What fears test your faith? How can you summon more courage in your life?