The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

We can learn from St. Maria Goretti

At such a young age, an 11 year old girl chose death rather than sin through sexual relations with a young man. The feast day of St. Maria Goretti, patroness of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape was celebrated on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.

St Maria Goretti in hospital
It was in 1902 that a young girl, truly and devoutly in love with God sacrificed her life in exchange for purity. On her death bed in hospital Maria forgave her assailant, 18 year old Alessandro Serenelli. Alessandro, bitter and unrepentant spent 27 years in prison and would receive a vision of Maria in a dream who would bring him to repentance as was her wish before her death; that he too would join her one day in Heaven.
Maria's Mother and Alessandro
When Alessandro was released from prison he went to Maria's mother and begged for her forgiveness. She forgave with the words, "If my daughter can forgive you, who am I to withhold forgiveness." Maria was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII for her purity as a model for youth. Present at her canonization was Alessandro as well as her mother who through her sincere act of forgiveness can also be seen as a saint.

We live in a world today where it seems more difficult to say "yes" to God and "no" to the world. Maria should be an example for our children today. She prayed constantly, especially after her father had passed away, as she had feared that his soul would remain in purgatory for too long. Do you pray for the souls in Purgatory? or better yet, do you pray to a loved one who have passed on?

Deeply in love with God, Maria was very anxious to receive First Holy Communion (this event did take place a few weeks before her death). Maria's mother always taught her about sin and the repercussions of it; death. After being pursued by Alessandro on many occasions, Maria knew that it was a sin and kept telling Alessandro that they would go to hell for such a sin. Have we forgotten that the wages of sin is death? It is important that we preach to our kids as often as necessary to instill that fear and respect for God. Maria would have rather died than to offend God.

Lately nothing is a sin anymore, it has become the norm. Everyone is doing it, so it can't be as bad as our senses tell us. St. Maria Goretti is an example for our youth to live by especially as it relates to the need to put Christ first in their lives. The greatest commandments given to us by Christ should be preached daily in our homes. The greatest and first being; "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind." The second being; "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If we say we love God with our whole heart, soul and mind then we would always be aware of His presence thus never wanting to offend Him.

Television shows today promote promiscuity that our children are viewing as the "in thing." Calling it the culture of death, Pope John Paul II warned that the Catholic Church must take action to protect the youth of our nation. As parents, if we do not stand for something we will fall for anything and will without a doubt set bad examples for our children. Referring to Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it," we should constantly be teaching and preaching the word of Christ to our children.

The future of our nation is in the hands of our youth. We can never stop instilling strong Christian morals into our children. The Church is always willing and able to assist parents with formation of their children should the need arise. Sex education should and must begin at home. At the time of our children's Baptism, we are reminded that we are the first teachers of our children. If they are not given true knowledge from home they will seek to be influenced by their peers. It begins with us, the parents.

As Pope Pius XII speaks in his homily during Maria Goretti's canonization we as parents can learn from her story.
Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God's grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed and untarnished.
Carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty, but also sinful. Instead, they can fix their sight on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult and hazardous that course may prove. With determination and God's help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer.
Through the intercessory prayers of St. Maria Goretti, pray that she can teach us about trusting in God even in the face of adversities.

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