Friday, October 23, 2015

St. Maria Goretti -- Pilgrimage, relics and the family

photo credit: http://mariagoretti.com/who-is-st-maria/
The Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti made a stop on pilgrimage through the US at our little parish in Chantilly, VA yesterday. St. Veronica was the only parish in VA to host the relics on their journey of mercy. It was estimated that nearly 10K people came to venerate the relics throughout the day. And in what was the most miraculous of events, it all went off without a hitch. Thank you, wondrous, little saint of  great mercy!

Yesterday was also the feast of St. John Paul II. A friend posted a picture of the saint touching the reliquary of St. Maria Goretti, so as we all touched the 1st class relics of the little saint of purity, we were also touching a third class relic of St. John Paul II.

Amazing that the dates should align for us that way!

And then there were the families -- lots and lots and lots of families. They came in cars, on bikes, on buses -- they just kept coming. Some were broken and searching for wisdom and forgiveness, some were filled to overflowing with children; no one who came was or ever has been without a family. That is what is most striking and often forgotten -- we are all part of a family, somewhere, somehow -- we have a mother and a father, whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, whether we try to manipulate the science or the definition, the truth of how we are conceived and become living human beings doesn't change. These pilgrim families were such a sign of hope, especially as the Synod on the Family meets for its final week in the Vatican.

Pope Francis offered this during his General Audience this past Wednesday, 10/21:


Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, we spoke last week about the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. Today we consider the promise of love and fidelity made between husbands and wives, which is the basis of all family life. This promise is called into question nowadays, and seen as somehow opposed to personal freedom. Yet the truth is that our freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life. Fidelity grows through our daily efforts to keep our word; indeed, fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings. There is no greater “school” to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family, which are, in God’s plan, a blessing for our world. Saint Paul tells us that the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the Church. In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the Church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfills his every promise (emphasis added).
What a statement! "...[O]ur freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life." We have the freedom to make choices and we are shaped by the consequences of those choices.

St. Maria Goretti had to make the ultimate choice -- to die to preserve her freedom and dignity, her purity. She chose to remain faithful to Christ in his gift of virginity, caring as she was attacked for the eternal soul of her attacker. How many of us could say with certainty that we would do the same thing in those terrible circumstances, with death as our only option? To serve God with such joy, even in tremendous suffering.

And St. John Paul the Great -- his choice -- to show the world the value of fidelity through long suffering. It is God's plan to give and to take life, our choice comes in whether we submit to the plan or try to create one of our own. St. John Paul gave us a long and vibrant pontificate, one filled with wisdom, conviction, love and devotion. In the end, it was filled with the joy of redemptive suffering. In these two saints the work of the family comes into focus.

Pope Francis offered: "Fidelity grows through our daily efforts to keep our word; indeed, fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings." It is in the family that we work through our struggles, learn to face difficulties and keep moving forward in faith, where we learn to honor and keep our promises. This is our dignity -- and it must be nurtured in the heart of the domestic church, preserved from all impurity, and given the proper perspective of purposeful sacrifice for the benefit of others.

It was a glorious day yesterday at St. Veronica Parish  -- one that took many helping hands so that others might partake of the experience. It was a day of two saints, a day of pilgrimage, a day of honoring the family, and a day of welcoming the wonders of God into our own hearts so as to carry it out into the world. 

For more information on other pilgrimage sites and schedules, click here

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