Persecuted Christians // Saint Maria Goretti

For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name, Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!

For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, so that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers; and already they were singing the praises of the ancestors.Wisdom 18:9

The story of Maria Goretti could happen to anyone. An innocent eleven-year-old girl died trying to fight off the man who wanted to rape her. What’s astonishing about the story, however, is that as she died, she forgave her assailant,  and that several years down the road, her act of forgiveness changed the heart of that man.

I still remember the day that I venerated her relics. I mourned for her family when I heard about how poor they were. The priest who celebrated the Mass asked everyone to pray a litany of forgiveness towards anyone they were having trouble forgiving. At this point in my life, I was out of college, but I held onto a lot of grudges towards people who hurt me.

It’s so easy to hold onto a grudge. Whenever acts of violence or injustice occur, the last thing people want to hear is that they need to forgive those who’ve hurt them. So many people hold onto their anger and refuse to let go in the hopes of getting vengeance. There are so many people who have been hurt by others. How can we just let go of all that and forgive?

Forgiveness is a process. It’s not going to be easy to let go of all the hurt and hope that God will somehow either change the heart of the one who hurt you or at least give you some closure. Still, the peace we long for will come. I still remember what it felt like for me. About a week or so after I venerated the relics of Saint Maria Goretti, I thought about one particular person who caused me to have a panic attack. When I asked myself how I would feel if I ever saw that person again, I was overwhelmed with a sense of indifference. I was no longer afraid of the person who caused my panic.

Now keep in mind, I haven’t seen the person who caused that panic attack in years, nor do I ever plan to see this person again. However, I no longer want vengeance or to “show up” that person with whatever successes come into my life. I hope that anyone else who has suffered will look to Maria Goretti and ask her to help them let go of all the hurt.

To Jesus through Mary-Monique Ocampo

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