Does Forgiveness Elude You?
Forgiveness is difficult for many of us; yet, not so for young St. Maria Goretti. Maria died at age eleven, from mortal stab wounds caused by unwanted advances of a young man. Forgiveness for this young man was one of her last words uttered before dying. She not only forgave him, she openly prayed for him, while suffering from those stab wounds prior to her death.
How many of us would be so forgiving? How many of us pray for those who wish us harm or have hurt us physically, emotionally or spiritually?
I had the honor of venerating her relics at a special ceremony at my parish in Charlotte, NC on Oct. 24, 2015. What does it mean to venerate saintly relics?
…those who have an affection to any person hold in honor all that was intimately connected with him. Hence, while we love and venerate the saints who were so dear to God, we also venerate all that belonged to them, and particularly their bodies, which were once the temples of the Holy Spirit, and which are some day to be conformed to the glorious body of Jesus Christ. ‘Whence also,’ adds St. Thomas (Aquinas), ‘God fittingly does honor to such relics by performing miracles in their presence’ (New Advent.org/relics).
At the ceremony, you are allowed to pass by St. Maria Goretti’s casket and pray for her intercessory prayer on your own behalf, or for someone you love. You are encouraged to offer forgiveness for your own past hurts, as well as encouraged to forgive yourself for your own past sins. St. Maria Goretti’s casket and the containing relics serve as a reminder of the person who once walked the earth and is now in Heaven. The process is really not much different than when we walk past caskets at funerals and stop to say a prayer. The only difference here is that rather than praying for Maria’s soul, we asked her to pray for us, and to show us how to be as forgiving as her.
Path to Forgiveness
Dear Saint Maria Goretti, your heart was so full of mercy, that you gladly forgave your assassin, and prayed that he might be saved; intercede for me before the Lord, Whom you now behold face to face. Ask Him to pour His grace into my soul so that I may always be ready to imitate Jesus as you did. I choose you as my friend this day and I ask you to accompany me my whole life long. In honor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and in the imitation of your example, I forgive all who have ever hurt me or who desired my suffering, and I ask pardon of all against whom I have sinned. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen (courtesy of mariagoretti.com).
If forgiveness eludes you, and you are trying to find the strength to forgive someone, then you just might want to reach out to St. Maria Goretti for a little assistance. Remember, we will receive the amount of forgiveness for our sins to the extent that we forgive those who have sinned against us.