Jul 6 – Memorial for St. Maria Goretti, Virgin & Martyr
Maria Goretti (1890-1902) was a beautiful and pious farm girl, one of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In 1896 the family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive.
In 1902, at the age of 12, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought, yelled that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her 14 times. She survived in hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. She is counted as a martyr.
While in prison for his crime, Alessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he latter testified at her cause for beatification.
- Patron Saint Index
“If I can only touch his cloak, I shall be well again…Courage, my daughter; your faith has restored you to health.”
How desperate are we in wanting to touch Jesus’ cloak to be healed and well again?
We all need faith like the woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for 12 years who believed she was unworthy, yet just by touching even the fringe of his cloak, she believed that she would be well again. It took someone who’d suffered long enough to yearn for that kind of healing. If you’ve been experiencing a problem for that many years, you too may be desperate enough to ask for help. Think of those who are trapped in abusive relationships, addictions, debilitating illnesses, and various kinds of mental torture who’d want out. But then again, they may be in too deep to even know that Jesus is just round the corner, waiting for them to come and touch his cloak.
I remember my own up-close-and-personal encounter with Jesus during my Prayer Experience Retreat in 2016. During our first Lectio Divina sessions, we were asked to contemplate the scene of the blind man Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52, and see where the Holy Spirit led us. I saw myself as one of the persons in the crowd, and like Bartimaeus, I was also waiting by the roadside for Jesus. The moment Jesus walked by, I recall the excitement and frenzy like one of those crazy fans you’d expect to see trying to get a glimpse of their ‘celeb’ idol. I too tried to get a glimpse, desperately trying to squeeze my way in through the crowd to get close to my idol. Eventually, I found my way in and soon I caught up with Jesus and, instead of grabbing onto his sleeve or cloak, I boldly held his hand. When he turned around, I instantly fell in love. It felt so good holding his hand and I almost didn’t want to let it go ever. You know that feeling when you first held hands with the person you’re starting to have a relationship with?
In the next scene, I found myself hanging over a cliff (and I have a terrible fear of heights) and so I clung onto Jesus’ hand for dear life, asking him not to ever let go of me. “Don’t worry, I will never let you go” he replied. That assurance has since sealed our love for each other. It is only by experiencing and allowing the fullness of his powerful love (and forgiveness) to fill our hearts, that there will not be any room left for our past hurts and our brokenness to remain. Whether we are suffering from a physical ailment or emotional trauma, let us not hold ourselves back from asking to be healed. We just need to reach out to Jesus – to touch and be touched and he will restore us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)
Prayer: Dear Abba Father, there are still many who do not know how to reach out to you for help. Please touch and grace us with your wonderful gift of faith so that we will come to experience your love and mercy. May we also learn to humble ourselves and have faith like the woman who suffered haemorrhages for 12 years.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for healing us with your love. For we know that if you want to, you can take away the cup of suffering from us. Thank you for being there each time we cry, for carrying our cross, wiping away our tears, comforting us amidst our pain and offering us your peace.