Monday, July 6, 2009

A Message for All Young People Today - Share it with them!

If you know the story of St. Maria Goretti, whose Feast Day is today, July 6th, you know that her sexual predator and murderer was a young man of 20 named Alessandro Serenelli. But do you know what became of him?

Alessandro was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 30 years hard labor. He initially did not accept responsibility for his crime and lashed out against anyone who came in contact with him, including a priest who went to visit him soon after he was imprisoned. Then one night he had a vision of Maria Goretti visiting him in his cell and presenting him with a bouquet of flowers! From that moment forward, Alessandro experienced and lived out a complete conversion of heart.

He became a model prisoner and was released after serving 27 years. His first act was to seek the forgiveness of Maria's mother. He was accepted into a Capuchin monastery as a tertiary and worked in their gardens. Miraculously Alessandro was present at St. Peter's in Rome when Maria Goretti was canonized a saint crying tears of joy.

Alessandro Serenelli died on May 6th, 1970 in the Capuchin convent of Macerata. But what of his legacy and his lesson for the ages? Here's the gift he left to us on May 5, 1961:

"I'm nearly 80 years old. I'm about to depart.

"Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.

"My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.

"There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.

"When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.

"If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.

"Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I've been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

"I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life."

Signature, Alessandro Serenelli

We can see from Alessandro's testimony that it was the negative influences of the secular world that drove him to commit his deplorable crime against little Maria. He referred specifically to the print and mass-media as affecting him in such a way that it drove him to commit his crime of passion.

Take a moment and consider the substantially more negative influences that pound our children virtually every one of their waking moments. Alessandro had basic stuff that was impacting his world at that time. What he didn't have was MTV, VH1, MySpace, Facebook, text messaging, "sex-ting," e-mail, limitless pornography, raunchy TV shows, sex-focused advertising, etc., etc., etc.!!!

Satan has taken temptation to a new level with our children to the point where one truly has to wonder why he has ramped up his efforts? We know that the gates of hell will never prevail, so we ask what the cause is of Satan's desperation? Is he sensing that this is his last opportunity to "win" as many of our young people's souls as possible before Christ triumphantly returns? Or are we simply permitting him to win the battle for souls at this moment in time?

Testimonies like Alessandro Serenelli's are invaluable tools given to us to help teach our youth about the rotten fruit of a life influenced by the garbage of our secular world. Such trash is like a bacteria that invades one's body and leads to suffering and death. It seems like great fun at the time, but as with all sin, once the pretty covering falls off, all that is left is dissapointment, despair, and payment for a life of "fun" in the secular world to one's spiritual detriment.

Alessandro's lesson to all of us is that it is only through a life lived in the grace of God through His only Son Jesus Christ that we arrive at TRUE JOY (not to be confused with fleeting "happiness" found through material goods and the trappings of the secular world.) How many times do we need to grasp at THINGS, PEOPLE, OURSELVES, only to find that they do not provide us with lasting joy? That is for a reason! It is to be clear evidence to us that we are not meant for this world for all eternity. These THINGS are simply to serve as examples of goodness, perfection, beauty, and truth that we ONLY find in Christ!!! They are meant to drive us towards Christ, not replace Him!

On this Feast Day of St. Maria Goretti, let us pray in thanksgiving through her intercession for her example of purity, chastity, and faithfulness in the face of negative societal pressures.

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