Homily: Jul 6, 2014

A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF ST. MARIA GORETTI  –  7/6/14 –  SMG

+ Pax et Bonum on this happy day!

Today, we as a Parish family get the special opportunity to celebrate our Patroness’ Feast Day all together on a Sunday.  Today we get to remember and celebrate this extraordinary young girl who chose to love God, who was committed to persevering and remaining true to her relationship with God, even when she was a victim of a horrific, violent attack, and who then forgave the individual who committed these terrible crimes against her, before she died, so that he, her attacker, could be with her in Heaven.  The story of St. Maria Goretti is a powerful one!  But as with all the saints, the stories don’t end with their deaths.  All of the saints continue to intercede for us from their new home in Heaven.  My brothers and sisters, we have all been the beneficiaries of the intercession of St. Maria Goretti for nearly twenty years now.  And how powerful her prayers have been for our Parish!  There really is something to the help that we receive from the saints.  We must not forget their prayers and intercession.

There is a story coming out of the Gulf Coast from just a couple of years ago, demonstrating the intercessory power of the prayers of St. Maria Goretti!  The Vatican is already investigating this one.  A Father Carlos Martin, a priest of the Companions of the Cross community, was coming out of his church late one Friday night, and a woman who worked at the Parish came to him begging him to pray for her son-in-law.   The week before this, the son-in-law thought that he had been stung by a bee.  In fact, he had been bitten on the elbow by a brown recluse spider.  He arm got worse and worse, until one day, a week after he was bitten, he woke up unable to move his arm at all, and it had turned completely black.  The priest reported that the arm was blacker than his black clergy shirt.  He had no feeling in his arm and it had become hard as a piece of wood.  He went to the hospital and immediately preparations were made to amputate the arm, so that hopefully they could save the man’s life.  That was the situation when the priest and the man’s mother-in-law showed up at the hospital.  The man wasn’t a Catholic.  And so the priest asked permission to pray with him.  Father Carlos told the man the story of St. Maria Goretti and all that she had suffered.  Then, the priest asked if it would be O.K. if he touched the man’s dead arm with a first-class relic of St. Maria Goretti, and together they all implored the help and intercession of our Saint.  Now this was all the night before the doctors were going to perform the amputation.  The next morning, a half-an-hour before the scheduled start of surgery, the doctors came in to check how far the deterioration of the arm had spread to the man’s body, and when they removed the bandages, they were amazed to find that the man’s arm was completely restored to health.  The blackness was all gone.  It was healthy, and soft tissue that didn’t even have a mark from where the spider had bitten him.  An hour later, when he was supposed to be in surgery, the man was in a car on his way home.  St. Maria Goretti had worked again.

How is this possible?  How is this Parish possible?  How did we take a soybean field and turn into a thriving Parish?  It is all because of St. Maria Goretti.  Because this young girl chose to love God above everything else, because she was completely committed to Him, because she refused to have anything to do with sin, because she chose to forgive, because she chose to be Saint, great things happened.  And great things continue to happen!  St. Maria Goretti is doing more today than she ever did as an eleven-year-old girl a hundred and twelve years ago!  St. Maria Goretti is NOT dead.  She is very much alive and is living in the Kingdom of God, in the very presence of God!  We celebrate that today.  Where our Patroness has gone, we all also hope to follow.

And how does that happen?  We must be saints.  We must make God the very center of our lives.  We must choose God over and above all else, even when it is unpopular or difficult.  We must forgive and live out our Faith.  It has got to be a lot more than just nice words or thoughts.  Make no mistake about it, we too are invited to be saints and invited to the Kingdom of God!  But are we going to have the courage to say “yes” to that invitation?

May St. Maria Goretti inspire all of us to be better!  On her Feast Day, and every day of the year !

+And may God bless us on her Feast Day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                    AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…        Pray for us !!!