On July 6, we celebrate the feast of this young girl who, when only 11 years of age, submitted to being killed rather than allow a young man to violate her. It is reported that he stabbed her 14 times. She was taken to the hospital and the surgeons operated without anesthesia, but found it impossible to repair the damage.
The next day she died after terrible suffering, forgiving her assailant and saying she would pray for his salvation.
It is said that Alesandro Serenelli, her murderer was an addict of pornography.
He was sentenced to prison, serving 30 years. For the first few years he was completely unremorseful and would not communicate with anyone. However, a local Bishop visiting the prison spoke with him and told him that Maria had promised to pray for him. It is said that he dreamt that she came and gave him a bouquet of lilies. At any rate, he repented and after being released apologized to her family and attended the mass where she was canonized by Pope Pius XII. He became a monk and lived an exemplary life until he died in the 70’s.
Maria Goretti is a very important saint of our time where we allow our chastity to be taken from us with great ease.
What she teaches us by her heroic martyrdom is a reality that is too easily overlooked; that is, the baptized Christian is no longer an ordinary human but a person that belongs to Jesus in a very unique and close way. When we are a baptized Christian we receive the Holy Spirit that was given to the nascent Church at the price of the death of the Lord. Hence we have been purchased at the price of His Life.
Therefore, our relationship is both spiritually and physically so close that it resembles the unity of man and wife after marriage. They really are no longer two individuals but each belongs to the other like my hand belongs to me.
Our relationship with God is closer even than that and yet we are completely free to accept this union or not. The reason is that it is an act of Divine Love and love always has to be freely offered and freely accepted otherwise it is not love.
The result is that the baptized Christian is a sacred person.
That is to say, we have been set aside from all the pathways available in the world for the service of God and the salvation of our fellow humans. We are really, now, supposed to be extensions of Jesus and his work in the world.
Thus the things God has given us are meant to be used to do His will in the World. St. Paul says that we really are not our own but we have been purchased at the price of the life of the God-Man, Jesus.
This, of course, includes even our sexuality. It really must be used to serve God.
The Creator made us to need a companion and to be attracted to the opposite sex. So our physical relationship is fundamentally a good thing, blessed by God and a gift to mankind. However, the Christian must hold sexuality sacred and use it only as God wills it. Thus, if God calls one to marriage, it must be within the Church and exclusively with a single person ; because for us it is a Sacrament and hence leads us to Eternal Life in heaven after death. If we use it for our purposes we turn our backs on this gift and make it a serious sin. Christians who use contraceptives or have themselves sterilized are seriously offending the purpose of their existence and are walking in the illusion of sin.
Further, if one is called to be celibate so as to devote their life in the single state, our sexual desires must be sublimated and given only to God, who, after all, owns us.
So let is pray to St. Maria Goretti and the saints that the concept of chastity will once more be held as a serious obligation by our people — especially by Christians.