Saturday morning, Michael and the kids went to a town hall meeting with JEBush. I think Max looks like a young Republican already. They had a great time and were very much impressed with the things he had to say. I was sorry to miss it, but I wanted an hour of quiet before the Harvest Home Tour (a fundraiser for our public library). Here's a lovely write up in the local newspaper.
I was so honored to be asked to participate and had a good time in a townhome that was comfortable and beautiful, designed for both privacy -- with little nooks for reading or writing -- and openness. Max was in his element, driving the patrons to the four different houses, and I'm sure hamming it up as well. Don't we clean up nicely? I had my books on display and especially enjoyed speaking with the teachers and librarians who were kind enough to tell me how much they love my older books on plant parts and graphing.
|I like this painting of little Maria because it captures her youth and innocence, even in her seriousnes|
Alessandro didn't just take a life; he destroyed a family. You see, Maria's father had died the year before from malaria, and without Maria's help, her mother Assunta couldn't care for the younger children. They were all given away. Can you even imagine the grief of this mother? But she forgave him too. Alessandro had had a complete conversion in prison.
But why this yearning to venerate the skeletal remains of St. Maria? I cannot quite explain it myself except that saints come into our lives when we need them most. As Dagny remarked, it's a strange custom but one that is part of Church Tradition. Years and years ago, probably when I was around 8 or 9, my mother had mentioned the little saint and how important it was to forgive. My mother didn't tell me Maria's story but still she remained in my heart. Little did I know what a big part she would play in my own life. You see, I too have an Alessandro in my life, and although I'd like to think I've forgiven and forgotten, it is still something I grapple with. I take the Lord's Prayer seriously and this sentence gives me pause: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Ouch. If I won't completely forgive the inexcusable, then what about all the inexcusable things I've done? Yes ... this forgiveness is a serious business. Our parish priest reminds us often, "You do not have to reconcile or be friends to forgive. It's an act of the will, so just do it." That is what I do on a daily basis and if I'm having a hard time, I ask God to remember that I have the *desire* to forgive even if I cannot do it well at times. We should all be so heroic as little Maria.
I didn't think we could make a pilgrimage because of the commitment we'd already made for the Harvest Tour so a dear friend's mother in CT went for me earlier (taking along our family photo), waited in line for two hours so that she could spend 15 seconds in front of the reliquary to ask for healing in our family. She didn't press for any explanations but simply did this out of the goodness of her heart. God bless her. Upon receipt of her letter, I wept.
|This is a wax figure that has the skeletal remains of St. Maria Goretti|
And it stoked the fire to go even more! We checked the schedule one more time and as luck would have it, the Church hosting St. Maria's reliquary would be open all day and all night for veneration!!! Yes, we could do this. It didn't matter what time we arrived. Of course, what would normally take 3 hours took us 5 due to a couple of bad traffic jams, but we were not worried. It was a time to pray. The church would be open ... and it was beautiful.
I cannot express the joy, the quiet hush of prayer. Even at 1 o'clock in the morning, the church was about half full of pilgrims. Priests, young couples, older people, families with many children sleeping on their parents' laps. Some were wide awake. Others were whimpering but there was so much peace. We were all drawn to this little saint. The line moved in an orderly fashion and there was no rushing or jostling -- it was a time to pray. I couldn't stop the tears from coming knowing St. Maria has been praying for me for so many years. I am thankful my family agreed to go on this trip at a crazy hour. I couldn't have made it alone ... not with Harry. So thanks be to God for everything. And thank you St. Maria for drawing us closer to you. We hope to meet in heaven. Please pray for us!
|Assunta said this portrait most resembled Maria. Assunta is the first mother to attend the canonization of a daughter! |
Maria was just a few months shy of 12 when she was killed in 1902.