Redemption and hope.

If there is one thing that makes the Catholic Church glow in the dark, it is her message of redemption. It doesn’t matter how bad, how utterly vile and ugly the sin is, if you repent, there is redemption, even sainthood.

This photograph has been engraved in my mind since I first saw it some years ago. I have very recently read ( but now can’t find the article) that the old man sitting here Alessandro Serenelli has his cause for beatification sent to the Vatican.

We need a saint like him so much in todays toxic broken culture.

Now I have to confess that I am one of those people who have had difficulties with the way the sainthood of Maria Goretti (Whose mother is in the photo) has been touted. She is put forward as a saint of purity because she resisted Alessandro’s attempt to rape her and he then stabbed her so often that she died of blood loss a couple of days later.

I have worked with rape victims and the idea that resisting your attacker so he couldn’t rape makes you a saint is just nasty. What about the mother who was raped while her baby, having been snatched from his pram, was held against her with a knife to his throat to force the mother to submit? Is she not as saintly for submitting to such a foul act to save her child? And what about all those women prisoners during wars who have placed themselves in front of soldiers to save the young girls from rape? Not one of the women and children I have worked with were “impure” because they got raped. My disgust at this version of St. Maria’s life has made me avoid her.

But with the cause for Alassandro opening there is something much more profound, and dare I suggest, much more useful for rape victims and their hope of healing, is the fact that Maria completely forgave her murderer. Her forgiveness helped her mother forgive and that joint forgiveness helped him to find the God he has so far rejected.

In prison he converted and began the long and surely very difficult process of turning his life around. He had been a man who liked pornography and from that awful habit he went on to a disordered desire for the 12 yr old Maria.

I must admit I think Maria’s mother is a saint. She forgave the man who did such a terrible thing to her little girl. That is the most astonishing and grace filled act of forgiveness.

And all that forgiveness and grace worked. Alassandro repented; he completely turned his life around, so that he could sit on a little bench with Mrs Goretti on that day when Maria was canonised.

He died on the 6th May 1970. He left behind this testimony warning against the toxic media that poisons souls (H.T PornNoMore)

 

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3 responses to “Redemption and hope.

  1. Wonderful thoughts on forgiveness and grace, an aspect of St. Marie Goretti’s story that does not get enough attention. As a frequent reader of your blog, I was surprised to read your harsh word “disgust” toward women, specifically St. Maria Goretti, who are willing to die for their purity. It in no way suggests the other women in your scenarios are less virtuous for their sacrifice anymore than St. Catherine of Sienna, surviving solely on the Eucharist, is more virtuous than St. Therese the Little Flower who ate “french food” :-). Honoring someone for being a willing martyr on the altar of sin does not disrespect those who do what they need to do to survive or to save the lives of others.

    Do you feel the same “disgust” for the brothers and their mother in the Old Testament who died horrible deaths one by one rather than deny their faith? She too had a “knife” to her child’s throat, but she chose, she encouraged, his death over his rejection of his faith. Do not misunderstand, surviving a rape is not a rejection of faith in God and celebrating these incredible women’s triumph over the evil that was done to them is inspirational.

    Our children are assaulted by horrible images of immorality at almost every turn. I am trying to raise mine to be prepared to suffer whether it be now from peer rejection and loneliness, to their adulthood having difficulty in finding work or promotions to protect their eyes and ears from these offenses. We are in a terrible bloody battle for souls. Some are called to suffer tremendous physical scars that they will carry for many years, while others are called to forfeit the many years, other are called to years of isolation or public scrutiny. All are valued parts of the same body, the Body of Christ.

    I look forward to your continued encouragement, through your posts, in carrying our sometimes crushing crosses. May God bless you and your family.

  2. No, you misunderstand me.
    My disgust is based on how the sanctity of St Maria was touted in her resistance to rape, rather than her deep love and forgiveness for her attacker.
    The women and children I saw in my working days had sometimes tried and failed in resisting their attacker. Others had been too terrified to resist and still others, especially the children, had been persuaded to allow the rape to happen.
    I worked in a time where the police and legal system frequently insisted that these victims of such a vile crime had “asked for it” or “allowed it”. In the light of this, I saw many victims struggle with guilt and self disgust thinking Wrongly that they could have done something to prevent the great evil that had befallen them.
    In the way some people in the Church have spoken of St Maria, instead of making her a person a rape victim could turn to, they have made the rape victim guilty for not resisting enough. That does disgust me.
    You cannot imagine the pain, sorrow, mental distress of those women and children I saw. Some will never recover. I cannot bare the fact that even in the Church there are those who add to that pain.
    Hope this clarifies my disgust.

  3. The miracle is that God has the power to convert the most vile sinner, as you well note. But considering Mr. Serenelli’s crime, it is something of a stretch (or so it seems to me) to think that he, or someone like him, deserves sainthood. Putting aside whatever proofs are required by the powers that be for the declaration of sainthood, one must wonder if a life spent gardening and doing secretarial work, if it is for a religious order mind you, overcomes the obvious horror of the crime, and the wilful disregard of a commandment that is perhaps second only to having no God before God. I guess, I hope God has forgiven him as did his victim, but when I look for imperfect saints, well I’ll keep Kind David. That said. I love your site.

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