I will never forget the word my prayer partner, Judy, spoke to me just before we uprooted our lives to retire in Florida. “Are you going to leave your children and your friends and move all the way to Florida?” These words came from the heart of God and from the knowledge of being a friend who knew me like a sister. We had been daily prayer partners for almost thirty years. Those words took root in my soul.
The story of Maria Teresa Goretti, the saint whose feast we celebrate each July 6th, has been made known to many since her untimely death on that date in 1902. The 11-year old peasant girl died as a result of injuries inflicted by Alessandro Serenelli, a young man determined to force her to submit to his inappropriate advances. When she resisted, crying, “No! No! It is a sin!” he stabbed her repeatedly, a total of fourteen times. Maria underwent unsuccessful surgery without benefit of anesthesia and died the following day, after receiving her greatly-desired First Communion.
We find ourselves now well into that lengthy liturgical period termed Ordinary Time. For some of us, there is a tendency to take this season at its name, to treat these weeks as a ho-hum, colorless gap bridging the feasts of Corpus Christi and Christ the King. Give us Lent and Advent, when we can focus on the tough stuff!
If we could have traveled to a poor sharecropping farm in central Italy early in the 20th century, we would have seen a humble building – formerly a cheese factory – sheltering two families of tenant farmers.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Lack of forgiveness blocks the grace of God in our lives. It brings death–spiritually, emotionally, and often, physically. Examine your life. Where do you need to forgive? Pray for the grace to do so.
We’ve all done it from time to time – had a spat with someone and refused to let go – but when these “spats” go on for years, and are based in much more than a simple misunderstanding, how do we let go and bring our families back together again?
I clearly remember walking up the pathway to the rectory door that night to make my first confession in 15 years. The mere thought of having to sit face-to-face with someone and tell him what I had done made me want to turn around and run for my life. Just as I rang the doorbell, I looked back at the car and thought, “Go! It’s your last chance!” but it was too late. The door opened and there was Father Alex.