Loading
From My Peace I Give You, Chapter 5, The Love That Liberates: Overcoming obstacles to forgiveness—with Blessed Laura Vicuña and St. Maria Goretti
By Dawn Eden

Forgiveness is not within our own power. It is in God’s power. Alexander Pope had it right: to err is human; to forgive, divine. In the Mass, when the bread and wine become, through transubstantiation, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, it is not by the priests own power, but by the power of Christ acting through him. So too, when we pray for those who have offended us, we transform the detritus of evil into a seedbed of goodness—not by our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. The Catechism says that the effect of praying for our offender is so spiritually potent that it purifies our memory: “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC 2842, 2843).

All this is not to say that forgiveness is without pain. Union with Christ demands interior martyrdom (2 Cor 4:11). But we’re in good company. The Catechism says our acts of forgiveness connect us with all the saints who gave their lives for the faith: “Forgiveness . . . bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus” (CCC 2844).

In the twentieth century, the Church recognized the sanctity of two young girls who were particularly profound witnesses to Christ’s forgiveness: St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Laura Vicuña. The life stories of these “martyrs of chastity” speak deeply to victims of childhood sexual abuse, offering inspiration, guidance, and hope for healing. Yet, many Catholics do not understand why the Church honors them, as their legacy has been misrepresented both from within and without the Church.

Maria Goretti in particular has suffered from bad press. On one side, critics of the Catholic faith, particularly those opposing its sexual ethic, assert that her canonization proves the Church values a woman’s physical intactness more than it values her life. On the other, some upholding her as a model of purity unwittingly reinforce the critics’ view by implying she is called a martyr of chastity because she was not violated. The truth is that the term “martyr of chastity” does not refer to whether the saint died physically intact, but, rather, whether the saint died resisting an attack on his or her purity. This teaching goes back at least to the time of St. Augustine, who wrote that Christian virgins who were raped before being martyred were still virgins.

The more I learn about Maria and Laura, the more I want to shout to their detractors and supporters alike: These holy ones are not caricatures. They do not exist to satisfy an agenda. They are real young women. It is worth taking the time to unearth their shining witness from beneath the politics and pious myths. …

For the love of Jesus, I pardon him, and I want him to be with me in heaven.” That was Maria’s response when her parish priest, before giving her what she knew would be her final Communion (known as viaticum, when the Eucharist is given as “food for the journey” to heaven), asked if she could imitate Jesus’ forgiveness of the penitent thief and forgive her attacker.

Maria’s forgiveness reveals that she embodied chastity on a eucharistic level. Chastity finds its highest expression in mercy: forgiving from a wounded heart makes the body most like that of the risen Christ. Those who evaluated her cause for beatification found it no coincidence that Maria’s heart poured out its pardon on the day the Church marks as the Feast of the Most Precious Blood.

 

Excerpted from My Peace I Give You by Dawn Eden. Copyright 2012. Ave Maria Press Notre Dame, IN. www.avemariapress.com. All rights reserved.

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
23

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »

Saint
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: