May 4, 2020
When I meet with the Confirmation candidates before the Mass, I like to remind them of the great diversity that exists among the canonized saints. After all they have been browsing through the Saints’ Who’s Who to determine what name they want to be called at the moment of their Confirmation. We often have a very narrow idea regarding the saints’ personalities, virtues and behaviors. But, in fact, there is no one pattern a man, woman or child must fit into to exhibit sanctity. Some Holy Ones were kings or queens and some homeless; some were highly educated, great scholars and authors and others never had one hour of formal education; some lived into advanced old age and others died in youth. All saints don’t look alike.
Take for instance, a young Italian boy, born in London in 1991. His mother describes him as an average teen with an above average knack for computers. In 2006 he died at age 15 from leukemia in Monza, Italy. His name is Carlo Acutis and he is already on the road to sainthood. He was to be beatified in Assisi this month. The miraculous healing of a young Brazilian boy afflicted with a rare congenital disease of the pancreas is attributed to Carlo’s intercession. Last February the Vatican approved that miracle. Because of the pandemic, the Beatification ceremony, most likely, will have to be rescheduled.
Oh, did I mention Carlo’s extraordinary love for the Most Holy Eucharist? He wanted everyone to have his love for our Eucharistic Lord. Every day he went to Mass and spent time in Eucharistic Adoration. Using his technological savvy, he created an online database of Eucharistic miracles from around the world. The online project was turned into an exhibit of posters of the miracles which travels around the world. In 2018 the Vatican Dicastery for Communication made the exhibit into a movie called “Signs”.
Pope Francis has honored Carlo as a model for young men and women today. The Holy Father even mentioned him in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit (Christ Lives). Pope Francis wrote this: “Carlo was well aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity. … Carlo didn’t fall into the trap. He saw that many young people, wanting to be different, really end up being like everyone else, running after whatever the powerful set before them … In this way they do not bring forth the gifts the Lord has given them; … As a result, Carlo said, “Everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies.” Don’t let that happen to you.” (n.105-106)
Quite the insight and contribution from someone who was given relatively little time on earth. Carlo is someone worth getting to know and ponder during these days when you just might be spending more time with technology than usual. I know I am regularly now using technology for meetings and of course, the celebration of Mass. If you are a step up from just being computer literate, maybe you can use some of your God given gifts to explore ways of using technology to communicate the Gospel, Christian values, and authentic beauty. You might help others avoid the trap of becoming just a photocopy in our secular world. Of course, first we must all take care that we ourselves haven’t fallen into that tempting trap.
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer