In the heroic testimony of [Saint Maria Goretti], her forgiveness of the man who killed her and her desire to be able to meet him one day in heaven deserve special attention.
The divine indulgence for human shortcomings is a demanding model of behavior for all believers. Forgiveness, in the Church's opinion, does not mean moral relativism or permissiveness. On the contrary, it demands the full recognition of one's sin and the assumption of one's responsibilities as a condition for rediscovering true peace and for confidently resuming the journey to evangelical perfection.
May humanity start out with determination on the way of mercy and forgiveness! Maria Goretti's murderer recognized the sin he had committed. He asked forgiveness of God and of the martyr's family, conscientiously expiated his crime and lived the rest of his life in this spiritual frame of mind.
The saint's mother, for her part, pardoned him on behalf of the family in the hall of the tribunal where his trial was taking place. We do not know whether it was the mother who taught her daughter to forgive or the martyr's forgiveness on her death-bed that determined her mother's conduct....
Walking in the footsteps of the divine Teacher always means standing up for him and committing oneself to follow him wherever he goes (cf. Rv 14:4). However, on this path, young people know that they are not alone. Saint Maria Goretti and the many who down through centuries paid the price of martyrdom for their allegiance to the Gospel, are beside them, to instill in their hearts the strength to remain firm in fidelity. Thus they will be able to become watchmen of a radiant dawn, illumined by hope. May the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, intercede for them!
Saint John Paul II. "Preserved by Mercy, Mary, and the Martyrs." From a Message to the Bishop of Albano for the Centenary of the Death of Saint Maria Goretti, July 6, 2002.
Used with permission Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Saint Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) was elected Pope in 1978 and served until his death in 2005. Among his many writings are: Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body, Love and Responsibility, The Splendor of Truth, and The Gospel of Life: Evangelium Vitae.Copyright © 2002 Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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