'The goal of my life is to always be united with Jesus.' Sunday Reflections, Solemnity of All Saints

 

Blessed Carlo Acutis
3 May 1991 - 12 October 2006
Beatified 10 October 2020

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12a (English Standard Version Anglicised)

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”

 

Léachtaí i nGaeilge


Matthew 5:1-12a in Filipino Sign Language

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Carlo Acutis Web Missionary

To activate the English subtitles click on the 6th icon from the right at the bottom of the screen.

I asked a friend, a teacher, to look at the video above and to share her comments with me. Her first comment was, He is so ordinary! She added that she wanted to look at it again and to reflect on it more deeply. My friend's reaction was similar to what Fr Will Conquer MEP, the young French priest in the video, said: Carlo is really an ordinary saint

Technically, Blessed Carlo, who was born in London, England, but grew up in Milan, Italy, is not yet a saint in the sense of one who has been canonised. But on the Solemnity of All Saints the Church honours all those who are in the presence of God, that great multitude of 'ordinary saints', some of whom, most likely, each of us knew personally. Father Will quotes St Teresa of Kolkata, Mother Teresa: Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love. All Saints' Day is when the Church honours all those now with God who have done such.

I had read a little about Carlo before his beatification but it was only when a local parish priest here spoke enthusiastically about him in a Zoom meeting  that I decided to learn more about him.

The most striking thing for me watching the video is Blessed Carlo's deep personal relationship with Jesus, especially through the Blessed Sacrament. Father Will notes: First Communion was a real encounter with Christ. Carlo was nourished by the Eucharist every day and it is this friendship with Christ in the Eucharist that would nourish his life. His mother Antonia says, For him his day was to meet Jesus at Mass . . . For him, it was obvious that Jesus is really present wherever there is a tabernacle. She quotes her son, We have the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle and no one is queuing up. His strong sense of this and his desire to be with Jesus in adoration before the tabernacle reminds me of his French namesake Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the French hermit-priest who lived in the Sahara among Muslim nomads and who will be canonised some time in 2021. Through his daily hours of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in his hermitage he discovered himself as 'the little brother' of the Muslims among whom he lived knocking on his door for help.

Young Carlo used to say, The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Another striking thing about Blessed Carlo, who was an only child of wealthy parents, was his respect for others, especially those who were poor. His school friends recalled his friendliness with persons such as the school caretaker. He brought meals to homeless people with Capuchin brothers and, with his pocket money, bought sleeping bags for some of them. This for me came from the deep relationship he had with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In this he reminds me of another handsome young Italian born years before Carlo and who died suddenly at the age of 24, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati whom St John Paul II called 'A Man of the Beatitudes'.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati shortly before his death in 1925

The young Carlo - and he never became old enough to be anything but 'the young Carlo' - had and continues to have a profound influence on adults. He mother says that he was like 'a little Saviour' to her and helped her and her husband Andrea to become active Catholics again. The family's parish priest had great wisdom too when, after Carlo's First Holy Communion, he asked Antonia to become a catechist.

Most striking of all for me is how Rajesh, the immigrant from India who worked with the family, speaks about Carlo. His best friend was Jesus, he says. He used to accompany Carlo to kindergarten and often went to the local park, sometimes with the family dog, Carlo bringing a frisbee to throw for the dog. Sometimes they went to McDonalds. Rajesh shares that the only person who treated him with respect was this young child. (I'm sure Carlo's parents did too). This reminds me of the story I mentioned last week of the homeless Dublin alcoholic who testified that the only person who ever looked up to him was Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary.

Rajesh goes on to say, I valued him more than my teacher because everything he said was really joyful and touched my heart . . . Such a young child could be a role model in my life.He was a true teacher for me which is why I converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

Carlo was a 'geek', as Father Will describes him, the first saint in heaven with an email address. He was a missionary 'geek' who asked himself, How can I share my greatest passion with my friends? Father will says, His greatest passion was Jesus in the Eucharist. In order to share this passion he set up a website about all the Eucharistic miracles he could find out about. He used Google and Wikipedia for research. His work is now being carried on by others.

Father Will says in the video, For me Carlo is a new kind of missionary of this unknown continent, the sixth continent that needs to be evangelized. Carlo is part of a pioneer generation. This echoes the message of Pope Benedict XVI for World Communications Day 2009, the title of which was New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. I'm not sure if Pope Benedict had heard of Carlo at that time. Yet the last paragraph of the Pope's message could have been written with Carlo in mind. I've emphasised some parts.

I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this 'digital continent'Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the 'Good News' of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all peopleHuman hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing. 

Pope Benedict was not telling young people that they were the 'future' of the Church but rather they were its now, with a special responsibility to bring the Good News to others because of their knowledge and skills as citizens of 'this digital continent'.

A young woman towards the end of the video says, Carlo told us: 'The goal of my life is to always be united with Jesus.' And this touches me a lot because it reminds me of what is essential: always being in a heart-to-heart [relationship] with Jesus. This echoes the recently-canonised St John Henry Newman whose motto as a cardinal was, Cor ad cor loquitur - Heart speaks to heart. 

Blessed Carlo, who died at 15, reminds me of a saint long before the time of the internet and who died at 105, St Anthony the Abbot. St Athanasius writes of him: And so all the people of the village, and the good men with who he associated saw what kind of man he was, and they called him 'The friend of God'. Some loved him as a son, and others as though he were a brother.

Blessed Carlo Acutis

The life of this young man who was so joyful because of his closeness to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament embodies the sixth beatitude in today's Gospel and the Communion Antiphon: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. He understood the opening words to today's Second Reading (1 John 3;1-3): See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are

Blessed Carlo invites us to thank God for the saintly people who have crossed our path. And I would suggest using the video above for prayer. I do believe that God is speaking to us through Blessed Carlo and especially through this video. And with lockdowns in so many countries we have time to reflect and to pray - and to discover for ourselves how the internet can be a tool to bring Jesus to others and to see is as a tool that can bring us closer to one another in these strange time.


Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) 

This Sunday, 1 November, is also the Feast of All Saints  in the calendar that uses the TLM.

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 11-01-2020, if necessary).

Epistle: Revelations (Apocalypse) 7:2-12; Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12.


Authentic Beauty

Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond.

Pope Benedict XVI meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel, 21 November 2009.

Beati mundo corde
Music by William Byrd, sung by UniversitätsChor München (Munich)

The Latin text is that of the Communion Antiphon in both forms of the Mass today.

Antiphona ad communionem Communion Antiphon (Mt 5:8-10)

Beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt;
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur;
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum.
Blessed are they who are persecuted  for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

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