Patronesses of purity: Weekly Message for 07-06-2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Years ago, a group of young men from the U.S. and Mexico gathered in Rome for an intensive month of spiritual and apostolic formation.

On the agenda were trips to ecclesial, historical and cultural landmarks, including St. Peter’s Basilica and Pompeii and more than a few gelato shops.

At month’s end, the landmark that emerged as a clear favorite among the young men was a surprising one: the shrine of St. Maria Goretti.

The virgin-martyr’s story of heroic virtue in the face of a would-be rapist is among the most inspiring in modern Church annals.

Her desire to protect both her purity as well as the soul of her attacker was a remarkable blend of personal virtue and pastoral concern – all the more impressive for a young woman still months shy of her 12th birthday.

It was that example of integrity that likely made such a deep impression on those young men who journeyed to her humble home. For the shrine wasn’t simply a monument to the past but rather a reminder of the heights of purity to which they (and all of us) are called to as Christians.

Maria’s display of valor speaks volumes about what a pure heart and the grace of God can do. For people struggling for the grace to navigate the swampy culture of our age, that means Maria would be a fitting patroness.

On the other side of the Atlantic, there was another young woman of extraordinary valor, St. Kateri Tekakwitha. While her story differs from Maria’s, it nevertheless could be a comparable source of inspiration. Judge for yourself with our Retreat Guide “A Virgin’s Courage.”

In any case, Kateri’s example, like Maria’s, shows how the glory of God can glimmer with a special iridescence in feminine hearts given over to Christ.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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