Monday, July 6, 2009


“St. Maria Goretti”
Artist and Date were not sited
in the public domain.


Biographical Information about St. Maria Goretti[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Maria Goretti

Readings and Commentary:

1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God,
and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.
Commentary on
1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20

This passage is part of the Apostle's address on sexual sins – moral degradation. Libertines of the day advocated that the “sexual appetite” was akin to the body’s need for food and drink. St. Paul refutes this idea. He places the physical body on a higher order; it is to be a temple, glorified in the end times (the Eschaton).

Don’t you know…” the Apostle emphasizes that the Christian body belongs to Christ. It is incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. Because of this unity, degradation of the individual body in sexual sins degrades the whole body. This type of destruction of the body causes Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, to be in intimate relationship with a harlot. The selection concludes with the exhortation to purity so that the Holy Spirit, indwelling, may live in a temple set aside – sanctified in baptism for God.

CCC: 1 Cor 6:13-15 1004; 1 Cor 6:14 989; 1 Cor 6:15-20 2355; 1 Cor 6:15-16 796; 1 Cor 6:15 1265; 1 Cor 6:19-20 364, 1004; 1 Cor 6:19 1265, 1269, 1695
Psalm 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17

R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name's sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors,
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Commentary on
Ps 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17

The psalmist gives us a song of faith very appropriate for the one who is put to the test for their faith. It is a prayer for rescue and a submission of will to God's saving power.

John 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."
Commentary on John 12:24-26

Jesus has made his final entry into Jerusalem.  His hour is at hand and, in the presence of Gentiles as well as his disciples he reflects on his salvific mission.  St. John’s passage, given here, is foundational to our understanding of the Paschal Mystery. Using the analogy of the grain of wheat, the Lord invites us to his own sacrifice.

"Beautifully, Christ begins to elucidate the mystery of his atoning death.  If it be thought strange that he must die in order to bring life, let it be remembered that this paradox already exists in nature.  The grain of wheat left to itself produces nothing; only when it appears to have died and has been buried does it bring forth fruit - in far greater abundance than itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:36)." [3]

Out of the Lord's analogy, wheat that comes from the seemingly dead and buried seed becomes the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Into the body's death to sin in Baptism, we are invited to share the salvation that comes from following Christ from death to life.

CCC: Jn 12:24 2731

St. Maria Goretti was the victim of a brutal attempt to violate her that resulted in her death. When she was just 14 after her family had been forced out of their home due to the death of her father, a young man attempted to rape her. When she defended herself, calling out for aid, she was stabbed repeatedly. She died two days later in a hospital but not before she forgave her attacker.

Later she came to her murderer in a vision while he was in prison. That vision resulted in the conversion of her attacker who ultimately testified at her beatification.

Her heroic virtue in the face of death and the example she leaves us, of one full of love and forgiveness, provides a lived example of the Gospel. The passage from St. John used on her memorial provides a powerful image that links the actions of St. Maria Goretti and the Lord’s own passion.

Jesus uses the analogy of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground. This grain of wheat appears to be dead but life is contained there that allows it rise to new life. Christ provides this rich example of the life in heaven so that we might understand that what we do in this life provides the seed for what will take place in the next. St. Maria Goretti sacrificed her life for her virtue and that of her attacker (she warned him as she was being attacked that the sin he committed would condemn him as well). With that purity of intent and spirit she earned special recognition as having received special grace from God and a place at the heavenly banquet.

Today we call on St. Maria Goretti to intercede for us to God that he might strengthen us as we face a sinful world. May we too be strong in the face of opposition and resist temptation following the example of St. Maria and all the saints.


[1] The picture is “St. Maria Goretti” Artist and Date were not sited in the public domain.
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 63:131, pp. 449

No comments: