Tomorrow, July 6, we celebrate the feast of one of our youngest saints and martyrs, Saint Maria Goretti.  I remember this feast because my granddaughter did research back in grade school and chose her for her Confirmation name.

I found a brief biography on Courageous Priest website, that I would like to share, also some reflections on sin and repentance.


Maria Goretti (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr.She is one of the youngest canonized saints. She was born on the eastern side of Italy to a farming family, but increased poverty forced the family to move to the western side of the country when she was only six. Her father died from malaria when she was nine, and they had to share a house with another family, the Serenellis, in order to survive.

The Serenelli family was what we would call today a very dysfunctional family. Alessandro Serenelli, the young man who attacked Maria was part of a terrible mess. Giovanni, his father, was an alcoholic and his mother died in a psychiatric hospital when he was only a few months old, apparently after trying to drown Alessandro when he was a newborn.

On July 5, 1902, eleven-year-old Maria was sitting on the outside steps of her home, sewing one of Alessandro’s shirts and watching Teresa, her baby sister, when Alessandro threatened her with a knife if she did not do what he said; he was intending to rape her.

She would not submit, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning him that he would go to hell.  She desperately fought to stop him. She kept screaming, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” He first choked her, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times.

Teresa, the little baby, awoke with the noise and started crying, and when her mother and Alessandro’s father came to check on her, they found Maria on the floor bleeding and took her to the nearest hospital.  She underwent surgery, but her injuries were beyond anything that the doctors could do.

The following day, 24 hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for Alessandro and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, she died of her injuries, while looking at a picture of the Virgin Mary and clutching a cross to her chest.  In a dying deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, Maria told her mother of Serenelli’s sexual harassment, and of two previous attempts made to rape her. Alessandro was promptly arrested, convicted, and jailed.

After three years he repented, and when eventually released from prison, he visited her mother begging forgiveness, which she readily granted. He later became a lay brother in a monastery, eventually dying peacefully.  In1970. Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1947, and canonized in 1950 by the same Pope.  Maria’s mother and Alessandro were present at both ceremonies.


Saint Maria Goretti Help us all to flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, grant us this grace which we earnestly beg of you , and may we one day enjoy with you the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.


“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10: 28)

What is Gehenna?  The word Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, south of Jerusalem was where some of the ancient Israelites sacrificed their children to the Canaanite false god Molech.  Gehenna presented such a vivid image, that Jesus used it as a depiction of hell: a place of eternal torment where the fires never ended and the worms never stopped crawling.

I share the story of Maria Goretti not only to honor her but to cite her as an example of one who understood the horror and consequences of sin and preferred to die rather than commit a mortal sin. Today we live in a culture that has lost the sense of sin.  It is the last thing most people want to acknowledge or talk about.

Take the grave sin of abortion and public politicians who claim to be good practicing Catholics and avoid at all cost discussing the dismemberment of our youngest and most vulnerable human beings.  They won’t talk about it. They would rather talk about such things as separation of Church and state, a woman’s right to choose, being personally against abortion but can’t impose their morality on others.  WHY NOT!  By their very acts they are promoting their immoral practices on me and coarsening the society I live in.


What is sin?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us a concise definition. “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity.  (CCC #1849).

(MORTAL SIN) “There is a sin that leads to death…” (1 John 5:16).  “Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death” (1John 5:17). (VENIAL SIN)

Mortal sin is forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession. All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession…” (CCC #1456).

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession.  The Church has always understood the Scriptural reference for the Sacrament of Confession to be John 20: 22-23: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

There is a direct relationship between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession as St. Paul recalls in First Corinthians. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the sacraments of the living.  We need to be free from mortal sin before we receive Holy Communion.  If we receive the Eucharist while we are in the state of mortal sin, we are committing a sacrilege, another mortal sin  “For anyone who eats and drinks, unworthily, without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. (I Corinthians 11:27-29

Sexual sin is not the only sin, but like for the Corinthians of old, it is certainly the battle of our times. Adultery, fornication, masturbation, addiction to pornography, contraception, sterilization and abortion are real life struggles for many Catholics. These are still SINS, despite the trend in our culture to Moral Relativism that has convinced a lot of Catholics that they are their authority on morality and not any outside authority such as God


We experience God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.  It is there that we acknowledge who we are: limited, weak and sinful creatures in need of redemption.  It is there that God forgives us of any and all of our sins.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16-17).

The Sacrament of Confession is an enormous source of interior peace.  The priest raises his hand, and then with a blessing pronounces those amazing words,”I absolve you from your sins.”  At that moment, we know that God has heard our cry for forgiveness, and we have been pardoned of our sins.  JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

Oh my God I am sorry for all my sins because they offend you who are all good.  Be merciful to me a sinner.  I am deeply sorry for my sins, for having broken or weakened my communion with you and my neighbor.
I pray that your loving mercy will heal what I have hurt, strengthen what I have weakened. Help me to amend my life and sin no more and in your mercy, bring me to everlasting life. Amen


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