Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pure Resistance

“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Hebrews 12: 4

A twelve year old girl is attacked by her older male cousin who attempts to sexually assault her. She resists his advances and pleads with him to stop and not give in to the lust and sin in his heart. In his fury against her stabs her repeatedly with a knife. She dies a few days later after suffering greatly. All for purity. Thus is the story of St. Maria Goretti, patron saint of youth. And the Church holds her up for us as a model of purity, something desperately needed in today’s world wouldn’t you agree?

Yet we sometimes still miss the point. Some people mistakenly think that if they were in a similar situation that they would be sinning if they did not resist to the point of death. Others think that Maria was concerned only for herself because of the social norms of the time—that perhaps after this crime was done to her, she might still carry a stigma of shame for it. But the reality is that Maria was just as concerned about her cousin and his purity as she was for her own. She wanted HIM to go to heaven as well and after the attack she even forgave him and appeared to him in a vision after she died to tell him and to ask him to repent, even after years of prison and bitterness. We may not ever be asked by God to resist sin to the point of shedding our blood, but we are all called to fight against the temptations of impurity.

St. Maria Goretti knew that there is more to this life than meets the eye, and not only did she seek to follow Jesus passionately with a pure heart, she wanted that for others as well. How many of us live this way today? Or do we instead only think of ourselves, our needs and wants, our desires for pleasure? Do we dress the way we want simply because we want to without any regard for how it might impact someone else’s struggles with purity or lust? Do we use others or view others’ bodies as mere objects?

We all have much to learn from this pure little girl who became a martyr and a saint. May we strive to live as she did, from a pure heart, not only for our own salvation, but out of the concern for the salvation of others as well.

Dear Jesus, thank You for the example of St. Maria. Please help me to cooperate with the grace You give me to fight impurity in my life and to help others live purely as well. Amen.

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