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When I was writing the first Be Yourself Journal, I wanted to approach the topic of purity – but in a gentle way.
The Saint that came to mind immediately for me to discuss this topic was Maria Goretti.
I recalled her short life ending in an effort to preserve her purity.
To be honest, I knew only a very little about her.
I had the feeling that when she died, she was around the age of 11 – which is within the age range that I was writing the book for . . . so, I decided that she would be a great person to feature in one of the Saint Spotlights found in Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Girls.
Before I wrote the Saint Spotlight, which includes a fictional letter to the reader from the Saint (based on her life), I had to do some research.
Saint Maria Goretti : more than a model of purity
When I looked up Saint Maria Goretti, I came to realize that she did not only die to preserve her own purity – but fought for her life in an effort to preserve the soul of the boy who attacked her.
As I read, one particular fact struck me.
Maria’s mother taught her to avoid sin at all costs.
Maria’s mother taught her the danger of sin in a way that I never before contemplated.
As I read further I realized quickly that Maria was not only concerned with the danger sin would have to her own soul, but to the soul of the young man attacking her. It is often cited that Saint Maria Goretti said to him, “No! No! It is sin. God does not want it. You’ll go to hell.”
Saint Maria Goretti teaches us the gravity and danger of sin
Maria understood the gravity of sin.
I’m not sure my generation was taught that.
In fact, I remember learning a definition of sin in grade school – this was the definition I remember learning:
Sin is “missing the mark”.
That’s a far cry from what Maria Goretti’s mother taught her.
True, when we sin we are not being the best version of ourselves. We are not being who God calls us to be – but there is a lot more to it than that, isn’t there?
This weekend at Mass the priest giving the homily stated:
“Sin is slavery; sin is death.”
The health of our soul is just as important as our physical health
Perhaps if we looked at sin the way we looked at eating unhealthy foods we would be in much better shape spiritually.
Our society is very much aware of and concerned with physical health.
In recent years, we have become much aware of the importance of mental health.
But spiritual health – the health of our soul – nonexistent.
It’s not that we as a culture don’t believe in souls. It’s evident that we do believe every person has some kind of spirit that moves on after death by the popularity of mediums and psychics.
It’s common knowledge for most parents to lock up the bleach so that toddlers won’t drink it.
Personally, I’ve called poison control at least twice in my short time of being a parent.
As a Catholic, I now see the value of confession in a way that the world sees the importance of that poison control phone number.
Care for your soul the way you care for your body
God created us – body and soul. We must care for both.
Saint Maria Goretti’s witness reminds us of that.
And on top of that extremely valuable lesson, she also teaches us the power and beauty of forgiveness.
How can Saint Maria Goretti inspire us today?
Maybe the letter I wrote in the Be Yourself Journal inspired by Saint Maria Goretti is not only helpful to 11 year-olds.
Here is the advice I think she has for all of us:
Make a conscious effort to avoid sin every day.
Make it your responsibility to know what acts are sinful and avoid them.
Be generous with forgiving.
Below is the letter inspired by this saint inside the Be Yourself Journal for Catholic Girls. You can view the whole book on Youtube – click here to preview Be Yourself: a Journal for Catholic Girls
From Corinthians 6:18-20:
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.
Saint Maria Goretti is featured in the “feelings” part of the Be Yourself Journal.
Grab your copy today!