Blessed be the Millennial
Last October 10th, 2020, in the city made famous by the Saint whose entire life was dedicated to the poor, Francis of Assisi, a son of the millennial generation was solemnly proclaimed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who represented the Pope, as a Blessed of the Catholic Church. It took only 14 years from his death for this young soul to reach the glory of the altar.
Blessed Carlos Acutis was born on May 3, 1991, in London but lived his entire life in Milan, Italy. Like many youths of today, he was just like any other who lived the life of any young person—playing video games, sports, going out with friends, and enjoying the carefree existence of someone whose future is secured by an affluent family. His story would seem to fit the common narrations of his generation—a collective group of individuals who was born into technology, concerned more of themselves than those around them. Yet somehow, Carlo stood out from among the “photocopy” crowd and remained an “original”, as what everyone is intended to be, not dictated by what was labelled of them.
“All people are born as originals but many die as photocopies.”
Coming from a family whose affection to the Church was apathetic, it was a surprise that a seed of holiness should sprout from a ground that was poorly tilled. It was commonly expected that the ground of sowing would determine the quality of fruit. It was not the case of Carlo Acutis. In fact, it was the other way around. Because of his exhibited sanctity even at a tender age, his parents, particularly his mother, was brought back to the Church after many years of indifference. His Hindu nanny, Rajesh, testifies to this as he himself was a beneficiary of Carlo’s exemplary holiness. He was converted to Catholicism because of Carlo’s example, not a forceful one that elicits repulsion but a gentle, subtle show of how a Christian life is lived.
After receiving his first Holy Communion at the age of 7, Carlo became in love with the Eucharist, calling it “the highway to heaven”. This prompted him to receive it as often as he could, almost daily. With his innate disposition to technology he, at the age of 11, created a website that featured the different Eucharistic Miracles from all over the world, gaining for him the moniker “patron of the internet”.
Carlo Acutis was also deeply in love with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He called her “the only woman in my life”. It was to this great Mother of God that he dedicated his daily Rosary which he sees as the “most romantic date” of his whole day.
Sanctity can only be confirmed if it translates to acts of mercy. This was proven true when throngs of people attended Carlo’s funeral. They were the many witnesses to his holiness-in-action as Carlo was in the habit of consistently giving assistance to the needy in his area. He collected his allowance to regularly give it to the poor. He had a heart for them. It was these simple acts of charity that triggered the curiosity of his parents to wonder who were the unknown attendees of their son’s final farewell. The Franciscan spirituality was truly imbued in his day to day life—love for the poor. It was no wonder to many why in his last will he specifically requested to be buried in Assisi.
Apparent to the life of Carlo Acutis was a formula of sanctity that is quite prevalent to all the Saints—love for Jesus in the Eucharist, deep devotion to Mary, and a faith that is tangible through charity. He exhibited for all, especially young people, a path to holiness that is very much practical and doable, and does not require a heroic giving of self. One only needs to live their ordinary lives in accordance to God’s providence.
“I am happy to die because I have lived my life without wasting a minute on those things which do not please God.”
Today’s young generation is reputed to be self-centered and egotistic with little care for the world. It was Carlo Acutis who broke the chain of ill-repute for his peers of this modern-day point of history. He has become, like the other young Saints before him, a beacon of light amidst a world so concerned with the finite. As he used to say “our goal must be infinite, not the finite. The infinite is our homeland. Heaven has been waiting for us forever.” Carlo is finally home.
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