Blessed Carlo Acutis is described as the first millennial saint. He grew up in Italy and died at 15, of leukemia, in 2006. The Church beatified him in 2020. At first glance, he seems quite ordinary. He loved computers, enjoyed playing soccer, and grew up in a well-to-do family. He didn’t live long enough to develop a deep theology, to write books, or to do notable missionary work.
So, in his 15 years of life, what can he teach us?
Author, Nicola Gori, wrote a brief biography on Carlo, with prefaces and introduction totaling 40% of its length. But it was in those pages that we come to understand why Carlo’s life is extraordinary. For example, the world tends to draw our faith into mediocrity. One of Carlo’s favorite phrases was, “Everybody is born unique, but many die as photocopies.” His faith was the salt of God’s grace that kept its taste, the light that kept shining.
Quickly, we forget his age. He spoke with a wisdom and insight of someone much older. In fact, we begin to accept him as a teacher. For example, he spoke about the world lacking a “critical Spirit,” the ability to discern good from bad. His goal was “to always be united with Christ; this is my life program.”
He knew about the need to die to self-love as he attached himself to God. He said, “Holiness is not a process of adding anything, but of subtraction. It is a removal of myself to make space for God.” He knew conversion as turning in the direction of God. He said, “Conversion is nothing other than turning one’s gaze away from the inferior to the superior. It takes nothing more than diverting our eyes to another direction.” …
This is a 15 year old who answered Christ’s call.
He stood out among his high school peers, not as an oddity, but as a light. Some might occasionally mock his ordinary, unfashionable clothes, or his love of daily Mass, Rosary, and Gospel reading. But in their heart of hearts, they couldn’t deny his goodness, his service to others, or the truth of his love of God. He was a contradiction to be admired.
He held a special love of Jesus in the Eucharist. In fact, he described the Eucharist as “my highway to heaven.” The Eucharist is the light he reflected. One writer wrote, “[Carlo’s life] is…utterly ordinary and unique…a life burning bright with the light of a God whose mystery nourished him in the Eucharist.”
In high school, he helped teach catechism, an experience that inspired him to create, with others, a Eucharistic Miracle Display that has since, traveled around the world. In fact, our diocese has one of those displays available for parish events.
This ordinary but, at once, unique 15-year-old exemplified salt that keeps its taste and a light that keeps shining God’s love into the world. Carlo is not the pupil; he is the teacher. And what does he teach?
He teaches us to go to the source of light. Be with God in the Eucharist, in Mass, in meditation, and in Scripture. Know Jesus’ loving sacrifice for our sins and the light of His life shining within us; respond to the warmth of the Holy Spirit radiating in our hearts. We are not our “self” anymore but transformed in Christ to reveal His glory.
So, our interior life with God is first. But then, Carlo teaches us to beam that light of faith and love into the world. We walk in the world with the joy of God present within our soul. When we doubt our strength, when the world becomes too heavy for us, wherever we are, we now naturally turn inward to Him. Carlo said, when I confide in the Lord, “I find within me some words he sends me… that cloaks me in security and confidence.”
Don’t let the world overwhelm us. Like Carlo, let us go into the world and overwhelm it…as witnesses of Jesus’ Eucharistic love. Christ calls us just as He called Carlo.
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