6 July – Memorial of Saint Maria Goretti
Beautiful, pious farm girl, one of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In 1896 the family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive.
In 1902 at age twelve, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm-hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought, yelled that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her fourteen times. She survived in hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God‘s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. Counted as a martyr.
While in prison for his crime, Allessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he later testified at her cause for beatification.
– Patron Saint Index
Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see. He summoned his elder son Esau, ‘My son!’ he said to him, and the latter answered, ‘I am here.’ Then he said, ‘See, I am old and do not know when I may die. Now take your weapons, your quiver and bow; go out into the country and hunt me some game. Make me the kind of savoury I like and bring it to me, so that I may eat, and give you my blessing before I die.’
Rebekah happened to be listening while Isaac was talking to his son Esau. So when Esau went into the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah took her elder son Esau’s best clothes, which she had in the house, and dressed her younger son Jacob in them, covering his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skins of the kids. Then she handed the savoury and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.
He presented himself before his father and said, ‘Father.’ ‘I am here;’ was the reply ‘who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your first-born; I have done as you told me. Please get up and take your place and eat the game I have brought and then give me your blessing.’ Isaac said to his son, ‘How quickly you found it, my son!’ ‘It was the Lord your God’ he answered ‘who put it in my path.’ Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come here, then, and let me touch you, my son, to know if you are my son Esau or not.’ Jacob came close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice but the arms are the arms of Esau!’ He did not recognise him, for his arms were hairy like his brother Esau’s, and so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he replied, ‘I am.’ Isaac said, ‘Bring it here that I may eat the game my son has brought, and so may give you my blessing.’ He brought it to him and he ate; he offered him wine, and he drank. His father Isaac said to him,
‘Come closer, and kiss me, my son.’ He went closer and kissed his father, who smelled the smell of his clothes.
He blessed him, saying:
‘Yes, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by the Lord.
May God give you
dew from heaven,
and the richness of the earth,
abundance of grain and wine!
May nations serve you
and peoples bow down before you!
Be master of your brothers;
may the sons of your mother bow down before you!
Cursed be he who curses you;
blessed be he who blesses you!’
John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth on to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’
They put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved
Recently, I attended a lifecoaching course. It involved a 3-day intensive workshop followed by 5 weekly group sessions and 5 individual coaching sessions. The coaches and the program was good. They helped me to discover certain things about myself which I never knew. For instance, it brought to light a childhood memory that I had of my dad. There is little of my parents’ divorce which I remembered. Except one or two vivid memories. One of them involved witnessing my dad leaving through the front door. That was a memory which I had buried deep down inside. But the moment it resurfaced, feelings of the past came flooding back. I hadn’t realised until that point how much I really missed my dad deep down inside.
Allowing the memory to resurface gave me a chance to express whatever emotions I had hidden deep within, which was good. The course also gave me a better understanding about how my childhood experiences have impacted certain assumptions I’ve made as an adult – resulting in certain conflicts in my relationship with my parents and others. It also impacted my relationship with God. Given the nature of my relationship with my dad, it was possible for me to envision a distant but yet good heavenly Father. That of course, affected how I approached my relationship with Him.
In today’s first reading, we witness the deception of Isaac. He had intended to give his blessing to his eldest son. However, that blessing was stolen by the younger son, Jacob instead – through lies and fabrications. Yet, God honoured that blessing. As the book of Genesis progresses, we witness God’s faithfulness to Jacob and how he turns the events in Jacob’s life for his good.
I’ve come to realise through the course that there is a limitation to how much man can do. At the end of the day, only God can transform our lives for his good. Only God can use the events and circumstances in our lives for his glory, no matter how difficult our past may be. The question is are we willing to take our struggles and honestly approach him with it?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, we pray for those who are struggling to find their way in life.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father for the people whom you have sent our way to guide us closer to you.