Why Brock Turner Needs Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli

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There is a reason why justice and mercy go hand in hand. Like the rest of the internet, I was disgusted over the way-too-lenient sentence that Brock Turner received from the judge. While I am devoted to Divine Mercy and advocate forgiveness, I also know that six months in jail is not actual justice. Brock Turner isn’t sorry.

Which is why, instead of screaming “Rape culture” and “Check your privilege,” I am asking Saint Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli to pray over this situation.

Why Maria Goretti?

For those who don’t know, Maria Goretti, like the victim of the Stanford rape case, was damaged by the guy who sexually assaulted her. In fact, she died as a result of her trying to defend herself from her would-be rapist.

I’m already asking for Maria Goretti’s intercession for the victim of the rape case because she needs all the support she can get. In some ways, the victim will have to suffer a lot more than Maria Goretti did because she has to live with the trauma for the rest of her life.

But why does the perpetrator need the intercession of the victim of attempted rape and murder? And how would the man who killed Maria Goretti help?

I’m asking for Maria Goretti’s intercession because the scales of justice and mercy are thrown out of balance. Alessandro got a proper sentence for the murder he committed. He began his thirty-year jail sentence angry and unrepentant. He blamed Maria Goretti for everything and he was very violent around his inmates. Six years later, Maria appeared to Alessandro in a vision. In this vision, she was in a garden picking 14 lilies and she gave those 14 lilies one by one to Alessandro. Each lily represented a stab that Alessandro inflicted upon her. Through this gesture, Maria showed that she forgave her murderer for what he did and what he wanted to do.

I understand that there is no frickin way that Brock Turner deserves forgiveness.  Improper justice was given to Brock Turner. Binge-drinking and whatever the victim was wearing did not cause this rape to happen. Brock Turner chose to rape her. And sadly, he’s not sorry for that particular action. His father and the judge aren’t sorry, either. The victim will probably never forgive them.

Here’s the thing, though. None of us deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget what happened, either. Mercy demands justice. The reason I’m asking for Maria Goretti and Alessandro Serenelli’s intercession is because the scales of justice need to regain their balance. I pray that Brock Turner will feel the weight of his actions. I pray that the victim will not be a prisoner of her trauma nor will she be labeled a “slut” for what happened. I pray that people will understand that drinking and going out to a nightclub aren’t to blame here.

People these days feel entitled to have whatever they want. It’s not just a privilege issue because entitlement can be found everywhere. But I’m not here to rage against the fallen state of this country. There are too many people doing that already.

I’m here to ask for justice and mercy to be rendered to everyone involved. I’m asking people to look at each other and see a person and not someone to use for their own means. I’m asking for harsher sentences for rapists and for judges to have a little more wisdom. I’m asking for you to look into what mercy and forgiveness really mean and try and apply that to your life. Most of all, I pray that somehow, someday, all the people involved will learn to forgive each other and to forgive themselves, but to never forget what happened.

If you want to know more about Maria Goretti, read this post I wrote from last November when I venerated her relics. There’s also a video from the Mass that I went to that night. I linked the video to start at the homily:

P.S.: Who wants to bet that Law and Order SVU will totally do a ripped from the headlines episode based on this?

Father Forgive Them…Forgiveness Bible Study Day 5

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From today’s reflection

I realize now that the pain people caused me was basically the collateral damage of whatever hurt they had to deal with. In spite of the things I suffered, the hurt that I endured in the past led to me finding my strength. So as unlikely as it sounds, if you are one of those people that hurt me and you are reading this, know that I love you as my brother or sister in Christ and that I forgive you and that I am praying for your happiness.

Read the rest here!

Meeting Saint Maria Goretti

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So last night, at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, TX, I had the privilege of attending Mass in honor of St. Maria Goretti, whose relics were being venerated. The church was packed. I honestly haven’t seen a church so crowded outside of Christmas and Easter. The line to venerate the reliquary was almost a mile long and I’m very certain I’m not exaggerating when I say that. My dad and I, however, were lucky to get a seat in the church.

It was during the Homily that I learned about St. Maria Goretti’s intercessory power and how America has a special relationship with her. For one thing, her brothers immigrated here and started families. A descendant of one of Maria Goretti’s brothers was present at Mass. American troops also used the basilica in Nettuno as a base when they invaded Italy. They also taught baseball to the people of Nettuno and currently the city has the best baseball team in all of Italy. I also learned she’s excellent with healing people whose legs or feet might be amputated.

I got to venerate her twice. Not knowing how long the line will be, I grabbed my Rosary and made sure that it touched the reliquary while I was in line to receive communion. When I was in line to venerate her properly, I received two prayer cards that touched the reliquary. Through reading the cards, I learned that anything that touches the reliquary becomes a third class relic, so I made sure that my ring touched the reliquary. I was only there for a short fifteen seconds both times, but I felt an amazing power from both of those moments.

I own third class relics now. It’s seriously amazing.

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The most amazing thing that I learned from the story of St. Maria Goretti is the power of forgiveness. The priest who gave the homily, Fr. Carlos Martins, gave a great detailed story about the life of St. Maria Goretti. It broke my heart to know that  Maria Goretti had to take care of her family at such a young age. It disgusted me that a 19-year-old boy lusted after an 11-year-old girl so much that he was willing to kill her in order to get his way. He wasn’t even sorry for killing her and tried to say that she attacked him. The judge, of course, didn’t believe him. If this story was done on Law and Order: SVU, Alessandro would’ve been completely unsympathetic. And yet, one moment of forgiveness changed everything. Alessandro Serenelli received a vision of Maria Goretti giving him fourteen white lilies, one for each time he stabbed her. In this kind gesture, Maria Goretti told Alessandro that she forgave him.

After receiving that vision, Alessandro Serenelli repented. He was released from jail three years before the actual end of his sentence because of how different he was from when he was imprisoned. He ended up breaking up the entire Goretti family through his actions and yet  when he approached Maria Goretti’s mother on Christmas Eve, she chose to forgive him. He became a Franciscan and devoted his life to God. And in spite of what everyone thought about him, Alessandro chose to forgive himself.

Fr. Martins asked everyone to pray a litany asking St. Maria Goretti to help them forgive the people who’ve hurt them and to most of all forgive yourself. I prayed this litany during the Offertory hymn. It was a powerful experience for me because I have no idea if the people who’ve hurt me were even sorry for what they did. And yet through forgiving them, I chose to let my anger go. At this point in my life, I realized that the hurt that I was put through led to me finding my strength. So as unlikely as it sounds, if you are one of those people that hurt me and you are reading this, know that I love you as my brother or sister in Christ and that I forgive you and that I am praying for your happiness.

I’m gonna go more into the power of forgiveness in a later post.  If you want to see what I experienced, there’s a video of the livestream on St. Theresa’s YouTube channel. It clocks in at 2 hours, but it’s worth watching.