My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Several weeks ago, the Diocese of Brooklyn received a first-class relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a young millennial who was Beatified on October 10, 2020. The life story of Blessed Carlo is truly amazing. He was born in London, where his parents had migrated from Italy to run a business.
His parents were not practicing Catholics and rarely attended Mass; however, during that time Carlo had a Polish nanny named Beata who carefully instructed him on the basics of the faith, prayer, the sign of the Cross, and the Rosary. But Carlo had an inner drive that made him seek sanctity, even from a very young age. He can be an example for the millennial generation, which seems to have forgotten the path that leads us to God.
Carlo Acutis was a very normal young boy who enjoyed all pastimes of millennials, especially the Internet. We might even consider him an Internet geek. In fact, Carlo began a very interesting blog where he cataloged all of the Eucharistic miracles that the Church has recognized over the centuries. He even presented this blog at a Eucharistic congress in Italy, where he met Bishop Domenico Sorrentino, the current Bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.
This same Bishop would accept his body for burial in Assisi, which was Carlo’s wish. Carlo died on October 12, 2006, and his Funeral Mass was held in his home parish of Santa Maria Segreta in Milan. On April 6, 2019, his body was transferred in a solemn procession to the Shrine of the Renunciation – in the former cathedral also known as the parish of St. Mary Major of the Diocese of Assisi, where Bishop Sorrentino accepted his body for burial in the church where St. Francis Assisi renounced his inheritance, even giving up his clothes to follow Jesus and found the Franciscan order.
The remains of Blessed Carlo lie there today in the Sanctuary’s right nave in a rose-colored tomb, surrounded by white marble with scenes from his life and some of his sayings, elevated from the ground to show that the Eucharist has raised him to Heaven. He is dressed in jeans, a polo shirt, and Nike sneakers, his favorite clothes.
What made Carlo special? As with all saints, it is that he had a very normal life. Yet, from that normality, he was able to find a pathway to holiness. Carlo had five basic practices that he followed on his path to holiness: frequent reception of the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, guidance of a spiritual father and regular confession, devotion to our Blessed Mother through recitation of the Rosary and discovering the lives of the Saints, and acts of charity, small or large.
From an early age, when he received his First Communion, Carlo seemed to be enthralled with the Eucharist itself. He made his way to Mass every day on his own, even if the weather was difficult. And Carlo found time to fit Eucharistic Adoration into his daily schedule, even when he attended the classical high school in Milan. He made his confession weekly, recommending that we even confess our venial sins.
The devotion of Carlo Acutis to the Blessed Mother truly was extraordinary. As a young child, he visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Italy, and it was there that he made a consecration to Mary, which he followed for the rest of his life. When it came to acts of charity, the homeless of Milan knew Carlo well. Carlo really was a child of a well-to-do family. Whatever he had by way of an allowance, he gave freely to those who were in need. But it was not just what he gave; it was how he gave what he had and the care that he had for those who had much less than himself.
Usually, holiness seems to frighten us. We believe that it is beyond our reach, too hard for ordinary people to achieve. But this is what Carlo tells us, “You too can be a saint. But you need to want it with your whole heart, and, if you do not yet desire it, ask the Lord for it with insistence.” How simple and beautiful is his reflection of life that should lead us to Heaven. Carlo had insights well beyond his age and which, most probably, he would never have come to accept if not by some stroke of Divine inspiration in his life. These are some of the things that Blessed Carlo said that are truly amazing for a young boy of his age regarding suffering, death, and eternal life.
When he found out that he had an advanced form of Leukemia for which there seemed to be no cure, he told his parents, “The Lord has sent me a wake-up call.” And when a doctor asked him if he was in great pain, Carlo responded, “There are others suffering much more than me.” Carlo tried not to complain and rather smiled, describing death as “The start of a new life.” Carlo’s secret was that God was his single goal and objective, “Sadness is looking at ourselves, happiness is looking towards God.” And so, “Our goal must be infinite, not the finite. The infinite is our homeland, Heaven has been waiting for us forever.” If only young people today would come to understand the deep faith of Carlo Acutis so that their lives would take on a special meaning.
One of the famous sayings that was repeated to us by Pope Francis is, “We are all made originals, unfortunately sometimes we become photocopies.” Millennials seem to embody the habit of following one another, conforming in many ways to what the group does. But Carlo stood out! He was no photocopy of a millennial, for he forged a new path recognizing that God’s gift to youth is that they are able to see what others cannot see and are willing to suffer to obtain that gift. The goal of Carlo clearly was Heaven. He understood this and made it the purpose of his life.
Certainly, Blessed Carlo Acutis will become a saint. As we received his relic in the Chapel of our Chancery office in Brooklyn by way of Father John Cush, who received the relic in Italy through the kindness of Bishop Domenico Sorrentino from Assisi, Msgr. David Cassato, Vicar for Catholic Education, made a prophecy at the press conference that the last miracle for the Canonization of Blessed Carlo will happen here in Brooklyn. It would truly be a blessing if this prophecy comes true.
As we know, the road to sainthood for Carlo Acutis was a short one. For all of us, in the course of our lives, no matter how long or how short, we must keep the goal of Heaven always before us, never forgetting what the Lord has in store for each of us. It is our intention to have the relic of Blessed Carlo brought to each of our Catholic academies and parish schools, and high schools, so that the young people of Brooklyn and Queens might hear this story of the millennial saint who may inspire them to lead better lives. And, as Carlo once said, “Not wasting a moment in doing anything that God would not want.”
Each cause of a saint, the path from Venerable to Blessed to Sainthood, is putting out into the deep. But in that deep lies confirmation of a holy life and the miracles attributed through the intercession of that holy person. The Diocese of Brooklyn has many of its own saints, two of which we have placed on the road to Canonization; Bishop Francis X. Ford and Monsignor Bernard Quinn. Yet, there are many other saints here in Brooklyn and Queens known to God alone. We pray to the saints we know and to these recognized by the Church for their sanctity.