Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"6-Year-Old On Way to Sainthood"

The following is an excerpt (from about an amazing story:

A 6-year-old Italian girl who cheerfully endured the amputation of her leg and offered it in union with the sacrifices of Christ might someday become the youngest canonized non-martyr saint.

Benedict XVI approved Monday the decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Antonietta Meo, who died of bone cancer. Along with the recognition of Meo's virtue, the Pope approved six decrees recognizing miracles, and seven other decrees affirming lives of heroic virtue.

Born in 1930, Antonietta was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 5 after a fall caused by a knee injury would not heal.

The girl formed the habit of leaving a letter at the foot of a crucifix every night. At first, she dictated these notes to her mother; later she wrote them herself. The more than 100 letters and her diary reveal an intense mysticism and a surprising level of theological reflection, albeit hidden in simple phrases.

"Dear Jesus," one of the letters says, "I love you very much. I want to abandon myself in your hands [...] I want to abandon myself in your arms. Do with me what you want. [...] Help me with your grace. You help me, since without your grace, I can do nothing."

Her letters were written to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. In a letter to Mary from Sept. 18, 1936, she said, "Dear little Virgin, you who are very good, take my heart and bring it to Jesus."

Antonietta died July 3, 1937, five months before her 7th birthday.

In 1981, the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes removed the norm restricting "heroic virtue" only to those who had lived a "period of maturity."

The change in the norm permitted the visionaries of Fatima, Jacinta and Francisco, to be beatified in 2000.


At 6:35 PM, Blogger fran said...

This child's story beautifully illustrates Matthew 18:3-4

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Maryann said...

I enjoy this blog site because some of the postings bring back a “pop” thought, an event from the past (usually positive) that pops into my mind as I am reading. The March 5th post gave me a few “pop” thoughts. They are not religiously oriented in origin, like that of Antonietta Meo, but beautiful none the less. The first was that of the wonderful, loving, faith filled environment this young child must have been raised in. One of my favorite poems involving children came to mind:

If: a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.

a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.

a child lives with forgiveness,
he learns justice.

a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.

a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

a child lives with acceptance
and friendship,
he learns to find love in the world.

The second thought was that of the “sponge like” quality God builds into children. I have coached 8 & under competitive swimmers for about 10 years, the “Mighty Minis” as I call them. Several years ago, a very energetic six year old nearly gave me a heart attack. She did a flip off the edge of the pool and almost hit her head. When I asked her why she did what she did, she did she looked at me with a totally innocent puzzled look and said, “My brain made me do it.” Although I couldn’t show it and had to discipline her, for the rules are clearly stated, my heart melted at her truly honest lust for life. She knew from my tone of voice that she had done something I wasn’t pleased with, but like most young kids, in her mind, she wasn’t doing anything wrong.

The last quick flash thought I had was from my youngest child at the end of his first grade year at St. A’s. The teacher sent home a packet of memories from the year. Towards the end of the school year, his teacher found out she was pregnant and shared this with her class. She explained to the kids that the baby was the size of a lima bean and would grow to the size of a big watermelon, easy enough for a first grader to understand.

Some random comments from the students during the year were:

1. “My dad looks like most dads except he has fuzzy hair.”
2. “My mom had to go to the bathroom so bad that she had to beg the grocery man to use his bathroom.” Another student responds: “Well when my mom needs to go to the bathroom, she pulls into the driveway, jumps out and says: “You’re on your own!”
3. “I try and try and try to not talk in the bathroom, but every now and then a word will just slip out!”
4. When asked: “Who is Mary?” A student responds: “A mom just like my mom except she doesn’t make my lunch.”
5. “The water fountain is extra fresh today!”
6. “ Mrs.____, you don’t have to worry about eating something that Lima Bean doesn’t like.” The teacher replied, “Why?” Student responds: “Because all he probably does is reach outside of his bubble and take what he wants.”

Kids are a great blessing! We have a lot to teach them. Let us remember what they can teach us.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Children teach us many things, and this topic is one of my favorites- so thanks, Maryann. I enjoyed your post.

One of the more humbling things I’ve learned about recently was the direct result of something unpleasant. In one moment, I reacted to all the things for which my heart, brain and body screamed- support, attention, and understanding (among some other things not so seemingly great). I had needs I thought must be met, and I met them without much thought for consequences. When I realized what I had done and was faced w/the impact they could have on the people most important to me- my children, the amount of shame and disappointment I felt with myself were immeasurable. I’ve spent quite a bit of time praying on this of late, and trying to be really honest about all that’s been going on for me recently, and I think I’ve been given some clarity- thankfully.

It took one moment in time to stop me dead in my tracks when I realized the potential consequences of my actions. Were in not for my children (and this episode), I’m pretty sure I would have kept on this path. This episode gave me the opportunity to see that I wasn’t really serving a good, but serving myself. I got honest about motivations for things in my life, for even if the consequences for some of that were positive, some of my motivation was about me. When we serve ourselves, we don’t serve good. I realized a big distinction in talking care of myself (I must do that in order to take care of my kids) and serving needs that are really all about me.

Children do, indeed, teach of much.


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