Responding to editors' requests for a regular sampling of current commentary from around the Catholic press, here is a commentary titled "Blessed Carlo Acutis offers a witness of Christ for all" from the Oct. 16 issue of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It was written by Mike Krokos, editor.
Blessed Carlo Acutis offers a witness of Christ for all
We know of the challenges young people face today.
School, sports, extracurricular activities, family commitments and an always evolving social calendar – plus the effects of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – lead to a tremendous amount of stress these days for many teenagers.
Add Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms to the equation, and we can understand why many young people feel there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish what they believe needs to be done.
It may be the case for them – and for many others who follow a similar pattern – that their lives have become so chaotic that many forget the gifts the Catholic faith offers them, including saints to inspire them as they journey on a potential path to eternal life in heaven.
Providentially, the recent news of a teenager on the path to sainthood serves as a reminder for people of faith who need a real-life example from today's world.
Italian teenager Carlo Acutis was beatified Oct. 10 in Assisi, Italy. He is the first millennial to be declared "blessed."
Carlo used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist, which he called his "highway to heaven." On the website he created, Carlo told people that "the more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven."
Carlo's tomb was open for veneration Oct. 1-10 at the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major in Assisi.
His body was "found in the normal state of transformation typical of the cadaveric condition," according to Assisi Bishop Domenico Sorrentino as quoted in a Catholic News Agency article, dispelling the belief by some that it was found intact. The article states the body was "arranged with dignity for its display for public veneration and a silicone reconstruction of his face used."
Placed in a glass case, his body was dressed in jeans and a track suit jacket – the attire he was accustomed to wearing and what is seen in many of the photos taken of him during his life.
Although he grew up in Milan, Carlo requested to be buried in Assisi, because of his love for St. Francis of Assisi.
Carlo's faith was evident early in life. At age 7, he wrote, "To be always united with Jesus, this is my life program."
Before his death from leukemia at age 15 in 2006, Carlo was an average teen with an above-average knack for computers. He put that knowledge to use by creating an online database of eucharistic miracles around the world.
Carlo's life centered around his faith: He attended daily Mass, prayed the rosary each day, received the sacrament of reconciliation weekly and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.
In his apostolic exhortation on young people, "Christus Vivit" ("Christ Lives"), Pope Francis said Carlo was a role model for young people today who are often tempted by the traps of "self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure."
"Carlo was well-aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity," the Pope wrote.
"Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty," the Pope added (#105).
Carlo's mother, Antonia Salzano, said in an interview a few days before the beatification liturgy that she was "overjoyed that Carlo's tomb has finally been opened," and that those who have been touched by the young teen's life "will be able to see him and venerate him in a stronger and more engaging way."
There was fruit born from Carlo's devotion. His witness of faith led to a deep conversion in his mom, because, according to the priest promoting his cause for sainthood, he "managed to drag his relatives, his parents to Mass every day. It was not the other way around; it was not his parents bringing the little boy to Mass, but it was he who managed to get himself to Mass and to convince others to receive Communion daily."
Carlo also was known for defending kids at school who were picked on, especially students with disabilities.
"We hope that through the exposition of Carlo's body, the faithful will be able to raise with more fervor and faith their prayers to God who, through Carlo, invites us all to have more faith, hope and love for him and for our brothers and sisters just as Carlo did in his earthly life," his mother said.
Pope Francis called Blessed Carlo a witness of Christ for younger generations.
But we believe Carlo's words and actions are worth all people emulating.
"The only thing we have to ask God for, in prayer, is the desire to be holy," Blessed Carlo once said.
As we celebrate his life and continue our journey of faith, together we say: Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us.