The life of the Italian teenager Carlo Acutis is a very contemporary instance of sainthood in an age that wrestles with a lot of distractions, irreligion, and dispassion for God. Some of us may have heard the story of this seventeen-year-old boy who was recently beatified in Assisi on October 10, 2020, a few days after St. Francis of Assisi’s feast.
Carlo Acutis from Milan, Italy, was born on May 3, 1991, in London while his parents lived and worked there. Growing up, Carlo had a unique attraction to the Church and prayed the rosary always. After receiving his First Holy Communion, he made it an obligation to attend daily masses. He would also observe the holy hour before or after the Mass.
We understand that most parents would regularly drag their children to Church, but it was the opposite for Carlo Acutis, who made his parents take him to the Church. His constant demand to go to the Church triggered the rejuvenation of the lukewarm faith of his mother. She confessed that before Carlo, her experience of Church was on her wedding day after her first Holy Communion and Confirmation.
The incredible dimension of Carlo’s life that made him a highlight was not just his love for the Holy Eucharist but his unrelenting efforts in sharing his experiences. Carlo documented most of the Eucharistic miracles worldwide and cataloged them on the website he designed as an amateur computer programmer, www.miracolieucaristici.org.
Carlo died of Leukaemia on October 12, 2006, with the following words in his mouth: “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan. I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God.”
The Path to Sainthood in the Dot Com Age
Some time ago, a child asked me a question that I did not expect. That was after telling her class the story of a saint. She said: “Fr. how can I become a saint now?” It would have been easier if the question were, “who is a saint?” Becoming a saint is not a one-time or on-day thing; it is a goal one reaches by following some steps. The historic statement of Carlo shows that sainthood involves doing those things that please God daily until death.
Carlo was born in 1991, and that makes him a millennial or Generation Y. That means he comes from a technology-driven generation. The millennials are also called digital natives. From the testimony of his parents, Carlo was “technologically savvy.” Like most kids of his age played video games; however, unlike most kids, he goes to the internet to search for Jesus Christ. He did not search for celebrities, fashion, and even pornography that is currently destroying the morals of many.
Carlo discovered the transforming power of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Miracles by browsing the internet. That was how he began the project of sharing his experience with his immediate peers. Furthermore, the desire to reach out to more people made him develop his website we mentioned earlier. On the website, he presented the various Eucharistic miracles occurrences across the world.
From Carlo Acutis, we learn that it is possible to live a saintly life and become a saint in an age driven and distracted by the various tools of information technology and its contending forces. Carlo achieved his sainthood by doing things that are pleasing to God and teaching others to do the same. From Carlo, we learn how the positive use of computer and internet technology could transform the world.
The world depended so much on the internet at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through the various social media platforms, most people could participate at Mass virtually and get some spiritual nourishment. We now understand that we can find God and spiritual upliftment through our computers, tablets, and mobile phones. It all depends on what we seek on the internet.
Moving Forward: Sainthood is Possible
St. John tells us in the book of Revelation that he saw a multitude impossible to count from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne of the lamb (Rev.7:9). Sainthood is, therefore, a facility that is open to everyone. It begins with the choices and decisions we make as we pass through this journey called life.
The beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew (5:1-12a) give us helpful steps towards sainthood. Keep in mind that the word “blessed” identifies the saints. You are blessed when you are poor in spirit because the kingdom of heaven shall be yours.
You are blessed when you mourn; there would be a comfort for you.
You are blessed when you are meek, and you shall inherit the land.
You are blessed when you hunger and thirst for righteousness (not for the world); you shall have satisfaction.
You are blessed when you are merciful because you will receive mercy.
You are blessed when your heart is clean because you will see God.
You are blessed when you make peace, and you shall be called a child of God.
You are blessed when you are persecuted for the sake of righteousness because the Kingdom of God will be yours.
You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of the Lord. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven,
You too can make heaven, and sainthood is open to you. Let us rise and be on our way with undying faith, unfailing love, and steadfast hope (1 Cor. 13:13). God bless you!