Assisi — All the attention from all corners of the Catholic Church was in Assisi on 10th October 2020. The City of Peace and the city of Saint Francis, hold a special ceremony, broadcasted in several languages through Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Line and many other online platforms. That was completely according to the protagonist, who is said now to be the patron of the Internet.
It is the first time that a Millennial or Gen Y joins the Altars of Holiness at the Catholic Church. The first saint in “jeans and sneakers” as many observers pointed out, was born in London on 3rd May 1991, when the Digital Revolution was at its highest point: In 1990 there were already 2.8 million Internet users on the planet. As every Native Digital, the son of Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, Italian migrants first to UK and then to Germany, grew in the middle of computers and the fast development of the Internet. And, as any Native Digital, his mind was open to the tendencies and connections of globalization, digital information and a contemporary culture of image and symbols to comprise things to a new way of communication.
Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Pontifical Legate for the Basilicas of Saint Francis and Saint Mary of the Angeles, presided over the beatification ceremony and delivered a homily in which he highlighted the virtues of the new blessed.
“He was a normal, simple, spontaneous, friendly young man (just look at his photograph), he loved nature and animals, he played soccer, he had many friends his age, he was attracted to modern means of social communication, passionate about computers and Self-taught, he built programs, as Pope Francis has said “to transmit the Gospel, communicate values and beauty”. He had the gift of attracting and was perceived as an example,” said Card. Vallini.
When you read the life of Carlo Acutis and you being a Salesian, surely you think of Dominic Savio. Both of them died at the same age: Carlo passed away on 12 October 2006 at the age of 15. It is definitively true that Saint Dominic Savio was one of the models of Blessed Carlo Acutis, as it is written in the article of Paolo Risso:
“In a world based on ephemeral and vulgarity, he is a witness of Jesus and his Gospel, which most have lost or forgotten, which many fight. He is not afraid to present himself as an exception to the world (well, he is!) And to go against the current, against the mentality prevailing today. He knows that to follow Jesus requires great humility and a great sacrifice. His models are the Little Shepherds of Fatima, Jacinta and Francesco Marto, St. Dominic Savio and St. Luigi Gonzaga, and then St. Tarcisio martyr for the Eucharist.”
During this time of pandemic, during this time of great challenges for the Catholic Church and for the Christian Faith, God has giving us the great gift of a holy young man, who comes also from the same world of technologies and modernity as many of us, as many of our young people in the Salesian world. It is a miracle that demonstrates that God really acts on the modern world and sends prophets to announce his Word even through the digital technologies. He is a precious context for the 2020 Strenna of the Rector Major “Good Christians and Upright Citizens” and both invitations by Don Bosco can be done also through the Internet universe and all its fast growing branches of digital platforms, virtual realities, video games and artificial intelligence. Thanks to Blessed Carlo Acutis, with that same ardor of the Holy Spirit in his heart as Saint Dominic Savio, we can understand that order of our Lord Jesus: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and we can include the “digital villages”, the “digital tribes”, the virtual realities, the immediate news, the hashtags of our times and many others to come.
Blessed Carlo Acutis demonstrated that it is possible to be online for the Glory of God, as Saint Dominic Savio said: “I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.”
Little by little and as much as the good fame of this digital saint goes through the world, we will know much spiritual inspiration from this boy. His sentences are already filling the Internet with frames, photos, cartoons and creativity:
“The Virgin Mary is the only woman in my life.”
“The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”
“By standing before the Eucharistic Christ, we become holy.”
“There are people who suffer much more than me.”
“Continuously ask your guardian angel for help. Your guardian angel has to become your best friend.”
“Do not be afraid because with the Incarnation of Jesus, death becomes life, and there’s no need to escape: in eternal life, something extraordinary awaits us.”
“Jerusalem is right on our doorstep.”
“All people are born as originals but many die as photocopies.”
“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.”
“Sadness is looking at ourselves, happiness is looking towards God.”
“Not me, but God.”
“The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven”.
“The only thing we have to ask God for, in prayer, is the desire to be holy.”
“Our soul is like a hot air balloon. If by chance there is a mortal sin, the soul falls to the ground. Confession is like the fire underneath the balloon enabling the soul to rise again. . . It is important to go to confession often.”
“I am happy to die because I have lived my life without wasting a minute on those things which do not please God.”
“Our goal must be infinite, not the finite. The infinite is our homeland. Heaven has been waiting for us forever.”
“The Eucharist is the highway to heaven.”
Each of those thoughts reveals a soul who is ardent in love for God, for the Eucharisty, for holiness. During this month of October, Month of the Missions, Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, based on the theme taken from the Book of Isaiah, “Here am I, send me”, a message that the Pope related with the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity for mission and service to others. During the Month of the Holy Rosary and the memory of great saints like Saint Francis of Assisi, one of his main inspirations, Saint Bruno and Saint Theresa of Avila, we have the gift from heaven of the life and holiness of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a modern Dominic Savio.