‘Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return’

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All of the time spent on the internet these days with the parish meetings and religious ed classes via the zooms got me thinking of a young man from Italy by the name of Carlo Acutis who unfortunately died from leukemia in 2006.

Carlo has been called the saint in sneakers because he loved God and was a person of prayer, but he also loved sports like soccer. He has also been called the patron saint of the internet because he loved to communicate with his friends via the internet and social media. He was a holy person and rather exceptionally pious young man who attended masses, made confessions, went to eucharistic adoration and prayed the rosary. He used his computer savvy skills to spread devotion to our Lord Jesus in eucharistic adoration. His cause for being declared a saint officially by the Roman Catholic Church is underway. Should that happen, he will join a youthful group of saints like Maria Goretti and St. Agnes who were known for their virtue and piety, and were an inspiration for the church of their time.

It has been said that when people are young they want to change the world and when we are old we want to change the young. All of us old timers want to impart our wisdom and knowledge to the young people of our families and parishes. However we must also be careful not to extinguish the youthful idealism and energy that our young people naturally possess and exhibit. We need to be learning from them as much as they learn from us. We must admit that they keep us honest and to be about practicing what we preach about. 

The very brief 15 years of Carlo’s life got me thinking about this coming Wednesday — which is of course Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday reminds us of the brevity of life with the rather sobering words as the ashes are sprinkled on us “remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” It’s a time for us to look within our lives and if need be to have a change of heart and be more intentional about prayer, and self-discipline and works of mercy towards those in need.

Carlo didn’t waste any time but packed a lot of goodness and love and care and prayer into his 15 years of life. I wish I could say the same but am afraid to say there has been a lot of wasted time and energy in my 69 years.

But as the great philosopher Yogi Berra once said ‘’it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” So God in his gracious mercy gives us a new season to begin again to walk more by the light of faith, to be more caring about those around us and the world we live in and see each day as a new day and blessing from God.

And please remember too that despite the groundhogs predictions the other day of 6 more weeks of winter, Lent does mean springtime. Perhaps one happening more inside of us than in the great outdoors, but if it happens there too that would be great!

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