On Saturday 10 October 2020 Blessed Carlo Acutis was beatified in the Italian and hometown of St Francis, Assisi. Cardinal Agostino Vallini presided over the ceremony of his beatification.
During his homily for this special occasion of the beatification of a computer whiz, who passed away from leukemia at the age of 15 and heroically offered his suffering both for the Holy Father and the Church, Cardinal Vallini gave a beautiful summary of who this great Italian teenager really was. “He showed that faith does not distance us from life, but rather deeply immerses us in it, indicating for us the concrete path to live the joy of the Gospel. It’s up to us to follow him, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo, so that our lives can shine with light and hope”.
Even Pope Francis lovingly remembered Blessed Carlo Acutis after his Angelus address of Sunday 11 October 2020. The Holy Father said that “Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old youth enamoured of the Eucharist, … did not ease into comfortable immobilism, but understood the needs of his time, because he saw the face of Christ in the weakest. His witness indicates to today’s young people that true happiness is found by putting God in first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters, especially the least”.
Another inspiring comment regarding Blessed Carlo came from the Archbishop of Assisi Mgr. Domenico Sorrentino. In his brief reflection Archbishop Sorrentino managed to link Blessed Carlo with St Francis whom Carlo reserved a very special place in his holy heart. “Carlo’s life – always united to Jesus – his love for the Eucharist, his devotion to the Holy Virgin, his making friends with the poor, brought him closer to the spirituality of the Poor One,” St Francis, Archbishop Sorrentino said at the end of the Beatification Mass. “Both invite us to live according to the Gospel.”
Blessed Carlo’s beloved mother, Antonia Salzano, spoke about Carlo’s love of St Francis. She qualified her son’s love for the Poverello as being “very much”. Moreover, she said that since St Francis “was a very Eucharistic soul who used to attend Mass twice a day,” her son Carlo also tried to emulate that same wonderful Eucharistic devotion throughout his short life here on earth. Blessed Carlo sought to spread his love for the Eucharist online. Recalling his great work on his Eucharistic webpage, his mother Antonia said: “Carlo’s work was huge. He spent almost three or four years putting together this collection of Eucharistic miracles. It was diffused widely in 2005 as well. That was the year John Paul II dedicated to the Eucharist. From there, the website has spread and gathered international fame in an incredible way.”
This normal teenager was an excellent evangeliser who knew how to use the internet constructively and as an effective tool to proclaim Jesus Christ in this digital age. Whilst describing Blessed Carlo as a “normal, simple, spontaneous, friendly” teenager who evangelized by these modern forms of communication so as to sow the “values and beauty of the Gospel” Cardinal Vallini said that in so doing, Carlo showed by his life testimony that “the internet was not just a means of escape, but a space for dialogue, knowledge, sharing and mutual respect that was to be used responsibly, without becoming slaves to it and rejecting digital bullying.” “Being a young man of our time”, Carlo “was conquered by Christ and became a beacon of light for those who want to know him and follow his example”, Cardinal Vallini emphasized during his homily. At this point the Cardinal took the opportunity to invite the young men and women of today to refrain from seeking “gratification only in ephemeral successes.” They are instead to focus on “the perennial values that Jesus proposes in the Gospel.”
In front of such practical holiness there is no other thing one can do other than acknowledge, appreciate and seek to emulate it in the first place. The thousands who sang and applauded during Blessed Carlo’s beatification ceremony magnificently subscribed to those solemn and fully significant words thanks to which Pope Francis officially beatified Carlo. “With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servant of God, Carlo Acutis, layman, who, with the enthusiasm of youth, cultivated a friendship with our Lord Jesus, placing the Eucharist and the witness of charity at the centre of his life, henceforth shall be called blessed.”
Undoubtedly the shining holy example of Blessed Carlo Acutis serves as an example to follow, particularly for young people. Thus, for the 19-year-old Rosanna, who had the grace of being present at Blessed Carlo’s beatication, the latter’s evangelical life witness is certainly a source of both hope and inspiration to her. She said: “With his life, Carlo made me see that despite the small or even great difficulties – like his illness – that we could live a full and happy life if we keep our eyes looking up toward heaven.”
Blessed Carlo’s holy life is also reflected in the beautiful brief reflections he left us to ponder upon and let them direct and change our lives in, with and through Christ Jesus, whom he loved with all his heart, soul and strength. Perhaps one of the most unforgettable messages which Blessed Carlo instructs us is this: “All people are born as originals but many die as photocopies.” How frustrating to live and die as a photocophy! On the other hand, how beautiful to live originally!
Personally speaking, Carlo teaches me how to live originally. First, by loving Jesus in the Eucharist. He said: “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.” Second, by loving Mary. Carlo said: “The Virgin Mary is the only woman in my life.” Third, by going to confession regularly. He said: “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.” Fourth, by letting my personal guardian angel lead me in my life. Blessed Carlo said: “Continuously ask your guardian angel for help. Your guardian angel has to become your best friend.”
Let us never forget his always very relevant life advice: “Sadness is looking at ourselves, happiness is looking towards God.” For all these reasons Blessed Carlo Acutis is a holy example to be emulated absolutely!
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap