“The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven” | Sunday Observer

“The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven”

1 November, 2020

Today, November 1, the Catholic Church celebrates a great solemnity as she recognises a great multitude.They are the ones who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, those who have remained faithful under trial, those who mirrored the face of the One true Blessed, Jesus Christ. They have offered their lives for truth, justice, charity and peace like Christ.

The computer buzz teenager Carlo Acutis was beatified at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy on October 10, 2020. The beatification constitutes a step towards canonisation and permit public veneration. Thus, Blessed Carlo Acutis joins the ranks of teen Saints and Blessed such as Agnes, Dominic Savio, Rose of Viterbo, and Jose Sanchez del Rio.

Pope Francis invites the youth in the world to look to Blessed Carlo as a ‘’Model of Holiness”. The Holy Father introduced him as “a young man in love with the Eucharist.” The Pope said, “He did not rest in comfortable immobility. He grasped the needs of his time, because he saw the face of Christ in the weakest.” His example, he added, shows youth that “true happiness is found in putting God in the first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters.”

In Carlo Acutis, the Church has its first “Blessed” who loved Super Mario and Pokemon, but not as much as he loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Carlo wrote at seven,“To be always united with Jesus, this is my life program.” Since a child, he had his gaze turned to Jesus. He often said,“The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven”.Carlo felt a strong need to help people discover that God is close to us and that it is beautiful to be with him to enjoy his friendship and his grace.

The Church rejoices, because in this very young Blessed the Lord’s words are fulfilled, “I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said at the Beatification.The millennial, whose body lies in state in Assisi, dressed in a tracksuit and trainers, also warned his contemporaries that the internet could be a curse as well as a blessing. Carlo wrote that, “We are all born as originals, but many die as photocopies.”

Life and legacy of Carlo Acutis

Blessed Carlo’s parents and twin siblings were privileged to attend the beatification ceremony. Carlo’s mother said that she met her husband while studying in England, married at 24, and had Carlo within the first year in 1991.

She believes Carlo interceded for the promised ‘signs’ when she became pregnant at 44, with fraternal twins, Francesca and Michele. Her doctor calculated the date of the twin’s birth on Carlo’s fourth death anniversary in 2010. She believes that the twins, 19 years younger to Carlo, will have a mission to continue his work in some way.

To the hagiography can be added that Carlo, seeing creation as a reflection of God’s love for man, admired the beauty of nature Cardinal Scola said. Carlo was born on May 3, 1991 in London. His parents are Italian, but they lived for a time in London because of work. Carlo’s mother Antonia was not a very devout Catholic. She said, “I was only at Mass on my First communion, confirmation and marriage.” Carlo’s father Andrea, appeared in the church often, but he worked a lot, so he did not have much time for his son.

The family moved from London to Milan. It is there that Carlo went to school, including high school where he studied the classics. He loved to play football, but did not do very well, probably because of being overweight. As a teenager, he fared very well in computer science and matched senior students.

He taught himself all the programs entirely from books. Carlo wanted people to really understand that the Eucharist is not only a symbol, but also was the real presence of God among us. He programmed and created websites.

Why, then, did Carlo turn to God? His mother said, “It is a mystery. As young as three or four years old he was so talented, intelligent and asking such deep questions, that she felt the desire to deepen her own faith. I can say that Carlo was my little saviour, because thanks to him I became closer to God.”When he was gifted a diary, he decided to use it to track his progress: “good marks” if he behaved well and “bad marks” if he did not meet his expectations.

In that same notebook he jotted down, “Sadness is looking at oneself, happiness is looking at God.” Carlo often said, “Conversion is nothing but a lifting of the eye upward. It is just a little eye movement.”

Carlo received his First Holy Communion two years earlier at the age of seven. two years earlier. To do this, he passed the test conducted by Archbishop Pasquale Macchi. Carlo received the Eucharist daily. After Mass, he stayed still for a moment to adore the Blessed Sacrament.

One day he was asked why he was doing this, and he quoted Pope Benedict XVI – “God must be adored on our knees and in silence”. Carlo referring to the Eucharistic prayer, said, “The more we receive the Eucharist, the more we become like Jesus and already on this earth, we have a foretaste of paradise.” Carlo knew he would die young. His mother said, “Carlo always had a sense that he couldn’t waste time.” He hated to be enslaved by anything, so although he loved computer games, he allowed himself to play for only one hour a week, and gave the rest of his time to good works helping children, the elderly, and the poor. As soon as he was confirmed at 11, he became a catechist. Carlo met with many migrants. He could not understand why stadiums were full and churches were empty. He would repeatedly say, “They have to see, they have to understand.”

Carlo attained early maturity, he realised his happiness in the Eucharist and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

He received Holy Communion daily and went to confession weekly, to confess even venial sins, considering them a weight on his soul. In public view, he repeatedly testified unwavering confidence in the truths that he confessed. At an age at which boys tend towards trivial global stories, he read the works of purgatory.

Carlo loved action films and animals. He also enjoyed putting on his diving goggles and playing, “fetch trash from the bottom of the sea”. From early childhood, his first love was Our Lord in the Eucharist. Carlo never wanted to pass a church without going in to, “Say hello to Jesus.” As a result, his mother came back to faith, then his father. A “computer genius” and possible future Patron Saint of the Internet, by age 14, he had created a Eucharistic Miracle display that would tour the world, along with a website – http://www.miracolieucaristici.org.

Purity was very important in Carlo’s life, “Each person reflects the light of God,” he regularly said. He was popular at school, but also befriended children who were unhappy at home, defended the disabled, and treated girls with an old-fashioned purity.

He would defend his Catholic faith, including his pro-life views, fearlessly. Carlo could not say “no” to Nutella and ice cream. Putting on weight made him understand the need for self-control. It was one of the many struggles Carlo had to overcome - to master the virtue of temperance. He used to say, “What’s the use of winning 1,000 battles if you can’t beat your own passions?”

Our Compass: The Word of God

Carlo was also very devoted to Our Lady. He entrusted to her his purity, he said that the Mother of God is the only woman in his life. He joked that the prayer of the Rosary is the most romantic encounter, which he experienced.

He also had a strong devotion to Saint Francis of Assisi. Carlo loved nature, but above all, he cared about the poor. He worked as a volunteer in a soup kitchen for the poor. He also gave away his pocket money as alms. His mother said, “Carlo loved Saint Francis greatly and was inspired by him.”

This young boy read The Treaty of Purgatory of Saint Catherine of Genoa. He would always say we must pray for the poor souls in purgatory, that we should not forget them, and that they will help us very much. He was blessed with his colleagues. His contemporaries did not regard him as a religious bigot. He was sociable and liked. Despite the many activities, he also learned to play the saxophone and participated in youth oratory.

He survived the Xerox machine of modernity and the internet and actually thrived within it. In doing so, he showed each of us the path forward, giving us a means to navigate, “Our Compass, he said, has to be the Word of God, which we have to keep constantly before us.” He also said, “Our Goal must be the infinite, not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven.”

The London born, Italian teenager who dedicated his short life to spreading the faith online and helping the poor is just one miracle away to become the world’s first millennial saint.

“He was considered a computer genius... But what did he do? He didn’t use these media to chat or to have fun,”Carlo’s mother Antonia said. Instead, “his zeal for the Lord” drove him to make a website on miracles, she said. He never exalted himself above others and there was no equal to him in the care of the poorest. If he ever felt anger, it was only when his parents bought him another new suit, instead of giving the money to the needy. From an early age, he showed special devotion to the Blessed Mother, advising everyone to recite the Rosary daily.

Happiness is a Sight towards God

In early October 2006, Carlo became ill with flu - so it was thought, until his condition deteriorated. It turned out that he was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia. The 15-year boy who loved to laugh had days to live. Carlo took the news calmly, immediately offering all his sufferings for the Pope, the Church, and his own direct entry into heaven (he had a horror of purgatory). “I am happy to die,” he said, “because I have lived my life without wasting a minute on those things which do not please God.”

When the doctor asked him if he suffered, Carlo said that many people suffer more. “I would like to leave this hospital,” he told his mother, “but I know I will not do so alive. I will give you signs, though, that I am with God.” He died on October 12, 2006.

Some of his last words were to a nurse who offered to wake his mother, since he was suffering. He refused:“She is very tired as well and she will only worry even more.” and just three days after the first diagnosis he gave up his spirit to God.

He had several models as his guides for life: Saints Francis of Assisi, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Dominic Savio, Tarcisius, and Bernadette Soubirous. After his death, many people felt the need to write down their memories of him, and others have announced that they will ask for his intercession in prayer. It was not hard to prove that the boy died in the fragrance of sanctity. During his funeral, the church was filled with people of all religions. Many poor people, whom he once helped, also mourned him.

Shortly afterwards, the first book tells us about his life, and later a documentary film, cartoon and radio program. In Milan, the association ‘Friends of Carlo Acutis’ was created. On the internet, a page dedicated to Carlo: www.carloacutis.com exists. Among the pictures posted, it is difficult to find any ‘selfies’. Apparently, he lived the words that he uttered, “Grief is a sight returned to himself, happiness is a sight directed towards God.”

Fast Track Pathway to Sainthood

The requests for Carlo to be beatified began not long after he died in 2006.The Lombard Episcopal Conference approved the petition for the canonisation cause in 2013. Cardinal Angelo Scola inaugurated the diocesan investigation on February 15, 2013. The formal introduction, when Carlo was titled as a Servant of God - the first step on the pathway towards sainthood, came on May 13, 2013. In Brazil, a boy was born in 2009 with a serious condition that caused him difficulty in eating. He was unable to keep any food in his stomach, and vomited constantly. By the time, he was nearly four, he weighed only 20 pounds, and lived on a vitamin and protein shake, one of the few things his body could tolerate. He was not expected to live long. His mother, Luciana Vianna, had spent years praying for his healing.

At the same time, Fr. Marcelo Tenorio, learned online about the life of Carlo, and began praying for his beatification. In 2013, he obtained a relic from Carlo’s mother, and invited Catholics to a Mass, encouraging them to ask intercession of Carlo for whatever healing they might need. The boy’s mother made a novena and started praying for his son, Mattheus. On the day, she took him and other family members to the Mass.

Fr. Nicola Gori, the priest responsible for Carlo’ sainthood cause, told Italian media, “On October 12, 2013, on the seventh death anniversary of Carlo, a Brazilian child, affected by a congenital malformation, when it was his turn to touch the picture of the future blessed, expressed a singular wish, like a prayer, ‘I wish I could stop vomiting so much.’ Healing began instantly, to the point that the physiology of the organ in question changed.”

On the way home, Mattheus told his mother that he was cured. At home, he asked for French fries, rice, beans, and steak - the favourite foods of his brothers. He ate everything on his plate and did not vomit. He ate normally the next day, and the next. Mattheus’ mother took him to physicians, who were mystified by his healing. She told Brazilian media, “I realised that my testimony would be a way to evangelise.”Cardinal Angelo Scola officially ended the diocesan phase of the beatification process on November 24, 2016.

Pope Francis confirmed his life of “heroic virtue” on July 5, 2018, and titled him ‘Venerable.’ The Medical Council of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes expressed a positive opinion about the miracle that had happened in Brazil on November 14, 2019. After investigation, Pope Francis endorsed the miracle’s authenticity in a decree on February 21, 2020, enabling Carlo’s “Beatification”. The Vatican claims he interceded from Heaven in 2013 to cure the Brazilian boy.

Now Rests in the City of Assisi

Fr. Marcelo Tenorio shared on social media that the youth’s body has been found to be in-corrupt. The discovery was made during the exhumation of Carlo’s body that is part of the recognition of his remains by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, in the development of the canonisation cause.

His body now lies in the Chapel of the Renunciation, where Saint Francis of Assisi so famously literally divested himself of all his father’s possessions before walking away naked - makes an appropriate resting place for a boy who lived so simply and reasoned with his parents when they wanted to buy him a second pair of shoes. “Carlo had a special bond with Assisi. He had Assisi in his heart. He said it was the city where he felt happiest,” his mother said.

The tomb is of white stone, appearing to levitate, with light streaming from behind it, breath taking when closed. Open, the sight is heart stopping. Inside a glass coffin lies a teenage boy, apparently sleeping, his face peaceful and kind, a Rosary looped around his hand. Yet, these are not the ordinary saintly remains: this teenage boy is dressed in jeans, sneakers and a casual sports top. Incongruous - yet completely appropriate for a Generation Y Saint!

(The author regularly pens stories; his research interests encompasses a variety of topics; he has a PhD, MPhil and double MSc)