Blessed Carlo Acutis’ witness is important for The Church

Christ calls each of us to holiness. Pope Francis reiterates this in Gaudete et Exsultate: God wants all of us to be saints and “not settle for a bland and mediocre existence.” A call to holiness is not just for devout individuals, although today it may seem that way. How can an average person be holy in today’s age with the countless distractions and obstacles of the secular world? Thankfully, we have been given a new role model that lived out Pope Francis and Christ’s call: Blessed Carlo Acutis, beatified in Assisi on October 10, 2020.

Carlo Acutis was born in London in 1991 and later moved to Milan, Italy with his family. He was like many other young men in the modern age: he enjoyed playing video games, soccer, and hanging out with friends. After receiving Holy Communion for the first time at the age of seven, he began to attend daily Mass, receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis. His dream was simple: he wanted to be original and not “die as a photocopy.” 

Carlo did just this. According to the Vatican’s Young Witnesses biography, he was very gifted with technology and computers. His interest in technology and his devotion to the Eucharist led him to document the countless Eucharistic miracles that have occurred throughout history. This exhibit is still accessible online and continues to physically travel the world as a display inspiring Catholics everywhere.

Carlo’s witness to the Real Presence of the Eucharist models a life of faith in the age of technology. In a modern Catholic Church where, according to The Pew Research Center, only 31% of Catholics believe in Transubstantiation, his devotion and research into Eucharistic miracles aided the formation of Catholic believers. His work has proven beneficial and is continually hosted as an exhibit in thousands of parishes — including in South Bend, Indiana — and universities across the United States alone. 

His fervent belief in the Real Presence made him question why people never lined up outside churches to receive Christ into their hearts like people do outside sporting events or rock concerts. His belief of Jerusalem being “on our doorstep” brings into perspective the blessings  we receive from the Sacrament every time.

This love of the Eucharist granted Carlo the strength to persevere through suffering. After being diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager, his reaction was remarkable.

“I offer to the Lord the sufferings that I will have to undergo for the Pope and for the Church, so as not to have to be in Purgatory and be able to go directly to heaven,” Acutis said. Acutis lost his battle with leukemia at the age of fifteen.

This response to terminal illness requires further reflection. Suffering today is seen as bad. Whether it is physical or emotional, the general consensus is that suffering must be eradicated to bring about the common good. Yet, it is through suffering that we experience first hand what Christ accomplished on the cross. Many lose sight of God in hard times when it should be a time of full reliance in Him, but Carlo’s faith in the midst of trials serves as a witness for the Church. His devotion to Mary and the Eucharist model for the faithful a truly Christ-like attitude towards suffering.

Carlo’s belief of “living with Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus” is what guided his short life. Focusing on the sacraments and prayer, Carlo was truly a modern day witness to the faith. When one thinks of a saint, it’s tempting to think of faithful individuals from hundreds of years ago who are hard to relate to. Now, thanks to Blessed Carlo Acutis’ witness to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we have a new example of holiness—one who wore modern clothing and enjoyed what the world has to offer. Carlo found his “highway to heaven” and call to holiness in the Eucharist. Where will you find yours?

Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us!

Nicholas Orr is a junior from Fremont, Nebraska, studying Accounting and Theology. He is a firm believer that Ian Book is going to win the Heisman Trophy. You can disagree with him at norr2@nd.edu.