On Oct 10, 2020 the Catholic Church rejoiced as it welcomed its first millennial “Blessed”. Dubbed the “cyber-apostle of the Eucharist”, Blessed Carlo Acutis was just 15 years old when he died in 2006 after his battle with leukaemia. Just like any young person, Blessed Carlo had enthusiasm and zest for life and loved watching Pokemon and playing football and PlayStation 2 with his friends.
The holy Mass and beatification ceremony were held on a radiant day at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy. Despite the pandemic, thousands came masked and socially distanced to witness the beatification, and hundreds of thousands more tuned in to the livestream of the event.
A deep love for the Eucharist
Born in Milan, Italy in 1991 to parents of lukewarm Catholic faith, Blessed Carlo’s life with Jesus began at the age of seven when he received his first Holy Communion. Thereafter, he never missed an opportunity to receive the holy Eucharist. In his brief life, Blessed Carlo attended Mass and prayed the rosary daily. He also made it a point to have his confession heard frequently and spent much time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
“His love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God. He often said ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven’,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily for the beatification.
This was expressed concretely in his daily life. A self-taught amateur computer programmer, Blessed Carlo created the website www.miracolieucaristici.org where he catalogued Eucharistic miracles from around the world. The website included photos and descriptions, all of which he had painstakingly researched and collected during his trips to the sites where these miracles had occurred.
Evangelising with technology
Cardinal Vallini shared in his homily that “Blessed Carlo saw the Internet as a gift from God and as a tool to communicate with others and spread Christian values.” Indeed, the young whiz kid saw no conflict in using modern technology for spreading the joy of the Gospel to all. He harnessed these modern means to communicate and dialogue with others to share the love of Christ, despite being laughed at by his peers.
“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.’ And Carlo went and brought the fruit of holiness, showing it as a goal attainable by all and not as something abstract and reserved for a few,” Cardinal Vallini said.
Blessed Carlo Acutis’ tomb is in Assisi’s Sanctuary of Spoliation, which was opened for public veneration and prayer from Oct 1 – 19. His body was laid there dressed in jeans, sneakers and a sweatshirt – a trademark look for most teenagers.
What our youth think
Natalie Wong, 26, a parishioner of St Francis Xavier Church who had closely followed the beatification of Blessed Carlo Acutis enthused, “The beatification of this 21st century Blessed has reignited my sense of striving to live a life of holiness. It reminds me that sainthood is reachable and that we are all called to be saints wherever we are placed in life!”
“I’m determined to be an ‘influencer’ for Jesus and use my social media accounts as tools of evangelisation rather than being enslaved by them,” continued Natalie, who works in the financial services sector. “I hope to use them instead as a way of sharing my faith and Christ’s message of peace and love to others.”
Darren Loh, 17, from the Church of the Holy Spirit, said in awe, “His story inspires me. I’ve always had the impression that one cannot contribute meaningfully as a youth. But after hearing how Blessed Carlo was steadfast in his faith, even during his illness, it showed me that one’s age does not matter. What matters is how one is using their gifts and talents in wholehearted service to God and neighbour.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis’ example shows that all of us, young or old, can endeavour to become saints. May we, through the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, grow deeper in love with Jesus Christ through the Eucharist!