Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The Peace and All Good Column
Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., is the seventh Archbishop of Atlanta. In his award-winning column “Peace and All Good,” he shares homilies and pastoral reflections.

Lessons to graduates from Blessed Carlo Acutis 

By ARCHBISHOP GREGORY J. HARTMAYER, OFM Conv. | Published May 12, 2022  | En Español

The month of May is upon us. It is a significant month in all of our lives. The month of May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have the beautiful tradition of the May Crowning. This year, as we crown the Blessed Virgin Mary, may we especially invoke her intercession as Queen of Peace, for an end to the war in Ukraine.  

On May 1, we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and we seek his intercession in sanctifying our work. May is also a time for first holy Communions and confirmations throughout the archdiocese, important steps in the journey of faith.   

We honor our dear mothers on Mothers’ Day and thank God for the gift of life that we have received through them. Finally, many of our young people will be graduating from either high school or college.  

This will be a time of change for these students as they seek to navigate the experience of college; and for those graduating from college, they will enter the working world. It can be an exciting time of new horizons; but it can also be an unsettling time for many who will leave home for the first time. And so, I turn to our young people to offer them some words of advice and encouragement and set before them Blessed Carlo Acutis as a model of Christian life. In the words of one writer: “The Millennial generation has a blessed!” 

Carlo Acutis was born on May 3, 1991 in London, where his parents were working. A few months later, his parents moved to Milan. From a young age, Carlo had a deep faith. It was evident to all that he loved God and had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He attended Mass as often as he could to receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. He once described his relationship with the eucharistic life as his “highway to heaven.” His holy hour and time spent praying the Rosary were “the most gracious appointment of the day.” He would describe the Blessed Mother as “the only woman in his life,” and would blow kisses to her and Jesus every time he passed a church. He would go to confession weekly.  

In Carlo’s words: “The only thing that we have to fear is sin.” His parents were Catholic in name only. Yet, his witness of faith led to a deep conversion in his mother. In the words of a priest close to him: “He managed to drag his relatives, his parents to Mass every day.”  

He was fascinated by eucharistic miracles and convinced his parents to fly him to various eucharistic shrines throughout the world. He used his gifts as a computer programmer to build his own website cataloguing and promoting these miracles. He wrote of the importance of the Eucharist in the spiritual life. 

“The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven,” he said. 

What a great witness to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist from a young man, who dressed in blue jeans and Nikes, and loved playing video games–not unlike many of our young people today.  

As a teenager, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He offered his sufferings for the pope and for the church. On Oct. 12, 2006, Carlo lost his battle with leukemia and returned to the house of his heavenly Father. He was buried in Assisi because of his love for St. Francis. This love grew as his family spent many vacations in the town of St. Francis.  

His mother said: “He had a special bond with Assisi. He had Assisi in his heart. He said that it was the city where he felt happiest.”  

In his short 15 years of life, Carlo accomplished so much. His faith was his anchor and he brought many people to God, including his own parents by the witness of his life. St. Francis of Assisi told his brothers to preach the Gospel and use words if necessary. The example of a faithful Christian life inspires more than words. Carlo, the blessed millennial and Francis, the “Poor One of Assisi,” had much in common. Carlo was beatified in 2020. 

A reliquary containing a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis is displayed during Mass at St. Rita of Cascia Church in the South Bronx, N.Y., April 7. Atlanta Catholics will have the chance to venerate the relic at the upcoming Eucharistic Congress.

The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we could be.”  

We all need heroes in life; heroes not only to inspire us but also to challenge us to live out our faith. We know what we need to do in life, but we need to be inspired. To all of our students who are graduating, I encourage you to be guided by your faith like Blessed Carlo Acutis. Stay close to our Lord in your daily prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. Receive him as often as you can in holy Communion so that you may be strengthened in your faith. Make Carlo’s prayer your own: “Jesus, come right in! Make yourself at home!”  

We know that we are not perfect. While we strive to live a faithful life, we fall into sin.  However, the good news is that we are reconciled with God and one another through the sacrament of reconciliation.  

Pope Francis stated: “I ask you: have you ever thought that every time we go to the confessional, there is joy and celebration in heaven? Have you ever thought about that? It is beautiful … and fills us with great hope, because there is no sin to which we have stooped from which, by the grace of God, we cannot rise up again. There is no person who is beyond recovery, no-one is beyond recovery. Because God never ceases to want what is good for us, even when we sin!”  What could be more beautiful?  

To be a saint, Carlo said, that we need to love. And Carlo loved.  

“Everything passes away … the only thing that will make us truly beautiful in God’s eyes is the way that we have loved him and our neighbors,” he said. 

In his beatification Mass homily in 2020, Cardinal Agostino Vallini said that Carlo’s beatification “in the land of Francis of Assisi is good news, a strong proclamation that a young man of our time, one like many, was conquered by Christ and became a beacon of light for those who want to know him and follow his example … He gave witness that faith does not distance us from life but immerses us more deeply in it and showed us the concrete way to live the joy of the Gospel.”  

Finally, the cardinal said. “It is up to us to follow it, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo, so that our lives may also shine with light and hope.” 

I wish all of our graduates every blessing in the road ahead, and I pray that not only Blessed Carlo Acutis will intercede for you, but will inspire you in your own lives ahead. I leave you with a final quote to reflect upon: “When we face the sun we get a tan … but when we stand before Jesus in the Eucharist we become saints.”  

May the Lord grant you his peace!