Thursday 5 August 2021

The Life and Witness of St. Maria Goretti - Father Jeffrey Kirby - Our Little Saint of the Beatitudes

SaintMariaGorettiThe Life and Witness of St. Maria Goretti: 
Our Little Saint of the Beatitudes
ISBN 9781618907547
eISBN 9781618907554

This is the third volume from Father Kirby that I have read recently. And it is an excellent read. It is one of 7 books by Father Kirby that I picked up recently. I picked Kirby’s books up after reading and reviewing several by Father Paul O’Sullivan O.P., it was recommended by someone who enjoyed those reviews and they recommended several titles by Father Kirby. When I looked into the titles available from the pen of Father Kirby, there were several from TAN books that caught my attention. In fact, 7 of his books made it onto my wish list almost immediately. Part of this book are not easy to read because of what happened to Maria. But the witness of her life and later that of Alessandro are incredible. And to be honest both much needed these days.

The description of this book is:

“St. Maria Goretti was only a child when she died a martyr’s death. Yet today, she inspires millions who find in her a perfect model of purity and holiness. Read here about her great holiness in the midst of tremendous suffering, how she died at the hands of a vicious murderer who tried to defile her purity, and how she visited this very same murderer years later in his jail cell to forgive him. Fr. Jeffrey Kirby examines the life of this little saint as he reflects on the Beatitudes and how she, along with her family, lived them each day. In a world where purity is corrupted in the darkness of the night and mercy is abandoned in the name of vengeance, let us turn to St. Maria Goretti and see her as the dawn of a new day, where the light of Christ shines on each of us and guides us into His Kingdom.”

And examining her life and influence through the beatitudes is and incredible witness. In the introduction Father Kirby states:

“A Witness and a Workbook on Holiness In these pages we are going to dive into the amazing life of this little saint and her powerful witness. The different chapters will highlight the various aspects of her life and devotion. To help share the story of this virgin martyr, we will use the eight Beatitudes of St. Matthew’s Gospel (5:3–12). The Beatitudes, known as the way of Jesus Christ, will serve as an outline of the saint’s narrative. Each of the eight Beatitudes will serve as a guidepost for each of the eight chapters of the book, and will be a focal point from which the inspiring life and witness of St. Maria Goretti will be described and elucidated.”

And that is what we get. I love that every6 chapter ended with an examination of conscience. The sections in this book are:

The Simplicity of the Goretti Family and the Call to Every Christian Family
The Loss of Luigi Goretti and the Vocation of the Christian Father
The Meekness of Hard Work and the Christian Work Ethic in Our Day
Desiring Holiness in What We Think, Say, and Do
The Mercy of our Little Martyr and her Mother and the Struggle to Forgive Others
The Blood of Our Martyr and the Battle for Purity in Our Hearts
The Work for Peace in Our Relationship with God and With Others
Our Martyr’s Legacy and Our Summons to Suffer for the Sake of Righteousness
Appendix One: An Apprenticeship in Chastity
Appendix Two: An Apprenticeship in Mercy
Prayer to St. Maria Goretti for Purity and Holiness

This book is an excellent read. I would recommend that a chapter a day is read, and end with the examination of conscience. The book can easily be read in a sitting, but take your time with this volume. Kirby has written a wonderful book, part biography, part a guide to good Christian living through the beatitudes. But as Kirby states it is not a typical biography. At the end of the introduction he states:

“In writing this book, it’s important for me to be transparent. I should let the reader know that I’m not writing as a church historian or a biographer. In writing this book, I’m writing the story of a friend, a saintly friend that I have spent a lot of time with and whose prayers and witness have helped me.

As a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, I made frequent visits to Nettuno and to the shrine of St. Maria Goretti. Honestly, it was an inexpensive train ticket and a way to leave the hustle and bustle of the Roman metropolis. More importantly, Nettuno and the shrine of the saint was always a place of overwhelming tranquility. I knew it was a place of peace, and I always felt very comfortable there, like being at home. The shrine is right near the water, which is always calming, and the people of Nettuno have a warm and ready hospitality.

St. Maria Goretti’s presence is tangible at the shrine. After my visits there, I always left wanting to live a better Christian life.

That’s why I’ve written this book. In sharing the story of this great little saint, I hope every reader will be inspired by the purity, fortitude, and mercy of St. Maria Goretti. I hope her Christian witness will inspire our own discipleship so that, in our own way, we too might put our mark on salvation history.” 

If you already have a devotion to Maria, you will be blessed by the book in a new way. If you do not this is a wonderful introduction to her. This book is a fantastic read, one that will bless you and stay with you. I know that I already plan to reread this book again. I highly recommend it. Another fantastic read from Father Kirby!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby STD:
101 Surprising Facts About St. Peter's and the Vatican
A Pastoral Guide to Opening Your Parish
Be Not Troubled
Doors of Mercy: A Journey Through Salvation History
God's Search for Us
Living in Peace
Lord Teach Us to Pray
Luke: The Gospel of Mercy
Thy Kingdom Come

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