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Drug war saints

By: Jason A. Baguia September 02,2016 - 11:05 PM


The year was 1535. Sir Thomas More, some time Lord High Chancellor of England, was incarcerated by the king, Henry III.

A devout Catholic, Thomas had stood by Church teaching and refused to approve of the monarch’s divorce from the queen, Catherine of Aragon.

Henry, failing to secure from Rome an annulment of his marriage, eventually set off the English Reformation, claiming, through a series of laws enacted by parliament, earthly supremacy over the church in England.

Thomas resisted the State’s usurpation of ecclesiastical authority. He refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. For this, he was locked up in the Tower of London, tried, and within fifteen minutes following his trial, found guilty of treason. The sentence: beheading — a commutation of the usual punishment of being hanged, drawn and quartered.

For Filipinos, in this time of street executions, allegedly by vigilantes connected to the drug trade, cops in cahoots with them or State agents who are unmindful of the rule of law; in this time of servants of the State throwing accusations against each other instead of cooperating to uphold the life of the citizen, let us ask for the intercession of Saint Thomas More, whom Pope Saint John Paul the Great proclaimed “heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians.”

With the help of his prayers, may all branches of the government, in fighting the scourge of deadly drugs, submit to the rule of law and align law enforcement with the law of the Author of Life.

* * *

The year was 1902. The place, a farmhouse in Le Ferriere in Italy’s Lazio region. A young man in the heat of lust made sexual advances on an 11-year-old girl.

She resisted him mightily, reminding him that his intent was sinful, that he was going against the will of God.

The account of the girl’s martyrdom on the Catholic website Universalis continues: “He thrust a handkerchief into her mouth to prevent her from crying out, tied her up, and threatened her with the dagger.

“She could, the theologians say, have consented then, with no danger to her soul; but her love of purity was too great.”

The man, “enraged, stabbed her fourteen times.”

The girl died but not before granting deathbed forgiveness to the man who took her life. We know her today as Saint Maria Goretti, martyr of purity.

The story did not end with Saint Maria’s passing. After some time, she appeared to her killer in a dream, a sign of calling him to God.

After serving 27 years in jail, the man Alessandro Serenelli was released. He joined the Brothers of Saint Francis, lived a life of piety and service and died in 1970.
Below is an excerpt from his will:

“Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

“I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life.”

Saint Maria Goretti is the patron of crime victims. In a Philippine age where, more than ever, the precept of “an eye for an eye” is blinding the land, let us pray to Saint Maria for strength to see something to redeem even in those whom we judge as worse sinners than ourselves. Let us ask her to bring God’s consolations to those who still bear the unspeakable pain of being victims. Let us ask for heavenly help to be able, like her, to return light for darkness, pardon for injury, hope for desperation.

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TAGS: England, vigilante killings

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