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50 Hours With God View Comments
By Kathryn Begnaud

EIGHT DAYS before our mother died, on April 4, 2011, we finally heard the truth. Or rather, the truth had finally been spoken to us in a clear, concise and unvarnished manner. Prior to that afternoon, Mom, Dad and we 11 children had each been living privately with the truth of Mother’s illness nibbling away at our minds. Only rarely did we acknowledge to one another where these diseases generally lead: to the church cemetery. To speak of death aloud would have been a betrayal to our mother. Instead, by way of tacit agreement, an unspoken understanding developed among us — an agreement that occasionally prompted us to make secretive and worried eye contact in a way that neither Mom nor Dad would detect. We were in the fourth week of Lent when truth arrived — a little over halfway through the miseries and mysteries — and we would not realize until after her death that we were about to experience the most honest Lenten preparatory time of our lives, the holiest and most profound Easter and, most of all, a glimpse of Pentecost. But before those many graces were poured over us, we dug in our heels. Firmly. Resolutely. Nobody goes willingly to a cross. Even the disciples argued vehemently against it. And so, for
20 months, we tiptoed around the truth in a sort of dream state, praying that truth would not rise up and find our ears.
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Kathryn Begnaud is a freelance writer from Woodbury, Minn. She is married with five sons.

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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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