The Sunday Morning Express

In This Issue: The Knights of Lepanto:

July 13, 2008

The Passing of a Young Knightpage2

• •

Video: Marc’s Father, Thom, Explains what the Knights are all about- page 4 In Memoriam: Thom and Marc Girard- page 5 Laying Our Knights to Rest-page 7 New Approaches to Chant – page 10

A Tradition Revisited- page 10
St. Peter and Paul Church reintroduces Latin Mass
"The beauty draws you in and then you go beyond that. That is what is so gorgeous”

Chiara Luce Badano- Page 12

“The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?”

From House Art Journal, July 2, 2008, by Regina Doman

The Passing of a Young Knight 

Marc Girard, 18, looked like your ordinary Catholic teenager. But he was not. He had a Facebook page. He was a part of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum (even though, like  most guys, he hadn't read the books :) ). He was careless about spelling. He hated having  his picture taken. His avatar was a man making funny faces. To his four younger siblings  and to most of his friends, I am sure he sometimes seemed very ordinary. Even though he  took his Catholic faith seriously, and sometimes challenged his high school friends on  different issues. His friend Paul Ethier was surprised when Marc told him that he was planning to join the  Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, who had a friary near the Girard home in Griswold,  CT. Marc was accepted as a postulant, and was going to join the Maine, NY friary in  August. The Girard family had been through a lot. Last year they suffered two hardships in a row:  first, their home burned down. The only thing in Marc's room that survived the fire was  his picture of Padre Pio. The family lived on a trailer through the winter, but then this spring, the property was  foreclosed.

Marc's father Thomas was working hard to keep the family together. In his free time he  helped the Friars of the Immaculate on their outreachs: this past spring he was "Grand  Master" knight for their group, The Knights of Lepanto, as Catholic fathers and the friars  "initiated" their sons into Catholic knighthood. The photo at the top shows Marc carrying  a "penance pack" of 15 pounds of rocks during the "intiation." Thomas found a new house for the family, and they were going to move on the first day of  July, yesterday, in fact. The day before the big move, Thomas took his two sons, Marc and Lucas and daughter  Hannah swimming at a pond down the street from their old house. There was an island a  short distance from the shore, and they decided to swim out to the island. Marc took his younger brother Lucas, 11, along and they swam safely to the island. Mr.  Girard took their daughter Hannah, age 7, in his arms and came along behind them. Hearing his sister Hannah screaming, Marc turned back and the boys saw her bobbing in  the water. Their father was gone. Marc stopped several feet before reaching the island. He  sent Lucas ahead and went back for his father and Hannah. Marc swam out to Hannah. He pushed her towards shore until she was safe, told her to  pray, and then dove back in to find their father. He died trying to save him. Rescue personnel speculate that Mr. Girard died of a heart attack suffered while  swimming. Marc was brought to the hospital, barely alive. His mother Carol, some of his  friends, and the Friars of the Immaculata prayed with him. He received the Annointing of  the Sick and was blessed with a relic of St. Padre Pio. Then at 1:50 AM, on the Feast of  the Precious Blood, he died. It is terrifying how fast death can come. Earlier this past month, Marc was on the forum  (screen name: The Illustrious Marceg) and on his blog, joking and laughing with his  friends, running for "President" on the forum against Barak Obama and Mr. Darcy, and  offering "words of wisdom" about following one's vocation: Topic: Lord, what are You calling me to do? (Read 460 times) Illustrious Marceg Peasant member is offline Joined: Feb 2008 Gender: Male Posts: 30 Re: Lord, what are You calling me to do? Jun 19, 2008, 10:35am I was so happy to find a thred wich focased on vocations. Just some words of wisdom, First, you are so right when you say long and short term vocation. Like being a good student was mine and being a good son, but now that I'm done with school. It's now to be a good

son as well as a good friend. In August I will be leaving to enter the FI (Fransican Friars of the Immaculate) and am very excited about doing so. The thing is though, in my case, I'm almost poitive that this is Our Lords will for me, but as I grow closer and closer to the day i leave, I get spiritually attacked more and more (with emotions and worries such... I'm not talking about Emily Rose stuff ). I was warned by two very holy Friars about temptation and think it would be very helpful to everyone on this fourm especally for those who are looking into religious life. And that is that you will be tempted in ways you didn't think were possible, and if you do end up entering religious life it's still pretty hard. Its the transistion of being more contempt and 'unplugging' your self from the world. Many of the Saints went trough temptation and trial so just be prepaired and persivere. This also goes for those who are asking the question "what do you want from me". Satan will try to lead you against your vocation, just pray, hope, and don't worry and you'll end up doing His will. Marc was ready to follow his call from God. But this week, he was called to be a hero. And he answered, without hesitation. I am so sorry that Marc couldn't save his father, and that he couldn't save himself. But I  am struck by his courage, and I will always remember him. Marc's friends were  unanimous in calling him, immediately and from the start, a true knight. I'm a novelist: I write modern adventures in which young adults carelessly tagged as  "knights" and "ladies" battle modern demons and dragons. My friends and I play games  and hold ceremonies similar to that of the Knights of the Lepanto: serious but always a bit  tongue in cheek. We have to ask ourselves at some point: is any of it real? Are we really  knights and ladies, or are we just moderns playing an odd game? And then life overtakes us, and for a moment I recognize that for some of us at least, it is  real. For Marc, it was real. He truly attained knighthood. Just now I went on the Fairy Tale Forum and voted that Marc be elected president­forever  of the Forum. Post mortem yes, but I think his qualifications are out of this world. I love to write about young men who are heroes: it's one reason why I retell fairy tales.  Marc Girard is a hero to me, a real knight of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. I am so  honored that he was part of our little online group and that our paths intersected for a  short time. Please pray for Carol Girard, and for the remaining children, Adam,17, Jaqueline, 15,  Lucas, 11, and Hannah, 7. Pray especially for Lucas, who witnessed the entire tragedy. As the Girard family has been under such financial stress, I can only imagine that this  tragedy has left them even more at risk. I would like to ask the Christian community to  consider helping them during this hard time. I know how much it helped our family when 

we suffered the loss of our son Joshua: please let this family know that they are not  suffering alone. For more about the Girard family, see this link from the Friars of the Immaculate.


Marc’s father Thom explains what the Knights of Lepanto are all about. A video from May this year

In Memoriam: Thom and Marc Girard

It is only now that I have been able to bring myself to announce formally on this blog an event of immensely tragic proportions. Two of our Knights of Lepanto, father and son died by accidental drowning on Monday, June 30. Thomas Girard, was pronounced dead at the scene around 8:30 pm and his son Marc died around 2:00 am, July 1 in Providence hospital. Thom was one of our finest knights and a first rate example of all I wanted the knights to be: courageous, committed, kind, geniune and loyal. Mark was his father’s son. Thom has been the Grand Master of all our encampments, both last year and this year. He had many years experience as a scout master, but more than that he had really imbibed the Spirit of Lepanto and understood how to communicate it to others. He really was what I wanted all the knights to be.

Marc was inducted into the Knights at the spring encampment this year, after having been among the squires since we began the Knights several years ago. When Thom became distressed as he was swimming with his daughter Hanna, Marc, who was swimming with his younger brother Lucas, told his brother to continue to the other side, went to the rescue and saved Hanna’s life and then attempted to save his father also. Marc died a hero, a true knight. He was his father’s son. Please pray for the repose of their souls. The one consolation I keep returning to is that now we have two knights who, in the words of St. Maximilian, have both hands free. Thom and Marc leave behind Carol, wife and mother, Jacqueline, daughter and sister, Adam, son and brother, Lucas, son and brother and little Hanna, daughter and sister. Please pray for them also. They are strong, full of faith and hope, but their suffering is hard to imagine. Thom wrote an elaborate knight’s “ritual” by which we could induct the older boys into the Knights of Lepanto. We have used it only once, for the induction of Marc back at the Spring Encampment. I reproduce part of it here. The words of the “Father” were pronounced by me, but the whole “ritual” was written by Thom. This was a dialoque between father and son: The Candidate then kneels before the priest. Father: In days gone by, there existed many orders of knighthood which recognized the skill and hor of their members. In the service of their King, and in the defense of the noble ideals of chivalry, embodied in their Queen, did these orders achieve their exalted ranks. . .You have now been brought face to face with the Order of the Knights of Lepanto and have been adequately impressed with the seriousness of this obligation which you are about to take upon yourself. As God is our King of Kings and Mary our Queen are you prepared to take the vow of the brotherhood? Candidate: In the name of God, I am. Father: Guards remove his penance . . .[after the penance is removed] Will you be loyal to the Catholic Church, the Pope, to the Order of the Knights of Lepanto, and your brother Knights? Candidate: In the name of God, I will. Father: Good Brother, in our company you must not seek lordship or riches, nor honor, nor bodily ease. You must seek three things: to renounce and reject the sins of this world; to do the service of Our Lord and Our Lady; and to be poor and penitent according to your means. Will you promise to God and Our Lady that henceforth, all the days of your life that you will do these things? Candidate: In the name of God, I will. Father: That you will live in chastity according to your means in life? Candidate: In the name of God, I will. Father: That you will uphold the good customs of this house? Candidate: In the name of God, I will.

Father: That you will never leave the Order, neither through strength or weakness, niether in worse time or better? Candidate: In the name of God, I will. Father: In the name of God, of Our Lady, of St. Francis and St. Maximilian Kolbe and of our father Pope Benedict XVI, from its beginning and until its end, we accord you all the benefits of this house. We promise you bread and water, hardship, work and the poor robe of this house. Knight of the Patrocinium, bring forth the Great Sword of our order. . .. Father: [holding the sword as the cross in front of the candidate] Acknowledge this sword, its brightness stands for faith, its point for hope, and its guard for charity. Remember well that the sword of Chivalry should be drawn only in defense of God, or of those weaker than yourself. Do you acknowledge the values of this sword? Candidate: In the name of God, I do. Father: [returning the sword] Let the scroll be read. Herald: To all who can hear: Whereas Marc has dedicated himself to high and noble service to God and the Kingdom of Heaven in war and in peace, we are minded to enroll him into the Knights of Lepanto. We do hereby elevate and affirm Marc for his unique talents soo to be known throughout the world. To which we set our hands this 24th day of May, as Christ is our King and Mary our Queen. Thom gave all the speaking roles to the other knights and to myself during the ritual, but all the words were his, and it was all meant for Marc. When we performed the induction of Mark, I had only had the time to glance at the ritual very quickly. I had complete trust that what Thom had come up with would be appropriate. But when I read the words out loud to Marc: “as God is our King of Kings and Mary our Queen are you prepared to take the vow of the brotherhood?” I thought to myself, “I hadn’t planned on anyone taking a vow right now.” And then when I heard myself saying: “Will you promise to God and Our Lady that henceforth, all the days of your life that you will do these things?” and Marc said yes both times, I thought, “I will have to revise this for next time.” In any case, I figured that it was all intended in the right spirit, and expressed the Spirit of Lepanto so perfectly, so I said nothing. Little did I know that Thom and Mark had providentially entered into the Knightly order together and were to seal their promise in this tragic and yet heroic event. Thom and Marc used exactly the right words and they meant what they said. Thom will be buried with the Great Sword of our order. Similar arrangements are being made for Marc as well. They promised to be true knights of Our Lady, and, In the name of God, they were.

Laying Our Knights to Rest
• • •

Norwhich Bulletin on the Funeral (link only temporary) Extended Version of Memorial Video Comment from Carol Girard, Wife and Mother

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after” (J.R.R. Tolkien). As unspeakably sad as the last week has been, I cannot remember one that was more filled with grace and peace. I have been privileged to witness heroism, steadfastness and mercy. Thom and Marc, their family and friends have been searching earnestly for the ideals of chivalry; however, none of us would have considered the plate we have been served “quite the something” we “were after.” We must always praise God for His goodness. Last Monday, when through one of the friars I received a distressed call from Carol in which she asked one of us to meet her at Bachus Hospital, I was swept up into a series of events so inconceivable to me that the mind still balks at its consideration. I knew the situation was dour when I heard the words “drowning” and “Life Star” though in reality, I had no idea of the real dimensions of the tragedy. My mind still short circuits when I think of the hole left in so many lives by the absence of Thom and Marc, but at the same time, the past week has etched into my mind some of the most precious memories of my life. Like many who were privileged to know Thom and Marc and to participate in their sending off, I have been overwhelmed by the presence of God during this difficult time. Some events that happen in life have a mythic quality, that is, they are so invested with the workings of divine providence that they are not only the history we have lived, but they also seem to be parables applicable to some greater and truer story. Thom and Marc passed through fire and water to victory, and they go before us to prepare the way. I guess I have Marian Chivalry on the brain, but so did Thom and Marc. They carried the banner and stormed the tower. Woe to us if we dishonor their memory by not taking and securing what they won for us at the price of their lives. I am not being romantic about what happened. Those who knew our two friends know how they believed in what they were doing with the Knights of Lepanto. I will try to explain. When we first started our Third Thursday Discussion Group for Men the general idea was to give men a forum in which they could discuss the faith and have a sense of identity as Catholic men with other Catholic men. Underlying that idea was the conviction that men

need to translate their faith and prayer into action in order to consolidate and deepen their religious convictions and spiritual practices. The idea seems to have been correct and the group of men developed into the organized assembly of the Knights of Lepanto. It has become an apostolate of men to men and fathers to sons. Everyone has participated and contributed. I have encouraged that active and creative participation while guiding it according to the charism of the MIM to which the Knights of Lepanto belong. During this development Thom and Marc rose to places of prominent influence (among the men and boys respectively), not due to my arrangement, but by a natural democratic process. They were recognized by the men without fanfare for their commitment and understanding of both the charism and the practical means of implementing it among men and boys. Thom and Marc loved our Blessed Mother and understood the nature of consecration to Her as a real form of knighthood. It was Thom who formulated what is essential of vow of service to Our Lady, in the form of a knightly consecration, a vow which I believe both he and Marc made not long before their passing. When Carol was told that Thom was gone she had to hold herself together in order to tell her children. I was in a state of shock, but I saw grace at work. Thom was not gone. He was still a father. He had handed something on to his children that would last. There was sadness but no despair. But later that night when the family and friends gathered around the bed of Marc and knew that his time had come the presence of God was palpable. We prayed for a miracle and I blessed Marc with a relic of St. Pio, his favorite saint. The moment I touched his forehead with the relic he went into cardiac arrest. We began the prayers for the dying and by the time we had finished singing the Salve Regina he was gone. As sad as it all was, there has never been any doubt that it was their time and that somehow the loss is a key, both for the family and the rest of us. I think we have our miracle, but it is up to us to bring it to fruition. The tradition of chivalry and the notion of nobility are tied to the idea of “patrimony,” fathers handing on to their sons and standard of excellence. Me generation has largely lost any appreciation for the common good and the responsibility we have to future generations. The highest expressions of chivalry were all about the common good and about a patrimony of moral excellence. Fathers need to be real fathers, involved with their children at every step of the way and teaching their sons how to be fathers themselves. Thom taught this to Marc. Marc was his father’s son. All of us, including myself, take so much for granted. I was always so busy that I did not give Thom nearly the amount of time I should have. My loss. The grace of our consecration to Our Lady we also take for granted. So much more could be done with a knighthood based on Marian Chivalry. Time is too short not to see this. The men have pulled together in the last week in the face of this tremendous loss. It is my prayer that we recognize this grace for what it really is and not let the hour of our visitation pass. I want to thank all the Knights, Other Marys and all the friends and relatives of Thom and Mark who contributed to making the farewell to our brothers in arms such a grace-filled event. I would also like to thank all those who commented on MaryVictrix on the two posts: In Memoriam: Thom and Marc Girard and Thom and Marc: Knights of Holy Mary Victrix at Lepanto. Your very kind remarks are a consolation to everyone.

We are all looking for something transcendent and beautiful in life. Thom and Marc have gone before is in finding it. We have also, in a sense, found it too. It certainly hasn’t been what we expected, but I for one treasure not only memories of the last week, but the overwhelming providence of God hidden just beneath the sorrow. We cannot forget or become complacent, too much has been lost in the service of our Queen and too much is at stake. To arms, then, in the service of the Queen.

Videos: from The New Liturgical Movement, July 10, 2008
New Approaches to Chant 
by Jeffrey Tucker The melodies of Gregorian Chant are so wonderful, so pretty, so penetrating, that they are useful for every manner of private devotion, as these videos illustrate. It would make no sense to say that no one is permitted to make them their own in some way or adjust their style. They belong to the world and to each of us. For this reason, I find these very touching: Editor’s Note: Jeff then put up three videos from this site: More great stuff here.

from The Naperville Sun, July 10, 2008

A Tradition Revisited
St. Peter and Paul Church reintroduces Latin Mass

SS Peter and Paul in Naperville is the first church in the Joliet Archdiocese to offer Latin Mass since it was discontinued in the 1960s. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio called Summorum Pontificum. This act calls for more churches to go back to the old form of Mass, which contains more prayer and a quieter worship throughout the entire Mass.

It's hard to let go of an almost 1,500-year-old tradition. That's how many Catholics felt when the Latin Mass was no longer the cornerstone of their Sunday mornings. They missed prayers and songs in Latin and the priest who stood with his back to the congregation. They preferred only consecrated hands placing the Eucharist on their tongue. So when churches once again began including the Latin rite among their Sunday services, a growing number of old-school Catholics came back to what they consider the roots of their faith. In February, SS Peter and Paul Church reintroduced the Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass. Held at 5:30 p.m. Sundays, it is celebrated by the Rev. Scott Haynes, associate pastor at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago. Haynes said the Mass typically draws about 200 people, including college students, young families and older Catholics who grew up in that tradition. "A lot of the people are attracted to the solemnity and reverence with which the traditional Mass is celebrated," Haynes said. "They enjoy singing Gregorian chants and participating in other Latin prayers." According to the Web site at, the rite was in use until the introduction of the Mass of Pope Paul VI during the 1960s following the Second Vatican Council. The initial changes in the Mass allowed the limited introduction of the local language. By 1970 the Mass was celebrated entirely in the local language. Haynes said the Latin Mass is bringing many fallen away Catholics back into the fold. Judy Rupp is one of them. The 56-year-old Wheaton resident had never liked the English-speaking Mass and all the changes that went with it - the priest facing the congregation, parishioners taking the Eucharist into their own hands, the exchange of handshakes during the service and lay people sharing in priestly roles. She eventually stopped going to church but came back more than 20 years ago when she rediscovered the Latin Mass while living in New York.

"I was 10 or 11 when the changes came about and I can remember telling my mom that church wasn't special anymore," said Rupp, who has raised her five children in the Latin rite. "I feel I'm truly in the presence of God in the Latin Mass," she said. During the years Karen Watson attended Catholic school in Chicago, she found beauty, peace and comfort in church. But when the Latin Mass disappeared so, too, did those feelings. She was overjoyed when, 20 years ago, she discovered the traditional rite at St. John Cantius Church. She attended regularly and, after moving to Lisle, began commuting to a Latin service at a church in Northlake. Now she is a member of SS Peter and Paul church and attends the Latin Mass with her children and grandchildren weekly. The service, she said, holds great meaning for her. "It's the holiness," said Watson, 68. "It's very God-centered as opposed to the feelings I get in the ordinary Mass which is very people-centered. "The beauty draws you in and then you go beyond that. That is what is so gorgeous. I feel peace," Watson said. Haynes said many people who are not familiar with the Latin Mass have misconceptions about it. The church provides the use of translation booklets to help them follow along. As they continue to attend these Masses, Haynes said, people will begin to better understand the rite and derive great benefits from it. “I think people will begin to appreciate thye beauty and reverence in the Mass, and it will help them in their spiritual lives to develop a deeper prayer life,” he said


Chiara Luce Badano
"Sainthood at the age of 18"
She was beautiful, enterprising, sports-loving, an ordinary young person. Then the unexpected illness: anguish and pain, followed by death. A rapid ascent to heaven. Her cause for beatification is underway.
Extract from an article by Michele Zanzucchi – Citta’ Nuova, Rome

Chiara Badano is one of the many members of the Focolare Movement who have died at a young age. In her case, however, we felt that God had chosen her in a very special way for himself. Her funeral was like a wedding celebration. Afterward we continued to pray for her and for her family and read some of her writings which had begun to circulate. Then in the years following her death, quite unintentionally, many aspects of her life began to emerge through her friends, through the youth of the Focolare, through her bishop, through a biography, a video and through a collection of her own writings. As Abbé Pierre wrote: “Saints are not all listed in a catalogue: in all

probability we come across them every day.” normal, everyday saints. The long-awaited arrival

Chiara Badano was one of these

Chiara was born in Sassello, an inland Ligurian region in Italy, on 29 October 1971. It’s a picturesque township situated between the mountains and the city. Anyone looking for a typical provincial town would find it in Sassello with its mushrooms and chestnuts. Chiara was the only child of a truck-driver, Ruggero Badano, and his wife Maria Teresa Caviglia. After 11 years of marriage they were still childless, although their heart’s desire was to have children. It’s easy to imagine their tremendous joy when this baby arrived. Her mother said, “Even though we were so immensely happy, we understood straightaway that this child wasn’t ours alone. She belonged to God first of all.” Chiara’s father, quiet by nature, is gifted with a very strong faith. Initially, he gives the impression of being very serious, but the warmth of his personality is reflected in his eyes. Her mother is friendly and outgoing and the relationship she had with her daughter was based on lopenness and trust. An important lesson Maria Teresa, Chiara’s mother, recounted an episode which illustrates their relationship: “One afternoon, Chiara came home with a beautiful red apple. I asked her where it came from. She replied that she had taken it from our neighbour’s orchard without asking her permission. I explained to her that she always had to ask before taking anything and that she had to take it back and apologise to our neighbour. She was reluctant to do this because she was too embarrassed. I told her that it was far more important to own up than to eat an apple. So Chiara took the apple back to our neighbour and explained everything to her. That evening, the woman brought her a whole box of apples saying that on that day Chiara had “learnt something very important”. 9 years old – a special meeting Chiara had a very generous nature. In primary school, for homework, she had to write a letter to Baby Jesus. She didn’t ask him for toys but to “make grandmother, and all the people who are sick, well again”. She could be quite stubborn too and at times argued with her parents, but she was always ready to make up. Any friction only ever lasted a few moments. There are small, but significant, episodes which testify to this. For example, once when her mother asked her to clear the table, she responded, “No, I don’t want to”. She got as far as her room, then turned back and said, “Mum, I’ve just remembered that story in the Gospel about the two workers who had to go and work in the vineyard; one said ‘yes’ but didn’t go; the other instead said ‘no’… Mum, give me that apron”. And she started clearing up. Stories like this attest to the fact that she had received a solid Christian education at home through the parish community, through the parish priest who gave interesting catechism lessons, and through the good friends she had. She had a special love for the elderly and really liked to help them. In September 1980, when she was 9 years old, Chiara attended a meeting of the young people of the Focolare Movement – called the Gen 3. It was to be fundamental for her future life. There she encountered the spirituality of unity.

In 1981, her parents began to share the same spirituality after they attended a Familyfest, an international meeting for families. Her mother said, “When we arrived home, my husband and I said to each other that if someone were to ask us when we got married, we would reply: ‘When we met this ideal’ ". From that moment, the Badano family became an example of respect, warmth and unity. During this period, Chiara used to write down her little acts of self-denial. This was one of them: “My friend has scarlet fever and everyone is too scared to visit her. With my parents’ permission I decided to do my homework over at her place so that she wouldn’t feel lonely”. School, friendships and a decisive trip St Augustine often said that “love makes us beautiful”. Chiara, besides being a nice-looking girl, was, in fact clothed in evangelical beauty. Her photos show that even as an infant she had quite a strong character. What is so striking in these photos is the purity of her expression. Her adolescent years were nothing out of the ordinary. In 1985, her family moved to Savona so that she could continue with her secondary school studies. She found it quite hard-going despite being a conscientious student. She failed some final year subjects and this was a big suffering for her. It was then that some friction with her parents emerged. Even though the bond amongst them was so strong, they had to work hard to reach a compromise acceptable to all of them, regarding such things as staying out late at night. Especially on weekends, Chiara loved to spend the evening with her friends in coffee shops. “She had a very wide circle of friends,” said Chicca Coriasco, one of her closest friends. “She also dressed modestly and with goodtaste. She was always well-groomed, without overdoing it.”
Chiara was popular, always surrounded by friends. She was good at sport: tennis, swimming, mountainclimbing. She was very active, loved singing and dancing and she wanted to be an air-


She was quite popular with boys but she had her sights set on other goals. Every now and then she would comment to her friends, “He’s a nice boy”, but that was all. Then the summer of 1988 marked a very important turning point in her life. She had just learnt that she had failed maths at school, when she was asked to accompany a group of children to Rome for their special Gen 4 meeting. Even though she felt so upset about failing, she didn’t want to back away. This is what she wrote from Rome to her parents: “This is a very important moment for me: it is an encounter with Jesus Forsaken. It hasn’t been easy to embrace this suffering, but this morning Chiara Lubich explained to the children that they have to be the spouse of Jesus Forsaken.” She corresponded regularly with Chiara Lubich, with whom she had a very profound relationship, so much so that at the end of her life, she said “I owe everything to God and to Chiara.” At her request, she received a new name, “Luce” which means “light”. An unexpected outcome Then something totally unforeseen happened. While playing tennis one day, she experienced a very sharp pain in her shoulder. At first she didn’t take any notice and neither did her doctor. But because the pain simply didn’t go away, the doctor did further tests. The verdict: osteogenic sarcoma – one of the most serious and painful

forms of cancer. And it had already begun to spread. On hearing this news, Chiara Luce, after a moment’s silence, accepted the outcome courageously, without tears or rebellion. “I’m young. I’m sure I’ll make it,” she said. Her father, Ruggero, told us, “We were sure that Jesus was in our midst in that moment and he gave us the strength to accept it.” This was when a dramatic change took place in Chiara Luce’s life and her rapid ascent towards holiness began. She was admitted to hospital many times and her kindness and unselfishness really stood out. Setting aside her own need to rest, she spent time walking around the wards with a drug-dependent girl suffering from serious depression. This meant getting out of bed despite the pain caused by the huge growth on her spine. “I’ll have time to rest later,” she used to say. The philosopher Cioran once said, “Has anyone ever seen a joyful saint?” Anyone who knew Chiara Luce could certainly say ‘yes’, as Jesus became more and more her “Spouse”. She wrote, “Jesus sent me this illness at the right moment.” Eventually, she was admitted to a hospital in Turin. “At first we thought we’d visit her to keep her spirits up,” one of the Gen boys said, “but very soon we understood that, in fact, we were the ones who needed her. Her life was like a magnet drawing us to her.”
The cancer was spreading mercilessly, but Chiara Luce tried her best to live a normal and happy life.

One of the medical staff, Dr Antonio Delogu, said, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” She had to undergo surgery twice. The subsequent chemotherapy treatment caused her to lose her hair, which she was very proud of. As each lock of hair fell, she would say simply, but sincerely, “For you, Jesus”. Her parents, ever at her side, used to remind her that hidden in all of her sufferings there was a mysterious plan of God. Whenever she heard this, Chiara Luce would redouble her efforts to love. So, for example, she gave all her savings to a friend leaving on a humanitarian mission to Africa, saying, “I have everything. I don’t need this anymore.” No to morphine. “I want the pain of Jesus on the cross” to share as much as possible

There is a tape-recording from this period of Chiara Luce’s life where she herself tells of undergoing a very painful medical procedure. “When the doctors began to carry out this small, but quite demanding, procedure, a lady with a very beautiful and luminous smile came in. She came up to me and took me by the hand, and her touch filled me with courage. In the same way that she arrived, she disappeared, and I could no longer see her. But my heart was filled with an immense joy and all fear left me. In that moment I understood that if we’re always ready for everything, God sends us many signs of his love.” When she lost the use of her legs, Chiara said, “If I had to choose between walking or going to heaven, I would choose going to heaven.” With the last CAT scan, all hopes of remission disappeared. This was the beginning of a very intense spiritual trial. But she never gave up. She always had the support of Chiara Lubich who wrote to her, “God loves you immensely and wants to penetrate the depths of your soul to allow you to experience heaven on earth.” She refused to take morphine. “It reduces my lucidity,” she said, “and there’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.”

Chiara Luce grew in maturity. Dr Fabio de Marzi, wrote to her, “I’m not used to seeing young people like you. I always thought of your age as being the time of great enthusiasms and sentiments. But you have taught me that yours is also an age of wholeness and maturity.” “Where does that light in your eyes come from?” 19 July 1989: Chiara nearly died because of a hemorrhage. She said, “Don’t shed any tears for me. I’m going to Jesus. At my funeral, I don’t want people crying, but singing with all their hearts.” Referring to the intravenous drip attached to her arm, she said, “These drops are nothing compared to the nails driven into the hands of Jesus.” And with each falling drop, she would say, “For You, Jesus”. When Cardinal Saldarini visited her in hospital, he asked her, “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?” She replied, “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.” Occasionally she asked her parents not to let her friends come into her room – for her an unusual request. One day she explained, “It doesn’t mean that I care any less for them or that I’m sad. It’s because I sometimes find it so hard to ‘come down’ from where my spirit is living and then to climb back up again.” This was the atmosphere of Paradise that those around her experienced. She wrote to her friends, “Previously I felt another world was awaiting me and the most I could do was to let go. Instead now I feel enfolded in a marvellous plan of God which is slowly being unveiled to me.” The wedding celebration During her last days, she said, “I no longer ask Jesus to come and take me away to heaven. I don’t want to give him the impression that I don’t want to suffer any longer”. She knew what lay before her and she didn’t want to change anything (she didn’t pray for a cure but to be able to do God’s will). Together with her mother, she prepared for her “wedding celebration”, her funeral. She herself gave instructions on how she wanted to be dressed; she chose the music, the songs, the flowers and the Mass readings. She told her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus’.” Maria Grazia Magrini, who has been gathering material on Chiara Luce’s life for the beatification process, affirms: "The expressions she used in this period are very similar to those used by St Therese of the Child Jesus, who said, for example, ‘You have to know how to die through pinpricks in order to die by the sword." Sunday, 7 October, at 4.00 am, she met her “Spouse”. Her father and mother were at her bedside, and all her friends were in the adjoining room. There was a great sense of peace. Her last words to her mother were, “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.” There were 2000 people at her funeral. Even those without a religious faith wanted to be there. In describing the occasion, everyone spoke of "Paradise", of joy, of choosing God as Chiara Luce had done. Bishop Maritano said in his homily, “Here is the fruit of a Christian family, of a Christian community, of a movement which lives mutual love and has the presence of Jesus in the midst of its members”. The effects of her experience continued even after her death. All those who came to know about her felt called to live the Gospel in a more radical way, to choose God as their all. Her holiness has really been contagious. Recognition of Chiara Luce’s holiness spread slowly but surely. Through the initiative of the bishop of Acqui Terme, she has been declared a “Servant of God”. This was followed by the first step of the beatification process within the diocese. In a few months, her cause for beatification will be passed on to the Vatican.

“You must become a generation of saints” One question that comes to mind at this moment is: “Who are the modern day saints?” Naturally, only God is holy. But in the Scriptures we are told: “Be holy as I am holy”. And in the Acts of the Apostles, Christians are simply referred to as “saints”. So a saint is a person who reflects the holiness of God by living the virtues in a heroic way and showing boundless charity and total faith in God. In this regard, Chiara Luce certainly does appear to be a saint. There is one more aspect which warrants emphasizing. Cardinal Martini wrote: “Imagine a bunch of grapes: it is the holiness of the whole bunch taken together and not just of one single grape which becomes yeast and salt of the earth, light for the world.” Ever since the beginning of the Gen Movement, Chiara Lubich has challenged the young people with a very high ideal: “You must become a generation of saints”. Chiara Luce Badano is not the only one to reach this goal, because many other young people of the Focolare Movement have died with the same disposition. The beatification process is currently underway for three of them.

Letters to the Editor
In response to the July 6th issue, we received this letter:

Thanks for these updates. I think I mentioned that I have had the privilege of serving at the 5.30 Tridentine Mass at St. Peter & Paul for several months now. The attendance at this Mass has been between 100 and 150 people even though there has been very little publicity about the Mass. One good sign: 3 of the servers are young people in their 20's. Another good sign: there are about 15 men who have volunteered to serve at these Masses. Regards, Mike Kerner