Highway to Heaven
[Deut.8:2-3,14-16; 1Cor.10:16-17; Jn.6:51-58]
Many people think that saints aren’t relevant today, because they belong to another age.
What they don’t realise is that every age produces its own saints, and right now, many remarkable young people are on their way to sainthood. One such person is Carlo Acutis, an Italian boy who was born in London in 1991.
Carlo was raised in Milan, and his mother described him as a normal boy who was joyful, sincere and helpful, and loved having friends. ‘To be close to Carlo,’ she said, ‘was to be close to a fountain of fresh water.’
He had a generous heart and like many young people today, he especially loved computer programming, video games and the Internet.
But the beating heart of Carlo’s life was Jesus. He discovered Jesus when he was a little boy. His parents were non-practising Catholics, but they had him baptised and did not object to his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. His mother said that after his First Communion he never missed daily Mass or the Rosary, followed by a moment of Eucharistic adoration. Indeed, whenever he saw a church, he wanted to enter and say hello to Jesus in the tabernacle. He could stay for hours, praying in front of the Cross.
Carlo was fascinated by the Eucharist; he knew it was special. When he was 11, he said ‘the more Eucharist we receive, the more we’ll become like Jesus, so that on this earth we’ll have a foretaste of Heaven’.
He called the Eucharist his ‘Highway to Heaven,’ and asked his parents to take him to the location of every Eucharistic miracle. He also started recording the details of all these miracles, cataloguing 164 of them from all over the world, creating a virtual museum on the Internet for all to see. He also helped create an exhibition that has already travelled the world to thousands of parishes. [i]
Despite his young age, Carlo shared many profound thoughts. He believed that every teenager who wants to be ‘normal,’ can still be holy and individually unique. And he said that his life plan was ‘to always be close to Jesus’.[ii]
He also said that all people are born as originals, but many die as photocopies. If you want to die as an ‘original,’ he said, then you need to be guided by Christ and look at him constantly.
Sadly, in 2006 Carlo was diagnosed with an aggressive type of leukaemia and ten days later, he died.
He had suffered terribly, but his faith in Jesus gave him great courage. He offered up his sufferings for the good of the Pope and the Church, and as he requested, he was buried in his favourite place, Assisi.
In 2020, Pope Francis beatified Carlo, and now he is a patron of the 2023 World Youth Day, in Lisbon. He’s expected to be canonised soon.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’
Many people struggle to understand these words; they wonder how the bread and wine at Holy Communion can possibly be the body and blood of Christ. But young Carlo understood. That’s why he was so fascinated by Eucharistic miracles. He knew they were signs pointing to God’s profound love for us. He knew they were evidence of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Just nine days after Carlo’s death, another Eucharistic miracle occurred in Tixtla, Mexico. A priest noticed a reddish substance pouring from the host he was holding. Scientific examination later found the reddish substance to be blood type AB, the same as that found on the Shroud of Turin. The blood came from inside the host, and the tissue was found to be heart muscle.[iii]
This finding matches the results of three other Eucharistic miracles as described in Ron Tesoriero and Lee Han’s remarkable book, Unseen. These miracles occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1996), Lanciano, Italy (750 AD), and Sokolka, Poland (actually on the anniversary of Carlo’s death in 2008).
In all three cases, the Eucharistic host was found to contain human heart tissue and the blood type AB. As well, the white blood cells indicated that the heart was alive and had suffered trauma when the tissue samples were taken. [iv]
The Eucharist is God’s remarkable gift to us. But it’s also a mystery, and that’s why every now and then God gives us a sign – a miracle – to demonstrate what’s really happening. These miracles show us just how much God loves us, and they confirm the Real Presence of Jesus in every Eucharistic host.
Yes, every age produces its own special saints.
Carlo Acutis is a very modern saint for today’s world, sent by God to point to the truth of his Eucharistic gift.
(To explore Carlo’s Highway to Heaven go to http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/)