As a Benedictine Oblate attached to Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek, I receive their newsletters regularly. This past week the newsletter announced that the monastery is going to serve as "home base" for Father Giovanni Salerno's "Friends of the Missionary Servants of the Poor of the Third World." Father Salerno's mission is in Peru and the good Benedictines treated us to a letter he wrote containing a story of a young girl that I want to share.
None of us can forget Natividad. She was from a family of eleven children who were and still are very poor. We accepted the five younger siblings of Natividad, but we were not going to accept her because she could help her mother at home, finding firewood and carrying water. Regardless, she came every day to the cafeteria to help with the catechesis for those about to make their first communion. One day, Natividad left the cafeteria and did not return home. Her mother came to us very concerned, asking about her, and we were all very surprised that she had not made it home. We searched for her all night, and the following day we found her on the bank of a river, dead with marks suggesting that she had been strangled. You can imagine the suffering of her parents, especially her mother who seemed inconsolable.
One morning the mother came to give us good news. The night before she had a dream in which she saw Natividad, dressed in white in the middle of a field of lilies, who told her: "Do not cry, I am well and I can help you more than before. Now I will tell you what happened so you can give testimony: While I was waiting for the bus to return home, some youths kidnapped me and took me to an abandoned house next to the river. There they got drunk while I was tied up. Then, one tried to abuse me, but I saw what he wanted to do, and I was able to pull scissors from my book bag and defend my purity; he was so angry he strangled me. Go to the abandoned house and in the bushes next to the river you will find the scissors and the cord they used to strangle me." The mother went to the house and found the things, just as Natividad had said.
The rest of the girls from the cafeteria found out what happened, and they saw a great similarity between Natividad and St. Maria Goretti, who had also died in defense of her purity. They decided, then, to form a group called "St. Maria Goretti" and they would have Natividad as their intercessor. The group was founded for girls to vow to Jesus that they would live lives of the holy virtue of purity. When the time came to open our schools, we wanted to put the girls' school under the protection of St. Maria Goretti, so as to offer her life as an example of holiness and to remember the life of the girl who had lived among us - Natividad - as one who had been able to live like the Saint.
Many people in today's world would scoff at the idea of preserving purity. I think this story illustrates one of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God." Those who scoff do not care about seeing God. But good parents and grandparents will not proffer the spirit of this world to their children. They will see that their children keep good company rather than bad and help them grow in virtue. They will never accept "everybody else is doing it" as a reason to sin. They will protect the purity of the young ones and point them to the kind of children like Natividad who preferred death rather than sin as inspiration.