Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Remembering and Celebrating Blessed Chiara Badano

Today we honor the short but heroic life of this wonderful 18-year-old girl: Happy feast of Blessed Chiara "Luce" Badano! She is indeed a "light" who encourages all of us to love Jesus and trust in Him no matter what. Her intercession for us in the presence of the Lord is - I am convinced - very powerful.

Chiara is especially important for young people, and for the evangelization of youth in the midst of the dominant trends of secularist culture with its idolization of power and external success.

As a young person growing up in the 1980s, she shared in the normal endeavors and aspirations of her time. She played sports, enjoyed hiking and swimming, loved music, and had a beautiful singing voice. She had friends and was known to be a good listener, a confidant for peers in their difficulties. 

She had her own struggles, problems with school, and heartbreak, like any teenager. She was an exceptionally lovely young woman, bright, unassuming, accessible, modest without preoccupation, ardent, persistent, open-hearted.

She sought Jesus, to love Him and serve Him. She hoped to become a medical doctor, to tend the needs of the desperate poor of sub-Saharan Africa at that time. Instead, at age 17 she became a patient herself, struck down with osteosarcoma. 

In her final two years she fought for her life, endured immense suffering, and offered herself ever more profoundly in union with Jesus on the cross in His cry of abandonment. She died three weeks short of her 19th birthday, on October 7, 1990. Even with all her pain, she radiated a transcendent joy that amazed everyone around her.

I don't understand her, and I can't imagine such courage. But I love her for it.

And now - living forever in the glory of Infinite Love - she has opened her listening heart to my troubles and sorrows. She has encouraged me and helped me to be a better father, a better educator, and a more open person to the needs of others. She also has led me to seek the light of Christ shining in places where I would not have thought to find it.

She is a sign of the Lord's great compassion for me, and for the whole world.

"What a free and immense gift life is and how important it is to live every instant in the fullness of God. I feel so little and the road ahead is so arduous that I often feel overwhelmed with pain! But that’s the Spouse coming to meet me. Yes, I repeat it: 'If you want it Jesus, so do I'" (Blessed Chiara Badano, dying of bone cancer, 1990).