The “Cyber Apostle of the Eucharist” by Fr. Sean Maguire from Totus Tuus
We often hear people bemoaning that young people do not engage with their Catholic faith. However, the beatification of an Italian teenager in October 2020 is a reminder to us that the Catholic faith ought to be a source of joy in the lives of our youth today. There is a lot written about the life of the first millennial to be beatified, but in this article, I will shine a spotlight on the extraordinary Eucharistic devotion of this ordinary teenager.
When Carlos received his First Holy Communion at the age of seven, he fell in love with the Eucharist and never wanted to miss Mass ever again. Carlos went to Confession weekly and prayed the Rosary daily, which he said was “the shortest ladder to climb to Heaven.” Carlos referred to the Eucharist as “his highway to heaven.” His mother had only been to Mass three times in her life but she was captivated by her son’s devotion to the Eucharist and this led to her conversion.
Carlos regularly prayed before the Blessed Sacrament for an hour before or after Mass. He certainly believed that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and he allowed Jesus to transform his youthful heart. He used to say “if we get in front of the sun, we get suntans, but when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist we become saints.” Through regular exposure to the rays of grace that come from the Eucharist, Carlos was able to reach his full human potential and become the person that God created him to be. Carlos said that “the more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus.” Each time Carlos received the Body of Christ, he became what he received and his life reflected in a greater way the life of Christ.
The summer after his 14th birthday, Carlos created a website cataloging an array of Eucharistic miracles that occurred throughout the world in history. Most Eucharistic miracles involve incidences in which the Eucharist Host has turned into human flesh and blood. Many have been scientifically examined and approved by the Church. Jesus, through these miracles, shows us in a tangible way that he is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Nicola Gori, the postulator of Carlo Acutis’ cause for sainthood said that Carlo was concerned by people growing distant to the Church and the sacraments and he wanted to bring them back. His website “is a call to shake consciences” and many people throughout the world have had their faith strengthened by Carlos’ work.
Carlo was so convinced and overcome by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that he couldn’t understand why stadiums were full of people and churches were empty. He would often say, “They have to see, they have to understand.” Carlos understood that “we have a foretaste of Heaven” on earth when we receive the Eucharist. In a diary given to him, he wrote, “sadness is looking at oneself, happiness is looking at God.” Carlos’ life was certainly pointed towards God and he derived so much joy from being in the presence of his Eucharistic Lord.
Blessed Acutis’ life reminds us that everyone is called to sainthood. For Carlos, to become a saint is simple: “The only thing we have to ask God for, in prayer, is the desire to be holy.”
And he was able to reach the beautiful goal of holiness above all by participating in the Mass and the Eucharistic Adoration.
Carlo died from a brain tumor in 2006 at the age of fifteen. As he was dying of leukemia, he said, “I am happy to die, because I lived my life without wasting even a minute of it on anything un-pleasing to God.” Certainly his Eucharistic centered life enabled him to live a spotless life pleasing to God. As he was dying, Carlos offered all his suffering for the Church and for the Pope. Blessed Carlos Acutis was beatified in Assisi on the 10th of October 2020, at which Cardinal Agostino Vallini said that the “love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God” and that “he had his gaze turned to Jesus.”
Blessed Carlo pray for us.