The Computer Gamer and His Highway to Heaven

By Kristi McCabe, 3 June 2024
Carlo Acutis. Image: carloacutis.com/Supplied.

 

Sometimes the most unusual of circumstances produce the most extraordinary people, and this includes those who achieve sainthood. The story of young Carlo Acutis is one that has captured the hearts and admiration of people young and old all over the world, and recent news that the young millennial will soon join the ranks of canonized saints is nothing short of miraculous.

Born in 1991 in London to parents who were “not especially devout,” Carlo had a love for God from a young age. His mother stated she had only been to Mass for her First Communion, her confirmation and her wedding, but her son’s unexplained devotion led to her deep conversion. The young boy managed to “drag his relatives to Mass every day” to receive Communion daily, had a tremendous devotion to Mary and loved to pray the rosary. He went to Mass and confession as often as he could.

“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan,” young Carlo is quoted to have said often, and he lived his life in such a manner. He loved the Eucharist and asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages – to places of saints, specifically, to sites of Eucharistic miracles.

Carlo had a burning love for the Holy Eucharist and wanted others to share in this love. He created a website that would eventually become a catalog of Eucharistic miracles and later a traveling exhibit. Carlo expressed concern about people growing distant from the Church and sacraments and wanted them to understand that “the more we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”

The recent announcement of Acutis’s canonization aligns providentially with the ongoing Eucharistic revival in the United States, expressing once again our Lord’s reminder that He is always present with us in the Blessed Sacrament.

The life of Carlo Acutis is a reminder — especially for those of us trying against all odds to raise authentically Catholic children in today’s increasingly pagan and secular culture — that only God can raise up saints in today’s world and that the best gift we can give to our children is prayer.

How Carlo became so devout was anyone’s guess. Carlo’s mother, Antonia Salzano, said his “lifelong dream was to be a saint.” On the surface, however, he was like other children.

“He loved soccer, he loved basketball, he liked animals, he liked to play. A lot of friends loved him very much because he was always joking, making films,” she recalled.

“But at the center of his life was Jesus; he had a daily meeting (with Jesus) through the holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and the holy rosary. When you open the door of your heart to God, your ordinary life becomes extraordinary.”

Carlo’s mother explained that his “simple spirituality,” much like that of St. Therese the Little Flower, is open to everyone.

“He didn’t have the stigmata, or apparitions, or (experienced) levitation. He had a simple childhood. Everything Carlo did was in Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus.”

Pope Francis has praised the young teen as a role model for today’s young people, who are often tempted by the traps of “self-absorption, isolation, and empty pleasure.”

At age 15, Carlo was diagnosed with an untreatable form of leukemia. He offered up his suffering for others coping with illness and said, “I offer all the suffering I will have to suffer for the Lord, for the Pope, and the Church.”

Carlo died from his illness on October 12, 2006. At his request, he was buried in Assisi because of his love for St. Francis. His tomb very quickly became a place of pilgrimage.

Beatification and Canonization of Carlo Acutis

The first miracle attributed to Carlo’s intercession was approved by Pope Francis in February 2020, and involved a young Brazilian boy who was completely healed from a rare congenital disease of the pancreas.

The second miracle involved a young woman named Valeria Valverde, who had fallen from her bicycle in Florence and suffered severe head trauma; doctors said she had a low chance of survival. Her mother had visited Carlo’s tomb in Assisi and prayed for his intercession.

Ten days later, a CAT scan showed the hemorrhage had disappeared and Valeria was moved to rehab therapy on August 11. On September 2, the mother and daughter made another pilgrimage to Assist to thank Blessed Carlo for his intercession.

In a decree released on Thursday May 23, 2024, Pope Francis announced he will convene a Consistory of Cardinals to deliberate the canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

Not long after the announcement of his canonization came out, I was out walking in my garden and looked at some roses I had just planted. I remembered a photo I saw of Carlo on one of his birthdays, sitting in a garden with a homemade chocolate cake. He was a handsome young teenager, surrounded by flowers and nicely dressed.

Suddenly, I felt very proud of him — as a mother. I think all Catholic mothers feel proud of Carlo for reasons we are unable to articulate, but maybe it’s because he’s recent, he’s relatable, and he’s real to many of us.

He was just a boy.

He acted silly in home videos. He loved his pets. He played video games. His mother will see him become a canonized saint! How amazing. How unbelievably amazing is our God!

Carlo Acutis has faced the temptations of today’s world and won — simply because he “lived in the presence of God each day.” That is what we should all strive for. And so, I’m happy for him, for his mother and all mothers, and I look forward to having a new saint in heaven to ask for intercession for my children.

Pray for us, Carlo! What a gift you are to the Church of 2024. May the young people of today answer your call to “not die as photocopies,” but to answer God’s call to holiness as originals.

Kristi McCabe is an award-winning freelance writer, Catechist, a former teacher and editor who lives with her family in Owensboro, Kentucky. As an adoptive mother of four and an adoptee herself, Kristi is an avid supporter of pro-life ministries.  She is active in her local parish and has served as Eucharistic minister and in various children’s ministries.

With thanks to Where Peter Is, where this article originally appeared.

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