This is the text of the homily given by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who presided over the beatification ceremony of Carlo Acutis on October 10, 2020 in the Basilica of Saint Frances of Assisi in Assisi, Italy. 2020:
“Those who abide in Me and I in them bear much fruit, because, apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
With these words from the Gospel of John, Jesus, during the Last Supper, turns to His disciples and exhorts them to remain united to Him as branches are to the vine.
The image of the vine and the branches is very evocative in expressing how necessary it is that Christians live in communion with God. Christian strength is specifically found in a personal, intimate and deep relationship with Jesus and in making reception of the Holy Eucharist the high point of one’s relationship with God.
Dear brothers and sisters, today we particularly admire and are attracted to the life and witness of Carlo Acutis. The Church acknowledges him as a model and example of Christian life, proposing him to the young, above all. We wonder and ask ourselves what was special about this young boy, barely fifteen years of age. Looking at his biography, we find he was a normal boy, simple, spontaneous and friendly. Just look at this photo. He loved nature and animals, played football and soccer. He had many friends and was attracted to the modern means of social communication, the internet. Carlo was passionate about Information Technology. He was a self learner and created programs, as Pope Francis said, to spread the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty. He had the gift of attracting others, and others saw him as an example.
Even as a child, as members of his family testify, Carlo sensed the need for faith and turned his gaze toward Jesus. His love for the Eucharist founded and kept his relationship with God alive. Carlo used to often say, “The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven.” He participated in Holy Mass every day and would remain for long periods of time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Carlo would say, “Those who remain close to the Eucharist every day will go straight to Heaven.”
Jesus was his friend, teacher and savior. He was the strength of his life and the reason for everything he did. Carlo was convinced that to love others and to do them good, he must draw energy from the Lord. In this spirit, he was very devoted to Mary, the Madonna.
His ardent desire was to attract as many people as possible to Jesus, making himself a proclaimer of the Gospel with the example of his life. It was precisely the witness of his Faith that spurred Carlo to successfully undertake a work of diligent evangelization everywhere he went, touching peoples’ hearts and enkindling in them the desire to change their lives and draw nearer to God. He did so with spontaneity, showing the love and goodness of the Lord through what he did and how he behaved.
He had an extraordinary ability to witness to the values in which he believed even to the point of facing misunderstanding, obstacles, and sometimes ridicule. Carlo strongly felt the need to help people discover that God is near us and that it is beautiful to be with Him, to enjoy His friendship and His grace.
He used every means to communicate and in particular, the internet. He considered it a gift from God and an important tool to encounter people and spread Christian values. His way of thinking would make him say that the internet offered an opportunity for a special dialogue, a means of getting to know others, of sharing with mutual respect; a tool to be used responsibly without becoming slaves to it.
In the virtual world, one must be able to distinguish good from evil. Carlo endeavoured to use the medium for the service of the Gospel with the aim of reaching as many people as possible so they could know how beautiful is friendship with the Lord. To that end, he organized an exhibit of the principal Eucharistic miracles that have occurred in the world which he also used when teaching catechism to children.
Carlo was very devoted to Our Lady, reciting the Rosary daily. He consecrated himself to Mary several times, renewing his affection for her and imploring her protection. Prayer and mission were two distinctive traits of Blessed Carlo Acutis’ heroic faith. In the course of his brief life, prayer and mission brought him to entrust himself to the Lord in every circumstance, especially in the most difficult moments.
It was in this spirit that with serenity he lived and faced the illness that would lead to his death. Carlo abandoned himself into the arms of Providence, and under the maternal gaze of Mary would repeat: “I want to offer all my sufferings to the Lord for the Pope and for the Church. I don’t want to go to purgatory; I want to go straight to Paradise.” Let us remind ourselves that it was a 15-year-old boy who spoke like this, revealing a surprising Christian maturity that should motivate and encourage us to take the life of Faith seriously.
Carlo elicited admiration because of the ardor with which he would defend the sanctity of the family and the sacredness of life against the threats of abortion and euthanasia. The new Blessed Carlo also represents to us a model of fortitude which does not allow any form of compromise. He was aware that, in order to remain in Jesus’ love, it was necessary to live the Gospel in a concrete manner (cf. John 15:10), even at the cost of going against the tide.
He truly put into practice the words of Jesus: “This is My commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you” (verse 12). This led him to exercise charity toward his neighbor; above all toward the poor, the lonely, the abandoned, the elderly, the homeless, persons with disabilities, and others whom society marginalized and kept out of sight. Carlo was always welcoming to those in need, and when going to and from school, he would meet others on the street and would stop and speak with them, listening to their problems and helping when possible.
Carlo was never focused on himself but was able to understand the needs and demands of others in whom he saw the face of Christ. He never missed out helping his schoolmates, especially those who were experiencing the hardest difficulties. What an enlightening life, completely giving himself to others as a Eucharistic friend.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Church rejoices today because in this young Blessed Carlo are the words of the Lord fulfilled: “I have chosen you, and I have appointed you to go and bear fruit” (Verse 16).
Carlo bore the fruit of holiness, demonstrating that it is a goal that everyone can attain rather than something abstract and reserved for a few. His life is a model, particularly for the young, not to seek gratification solely in passing successes, but in those eternal values that Jesus proposes in the Gospel, namely, to put God first, both in life’s great and small circumstances and to serve one’s brothers and sisters, especially the least.
The beatification of Carlo Acutis, the son of Lombardy, who was enchanted with the land of Saint Francis of Assisi, is good news. It is a powerful proclamation that a boy of our times, one among many, was conquered by Christ, and became a beacon of light for all who want to know Him and follow His example. He witnessed that Faith does not distance us from life but rather more deeply immerses us in it, thus indicating the concrete path for living the Gospel joyfully. It is up to us to follow that path, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo so that our lives also might shine with light and hope.
Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us!
+ Agostino Cardinal Vallini