“All people are born as originals, but most die as photocopies.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis preached this message as a call for people of all ages to never settle for mediocrity. Born in May 1991, this first “millennial” to be beatified died at the age of fifteen, after a battle with leukemia. Blessed Carlo grew up as a normal child in an ordinary home, but his witness of intentional kindness, dynamic prayer, and proclamation of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist stands as a beacon of hope in a secular age, and a path for all young people to follow.
Blessed Carlo Acutis had a tremendous love for technology, especially computers and video games. He spent time with his friends defeating virtual monsters and winning virtual battles. His love for video games is one reason that many young people are encouraged to see him beatified – he is almost certainly the first video-game-playing beati! However, the time Bl. Carlo spent playing in these virtual worlds with his friends never became more important to him than the “real” world he awaited in Heaven. He once said:
“It doesn’t matter if you can win battles if you can’t win the battle within yourself.”
As a true millennial, Bl. Carlo had several internet and social media accounts. What made him a role model for the rest of his generation is how he used these platforms to spread faith in God. Bl. Carlo was known to often place things in the view of the “big picture,” saying:
“We are to live for the infinite, not the finite. The infinite is our one true home.”
His perspective set him apart from his peers as someone willing and able to see life through the divine perspective of heaven, humanity’s one true home.
Bl. Carlo was particularly passionate about using technology to share the mysterious glory of Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist. His love for the Blessed Sacrament inspired him to research the countless Eucharistic miracles recorded throughout history. These were instances when the bread and wine were inexplicably transformed into physical bleeding flesh – the Flesh of Jesus Christ. Many Eucharistic miracles of recent decades have been investigated by secular scientists, who have confirmed through medical testing that the tissue in question is cardiac tissue – heart tissue – with DNA from a man who lived in the Middle East, approximately two thousand years ago. Captivated by the evidence these miracles gave for belief in the Eucharist, Bl. Carlo created his own website to catalog and share his findings with others, pointing them always to the majesty and mystery of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Bl. Carlo’s witness was not simply a digital one – his faith also had a profound impact on the people closest to him, particularly his parents. Ever since he was a small child, Bl. Carlo would ask his parents (who were not particularly practicing Catholics at the time) to bring him to the local church so that he could pray for a few moments and “visit with Jesus.” Bl. Carlo’s love for the Eucharistic Lord so impressed his parents that they eventually returned to their practice of faith as a result of his example. In our day, when Mass attendance is diminishing at a rapid pace and many young people are heartbroken to see family and friends falling away from the Church, Bl. Carlo inspires a whole generation of young people to pray and work to bring their loved ones back to Sunday worship.
Bl. Carlo lived a short life – he never went to college, he did get to choose a vocation, he did not travel the world or make a large social contribution. Yet simply by living out his baptismal call to holiness, he was able to love God well and respond to the grace of the Holy Spirit in his life. He is an inspiration for those living an ordinary life – that even the everyday concerns of school assignments, friendships, and website development can become a means to Heaven, if we seek God’s presence in the midst of them all.
Bl. Carlo reminds us that no matter your age, it’s important to speak to your friends and family about God, attend Sunday Mass weekly, and always pray for God’s guidance. He shows us that even the internet can be used to preach the Gospel with energy and devotion. Following the lead of this young man from Italy, let us aim to keep God at the center of our lives, and to bring our family and friends to Heaven with us as we journey towards our “one true home.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us!