The Pope had many words for the crowds at St Peter's on this Palm Sunday. He spoke out strongly against the war in Iraq; he asked people to consider what 'idols' of the modern world keep them away from God. He also said this:
"To recognize God, we must abandon the pride that dazzles us, that seeks to push us away from God." To find God, "we must learn to see with a young heart, one which isn't blocked by prejudice and dazzled by interests."
Those words reminded me of a Servant of God, Antonietta Meo - or, as her loved ones call her, Nennolina. Nennolina, buried in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, is in line to become the youngest non-martyr saint in the Catholic Church. She died of cancer at the age of 6 and a half, having written over 160 letters to Jesus and the Blessed Mother. In these letters, she expresses her total sacrifice and love for Christ Crucified. Despite her young age, many consider her to be a mystic. She asked that the Lord allow her to die before she committed a mortal sin; she predicted her own death, saw visions of Jesus and Mary, and suffered terrible pain without complaint.
Nennolina is the perfect embodiment of Papa Benedict's words. Nennolina sought to be humble and unite herself with Christ's Cross. Here's the letter she wrote to Jesus at about this time of year:
"Dear Jesus the Crucified I love You oh dear Jesus. Dear Jesus tell God the Father that I love Him so much. Dear Jesus I'm so glad Easter is coming. Dear Jesus I know You suffered a lot on the Cross and I want to suffer with You during this week of Passion, I want to suffer for the souls who need it, so that they can be converted Dear Jesus I love You so much, really very much Jesus, and I want to be Your lamp and Your lily, the lily that represents the purity of the soul and the lamp that represents the flame of love which never leaves You. Dear Jesus bless the Church, the Clergy and especially my confessor my family my teacher, and all the world.
Dear Jesus I send You a lot of kisses and greetings Your Antonietta and Jesus"
Her desire to "suffer for souls who need it", I think, is the kind of humility that the Pope meant. If only we could all have hearts like Nennolina!
Dear Nennolina, please ask Jesus to make my heart like yours. Through your intercession, may all of us approach Jesus like you do, and love Him with your all-trusting and all-consuming love. Ask him to remove all impediments and prejudices that stop me from loving Him and my neighbor with all my heart. Thank you for all the prayers you pray for me and for all people. Amen.