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Department: Opening Salvo
One of the most unforgettable things I've read lately comes from an Italian boy who was considered a computer geek.1 It sums up part of the mission of Salvo.
Article originally appeared in
Carlo Acutis was born in London in 1991 and grew up in Milan, Italy. From an early age he possessed a deep and abiding faith as a Catholic and attended daily Mass. Carlo was also a normal boy with many friends. And he was a typical boy in being very interested in computers. A biographical sketch states,
Carlo was gifted at anything related to computers so that his friends, and the adults with computer engineering degrees, considered him a genius. Everyone was amazed by his ability to understand the computer secrets that are normally accessible only to those who have completed university. Carlo's interests included computer programming, film editing, website creation, editing and layout of comics, and volunteering for those most in need—children and the elderly.
When he was 11 years old, Carlo began cataloguing what Roman Catholics call "Eucharistic miracles." Two and a half years later, his project was complete, including an online virtual museum relating 136 stories of such miracles. While this is an expression of a particularly Catholic piety, there is something Carlo said that contains a universal truth about our lives that young people need to know.
While working on the project, he wrote, "The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus." To critics of Christianity, becoming more like Christ—the goal of every Christian—often suggests the loss of one's individual identity. Carlo used this striking image: "All people are born as originals," he said, "but many die as photocopies." To die as an original requires, paradoxically, our imitation of Christ. We become more our true selves as intended by God when we willingly take our cue from the divine character we see revealed in Jesus.
Those who reject this spiritual vision of life in favor of the secular materialist view being taught in many schools risk becoming photocopies. Young people who are told they possess no sacred, spiritual image of God within them to be protected and nurtured are left with what? With blind evolutionary forces, physical compulsions, genetic inclinations, biological urges, and neurological imprints that explain (and often excuse) their desires, thoughts, and actions. Biology makes them who they are; they are merely living human photocopies of their genes.
Sadly, many start life gifted as unique individuals but then get indoctrinated into becoming cookie-cutter copies of the progressive mindset. Hence, little real intellectual diversity is found on a typical college campus today. Students have different skin colors and ethnic backgrounds, but when it comes to independent thought, many end up merely as intellectual photocopies of their leftist teachers, with the same ideas just copied onto different-colored paper.
Carlo reflected spiritual light in his own original way. His mother said about him,
His immense generosity made him interested in everyone: the foreigners, the handicapped, children, beggars. To be close to Carlo was to be close to a fountain of fresh water . . . [he] understood the true value of life as a gift from God, as an effort, an answer to give to the Lord Jesus day by day in simplicity.
Carlo also said, "Our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven." He died of leukemia in 2006 at just 15 years old, but he lived what we call "The Good Life" (see p. 14).
There will never be another like Carlo—or like you. Hold that thought, and stay true to the unique image God has given you. Salvo is here to help you avoid becoming a photocopy and stay as you were made—an original. •
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