Generation X Gets a 'Blessed'

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By Fr. John Larson, MIC (May 17, 2010)
My generation is often referred to as "Generation X." This refers to those born between roughly 1964 and 1981. As a 1970 baby, I was in the middle of this demographic. It is not a generation that is usually associated with sanctity.

I remember a term we used for ourselves as teenagers: SKOTIEs. That stood for "spoiled kids of the eighties." It was a time known for a more self-centered approach to life, a time when schools were still safe generally (hardly any shootings, except in tough urban areas) and a time when technology was starting to change our habits (video games and primitive home computers). It was a time when dissent from at least a few Catholic teachings was just par for the course, and a time when vocations were tanking.

It was probably not all that different in Sassello, Italy, during the 1980s, but one big difference can be stated. In this little village, a teenage girl dying of bone cancer was growing in sanctity to the point that everyone around her noticed it. When she died on October 7, 1990, around 2,000 people attended the funeral. Many were touched by her holy desires to please God and the joy she would radiate in her last years. She saw the new situation of suffering leading to "a wonderful plan which is little by little revealing itself to me" (from her diary).

The plan is now revealing itself to us, because on Sept. 25, 2010, this girl will be proclaimed "Blessed" by the Catholic Church.

I plan on being there for this event, and my main reason is that Chiara Luce Badano — the girl mentioned — was born on October 29, 1971. She was one class behind me in school. She was, and is, a peer. I would not have guessed that someone from my generation, and someone rather close to my age, would be raised to the honors of the altar this soon. There will be chapels and eventually churches named after her. She will be remembered not as someone to pray for, but someone to pray to.

Vatican II talked about the universal call to holiness, but the post-Vatican II world seemed to me to be a universal call to ignore the teaching authority of the Church. Theologians flexed their intellectual muscles to find ways of making the conscience equal to, and an even greater authority than, "the old men in Rome." Holiness, for them, involved following one's conscience even when it went against the age-old teachings of the Church. It was a do-it-yourself approach to finding God. Its fruits were not just rotten. They were more like nuclear waste.

Chiara's parents were a bit older, married in 1960. They were probably not up to speed with the new trends. They wanted a child, but for 11 years they were unable to conceive. Finally, after much prayer, and in particular after the father prayed at a local shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Rocche, Chiara came along. She was to be their only child.

They became involved with a movement called Focolare. In 1981, the parents and Chiara attended a big event in Rome called Familyfest. This had a major impact on Chiara. She wanted to commit herself to the Gospel whole-heartedly — to live it in a radical way. She started to focus on loving those around her with the love of Christ. She starts to do little acts of self-denial. She wrote such things in her diary as: "One of my classmates has chicken pox and everyone is afraid to go visit her. My parents have agreed that it's okay if I bring her her homework, so she won't feel alone. I think that love is more important than fear."

It many ways she was a typical teenage girl. She experienced tension with her parents. For instance, they had to work out a compromise on how late she could stay out. She had a wide circle of friends and liked to spend the evening with her friends in coffee shops. She was involved in various sports, such as tennis and swimming. She liked to sing and dance and was considering a possible career as a flight attendant. She didn't always get perfect marks. She even failed math once.

However, her typical teenage life changed when, one day while playing tennis, she experience a sharp pain in her left shoulder. It turned out to be bone cancer. She spent some time alone in her room and essentially abandoned herself to divine providence. She wrote "The illness arrived just at the right moment because I was going in the wrong direction" and saw it as improving her relationship with God. As the painful treatments were applied, she offered all her pain up without hesitation. She would say, "It's for you, Jesus; if You want it, I want it too." This was said, no doubt, in the sense of being a victim soul and sharing in the sufferings of Christ. She focused on Jesus Forsaken — a way of looking at Christ that is promoted in the Focolare movement. She focused on consoling Jesus.

Her doctor was an atheist who was very critical of the Church. However, he was impacted by her witness. He said that because of her he found consistency in the Christian message. "Everything about Christianity makes sense to me."

Her illness lasted three years, but she remained cheerful through it all. She wrote the following to Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare movement, in July of 1990: "Medicine has laid down its arms. Since we stopped the treatment, the pain in my back has increased. But it's my Spouse who is coming to see me. I repeat with you, 'If You want it, I want it too.'"

As her suffering increased, she refused morphine saying "It reduces my lucidity, and there's only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in His suffering on the cross."

Her last words were, "Be happy, because I am."

She died on Oct. 7, 1990. The funeral was celebrated by her bishop, and in less than 10 years he started the process toward her beatification. The process went quite well, and in 2008 she was declared a Venerable Servant of God. Now only a miracle was needed for the next step.

In 2001 a young boy in Italy contracted a severe case of meningitis. He was near death. His organs started shutting down — five vital organs were compromised. The doctor gave him 48 hours to live. An uncle of the boy suggested asking the help of Chiara. After a night of prayer, the boy began to improve. His cure was examined and declared outside the realm of natural causes.

In December of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle. The stage was set for her beatification.

I invite anyone — particularly those from Generation X — to join me on a pilgrimage to Rome from Sept. 20-28. The pilgrimage is being organized by 206 Tours. Sign up by logging on to

During this pilgrimage we will attend the beatification of the example of sanctity from Generation X. I also invite you to learn more about her through the Internet. There are various articles in English about her that give more detail on her life.

Some quotes from this article are taken from an article in Living City Magazine — March 2010 issue pp 6-7.

Father John Larson, MIC, serves as the Marians' assistant postulant master in Steubenville, Ohio.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Anika Thomas - Aug 5, 2019

Her story made me realize the life till then I lived was an utter waste, made me repent a truly...

Natalie M - Aug 27, 2018

My daughter is getting confirmed this year, has chosen Chiara Badano as her patron saint. She has connected with her story and finds her an inspiration, after reading about her I too am so touched. I care for pts with cancer, my daughter hopes to also work with children with cancer when she is older. We will continue to pray for Blessed Chiara Luce Badano and all those who need healing.

dors - Feb 13, 2018

i only knew her recently and im touched..

Jane - Oct 30, 2015

She's my patron saint she's an amazing person I love her without measure

Riezl - Oct 6, 2010

I am also a part of Generation X, I accidentally saw her beatification via EWTN while I was accompanying my youngest child in the hospital. Both of my kids suffered from dengue fever and I went home to them because I am working abroad. I started praying for my son's fast recovery since I had already rebooked my flight and was scheduled to leave that week, I told Blessed Chiara that all I wanted is for my child to be safe home before I leave again. And soon enough, after another day spent at the hospital, the doctor finally allowed us to go and there was a bonus, the doctor did not ask for professional fee thus I got a huge discount in my hospital bills! I know these blessing were given to me through her intercession. I have started knowing more about her and praying to her too.

Chiara Catipon - Oct 5, 2010

What an unforgettable experience to have witnessed the beatification with thousands of youth from around the world - all attracted by the same reality: sanctity in the modern times! I too am part of Generation X, and the tide is turning as we want to be a generation of saints (as Focolare founder Chiara Lubich had always wished for us, in unison with various Pope's urgings in various World Youth Days).

Fr. John Larson - Sep 25, 2010

Although I was not able to get to Rome for the beatification due to a lack of people signing up for the pilgrimage, I watched the beatification on the Internet and also the Evening Festival. It was very inspiring to see the parents' testimony to their daughter and the standing ovation the parents received.

A book about her life is being reprinted. The book is called "Chiara Luce: A Life Live to the Full" by Michele Zanzucchi. Information about obtaining a copy can be found at

Cathy - Sep 13, 2010

A reply to Maria P: Yes there is a lovely book, published by New City (UK) or Living City (USA)

seminarian Tonny Bbaale. St.Paul Sem. Ug. - Sep 10, 2010

This girl of our time is challenging us.Even when society appears to be rejecting God.LET US LOOK ONTO THIS GIRL
We can know boost of an interser of our very time.

seminarian Tonny Bbaale. St.Paul Sem. Ug. - Sep 10, 2010

This girl of our time is challenging us.Even when society appears to be rejecting God.LET US LOOK ONTO THIS GIRL
We can know boost of an interser of our very time.

Maria P. Canada - Jul 12, 2010

Thank you Fr. John for the beautiful article on Chiara. At this time in history, she is a beautiful example to all the youth, who are our future, that when you have a relationship with Jesus, no matter what happens in life, JOY is to be experienced---God's grace for saying yes to Him. I was so intrigued with your article that I wanted to know more about her. I checked youtube but most was in Italian. I understand Italian but may I ask you if you know of any books or videos in English that I can purchase and share with the Youth at my parish. Thanks and have a blessed and anointed trip to her beatification.

Fr. John Larson - Jun 26, 2010

Fr. John Larson - Jun 26, 2010

Here's a short video (in English) about Chiara.

Fr. Andy Davy, MIC - May 20, 2010

A beautiful Story my brother!

Bryan Thatcher MD, EADM - May 17, 2010

Thanks for the uplifting article. For the many who are experiencing suffering and tribulation, this should give them comfort and joy. We must suffer out of love of God and love while we suffering. St. Faustina sufferered and she did not suffer, because she understood the meaning of suffering. Lord, help me better carry my Cross and give me wisdom to better understand your Will in my life, as young Chiara understood Your plan in her life!