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As you may know, I recently moved to Kansas. Soon I’ll have my own place, and so I was thinking about what plants I could have in and around my house. In the past I have been a poor caretaker of plants. I always water them too little or too much. I can never keep a plant alive. So I was looking into what sort of plants are forgiving even when I fail to take good care of them.

The most popular plant I could find that was easy maintenance was the pothos plant. This species of plant technically called Epipremnum aureum, commonly known as pothos because that was its original name in 1880 before more was understood about the plant. There are a variety of different kinds. You’ve probably seen them around in someone’s office or apartment. They are often seen as hanging potted vines.

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These plants are native to the islands of French Polynesia, but have been naturalized in other tropical forests. In the wild, they are tree-climbing vines. Since these forests have dense tree cover, down at the trunk where the vines grow only gets intermittent light. Their adaptation to this low light area is what makes them such great indoor plants. Even in nature, they need less sun than other plants.

Basic pothos care is very easy. These plants enjoy a wide range of environments. They do well in

bright, indirect light as well as low light and can be grown in dry soil or in vases of water. They

will thrive in nutrient rich soil, but do almost as well in nutrient poor soil.

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Their adaptations in the wild have made them an easy house plant for me and many others. Unlike other house plants, this plant is forgiving when I fail to care for it or do something that hurts it. I thought this was a fitting topic to write about for today on the feast of St. Maria Goretti. She was a young saint who is often known for other things, but to me, her ability to forgive, especially at such a young age is truly inspiring. If you don’t know her story, Maria was born into a poor farming family in Italy.

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When she was only five the family was forced to sell their farm and move around to different cities where they could find work from other farmers. At the age of nine her family moved in with the Serenelli family. The Serenellis had an older son, Alessandro, and when Maria was 11 and he was 20 he tried to rape her, threatening her with an awl if she did not comply. She resisted, telling him over and over that what he was trying to do was a mortal sin and that he would go to hell. Eventually giving up, frustrated that he didn’t get what he wanted, he stabbed her over a dozen times. When family members found her, they rushed her to a hospital, but her injuries were too severe. The next day, Maria would succumb to her injuries.

Although Maria died quickly of her wounds, as she lay in the hospital she forgave Alessandro. In fact she said that she hoped they could be together in heaven. Mere hours after being mortally wounded, this young 11 year old girl not only forgave her attacker, but wishes good for him, the greatest good. This is truly inspiring. There are so many times that people inconvenience me in little ways and my first reaction is to be upset about it, to be grumpy. Far too rarely is my immediate response forgiveness. Then when people truly do something to hurt me, purposefully trying to make my life worse, I am often VERY slow to forgive. Even when I try to forgive, often months later my brain will make me remember the occasion and I will get angry all over again and need to forgive that person again.

This 11 year old girl was so much better at forgiveness than I, and amazing things came from it. Her charity in the face of evil caused her attacker to repent. He saw the error of his ways. He came back to the Catholic faith and eventually became a lay Franciscan, living and working in their monastery until the day he died many years later. He was even able to attend her canonization. That is mind blowing to me that this type of forgiveness exists, that it changed his life so much, that then he would stand there at her canonization with her family and everyone, and be happy about it.

This type of forgiveness is so rare in this world. I’ve expressed my struggles with it, but I see it all around. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If I am unwilling to forgive others around me, I am telling God that He shouldn’t forgive me either. All of us are sinners in need of forgiveness from God, so that is a really bold statement. I encourage you to look at your life. Who are you holding grudges against? Who are you unwilling to forgive? Forgive them anyway. Do not let that resentment stay with you. If Maria can forgive her attacker, then we should forgive all those who have hurt us. It won’t always be easy, but let her story be an inspiration to you. Forgive.

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Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.