A couple of days ago I found an article recently published by the online Meridian Magazine. It is a beautiful article that tells the story of a sister of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sister Sara Tonon, whose husband, Marco Massano, was murdered a few months ago, near where I use to live in Italy many years ago.

I personally knew Sara’s father, who had been one of our church leaders when I lived in Italy. Sara was still a child at that time and I don’t remember ever meeting her.

I had instead met her husband, before he married Sara, a few years ago, shortly after he became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

At that time, during a visit to Italy, I had made some small videos asking some friends of the church to tell their story and feelings about the restored gospel and the church. A mutual friend had put me in touch with Marco Massano, and for that reason I had made this video, which can be seen below (but is in Italian, sorry). It is the story of his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. It reminds me of Massimo as I knew him, an honest and sincere person.

The story of what happened is sad and almost surreal, but unfortunately true. On November 9, 2018 Marco had gone to Portacomaro, near Asti, to carry out an inspection of the house of Dario Cellino on behalf of the court of Asti, because many payments had not been made.

On that fateful day, Cellino knew that Marco was coming, and he was waiting for him, sitting in an armchair, looking out of his bedroom window, with a gun in his hand.

When Marco knocked on the door, the old man aimed, fired and two bullets hit Massimo in the chest. He fell instantly. It was about 11 am. Marco, Sara’s husband, who had only begun a seemingly normal day two hours earlier, died almost immediately at the hospital.

It is hard to find a reason for an act of madness like this one. When facing, or simply learning about tragedies like this one, man people come to doubt the existence of God or his love and interest for our lives.

But these are the situations in which a true and strong faith can help to accept an apparently meaningless situation. This is Sara’s example. Even before reading the article, I had heard about Sara’s strength, in dealing with this difficult situation, now that she is alone and with three young children.

I do not report the whole story here for reasons of authorial rights, but only a small part, which I think I can use. After receiving the tragic news, sharing them with her children and Marco’s parents, and having taken her family to her mother, Sara recounts:

“I couldn’t sleep, of course,” she said. “I just kept pacing back and forth from the kitchen to the living room. I was praying trying to understand what happened.”Finally, the early hours of the morning, she knelt to pray, pouring out her heart to God. “I didn’t ask why? It was not my question. I still don’t know why this happened, and I am not asking actually,” she said. What she needed was strength. Then these words came to her mind, clearly from the Spirit. “With Marco’s death, you didn’t lose anything, because when you met and married him in 2008, you gained the chance to have eternal life together. You have posterity and you won’t lose them. You won’t lose the kids. You won’t lose each other. “That thought gave me the strength I needed to stand the news and the future. I didn’t lose anything by losing Marco for this time, for we have eternal life together.

(Scot and Maurine Proctor, “How One Italian Sister Found Solace after her Husband’s Murder“, Ldsmag.com, retrieved March 22, 2019)
Image result for tempio di roma image
Rome Temple, where families can be united for eternity

I can only have great respect and admiration for Sara. Not everyone would react this way, with such strength. Even people with a certain degree of faith sometimes give up or falter in similar situations.

I never went through a situation so difficult, but in my most difficult moments I learned that Sara is right. Asking “why?” when a tragedy strikes, is not the best strategy, even if it is the most natural reaction, which we all tend to have, at least initially.

Our rational mind wants to give an explanation to everything that happens. But sometimes there is nothing to explain, or we are not ready to understand, even if it were explained to us. To give in to hatred, resentment or despair does not solve the problem, but complicates it. On the other hand, asking God to give us the strength to overcome the difficulty, as Sara did, is the best strategy, the only one that can help us win the battle. And over of time, even from the most terrible tragedy, when faced with faith, positive outcomes may result.

Thank you Sara for your example. I believe that there will be days more difficult than others, but your faith and example have already helped many people, and will help others. In the end, as you have said, you have lost nothing, because you will have eternal life together with Marco. I believe that!


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