Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 21, St. Aloysius (Louis) Gonzaga

St. Aloyisius Gonzaga

The young Jesuit cleric was born to a princely familyof Castiglione in Lombardy, Italy in 1568. He renounced his inheritance and legally turned it over to his brother, after which he then entered the Society of Jesus. Known for his angelic purity and perfect observance of the rule, he died after contracting the plague while ministering to those afflicted.

He is an attractive saint for youth as well as young novices in religious life. St. Aloysius pray for us who have not followed your innocence that we might at least follow the example of your penance and charity towards the poor. Amen.


  1. Don Marco2:31 PM


    That the Church in every place
    may rejoice in the purity of young men consecrated to Christ
    and in the penitence of those who, turning from sin,
    go forward proclaiming his mercy,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

    That the leaders of Europe
    may recognize in the example of the saints who illumine its history
    guiding lights enkindled by the Holy Spirit
    to guide all peoples into the way of peace,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

    That, following the example of Saint Aloysius,
    courageous and tenderhearted men
    may minister to the sick and dying;
    and that divided families
    may be graced with healing and reconciliation,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

    That people living with HIV or suffering from AIDS
    and those who care for them
    may find in Saint Aloysius, their heavenly patron,
    a gentle comforter,
    a powerful intercessor,
    and an ever-present friend,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

    That the Company of Jesus
    may grow in fidelity to its mission
    and so attract to the consecrated life
    young men like Saint Aloysius,
    innocent of life and selfless in service,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

    That it be given us in these days following
    the festival of Corpus Christi
    to recognize in the Body of Christ
    the Bread of angels by which the innocent grow in purity
    and the Blood of the Lamb by which sinners are washed clean,
    to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.


    O God whose only-begotten Son
    took our human nature upon himself
    to present it pure and without fault
    in your tabernacle,
    grant that the sweetness of his love
    may draw our hearts from the allurements of sin
    and lift them even now to your holy mountain
    and to the heaven of your glory,
    there to praise you in the company of Saint Aloysius
    and all the saints.
    Through Christ our Lord.

  2. Fr. Mark8:26 PM

    June, 2006
    Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
    Branford, Connecticut

    When I was growing up, Catholic schoolboys were given a choice
    of two patron saints: Dominic Savio and Aloysius Gonzaga. In about fifth
    grade the biography of Dominic Savio by Saint John Bosco became a book that
    I read and reread. I confess to having found Saint Aloysius somewhat less
    appealing. I really didn¹t know Saint Aloysius. Although Pope Benedict
    XIII named him the patron saint of youth in 1729, poor Aloysius was not
    always well served by those eager to promote devotion to him.
    Holy pictures of Aloysius more often than not depicted him as a
    wan and wilting youth, looking impossibly fragile, listless and pale. At
    his feet lay the cast off crown of his noble rank and, over his head,
    rosy-cheeked angels hovered just waiting to crown him with heavenly glory.
    Clutching his lily and with eyes rolled heavenward, this representation of
    Aloysius rather suggested that holiness was somehow incompatible with
    wholesomeness or, at least, not something that people with just normal
    neuroses could hope to attain.
    The real Aloysius was energetic, strong-willed, virile,
    passionate, and dashing. He was also gentle, tender-hearted and capable of
    magnificent acts of self-sacrifice and abnegation. There is a splendid
    sculpture of him by Pierre LeGros (1666­1719) that shows Aloysius carrying a
    victim of the plague in his arms. I wish that you could all see a photograph
    of it. There is a Pietà-like quality to it: tenderness and strength all at
    once. Aloysius carries the full weight of the sick man¹s body and the head
    of the sick man rests in the crook of Aloysius¹ neck. But I¹m getting ahead
    of myself.
    Aloysius (or Luigi, to call him by his proper name) gave up a
    life of princely opulence to live in The Company of Jesus < in both senses
    of the expression. His father had destined him for something entirely
    different. Even as a little boy Luigi was being groomed for a brilliant
    military career. Dressed in a tiny made­to­order suit of armour, he would
    march alongside the troops in military reviews. He did this to please his
    father. Small boys so want their father¹s approval. All the while there was
    something else at work in little Luigi¹s heart. More than anything else he
    was drawn to prayer.
    Luigi began praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    when he was eleven years old. He took his life with God as seriously as any
    cadet takes his military training. His personal rule of life, even as boy,
    included daily Mass, weekly Holy Communion, and fasting three days a week.
    In a milieu where the sexual seduction of boys by adult women and men was
    hardly a secret, Luigi kept a rigorous modesty of the eyes, determined to
    protect his innocence. He distanced himself from the plotting, sex, and
    violence that sizzled all around him. People didn¹t know what to make of
    Luigi. In a wonderful essay Jesuit Father William Hart McNichols says that
    Luigi has been called ³the saint¹s saint,² ³an impossible prig, ³a child
    prodigy, ³not human,² and ³an angel in human form.²
    The fact that Luigi¹s piety was, in a sense, displayed for all
    to see invites us to look more closely at today¹s Gospel. His long hours in
    prayer, his mortifications, and his modesty were remarked. You will have
    noticed, I am sure, that today¹s Gospel is the very same one, word for word,
    that we read on Ash Wednesday. It is good to revisit it on today¹s feast.
    This particular teaching of Our Lord on piety, almsgiving,
    fasting, and prayer, has often been used to justify or promote the
    privatization of the faith. It is readily quoted by those who think that
    the life of faith is something best kept to oneself behind closed doors,
    drawn curtains, and shuttered windows. This mentality leads, of course, to
    the tired old argument often invoked by politicians: ³In my private life I
    hold to the teachings of the Church, but as a politician I cannot let my
    faith influence public choices and decisions.²
    Is Our Lord really saying in today¹s Gospel that piety is a
    private thing? Look closely at the text. The first thing that shines from
    this particular page of Saint Matthew is the glorious presence of the
    Father. The tone is almost Johannine in its repeated emphasis on the
    Father. ³Your Father who is in heaven² (Mt 6:1). ³Your Father who sees in
    secret will reward you² (Mt 6:4). ³Your Father who is in secret² (Mt 6:6).
    This is Our Lord¹s way of saying in Saint Matthew¹s Gospel the very thing He
    says concerning His intimacy with the Father in the Fourth Gospel: ³He who
    has sent me is with me; he has not left me alone² (Jn 8:29), and again, ³If
    you knew me, you would know my Father also² (Jn 8:19). The liturgy of
    Easter morning expresses it in Psalm 138:

    O Lord, you have searched me and you know me,
    you have known my resting and my rising up,
    You have understood my thoughts from afar,
    My path and where I recline you have searched out.
    All my ways lie open to you.
    Before ever a word is on my tongue
    behold, O Lord, you have known it through and through (Ps 138:1­2).

    The Father is everywhere present; the Father sees all; that
    there is no place and no thing so secret as to be hidden from the eyes of
    the Father. Saint Aloysius intuited this mystery even as a boy. For Luigi
    to be with Christ and with His Blessed Mother was to be held in the Father¹s
    gaze, hidden in the secret of His Face safe from the scandals and
    temptations and excesses that surrounded him on every side. Today¹s
    Responsorial Psalm could be put in little Luigi¹s mouth:

    How great, O Lord, is the treasure of your sweetness
    hidden away for those who fear you,
    which you prepare for those who trust you
    in the sight of the sons of men.
    You hide them in the secret of your face
    from the disquiet of men:
    you keep them safe within your tent
    from disputing tongues (Ps 30:19­20).

    Back to the Gospel. Our Lord is not at all critical of
    practicing piety before men; he condemns rather the practice of piety with
    impure motives. In the same Sermon on the Mount he says, ³Let your light so
    shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your
    Father who is in heaven² (Mt 5:16). Christ looks to the underlying motive,
    to what we call purity of intention. ³Beware of practicing your piety
    before men,² he says, ³in order to be seen by them² (Mt 6:1). Saint
    Aloysius practiced his piety in full view of a decadent aristocracy, but he
    did so with a childlike purity of intention, desiring to be seen by God
    Jesus is not opposed to almsgiving. Again, he looks to the
    motive. He condemns those who gives alms ³that they may be praised by men²
    (Mt 6:2). He is not opposed to prayer in public and not opposed to prayer
    in the sight of others, but He condemns the prayer made by those who do it
    in order ³to be seen by men² (Mt 6:5). Little Luigi¹s prolonged devotions
    and downcast eyes were the talk of the town, but in the secret of his heart
    all that he did was done for God alone. Mystically configured to the Heart
    of Jesus he learned to say at every moment: ³I do as the Father has
    commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father² (Jn 14:31).
    Luigi may well be the most loved Jesuit in history. He has
    hundreds of thousands of friends the world over. Some, following the
    initiative of Pope Benedict XIII, honour him as the patron saint of youth.
    More recently, he has become the protector of children at risk of sexual
    abuse, something that, as a page at court, he was obliged to confront and
    flee. Having cared for victims of the plague that devastated Rome in 1591,
    he is also the friend and patron of people with AIDS and of those who care
    for them. I would ask you to pray today, in particular, for Patrick
    Armstrong who works with people with HIV and AIDS in New Haven and for our
    dear Father Gregory who does the same work in Bridgeport.
    Having contracted the plague from those whom he was nursing,
    Luigi foresaw his own death and asked to die within the Octave of Corpus
    Christi. He died, in fact, on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi with the
    name of Jesus on his lips. Luigi was twenty-three years old. The liturgy
    commemorates the Eucharistic glow surrounding Luigi¹s death in today¹s
    Communion Antiphon:

    He gave them the bread of heaven:
    men ate the bread of angels (Ps 77:24­35).

    Blessed are those who are summoned with him, if not by the same path of
    innocence, then by the path of penitence, to the Supper of the Lamb.


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