Monday, May 31, 2010


Fraternal charity was the emphasis in May. This month's virtue reflects on how to avoid sins in order to advance in charity. Some areas to consider are: slandering others, ruining reputations, showing jealousy towards one, engaging in gossip, making sarcastic remarks, and hurting others by one's angry outbursts.

Ways to overcome these failings and sins include trying to cultivate a genuine zeal for souls, realizing how far-reaching one's own example is in influencing others, and recalling those words of Our Lord, "Whatsoever you have done to the least of my little ones, you have done it to me."

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591)

Feast Day - June 21

Patron of Catholic Youth, Teenagers, and Caregivers for AIDS Patients

St. Aloysius lived his 23 years of life in an extraordinary manner.  He knew that he wanted to be a priest and suffer for the Lord when he was very young. He had to exhibit much charity towards family members and the Renaissance Italian society into which he was born.  He avoided placing himself in ways of temptation, tried to gain his father's approval to join the priesthood, and sought always to reflect a penitent heart.

Born into a noble family related to the powerful Medicis and many illustrious prelates, he was presented with a military career possibility at age 4 by his father and sent to live a soldier's life with his father, the Marquis of Castiglione, who was raising trooops for the King of Spain.  Aloysius called this period of his very young life his "life of sin."  He learned many "guardroom" expressions for which he was forever sorry. (1)

He grew up amid the violence and brutality of the Renaissance Italy and witnessed the murder of two of his brothers. (2)
At age 7 he began his "conversion" determining to become a priest. He prayed the psalms and the Office of Mary.  At 9 he attended Court in Florence and where he was educated.  Then he pronounced that he was taking a vow of perpetual chastity. His mother welcomed her son's desire to enter religious life, but his father tried to dissuade him and sent him to attend courts in many cities. The Marquis even had bishops try to change his mind.

By age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week, and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. "The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints."  (3)

At 17 he renounced his title and relinquished it to his brother exclaiming that he was the happier of the two as he was going to enter the Jesuit novitiate in Rome.  (4)

His piety was well-known to his fellow novices and even annoyed them.  He would say a Hail Mary on every step as he climbed the stairs.  He fasted 3 times a week and scourged himself nightly.  (5)

Holy Communion remained a central part of the Saint's life. His week was divided into two parts: the first he devoted to thanksgiving for receiving Christ, the second was preparation for the next Communion. On the eve of receiving the Eucharist, many of his fellow novices and priests would want to be near him to be inspired for their own masses because Aloysius would talk of the happiness that awaited him when he did consume the Body and the Blood.  (6)

During his early studies in Rome, he would regularly go out into the streets of the city to care for victims of the plague. He himself contracted the disease as a result of his efforts for the suffering and died on June 21, 1591, at the age of twenty-three, six years short of his ordination as a Jesuit priest. He knew that he would die on the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi and he did and had prepared for it, holding the cross and calling out "Jesus."

During his short life, he knew St. Charles Bellarmine who gave him his First Communion and St. Robert Bellarmine was his confessor.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized him in 1726.

O, Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body.  To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by thy most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son    St. Aloysius Gongaza


I am a piece of twisted iron; I entered religion to get twisted straight.

1. Omer Englebert, Lives of Saints, 1951
5. Extraordinary Live, Ordinary People -Overcoming Obstacles
6. www.sjwebinfo/Jesuits/saints


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