Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in Aeternum! Amen.
The Vocation of Saint Aloysius
Thursday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
Well, today was wonderful. Went to Mass and got my polishing job from a priest-friend. Two brass candlesticks, two silver candlesticks, and a censer. The candlesticks had some layers of wax on them and I had a hair appointment later in the morning so I filled a dish pan with irresponsibly hot (boiling) water and some dish soap and put the candlestick parts in the water. Then I put some plastic wrap over the top, made sure it was a good seal, then put three layers of dish cloths on top to act as an additional insulator to keep the water as hot for as long as possible. I know, genius, right?
So I went to my hair appointment, got my hairz did (looks keee-yute), and then came home. I got the rest of my polishing stuff out: toothbrush, quilting needle (for the details … it does not scratch the metal), polishing creme (it’s better than liquid polish), and polishing cloths.
I pulled the parts out of the water with tongs (those buggers were hawt), took the softened wax off with the quilting needle (it really does work, no joke), did the first layer of polish, and let that set. After letting the polish set for a bit, I rinsed them off with one of my rags and applied another layer of polish and did the same thing. I let this one set longer than the first and worked on the censer.
Censers have always been my polishing foe. All the carbon. All that carbon. I got more irresponsibly hot water and made a paste out of Bar Keepers Friend, got my brush with stiffer bristles and went at it. Scrubbing. Scrubbing. Scrubbing. Black was coming off and I saw some of the underlying brass but I just could not get a good amount of it off. Imma do that later on. I can probably find a trick on the Internetz.
I then polished the outside of the censer. That was no biggie and it was not really that bad. Did two rounds of polishing on that too.
While waiting for the second coat to set, I did a final and thorough rinse of the other things. With hot water running, I took my toothbrush and scrubbed all the details (polish always gets stuck in the details and leave an annoying white residue). After rinsing everything off, I gave everything a good shine with a soft cloth.
Noticing that the felt bottoms were kinda loose on the candlesticks, I got my crafter’s glue and amended that. Then I put everything back together while checking to see if I got all the polish off. I’d say I did a good job. Somehow there were still bits of wax on some parts. How very vexing. I still need to figure out how to get that candle tack stuff gunk (I hate it with a passion of a thousand suns) out of the candleholder parts. To teh Internetz!
Then I rinsed off and shined up the censer and gave everything a coat of Windex (shines things up nice even more). I put it all back in the box from whence they came. There they remain until I do my last-last once over.
All right. Now onto our Saint Aloysius novena. Day two where we will look at his vocation.
Let’s pray our novena prayer written by Saint Aloysius to the Blessed Mother:
O Holy Mary, my Mistress,
into thy blessed trust and special keeping,
into the bosom of thy tender mercy,
this day, everyday of my life and at the hour of my death,
I commend my soul and body;
to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life,
that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits,
all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son.
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us!
The painting at the top of this post is called “The Vocation of Saint Aloysius” so of course I was going to use it for the post about the his vocation. Duh.
Aloysius, being the heir to a marquisate, could not just lightly choose the doff his inheritance and rank; especially when he faced so much opposition. Well, in 1581 he and his brother along with his family went to Spain to serve Empress Mary of Austria. It was then that he and Rudolfo became pages to the Infante (you know like the Infanta Theresa) Don Diego, Prince of Asturias.
It was at this point in his life that he really began to think in earnest about his vocation. He had always thought he was called to the life but it was at this time that he really began to strive for it though the Lord knows that he lived the life of a saint even before this point.
At first he wanted to become a Capuchin but he had a Jesuit spiritual director so he decided that he would join that order. His mother was overjoyed that her eldest son desired to give his life to God and His Church (if you read the book I mentioned in the last post, you will read over and over how very joyful she was that he wanted to become a religious/priest). There is a story that when Aloysius was baptized, he was laid on the altar of Our Lady in the church and his godfather (I think it was his godfather) consecrated him to the service of Our Lady. Thus was the beginning of his filial devotion to Our Lady.
Mother may have been pleased as punch but the same cannot be said of father. His father, as I have mentioned, wanted his son to succeed him as Marquis and as a soldier. For Luigi to become a priest was bad enough but a Jesuit (and this was before they went off the deep-end … long before). When his father found out he wanted to become an SJ, he was furious! At least if he became a secular priest (diocesan priest) he could still hold some power and influence. He would not have to totally doff all his honors and power. Back then (not sure if it the same now … probably not), SJs were not allowed to accept any position of power in or out of the Church. They were to remain priests and any honor given to them was to be respectfully declined.
Not much longer after the Infante died, Aloysius and his family returned to Italy. His father had hoped that the time between his openly announcing his intention to become a priest/Jesuit and their return to Italy would have lessened his resolve. Was he ever wrong.
Aloysius still wanted with all his heart to become a priest and to join the Jesuits. His father was not alone in trying to convince him that he should not follow through with this. Several family members worked ardently to get him to forget his resolution to become a priest but to no avail. His family even went so far as to get some priests to try to dissuade him from his choice. Nope. Not gonna quit.
When they realized that Aloysius was resolute in becoming a Jesuit specifically, they relented a bit by trying yet again to get him to become a secular priest. His family even told him that if he were to go that route, they would arrange a bishopric for him. They did not want him to give up power. If he was not going to be a full Marquis, he would be a bishop with his own see and honors.
Aloysius would have none of it. He was not becoming a priest to have power. In fact, he chose the Jesuits for the very fact that they were not allowed to wield any power or influence whatsoever. All he wanted to do was to be an obedient servant of God and His Church. He wanted to become a missionary and spread the Faith to those who had never heard it before. He thirsted for souls not for power and wealth. The will of God. Not the will of man or self.
Tomorrow, we’ll learn more about what happened after his family realizes that there will be no convincing Aloysius otherwise: he will become a Jesuit. He will doff all his power and his inheritance to become a Jesuit. There was a period of time when he and his father’s relationship was very strained because of his father’s obstinate refusal to accept that his eldest son wanted to become a Jesuit and thus give up all his power and wealth.
Now, before I hit the sack, I will explain to you the meaning of the various symbols that are found in most images of Saint Aloysius.
Aloysius is typically shown wearing a cassock in surplice because he was in formation with the Jesuits when he died. He is also usually shown embracing or gazing at a crucifix. This is because he saw the value of suffering when one unites it to the sufferings of Christ on the cross. In fact, Aloysius even said that
He who wishes to love God does not truly love Him if he has not an ardent and constant desire to suffer for His sake.
Connected to the meaning of the crucifix, we usually see either a skull or a discipline (a whip used for penitential practices). It is said that Aloysius practiced mortification in the form of the discipline so much that he would draw blood. His spiritual directors and confessors put a stop to that because they were affecting his already compromised health. He also slept on a simple mat and wore second-hand clothes when it was appropriate (you will see him portrayed in fancy clothes but he really did not like them … day-to-day he wore worn out clothes). The skull/discipline indicate his penitence of life. He is almost always shown with lily. This is a classic symbol of purity/virginity. Aloysius made a private vow of chastity from a young age. It is said that he never looked a woman in the eye (including his mother). If he were ever in the company of women, he would always find away out of the situation. He did not even let his valet dress him lest he be immodest. Some of this may seem a bit extreme but it helped him grow in virtue. He’s a saint. He must have done something right. Another symbol that is always shown with him is the crown that is on the ground. Sometimes it is shown as if it is cast aside. In the above image, it’s just on the ground. This is indicative of the fact that he gave up what was rightfully his: wealth, power, and influence in order to become a priest/Jesuit. The crown symbolizes his doffing the honors of the world for the glories of Heaven.
Sure we may not be heirs to a marquisate or have our own castle but there are little ways that we can die to the world following the example of Aloysius Gonzaga. We may not have followed him in his complete and total chastity of life but that does not mean that we cannot start anew. That does not mean that we are forever destined to be caught up in the sins of the flesh. We can repent our sins and amend our lives. Aloysius will help us.
We may not discipine ourselves every night or sleep on a straw mat every night but there are other ways that we can mortify ourselves: the classic meatless Friday practice, deny oneself something one likes even outside of Lent, etc. Mortification strengthens the soul and reinforces the will. We can always unite all of our sufferings to those of Christ on the Cross.
It was not a walk in the garden for Aloysius when his family was trying to get him to doff his desire to become a Jesuit. It killed him that his father would not even lay eyes on him for a time because of his resolution to enter the SJs. He probably faced his own temptations. The Evil One goes after the ones who are closest to God. He does not bother with those who are far away from God because that usually means that he already has them. His eyes are on the prize of the souls of the just and righteous who follow the Lord.
All right, I must go to bed. Mass in the morning. Then we are going out to GRap to get the nephew for the weekend. So much to do.
Keep the prayers coming for Monday! Thanks so much!
BTW Friday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart! YAY!