Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in aeternum!
Optional Memorial of Saint Romuald, Abbot
Days like this remind me of how heat really is my Kryptonite. I went to Mass at 7am, prayed for about an hour (including Latin Lauds), and then worked at VBS with the kids. Afterward, I walked outside planning to make my way home. As soon as I felt the heat and the general blech-ness of it all, I knew that I would not make it with my body’s lack of tolerance of heat. So, I called my brother who came and got me. Got into the house, went up to my room and threw myself onto my bed. This was going to be an icky day. It wasn’t that bad in the end but this heat sucks the energy out of me.
That was my way of explaining why this post may be a bit shorter. It’s kinda hard for me to keep my eyes open but I have to post this. Thank you for your understanding.
Let’s start day 7 of our novena to Saint Aloysius with the prayer:
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!
Today, we are going to look at the appeal of Saint Aloysius, especially to youth and young adults.
But let me start with a bit of a beef I have with artists when it comes to portraying good Saint Aloysius.
I cannot stand the doe-eyed images and statues of Aloysius where he is rapt in prayer. Sure he was an extremely prayerful and devout young man but portraying him that way does him no favors when it comes to his appeal to youth.
It took me years to find the right statue of Aloysius. I did not want an overly idealized statue of Aloysius with gleaming glass eyes and a cherubic face. I wanted a more “earthy” Aloysius. I finally found him when I was in college and I was with friends for our usual trip to the local church store across the street from the parish we attended for Mass and Adoration. He was hidden behind other statues and the lady insisted it was not Aloysius but I proved it was in fact him. As soon as I saw it was him, I had to have him. He’s never left my side since. He stayed with me in college and he came with me to the convent. He was always by my bed. Now that I am home, he is next to my Infant of Prague and Saint Michael statues.
Why do I have such an issue with how Aloysius is portrayed? Because if you over-idealize him, he will seem like this exception to the rule. Like his life is something that is unattainable for a “regular” young person. Sure he did live a life of extraordinary prayer, penance, and chastity; but that does not mean that someone cannot follow his example.
Aloysius is the complete opposite of what our culture wants young people to want. Our culture wants young people to be imbued with materialism with the mentality that possessions and wealth are an means to happiness and even an end in itself. Aloysius shows young people that even when one possesses a great many things and is wealthy, one id not necessarily happy. Aloysius found his true happiness in giving up those very things. He gave up his rank as the heir apparent to the marquisate of Castiligione. He gave up the opulent lifestyle that surrounded him. It is was in that abandonment that he gained something more and it is this “something more” that Aloysius wishes to lead all of his faithful clients.
Our culture wants young people to give into their every urge with whomever and whenever they want while throwing caution to the wind. Aloysius made a deliberate decision to live a life of chastity and virginity though there were influences around him that were trying to weaken his resolve. Some may think that he had a naive or even immature view of sexuality but that aside, I like to think that Aloysius did not have a negative view of those who were called to the married state. He just knew that he was called to dedicate everything about himself to God. Every fibre of his being belonged to God.
Good Saint Aloysius’ example is not an easy one. Nor is Christ’s. Nor is Our Lady’s. Nor is any other saint’s. They wouldn’t be saints if they did not struggle. They would not be saints if they did not endure those struggles, perservere, and come out victorious by the grace of God. Sure, they may not have necessarily come out without some scars but those scars taught them how to live their life more in line with that of the Lord.
Saints started out sinners but they moved past that. They did not wallow in their sinfulness. They did not just go with the flow. They went against the current. This is the example our young people need.
As I was writing this I was watching a documentary on OWN (Oprah’s network) that followed some young women entering the convent (one living in a Carmel in CA and another entering the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George) and I have to admit, it was painful because I still have those pinings in my heart and I think I always will. I am hoping to talk to one of my priest-friends about it soon. It ain’t fun.
Well, I am off to bed.
Have a nice night!