Patron of Youth, Warrior for Christ

I am a piece of twisted iron. I entered the religious life to get twisted straight.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (feast day: June 21) is the patron saint of youth, in large part because he died at age 23. For most of his young life, this son of a warrior was fighting a very different battle with an absolute determination to win: a war against the effects of original sin in his own life, against temptation, against sin. As the Church attests, he won.

Born in 1566 into an aristocratic warrior clan, Aloysius was baptized in the womb, as his life was in danger, and he made a vow of chastity at the age of nine. When he was 16, he joined the Society of Jesus. He was determined to become holy, fighting himself even to the point of excessive and unhealthy penances that his spiritual director, St. Robert Bellarmine, later insisted he moderate in accordance with the rule of the Jesuit order. 

Devoted to serving plague victims in Rome, he died in 1591 as a result of his exposure, only 23 years old. 

Saint Aloysius fought valiantly in his brief life - why? For God. For goodness. For love of the Lord and love of what a human life ought to be.

Sanctity is the purpose
The French writer Leon Bloy once wrote about the only tragedy in life: Not being a saint. Why? Because sanctity is the purpose, the meaning of life. Holiness is nothing more or less than being loved by God and giving God love in return.

Sanctity is a life lived in love according to the truth; obedience to goodness, truth, beauty, being, and love; being a shining light in this life, and living eternally in the next. To be a saint is to be in communion with Jesus, to be the betrothed of the Bridegroom, the sheep of the Shepherd, the branches of the Vine...

To be holy is to be fully human and fully alive.

Total entrustment to Mary
Part of St. Aloysius' strategy for sanctity was total entrustment to Mary. He prayed:

O Holy Mary, my mother, into your blessed trust and custody, and into the care of your mercy I this day, every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and my body. To you I commit all my anxieties and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that by your most holy intercession and by your merits all my actions may be directed and disposed according to your will and that of your Son. Amen.

Let us ask St. Aloysius Gonzaga to pray for us on his feast day that all hearts be set afire with love of God and neighbor, and all souls be totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary. Let us ask his intercession for all our needs, especially our need to have God in the first place in our hearts. Amen.


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