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Monday, June 9, 2008

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga - Feast Day June 21



The journey begins; Aloysius is on his way
Each day was filled with hope, only to end with disappointment. One day, his father would give his consent; the next day he would take it back. This went on and on, until the emperor sent a delegation with his edict that the rite of succession to the seat of the Marquis of Castiglione had been transferred to Aloysius' brother Ridolfo. Finally realizing all opposition was futile, his father gave his consent. At last, his parents having blessed him, Aloysius departed for Rome and his dream.
On November 25, 1585, Aloysius now eighteen years old, at last entered the Jesuit Novitiate House of Sant' Andrea. Settled in his tiny cell, he could be heard ecstatically exclaiming, "This is my rest forever and ever; here I dwell, for I have chosen it." Six weeks passed when his joy was turned to grief mixed with bliss. His father died, but not before having completely turned his life around; he called for a priest and was given the Last Rites of the Church. His eldest son had relinquished all rights to fame and position, acclaim in this world, for service to His Heavenly King and life eternal in His Heavenly Kingdom. Aloysius had refused a golden crown on earth and God gave him the most precious crown adorned with priceless stones and diamonds, the souls (including his father's) saved through his sacrifice and example.
[In the ministry, we have found that every time we are called to sacrifice, the Lord blesses us equal to, if not more than the magnitude of the sacrifice.]
The sign of a Saint is not the gifts bestowed upon him: gifts like bilocation, ecstasy, the stigmata, reading men's souls, heavenly fragrance and others; they are simply gifts from the Lord. It is the living out of a virtuous life, in keeping with one's vocation. One of the greatest signs of sainthood is obedience! You will find it in the lives of all the Saints.
Aloysius' biographers say that there is not much known about how he spent the two years following his entrance into the Novitiate, except, and that's a big except, he obeyed, even when he found it a hardship. His superiors were keenly aware of his frail health. In an attempt to strengthen him, and restore him to good health, they required that he have some sort of recreation. He was to curb his fasting and eat more than he had at home. And most trying of all, he was to try to think of things which would divert his attention from the deeply spiritual. They hoped, in this way to prevent him from going into ecstasy. He was forbidden to pray or meditate, except at designated times. This act of obedience, training his mind to refrain from dwelling on the Treasures of Heaven, was the most difficult for Aloysius; his heart was already there, his eyes focused on what lay ahead for him with the Father.
Now, think about it; he joined the Novitiate to live a life centered on the Lord and future life with Him, and he has to limit his thinking of Him? It doesn't sound logical. It is super logical or Divine. By this sacrifice, was God asking him to be there to do His Will, and to die to Aloysius' will? How would Aloysius know his Father's Will? Obey his superiors, even when he was not in agreement, especially when he was not in agreement. In studying the lives of the Saints, we find God telling them that by obeying their superiors they were doing His Will.
[When someone applies for entrance into the ministry, we ask why they want to enter. If they say they have come because they want to do God's Will, we can be pretty sure they will stay. If instead, they have a pre-existing notion or agenda, the Lord will blow them out of the ministry.]
Aloysius made every action a prayer! Coming from the aristocracy, he was fully aware he was not proficient in physical labor of any kind. He had been trained to be a knight, not a peasant. But this is what he chose to do! The more humble the assignment, the more subservient the job, the more physically and demeaning the work, the happier he was. As with Saints Anthony of Padua and Teresa of Avila, he found God among the pots and pans; he loved to work in the kitchen washing dishes and cleaning up after others around the novitiate. He genuinely performed all the servile duties allowed him, with excitement. What the world judged menial, he found meaningful.
He was at a Novitiate in Milan, when one day, as he was praying, he had a vision revealing he would not be on earth much longer. This filled his Heart with unfathomable joy, and from that time he had only one vision, to prepare for things Above, not below. He more and more separated himself from the distractions of the world. His superiors saw his health getting progressively worse, his strength ebbing out of him, draining him. The weather in Milan tended to be harsh in the winter. In Rome, the climate was temperate, and consequently more agreeable to his health.


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