Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.
The Roman Catholic Church, not just the Society of Jesus, celebrates today and asks the intercession of a saint whose life and youthful love for Christ inspired the hearts of many Jesuits in training over the centuries and many other Christians besides.
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, or “Luigi” as he is affectionately known to some, is one of the three “Jesuit Boy Saints,” often portrayed together in statuary, stain glass windows, and other sacred imagery – – the other two being Saints John Berchmans and Stanislas Kostka.
Aloysius was born to a noble family in Italy not long after the foundation of the Society of Jesus in the 16th century. Renouncing the wealth and titles associated with his august lineage, Aloysius entered the novitiate as a somewhat sickly teenager whose ardor for Christ was evident in his humble, ascetical way of life. After professing vows he entered into further studies and eventually ended up living in Rome and studying at the Collegio Romano, what is known today as the Pontifical Gregorian University, or “The Greg” in short. Cardinal (Saint) Robert Bellarmine, S.J., was his confessor.
While a student, Aloysius worked at a Jesuit-founded hospital, which cared for victims of plague, the same disease which brought him to his death at the youthful age of twenty-three – – still a “scholastic” (or Jesuit seminarian) studying for priesthood, just like many of the writers for these Daily Ignatian Reflections of the Magis Institute.
In today’s continuation of Matthew’s gospel,
Jesus said to his disciples:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
Can you think of a young person – – perhaps one of your own children, a nephew or niece, a grandchild, one of your own friends – – who seems wise beyond their years and whose youthful ardor, even in their late teens or early twenties, or beyond, seems unfazed by the cruelty, negativity, violence, and hardship the world often offers? Someone whose treasure seems to be focused on God, the divine, the heavenly, the celestial – – even as God or those realms meet the realities of daily life in the here and now? Perhaps that person was you, when you were younger?
What was it about that young person that inspired or inspires you? Can you imagine incorporating any measure of that zeal into your own life? What and where is your treasure these days, and have you considered asking God the way to it?
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga: Pray for us!