Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

The world-classic film, The Godfather, portrays the fate of a Sicilian family in modern America. The Corleones bear the wisdom of millennia of Latin culture – a culture that produced families like the Borgias and the Gonzagas and many others. “La famiglia” is a most beautiful word, but the expectations of families can be traps as well. Imagine if the Don’s grandson (Anthony) instead of becoming an opera singer – cool! – had become a contemplative monk. Now THAT would have been real redemption (and likely would have better anchored Michael’s somewhat shaky confession….). Tom Hagen’s son became the “good priest”… OK – the idea is there (remarkably!), but redemption is a bit removed.

The Gonzagas were a remarkably powerful family in Renaissance Italy, and the head of the family certainly did not want his son Aloysius to embrace absolute purity, let alone enter a religious order. But the boy did, becoming a Jesuit – a friend of great saints, like Robert Bellarmine. He died serving plague victims, having begged alms for them. But that for which he is most famous is his remarkable purity, for which he is depicted with a lily.

A little person, little more than a boy – and yet as another film teaches: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Generations of youth have found a model, example, and patron in this great saint. And what about our own time, when non-sacramental “sex” has become a plague destroying so many? I more than suspect that many, many of our young people, encountering the beauty, trust, fidelity of chaste love, would willingly embrace such a life. Let us present them with the example of St. Aloysius Gonzaga: it may well be an “offer they can’t refuse”!  St. Aloysius, pray for us!

June 21st, 2014