St. Aloysius Gonzaga


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

1. St. Aloysius Gonzaga is one of the outstanding models of holy purity for young and old alike. We are told that when he was nine years of age and was in the city of Florence, he went to the Church of the Annunziata to pray before the picture of our Blessed Lady. It was then that he experienced the ardent desire to consecrate himself to God. He was the eldest son of Prince Ferdinand Gonzaga and, therefore, heir to his father's title. But from this moment he was determined to spend his life in the service of God. He made a vow of perpetual chastity and placed himself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.
Now his life became a continual ascent towards perfection. His chastity, which he had offered to Our Lady, remained spotless until his death. The spirit of evil could make no headway against his angelic virtue. This was a grace which he merited as a result of his prayers and penances. He often spent three or four hours kneeling in prayer and contemplation. Even at night he rose from his bed in order to pray. His mind and heart were in Heaven rather than upon earth. His prayer was an intimate conversation with Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. Innocent though he was, he practised severe mortifications. Believing himself to be a great sinner, he scourged his body until his blood flowed freely, and deprived himself of food and sleep.
Do we wish to preserve our purity and to become saints? If so, let us remember that without prayer and mortification this is impossible. Jesus said to His disciples “that they must always pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) “Pray,” He said again, “that you may not enter into temptation,” (Luke 22:40) and further: “Unless you repent, you will all perish.” (Luke 13:5)

2. One might say that the entire life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a miracle of purity and of heroic penance. The source of his sanctity was the ardent love of God which he cherished from his childhood days. He loved God above all things and with all his strength. Therefore, long hours of prayer were a joy to him; the service of God in the Society of Jesus was his main desire; and mortification was a loving offering which he made in expiation of the sins of men.
The heart of St. Aloysius, however, was not closed to men because of its supreme love for God. His love for God overflowed into a vast love for his fellowmen. He finally fell a victim to his own heroic charity. When he was only twenty-four years of age he devoted himself so earnestly to the care of those who had been stricken down by a plague that he caught the infection and died a peaceful death. In his final moments he smiled and announced that he was happy to be leaving this world.
Do we desire to merit as peaceful and holy a death as this? Let us imitate St. Aloysius by living lives of purity henceforth, even if we have not always been as faithful as he was in this regard. Let us imitate also his love for God and for his neighbour, his spirit of penance, and his fervour in prayer.

3. St. Aloysius, obtain for me from God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, purity of life, the spirit of penance and of prayer, and a great love for God and for my neighbour.