St. Aloysius Gonzaga

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St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Confessor

From his life, written in the most authentic manner by F. Ceparius, his master of novices. See also other memoirs collected by farming the Bollandist, Junij, t. 4, p. 847, ad p. 1169, and his life in French by F. Orleans.

A.D. 1591.

ALOYSIUS GONZAGA was son of Ferdinand Gonzaga, prince of the holy empire, and marquis of Castiglione, removed in the third degree of kindred from the duke of Mantua. His mother was Martha Tana Santena, daughter of Tanus Santena, lord of Cherry, in Piedmont. She was lady of honour to Isabel, the wife of Philip II. of Spain, in whose court the marquis Gonzaga also lived in great favour. When she understood this nobleman had asked her in marriage both of the king and queen, and of her friends in Italy, being a lady of remarkable piety, she spent her time in fasting and prayer in order to learn the will of heaven, and to draw down upon herself the divine blessing. The marriage was solemnized in the most devout manner, the parties at the same time performing their devotions for the jubilee. When they left the court and returned into Italy, the marquis was declared chamberlain to his majesty, and general of part of the army in Lombardy, with a grant of several estates. The marchioness made it her earnest petition to God that he would bless her with a son, who should devote himself entirely to his love and service. Our saint was born in the castle of Castiglione, in the diocess of Brescia, on the 9th of March, 1568. William duke of Mantua stood godfather, and gave him the name of Aloysius. The holy names of Jesus and Mary, with the sign of the cross and part of the catechism, were the first words which his devout mother taught him as soon as he was able to speak; and from her example and repeated instructions the deepest sentiments of religion, and the fear of God were impressed upon his tender soul. Even in his infancy he showed an extraordinary tenderness for the poor; and such was his devotion that he frequently hid himself in corners, where after long search he was always found at his prayers, in which so amiable was his piety, and so heavenly did his recollection appear, that he seemed to resemble an angel clothed with a human body. His father designing to train him up to the army, in order to give him an inclination to that state, furnished him with little guns, and other weapons, took him to Casal to show him a muster of three thousand Italian foot, and was much delighted to see him carry a little pike, and walk before the ranks. The child staid there some months, during which time he learned from the officers certain unbecoming words, the meaning of which he did not understand, not being then seven years old. But his tutor hearing him use bad words, chid him for it, and from that time he could never bear the company of any persons who in his hearing ever profaned the holy name of God. This offence, though excusable by his want of age and knowledge, was to him during his whole life a subject of perpetual humiliation, and he never ceased to bewail and accuse himself of it with extreme confusion and compunction. Entering the seventh year of his age he began to conceive greater sentiments of piety, and from that time he used to date his conversion to God. At that age, being come back to Castiglione, he began to recite every day the office of our Lady, the seven penitential psalms, and other prayers, which he always said on his knees, and without a cushion; a custom which he observed all his life. Cardinal Bellarmin, three other confessors, and all who were best acquainted with his interior, declared after his death their firm persuasion, that he had never offended God mortally in his whole life. He was sick of an ague at Castiglione eighteen months; yet never omitted his task of daily prayers, though he sometimes desired some of his servants to recite them with him. 1 Continue reading

St. Aloysius Gonzaga: Meditation on his life

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St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Meditation on his life

1st. Represent to yourself the Saint, supremely happy,
on his death-bed.

2nd. Pray for grace to imitate his generosity, that you
may participate in his joy.

The Generosity with which St. Aloysius strove to attain Perfection

Consideration: When we read of the heroic acts of the saints, we say to ourselves, perhaps unconsciously, This is not surprising; they were saints, and I am not one: as if all saints had been sanctified from their birth, and as if they had not attained holiness by generous and heroic victories over themselves. We find traces of these victories in every page of the life of St. Aloysius. We read therein that, in order to curb the wanderings of his imagination, he persevered in prayer for many hours together, until he acquired the power of spending one without distraction; that, to quell his inclination to anger, he watched so carefully over himself that he at length succeeded in mastering the first movements of irritation; that, in order to conquer every feeling of vanity and self-love, he took the resolution of appearing at a court festival in Mantua, in such mean attire as to draw upon himself the ridicule of the entire assemblage. And what efforts did he not make to preserve his soul from the least stain of sin! To such lengths did he carry this vigilance that he avoided even looking at any woman, and subjected himself to continued fasts, rigorous disciplines, and prolonged vigils. And lastly, how severe was the struggle which he maintained, during two years, to gain permission to resign his principality and enter religion!

Application: These examples will suffice to prove that the sanctity of Aloysius was not natural or innate; that it was acquired by the most strenuous efforts; and that we may likewise become saints by pursuing the same method.

Affections: Beg of St. Aloysius to obtain for you that you may put in practice all the means of sanctification within your reach.

Resolutions: In all difficulties, endeavor, like St Aloysius, to gain courage by saying to yourself, “What proportion does all this bear to the rewards of eternity?”

Reward of the Efforts of St. Aloysius to Attain Perfection

Consideration: In return for these generous efforts, St. Aloysius received from God a sublime gift of prayer, together with the gift of tears, that of perfect chastity, and many other signal favors. Among these was one in particular, which we should earnestly desire to share with him, namely, his holy death, preceded by peace, joy, and admirable confidence, as is testified by a letter written by him eight days before his decease to his pious mother. “If charity,” he says, “should cause us to weep with those who mourn, and to rejoice with those who are joyful, your consolation should be very great, my dearest mother, on account of the grace which the Lord grants you in my person, leading me, as He does, to true happiness. God, in His Divine Mercy, calls me to heaven, to that sovereign felicity which I have so negligently sought to obtain. He promises to reward the few tears that I have shed.”

We find the same sentiments expressed throughout the remainder of the letter, as well as in his latest conversations with his religious brethren and superiors, who expressed their conviction that they witnessed the death of a saint. It pleased God to make known the sanctity of His servant by numerous and striking miracles. He was solemnly beatified fourteen years after his death, and during the lifetime of his mother.

Application: Let us live the life of the saints, that we may participate in their glory.

Colloquy with St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who, in the space of a few years, gained an extraordinary degree of merit through the practice of sanctifying even his most trivial actions by great purity of intention, the fruit of his intimate union with God. Let us pray to Him, and beg, through His intercession, the grace to imitate His virtues.

Vanity in Daily Life

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Vanity in Daily Life

CHRIST:

MY CHILD, vanity is another name for foolish expectation and for useless pretense. Some people expect too much from the good things of this world. Others pretend to be bigger than they really are and try to attract more attention than they deserve.

2. Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity for those who do not love Me, or refuse to follow My commandments. Nothing is permanent under the sun. When you love anything for its own sake, and not because it helps you do My Will, you are a victim of vanity. Death shall take all these things away from you, and nothing will be left. How wise is the man who appreciates this truth!

3. It is vanity to strive too intently for perishable riches and to fix your hopes on them. It is vanity also to be over-eager for honors, or to consider your self better than others. It is vanity to follow blindly the desires of the flesh and to want things which will bring a great penalty later on.

4. It is vanity to wish for a long life while caring little about living a good life. It is vanity to give your entire attention to the present life without thinking of the life which will come later. It is vanity to love only what is speedily passing away, instead of fixing your heart on Heaven the home of endless joy.

THINK:
If the dead could relive their lives, how differently many of them would value things I Now they know how foolish are many things for which they lived, and worked, and even sinned. The good, however, now enjoy perfect joy and happiness with God in Heaven because they refused to offend Him for any worldly comfort or glory. My life is my choice. Will I try to please God in all things, or will I prefer some earthly satisfaction against His holy Will?

PRAY:
Lord, grant me heavenly wisdom, so that I may learn to seek You above everything else. May I find You, enjoy Your presence in my life, and love You above everything else. Let me understand all things according to their importance in Your eyes. Grant that I may prudently avoid the flatterer and patiently bear with those who make my life more difficult. It is great wisdom to fight the undue influence of human words and to keep my eyes on Your holy law. In this way I shall go safely onward along the way that leads to eternal life, unending happiness, and the only lasting success. Amen.