Thought for the Day – 21 June – The Memorial of St Aloysius de Gonzaga SJ (1568-1591)
Excerpt from Ven Servant of God John A Hardon’s SJ (1914-2000)
‘Life of St Aloysius’
“To the one virtue which the Church has chosen and on account of which has chosen him ‘the universal patron of youth,’ was his chastity. All the evidence we have, indicates that he had very strong sexual passions. We know that from his own writing, we know that from people who knew him and we know that from what is called penance from one view-point, what is really, you might say, ‘preventive austerity’ from another. He simply believed that unless he mortified his body and I didn’t tell you one tenth of what he did, he just would not get that passion under control.
The lesson for us in a sex-mad world is obvious. You do not control that passion without mortification, you just don’t. As a result, the Church has held him up as a model of what even the most passionate personality can achieve, always with God’s grace. We may not be able to, given our temperament of the circumstances in which we are living, be able to cope with temptation–we need grace. Very well, how do you get the grace? –through prayer and mortification. And Christ’s words about a certain demon not being able to be driven out except through penance. Well, it’s a non-title to give the devil but, he is the demon of lust, though being without a body himself, he knows how, by stirring this passion, he can lead people into any kind of sin. That’s the first and towering lesson of the life of St Aloysius.
As we look at the short life of Aloysius, depending on the person’s view point, it may seem oppressive. It shouldn’t be but, in modern jargon, it has so much (pardon the expression) of the negative, you know, penance, mortification, sin–and a world that has gone mad, drunk with sin, doesn’t realise, that already this side of eternity, we are to be what Aloysius was literally, we are to be, if it is God’s will, ecstatically happy of that. We are not to be sad. We are not, God forbid, to be unhappy.
The secret and what an open secret it is in the life of Aloysius, is to find the happiness in the right place. That’s all, yes but that’s everything.
In other words, as a closing observation, Aloysius showed that’s why the Church Canonised him, that when Christ gave us the eight Beatitudes, which are eight promises of happiness, He meant it.
The condition for being happy, well, that’s part of the Covenant, that’s what we do but if we do our part, God comes through.
St Robert Bellarmine who knew him well, observed he was sure that Aloysius had never committed a mortal sin.