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Friday, June 21, 2019

Children's Sermon on the Feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga
by Rev. Raphael Frassinetti

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Youth, pray for the children.

Gospel. Matt. xxii. 29-40. At that time, Jesus answering said to the Sadducees: You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married: but shall be as the angels of God in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God saying to you: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And the multitudes hearing it were in admiration at his doctrine. But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together. And one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

Cardinal Baeonius, a holy and learned man, visiting the tomb of St. Aloysius shortly after the saint's death cried, "This is a saint! this is a saint!" He was firmly persuaded that in consideration of his beautiful life Aloysius would be canonized, and the Cardinal could not refrain from publicly calling him a saint.

Mary Magdalen of Pazzi saw in one of her ecstasies the beatitude and glory of our saint in heaven, and cried out, "How great is the glory of Aloysius, the son of Ignatius! I should never have believed that there was so much glory in store for a saint, had I not seen it. I had not thought it possible that there could be so much glory in heaven. I tell you, Aloysius is a great saint, and I would like to publish it to the Whole world."

I rejoice, my dear young people, that I can speak to you of so great a saint as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, to whom you are already so devoted, and whose virtues you study to imitate in your lives. Permit me to prove to you that though he was an angel by his innocence, he still practiced the most severe penances.

From his earliest youth St. Aloysius led a most exact and singularly innocent life. You see him when he can hardly walk going off by himself to some solitary place to pray, kneeling down before God with his little hands joined. The first words which he spoke were Jesus and Mary. Early in life he cared not for the sports that boys delight in, but instead he loved prayer and silence; his delight was in prayer and in the crucified Lord. Oh, that I could describe to you how devoutly he prayed in his room before the crucifix! He was like a young Samuel who was constantly in the temple of God. Aloysius often left his companions and went to church, where he was found in adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with such exterior devotion that people wondered that one so young could have so much piety. Older people became ashamed that they were less devout and they could not take their eyes from him, so charmed were they with his modesty and devotion.

When Aloysius was nine years old he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Annunciation at Florence, a famous pilgrimage of that day, and there made a vow of chastity. The holy virtue of purity, with the assistance of the Blessed Virgin, he preserved with most scrupulous care. You might say that this was the great act of his life, for so great was his purity that he was called by all an angel. So great was it that not only did he not in his whole life stain this robe of innocence, but he never even had a temptation against this great virtue, not even in thought.

Living in the midst of the splendors of the court he cared nothing for them. He had his mind always fixed on God, and was always impressed with God's presence. He lived in the court in quietness, and when he could be spared from his duties he remained in his room occupied in prayer. So great was his union with God, that five or six times he was found in ecstasy in his meditation. He had such an abhorrence for the things of this world and its vanities, that ordinarily he dressed in common clothes. When he was asked why he did not use one of his magnificent uniforms, he answered that it was part of the pomp of the world, which he had long since renounced at his baptism. "Life," said he, "is short, and is given to me only to gain heaven. What good can come from the enjoyment of the frivolities and pleasures of the court, when they will have to end so shortly? I renounce all. I do not desire riches or pleasures. I wish to rejoice in God alone, in a sweet retirement from the world."

At this time he made up his mind to renounce the world altogether, and join the sons of Ignatius; but in the execution of this resolution he met with much opposition from his father, who did not relish the loss of so good a son. But Aloysius begged and pleaded and wept, and at last he obtained his father's consent. He entered the house of the novitiate and, with joy expressed on his countenance, cried out, "Oh, holy place! object of all my desires! This is my habitation for life!" If Aloysius understood so well how to preserve his innocence in the midst of the corruption of the court and the world, you, too, should be faithful to your religion and from day to day make progress in the work of the sanctification of your souls.

Aloysius kept such a rigid and penitential life that one cannot but wonder that a youth so high born, so delicate, could endure it. At eleven years he practiced such fasts as would hardly be credited. Sometimes an egg sufficed him for the single meal of a day. On Friday he contented himself with a little bread and water. His meals, in fact, never exceeded an ounce of food, at an age when most boys, on account of their appetites, cannot get enough to eat. No hermit ever lived a more mortified life than St. Aloysius. We wonder at the continuous fasts of a Paul the Hermit, or an Anthony, but they were no greater than the fasts of Aloysius at a tender age, though he was brought up surrounded by luxury.

He was not content with fasts; three times a week he took the discipline, and scourged himself so unmercifully that blood flowed. When the discipline was not at hand he beat himself with a piece of rope, or with an iron chain. He slept but little, and at the sound of the bell he rose joyfully, unmindful of the cold floor, and knelt there for hours in prayer. The cold affected him, and he frequently trembled from head to foot and sometimes even became so weak that he fell prostrate to the ground, where he lay continuing his prayer. His linen was given to his mother every week, stained with blood, and when she remonstrated with him, he merely said, "Let me, mother, expiate my many sins by so small a mortification." Ah, Aloysius, what sins have you to expiate--you who led such an angelic life!

Aloysius was very humble; when he became a cleric he used to say: "What good can a religious find in me?" In his sickness, which was prolonged, he used to ask not for the most pleasant medicines, but the bitter ones, and these he took slowly that the bitterness might be more felt. In this sickness he had the seven penitential psalms read to him. He was often found kneeling in his bed, praying, and he sometimes dragged himself to the other end of the room to kiss a crucifix that hung against the wall. He had received the viaticum in his last sickness, and the hour of his death was at hand, when he turned to his Superior, who stood near the hed. "Father," said he, "I wish to ask a favor and hope it will not he denied, for it is the last one I shall make. I want you to allow me to take the discipline once more." Oh, generous-hearted, noble Aloysius! You wish to take the discipline and you are not able to stand on your feet! "I know, my dear friends, that I am not able to do it myself, but I ask that a substitute may do it for me. Dear Father, depute some one to beat me severely from head to foot, and then I shall not die with the sin on my conscience that I did not do penance during my lifetime." Of course this request was not granted. Then he asked to be laid on the bare floor.

Why did this young saint wish to be treated so cruelly? He was afraid of the judgment of God for his sins, thinking, perhaps, that for want of sorrow, penance or good resolutions he had not been forgiven. Now what were the great sins which Aloysius bewailed so much, and had to confess. One day, it is said, he stole some powder to fire off a gun; another time he used a bad expression that he had learned from the soldiers. When he threw himself at the feet of his confessor to tell these sins, he was affected to tears, and was half dead with fright at the thought of them. These were the sins for which he continued to do penance! Oh, what miserable, poor beings are we, who have so many and great crimes to answer for, and to do penance for, when Aloysius did so much to satisfy God for these smaller sins!

Notwithstanding all his fear Aloysius possessed his soul in peace, trusting in the mercy of God. He knew he had done little to glorify God, still he did not despair.

When he heard that he was about to die he rejoiced, and asked his brothers to sing the Te Deum for him, saying: "Oh, you do not know what welcome news I have heard! In a week I am to die; let us thank God for so great a grace." He often repeated, "I shall go with joy." Once when the provincial of the order asked him how he was, he answered, "I am going with joy, and to heaven, if my sins are not an obstacle." When the hour of death was close at hand he said, "Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." When those around him saw that he spoke no more, and hardly gave any sign of consciousness, they put a lighted candle into his hand, and he held it as well as he could. They repeated the holy name of Jesus and his lips could be seen to move as if to pronounce that name. Shortly after he died quietly, as if falling asleep, and thus this holy youth gave up the spirit in the twenty-third year of his age.

Is not such a death beautiful, my dear friends? To die in the Lord is a great consolation, for it takes away all the bitterness of death. Strive to die as St. Aloysius did, by living the life he led. St. Aloysius, pray to God for us that we may imitate your beautiful life! Alas, we have not imitated you in your innocence. Let us, however, do some penance that we may at least deserve the mercy of God by our tears. Dear saint, let us understand abomination of sin that hereafter we may live in such a manner as to please God, and deserve heaven.

Act of Consecration to St. Aloysius Gonzaga

O St. Aloysius, so renowned for thy purity of heart, thy humility and obedience, thy special devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament, and thy tender love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, I consecrate myself to thee, beseeching thee to number me among thy fervent clients. Obtain that I may perfectly imitate all thy virtues, especially thy purity and perseverance. Help me with thy prayers, that I may never cease to love my God and sing His praises. Assist me by a special protection at the hour of my death, that I may present myself pure and stainless to the sovereign Judge and enjoy with thee eternal happiness. Amen

Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga - Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

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