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Saint Aloysius Gonzaga – Model of Christian Youth April 4, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Restoration, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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A little excerpt from Saint Aloysius Gonzaga: Patron of Christian Youth by Fr. Maurice Meschler, SJ, which concerns the first great flowering of sanctity in the youth of 10 (pp. 34-5), when he made the decision to consecrate his purity to Our Lady for his entire life.  While this Saint certainly enjoyed the benefit of particular Graces and his example, while an incredible case of sanctity, is one that is vital for young people of all times to strive to emulate, especially in this fallen age.  Not all may be called to his very nearly perfect practice of chastity and purity, but all will benefit from attempting to conduct their lives in accord with his example, especially the young who face so many temptations, and who lack the experience of life that many wiser, older, sadder souls have obtained – much to their pain:

About this time a book on the Rosary, by Fr. Caspar Loarte, SJ, fell into the hands of Aloysius.  It so increased his love and devotion to Our Lady, tha this heart overflowed with consolation when he reflected upon the mysteries of her life, and he was seized with an ardent longing to do something that would please her and give her great honor, that he might thus win her love and favor.  One day, as he was kneeling in rapt devotion before the picture, he was inspired with the thought of consecrating his virginity to Our Lady, as the most acceptable gift that he could offer her.  Acting quickly on this inspiration, with a heart filled with love and joy, he solemnly consecrated himself to her by a vow of perpetual chastity.  Mary accepted the offering of his innocent heart, and in return, as he afterwards acknowledged to his confessor, obtained for him from God the extraordinary Grace of never experiencing throughout his entire life the slightest breath of a temptation against the virtue of holy purity.

This is a most unusual favor, seldom granted even to the Saints, and the more wonderful, seeing that Aloysius’ life was passed in the higher circles and at princely courts, where there are so many dangers and temptations.  it is true that he had had from his earliest childhood a natural aversion to the very shadow of anything impure, and even to any intercourse whatever with persons of the opposite sex; but this gives us all the more reason to wonder that, after taking his vow….he redoubled his precautions and had recourse to all kinds of means in order to guard his purity against the slightest shadow of danger.  It might be thought that he, who enjoyed such privileges, would have contented himself with the ordinary care prescribed to all Christians; on the contrary, he it is who most exceeds most, even of the Saints, in precautionary measures such as flight from the very slightest occasion of sin, and mortification of the flesh.  He, who was preserved by a special grace of God from any temptation of this kind, went on his way through life as though he had been threatened on all sides by special dangers.

From this time he accustomed himself to never raise his eyes, either in company or when going through the streets.  He not only avoided all intercourse with women more scrupulously than ever, but he withdrew from all games and amusements, although his father would have wished him to take part in them.  He now began to inflict all kinds of austerities upon his innocent flesh.  Aloysius’ vocation was that he should be a striking and a bright example for youth, in the preservation of angelic purity.  What was unnecessary for himself, was to be done by him for the sake of those who were to follow him – for the general welfare of Christian youth.

The young are not proof agaisnt danger as he was, and yet they often rush thoughtlessly into it; the fire of concupiscence burns within them, and they willfully add fuel to it; they are not so blameless as Aloysius, and yet they will not hear of mortification, vigilance, and seclusion.  The picture of this holy youth is a warning, an earnest admonishment to the world of frivolous, self-indulgent  young people, bent upon the enjoyment of sensual pleasures.

———-End Quote———

Raising children in the moral sewer of the fatally corrupted culture with which we are confronted is especially challenging.  In centuries past, there were cultural/societal norms in many places and times that helped keep many temptations to concupiscence in check.  Parents then did not have to deal with the mass availability of pornography and other destructive forces brought directly into the home.  They did not have to tell their children to avert their eyes from scandalously pernicious advertisements or scantily clad individuals.  There was no mass media bringing temptations to lust, perversion, self-abuse, and destructive behaviors of every kind into the home, the car, the school, etc., on a constant basis.  There were certainly temptations in those days, to be sure, but these past several decades have seen the attack on innocence rise to levels never seen before in history.

It can be a difficult line to walk, shielding children from dangerously seductive immoral influences, while at the same time not keeping them under practical lock and key.  There are certainly reasonable and prudent steps that can be taken: homeschooling, having a good internet filter/reporting system installed on ALL computers, not just the one(s) you think your kids access, not subscribing to cable or satellite TV systems, monitoring children’s friends and social engagements, carefully choosing what music kids are exposed to, etc.  All these things are good and reasonable.  Even more, parents should guard against perceptions of hypocrisy in frequently allowing for themselves what they deny their children.

One might think in this age it is not possible to go too far in efforts to preserve their innocence, but even here there can be danger. Tightening the apron strings too much can lead to its own form of rebellion.  I have seen this happen several times, and have heard numerous cautionary tales from priests, of parents who placed such a tight hold on their children they eventually rebelled and slipped through their fingers. In fallen creatures, protection can unintentionally turn to severity, good intentions can morph into forced submission to the parents’ will in all matters.

An absolutely vital step for parents to take is to engage in family prayer, especially prayer of the Rosary.  While preserving children’s innocence is absolutely vital, the preservation will not be successful unless buttressed with a vibrant interior life.  Parents must set the example here, demonstrating to children the great value of prayer and the concrete benefits such devotion provides in the formation of a devout, pious soul.

I could go on forever.  It’s an exceedingly difficult high wire act to perform, raising kids in this age.  And sometimes, even with practically ideal family life, kids still fall away.  But if they have been given the gift of a strong interior/devotional life, odds are for most that fall will be temporary, and, God willing, the kids will return to leading a morally upright life and the practice of the Faith.

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Comments

1. Baseballmomof8 - April 4, 2017

I paraphrase the scripture: “Raise them up in the way they should go; and when they are old they will not depart from it.” Always understood this to mean that if we give them a good foundation, even if they should stray for a while, even a long while, they will return to that foundation. I put my trust in this.

I too have seen the rebellion of those who were not given the freedom to see/choose the “good” for themselves. And you are so right, it is a tough road to navigate. One thing I have never done is make light of the reality of hell. I’ve always made it clear that at a certain point the decisions are theirs… and good decisions lead to eternal bliss while bad ones will lead to eternal, never ending torment. I remind them that, although “the world” believes everyone dies and goes to a “better place”, that is a great lie, and the evil one’s greatest victory.

2. Margaret Costello - April 9, 2017

I would also add: if parents can train their children as to WHY they need to guard their minds, hearts etc. Be very practical, explain the consequences of falling, what it feels like, what it leads to, what is IS. Just saying “no” all the time is meaningless and only seen as a power trip to the child. Formation is key. Equipping the child with the truth, with wisdom, with what to think and do when temptation hits is essential to helping them battle evil. God bless~


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