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The Four Sacred Devotions that Drove Saint Aloysius Gonzaga to Great Sanctity May 30, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, Eucharist, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, manhood, mortification, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, thanksgiving, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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From the Life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Christian Youth by Maurice Meschler, SJ, the four pious practices the Saint felt were most efficacious in achieving great sanctity and practice of devotion to our Blessed Lord.  None of  these particular devotions will be strange or unfamiliar to readers, but the passion and fervor with which they were practiced were spectacular.  Our Catholic Faith is not difficult to comprehend – many wholly uneducated people have  become hidden saints – but it is very difficult to put into practice.  That is why the Lord has blessed His Church with many canonized Saints, to provide us with direct examples of how to conduct lives pleasing to Him:

The practice of the various Catholic devotions is an important point, and an excellent means of promoting the spiritual life.  Aloysius had four special devotions.  The first of these was the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  In his father’s house and in the midst of his life in the world, it had been a joy to him to serve Mass; and now in the novitiate he could do this to his heart’s content.  Very often during the day he visited the Blessed Sacrament in the church, or in an adjoining chapel.  In order to prepare well for Holy Communion, he divided the week into two parts, the first of which he devoted to thanksgiving for his last Communion, and the second to preparation for the next. [Back then, even such obvious Saints as Aloysius Gonzaga could only receive weekly, if they were fortunate.  Today we can the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar daily, but do we really adequately prepare ourselves, or render due thanksgiving, for this unspeakable Gift? Do we sometimes, or perhaps often, take it for granted, or allow the concerns of the world and the flesh to crowd our souls and cause us to receive the Sacrament in a blasé fashion? While we may not have the time or the gift of such immense sanctity to make such preparations or thanksgivings as Gonzaga did, perhaps we could do a bit more?]    On the eve of his Communion day he would speak with touching piety of the happiness in store for him the next morning.  Many of his companions, and even those who were already priests, who wished to prepare well for Holy Mass, sought to be with him on such days, in order to be moved to greater fervor by his piety and the ardent love which his words displayed.  On the morning of the day itself, his first thought was of the Savior he was about to receive, and he passed the whole hour appointed for meditation in pious reflections upon the Blessed Sacrament.  He sought out a quiet corner of the church to make his immediate preparation and thanksgiving, and his heart overflowed with the sweetest consolation. Many other worshippers who saw him, but did not know him, concluded merely from the sight of his fervor that he must have a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and even that he must be a Saint.  He spent the whole morning after his Communion in silence and recollection, praying and reading passages from St. Augustine or St. Bernard. [If Saint Aloysius devoted days and hours to preparation and thanksgiving, perhaps we could arrive to Mass a 10 or 15 minutes early (or more) to properly prepare ourselves, and not move to depart the church the instant Mass ends?] Thus the precious seed, planted by Saint Charles Borremeo in the child’s heart at his First Communion, had grown into a beautiful tree that enriched his whole life and character with its blossoms and fruits.  [For it was from this Saint that Aloysius Gonzaga received his First Communion]….And the Church herself has raised an imperishable memorial to this beautiful trait of his piety, in the Collects of the Mass for his feast, in which she commemorates his excellent method of preparation and thanksgiving for Communion, and begs God to grant us the grace to ever appear at this heavenly banquet adorned with the wedding garment of Grace, whose beauty Aloysius enhanced as with pearls of inestimable value by his pious preparation and copious tears.

A second favorite devotion of the Saint was that to the Passion of Our Lord.  The life of suffering and mortification he led naturally urged him to seek in the mysteries of the Passion a model of strength and comfort.  Everyday at noon he recited an antiphon in honor of the Passion, and placed himself in spirit before the Cross of Our Savior……

…….His third devotion was his ardent love of Our Lady. Since his sojourn in Florence she had been the Queen of his heart and the guiding star of his life, and he never tired of thinking of her, honoring her, praising and loving her, especially now that he could appreciate the inestimable benefit he owed to her in his vocation.  In his letters to his mother he frequently recommends her to have a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, holds up to her in her trials the example of the Mother of God and encourages her to be faithful in the service of the Queen of Heaven……

..Lastly, Aloysius had a special devotion to the holy Angels.  Virginal souls have a certain affinity to the Angels, and always feel attracted to them.  His veneration for these blessed spirits was so well-known to his companions that when Fr. Vincent Bruno was about to publish a book of meditations, he asked Aloysius to write the meditation on the Holy Angels, and the Saint joyfully complied.  Thus originated the little “Treatise upon the Angels, especially the Holy Guardian Angels.” After having cited the principal passages of Scripture in which the Angels are mentioned, he speaks in the first part of Angels in general, showing the necessity of devotion to them, first, from the example of the Church, secondly, from their nature and dignity, third, from their number, and lastly from their ninefold order. It is remarkable and very characteristic of Aloysius, that he unites devotion to the HOly Angels with his favorite virtue of humility in this first part of the meditation: “Consider how fitting it is, that on the feast of the invincible Arcangel the Gospel of the virtue of humility is read; for while proud Lucifer, on the one hand, was precipitated from his lofty throne in Heaven down into the depths of hell, because he presumed to arrogate divine honor to himself, the humble Archangel Michael and the whole host of the good Angels were highly honored and raised to the  highest rank, because they submitted to their Creator and full of zeal for his honor, opposed the proud serpent.”

……A colloquy with God after the meditation teaches us “to beg Him, Who bestowed such abundant graces upon the Angels, to grant unto us also through their intercession the grace to imitate their humility, clarity, and purity.”…..

…….A slip of paper has been preserved, upon which Aloysius had noted down for his own use a few “pious practices in honor of the Holy Angels”: “Imagine yourself standing in the midst of the nine choirs of Angels, as they pray to God and sing that hymn of praise: ‘Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Sanctus Immortalis.’ Repeat this prayer nine times in union with them – Recommend yourself three times daily to the special care of your Guardian Angel.  Every morning and evening, and during the day, when you visit the church and pray at the altar, recite the prayer ‘Angele Dei.’ [Angel of God…..] Remember that you must follow the guidance of your Angel, like a blind man who does not know the way, and trusts entirely to the care of the person who leads him.”……….

……..One of the effects of his frequent and fervent prayers was an uninterrupted union with God.  It cost Aloysius more effort to put the thought of God away from his mind than it does others to turn their thoughts away from creatures to God.

———–End Quote———-

I was unfamiliar with Saint Aloysius before reading this biography, but what a great Saint he was.  And is.  A patron for Christian youth, indeed, his purity was unequaled.  He often did not even know what women he had been met numerous times before looked like, so skilled was he in practicing custody of the eyes.  His practice of prayer and penance was so immense his superiors in the Jesuit novitiate actually had to restrict his activities to some degree in these regards, so as not to so surpass his confreres as to disrupt the unity of the group nor cause discouragement in others.

I would strongly encourage parents to learn about Saint Aloysius Gonzaga and have their children do the same.  He is a great example and powerful protector in this time of gross immodesty, unchecked lusts, and a million lurking dangers for children.

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