12 St Aloysius Gonzaga: A Call to be Holy - Anush P D'Cunha SJ

posted Jun 14, 2018, 8:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jun 14, 2018, 8:37 AM ]
Holiness is the sweetest word in the practice of Christianity. It poses a challenge to everyone, irrespective of their age. The word itself denotes something extraordinary. If we sit back and ponder on this word 'HOLINESS', we automatically link it to priests and religious and those who have dedicated their life to the service of God. For some, holiness portrays the Pope, and nothing more. True. But it is not as abstract as we really imagine. It is a call to be different. It stretches us to move into zones of discomfort. At times, it compels us to go against the norms. It evokes a feeling of difference in thoughts, words and in being. The modern world is led by ideologies. People generally, especially the youth, respond to situations of life collectively in a group. Today, in the area of religious practices, young people fear to 'stand out' in the crowd. They are terrified to 'stand out' in the practice of religion. It seems very hard to be set apart. It is a matter of being faint-hearted. A great example is the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of youth whose feast we celebrate every year on June 21. A brief history of his life is enough to give us an insight into holiness.

Aloysius Gonzaga was born on March 9, 1568, in Castiglione delle Stiviere, Republic of Venice, Italy. He was the son of Ferrante, marchese di Castiglione. Aloysius was educated at the ducal courts of Florence and Mantua, and at the royal court of Madrid, where he was the page to King Philip II's son Diego. In 1585, he relinquished his inheritance, and joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) at Rome.

His spirituality was manifested in his change of ideas and plans for his life. At the tender age of seven, Aloysius experienced a profound spiritual awakening. His prayers included the Office of Mary, the Psalms, and other devotions. At age nine, he came from his hometown of Castiglione to Florence to be educated; by age eleven, he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week, and practising great austerities. When he was thirteen years old, he travelled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain, and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints.