Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Prayer to Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
Patron of Youth

Dear Christian youth,
you were a faithful follower of Christ in the Society of Jesus.

You steadily strove for perfection while generously serving the plague-stricken.
Help our youth today who are faced with a plague of false cults and false gods.
Show them how to harness their energies and to use them for their own and others' fullfillment—which will redound to the greater glory of God.



June 21, 2011
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, religious

Reading 1
Gn 13:2, 5-18

Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,
so that the land could not support them if they stayed together;
their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock
and those of Lot’s.
(At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites
were occupying the land.)

So Abram said to Lot:
“Let there be no strife between you and me,
or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen.
Is not the whole land at your disposal?
Please separate from me.
If you prefer the left, I will go to the right;
if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.”
Lot looked about and saw how well watered
the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar,
like the LORD’s own garden, or like Egypt.
(This was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain
and set out eastward.
Thus they separated from each other;
Abram stayed in the land of Canaan,
while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain,
pitching his tents near Sodom.
Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked
in the sins they committed against the LORD.

After Lot had left, the LORD said to Abram:

“Look about you, and from where you are,
gaze to the north and south, east and west;
all the land that you see I will give to you
and your descendants forever.
I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth;
if anyone could count the dust of the earth,
your descendants too might be counted.
Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth,
for to you I will give it.”

Abram moved his tents and went on to settle
near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron.
There he built an altar to the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm
15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Mt 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”


June 21

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591)

The Lord can make saints anywhere, even amid the brutality and license of Renaissance life. Florence was the “mother of piety” for Aloysius Gonzaga despite his exposure to a “society of fraud, dagger, poison and lust.” As a son of a princely family, he grew up in royal courts and army camps. His father wanted Aloysius to be a military hero.

At age seven he experienced a profound spiritual quickening. 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 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old he traveled 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.

A book about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in India suggested to him the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, and in Spain his decision became final. Now began a four-year contest with his father. Eminent churchmen and laypeople were pressed into service to persuade him to remain in his “normal” vocation. Finally he prevailed, was allowed to renounce his right to succession and was received into the Jesuit novitiate.

Like other seminarians, Aloysius was faced with a new kind of penance—that of accepting different ideas about the exact nature of penance. He was obliged to eat more, to take recreation with the other students. He was forbidden to pray except at stated times. He spent four years in the study of philosophy and had St. Robert Bellarmine (September 17) as his spiritual adviser.

In 1591, a plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own. The general himself and many other Jesuits rendered personal service. Because he nursed patients, washing them and making their beds, Aloysius caught the disease himself. A fever persisted after his recovery and he was so weak he could scarcely rise from bed. Yet, he maintained his great discipline of prayer, knowing that he would die within the octave of Corpus Christi, three months later, at the age of 23.


O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

– Come, let us worship the Lord, the great God.


O light of light, O Dayspring bright,
Co-equal in thy Father’s light:
Assist us, as with prayer and psalm
Thy servants break the nightly calm.
All darkness from our minds dispel,
And turn to flight the hosts of hell:
Bid sleepfulness our eyelids fly,
Lest overwhelmed in sloth we lie.
Jesu, thy pardon, kind and free,
Bestow on us who trust in thee:
And as thy praises we declare,
O with acceptance hear our prayer.
O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.

Prayers and vows of an exile
Psalm 101 (102)

Let my cry come to you, Lord: do not hide your face from me.

Lord, listen to my prayer
and let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me:
whenever I am troubled,
turn to me and hear me.
Whenever I call on you,
hurry to answer me.
For my days vanish like smoke,
and my bones are dry as tinder.
My heart is cut down like grass, it is dry –
I cannot remember to eat.
The sound of my groaning
makes my bones stick to my flesh.
I am lonely as a pelican in the wilderness,
as an owl in the ruins,
as a sparrow alone on a rooftop:
I do not sleep.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
they burn with anger and use my name as a curse.
I make ashes my bread,
I mix tears with my drink,
because of your anger and reproach –
you, who raised me up, have dashed me to the ground.
My days fade away like a shadow:
I wither like grass.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Let my cry come to you, Lord: do not hide your face from me.
Psalm 101 (102)

Turn, Lord, to the prayers of the helpless.

But you, Lord, remain for ever
and your name lasts from generation to generation.
You will rise up and take pity on Zion,
for it is time that you pitied it,
indeed it is time:
for your servants love its very stones
and pity even its dust.
Then, Lord, the peoples will fear your name.
All the kings of the earth will fear your glory,
when the Lord has rebuilt Zion
and appeared there in his glory;
when he has listened to the prayer of the destitute
and not rejected their pleading.
These things shall be written for the next generation
and a people yet to be born shall praise the Lord.
Because he has looked down from his high sanctuary,
– the Lord has looked down from heaven to earth –
and heard the groans of prisoners
and freed the children of death
so that they could proclaim the Lord’s name in Zion
and sing his praises in Jerusalem,
where people and kingdoms gather together
to serve the Lord.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Turn, Lord, to the prayers of the helpless.
Psalm 101 (102)

You founded the earth, Lord, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

He has brought down my strength in the midst of my journey;
he has shortened my days.
I will say, “My God, do not take me away
half way through the days of my life.
Your years last from generation to generation:
in the beginning you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away but you will remain;
all will grow old, like clothing,
and like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed.
“But you are always the same,
your years will never run out.
The children of your servants shall live in peace,
their descendants will endure in your sight.”

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

You founded the earth, Lord, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
Listen, my people, to my teaching;
– open your ears to the words of my mouth.

1 Samuel 17:57-18:9,20-30

When David came back after killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the Philistine’s head in his hand. Saul asked him, ‘Whose son are you, young man?’ David replied, ‘The son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.’

After David had finished talking to Saul, Jonathan’s soul became closely bound to David’s and Jonathan came to love him as his own soul. Saul kept him by him from that day forward and would not let him go back to his father’s house. Jonathan made a pact with David to love him as his own soul; he took off the cloak he was wearing and gave it to David, and his armour too, even his sword, his bow and his belt. Whenever David went out, on whatever mission Saul sent him, he was successful, and Saul put him in command of the fighting men; he stood well in the people’s eyes and in the eyes of Saul’s officers too.

On their way back, as David was returning after killing the Philistine, the women came out to meet King Saul from all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing to the sound of tambourine and lyre and cries of joy; and as they danced the women sang:

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.’

Saul was very angry; the incident was not to his liking. ‘They have given David the tens of thousands,’ he said ‘but me only the thousands; he has all but the kingship now.’ And Saul turned a jealous eye on David from that day forward.

Now Michal the daughter of Saul fell in love with David. When Saul heard this he was pleased. He thought, ‘Yes, I will give her to him, but she will prove a snare for him and the hand of the Philistines will strike him.’ (Twice Saul said to David, ‘Now you shall be my son-in-law.’) Saul then gave this command to his servants, ‘Talk secretly to David and say, “Look, the king is pleased with you and all his servants love you; it is time you became the king’s son-in-law.”’ The king’s servants repeated these words in David’s ear, and David replied, ‘Does it strike you as an easy thing for me to become the king’s son-in-law, poor and of humble position as I am?’ Saul’s servants then reported back what David had said. Saul replied, ‘Tell David this, “The king desires no settlement except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, for vengeance on the king’s enemies.”’ Saul was planning that David should fall by the hand of the Philistines.

His servants brought this message to David and he was delighted at the thought of becoming the king’s son-in-law. The time had not yet expired when David rose and set off, he and his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. David brought back their foreskins and counted them out before the king so that he could be the king’s son-in-law. Saul then gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

Saul now realised that the Lord was with David, and that all the House of Israel loved him; then Saul feared David all the more and became David’s lasting enemy. The leaders of the Philistines went out to battle, but every time they went out to battle David was more successful than all Saul’s officers, and his name was held in great honour.


Have mercy on me, God, men crush me; they fight me all day long and oppress me; I will trust in you.

You rescued my soul from death, you kept my feet from stumbling. I will trust in you.

A letter from St Aloysius Gonzaga to his mother

God's mercies shall be my song for ever

May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honoured lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad, then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

The divine goodness, most honoured lady, is a fathomless and shoreless ocean, and I confess that when I plunge my mind into thought of this it is carried away by the immensity and feels quite lost and bewildered there. In return for my short and feeble labours, God is calling me to eternal rest; his voice from heaven invites me to the infinite bliss I have sought so languidly, and promises me this reward for the tears I have so seldom shed.

Take care above all things, most honoured lady, not to insult God’s boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Saviour; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness. When he takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.

I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favour and that you especially may speed with a mother’s blessing my passage across the waters till I reach the shore to which all hopes belong. I write the more willingly because I have no clearer way of expressing the love and respect I owe you as your son.


You befriended my innocence, O Lord; never more will you banish me from your presence.
Willingly did I lie forgotten in the house of my God, rather than dwell in the abode of sinners; never more will you banish me from your presence.

Let us pray.

Lord God, source of every grace, you joined an innocent heart to a penitent’s sorrow in the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.

Grant, through his intercession, that we, who have failed to imitate his innocence, may follow his example of penance.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.