Monday, June 21, 2010

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the memorial day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. I'm interested in him, because David will be attending the university that bears his name. The university is well-known in our state, but the origin of its name is not as familiar to those of us who are not Catholic nor alumni of the university.
You can learn more about St. Gonzaga here, here and here.
Aloysius Gonzaga (also known by his first name of Luigi, Luis or Louis) died a very young man (in his early 20s), and so is one of the patron saints of youth. When I looked him up online, one of the sites stated that he died on this day in 1591 in Rome, Italy, of "plague, fever, and desire to see God." That stopped me - he died of illness AND a desire to see God. That must have been a powerful desire, indeed.
Two of his writings were quoted: the first one is to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the second is a letter to his own mother, Marta, before his death. Both of them are heart-felt and thought-provoking.
"O Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody, and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body. To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by thy most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son." - Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
"May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honored 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. Take care above all things, most honored 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 Savior; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness." - from a letter to his mother by Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
That second prayer has a deep message for me, personally. Seeing "God's boundless loving kindness" in his own impending death is quite a leap for anyone; to face his death - and its future impact on his mother, knowing that she would soon be grieving for him - with this insight and loving counsel for her is truly inspiring. What a heart of devotion and service he had! I have a feeling that Gonzaga will offer an education for me, too, as well as for David. For the "boundless loving kindness of God," I am thankful.

7 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Never has the phrase "to everything there is a purpose" had more meaning -- it's always so beautiful how you find messages in just about everything, Karen. Grace is all about you.

Truth Ferret said...

Karen, the letter to his mom was very inspiring. Thank you for educating me about such a remarkable act of kindness towards one who would mourn the loss of a child.

When the time was approaching for my mom to die, she would weep and I would ask her why. She was worried for me. Hospice's nurse helped her to understand that I would miss her terribly, but eventually I would be fine.

It's been five years and I miss her with all of my heart; however, I am more than fine. My mom didn't raise no sissy and I have passed on that strong backbone to my daughter.

On a different note, our good family friends are reaching the end with the wife's lost battle with cancer. We know that she is suffering with each breath she takes, but it is so difficult to release her from her painful, Earthly bounds. Please keep Janie in your prayers.

Thank you for letting me share this personal story here. I would have emailed you, but I didn't see a link.

In Christ's Love, Ferret

Busy Bee Suz said...

I really love HIS name and what a gracious soul.
I do hope David has a wonderful experience at his new university.
Hugs, Suz

Robin said...

Thank you for this, Karen. Despite my great attachment to the Jesuits, I knew almost nothing about St. Aloysius. Many many years ago, so I am told, a nun named Sister Aloysius was of great help to my father after my mother and brother died. I never knew her except as an old woman (she was probably all of 65!) when I was a little girl, but this information about her choice of name in her religious life gives me some insight into her character.

deb said...

you inspire me continually.

and congrats on your son's choice. I'll have to google it now.
My daughter is heading to McGill in Montreal. About 5 hours away. My son is only an hour away , and my oldest daughter will be going to UMass at Amherst, thats 10 maybe , I don't know . She is transferring from a school in Michigan. This will be very difficult as we are quite close .

have a great day, Karen.
you are in my thoughts always

Truth Ferret said...

Deb, I know how you feel. When we took our only child to her college (two hours away) the transition was difficult. She did come home a lot (or we went there to watch her perform at halftime), but we both knew that it was the beginning of a major change.

She is now a mom of a precious baby and going through an incredible painful journey herself. (Health is not an issue, relationship pain is.) Our relationship has changed and become richer.

I do still miss the simplier days of elementary school, where the most difficult decision for her was whether to wear her plaid jumper or uniform shorts that day.

I won't repeat my blog, here, and take up this remarkable woman's space.

Thank you for letting me ramble through my jumbled thoughts and feelings, once again, Karen.

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you all for your thoughts on this.
I pray for parents and students who are starting this new phase of life, may they feel uplifted with joy and comfort, wisdom and deep listening. College was such a blessing to me - I have great hope for all of our kids who are embarking on this path!