St Aloysius Gonzaga

eligious (entered heaven day in 1591)

Dear Al,

So the eagerly expected moment has finally come: high school is over and college is imminent.  I myself can almost feel the surge of excitement stirring inside you (and spilling into the words of your notes).  A cusp, a transition, a closing of one beautiful (though at times trying) chapter and, soon, the opening of another, which promises to be even more exhilarating… How will you endure this lengthy summer that stretches lazily in front of you?  I am sure you will find a way; you never were one to let yourself be bored. By the way, did your plans to run a parish day camp during July work out? I certainly hope so – we need to rescue our children from the new-agey, pseudo-martial-artsy summer cliques that frazzled post-modern parents so unwittingly utilize as glorified babysitters.  May God have mercy on them.

In any case, I thought I would take advantage of this vernal lull to encourage you to reflect deeply on a seminal spiritual truth.  I firmly believe (actually, I know from ample experience) that it will make all the difference in your coming college career. I’ll start off with a question: what do you want out of college?  Can you put it into two or three bullet points? If not, take some time to do so – if you don’t set your college agenda, someone else will, and that someone may not have your best interests in mind.  Now then, a second question: did “God’s will” appear on your list in any form whatsoever? I hope so, because learning to live under the umbrella of “God’s will” is the only way to reach our full potential in life, the only way to become as happy as we wish to be; learning to seek and embrace God’s will is far and above the most valuable lesson we can learn in college.  Living under the umbrella of “God’s will” simply means letting God be your full-time personal trainer, living your life not as a solo, but as a duet, with God taking the lead. It is the most beautiful and powerful way to live.

That reminds me of the career of today’s saint, the patron of Catholic young people.  St Aloysius died at the young age of 23. He was in formation to be a Jesuit priest at the time, but God was in a rush to get him home.  During his few years of preparation for the priesthood, Aloysius filled the seminary with a joy and energy that inspired his confreres to become the spiritual workhorses of 17th century Europe.  He achieved his intense and contagious love for God and for all of God’s creatures by following one simple rule: seek God’s will before all else.  

His mother was the empress’s lady of honor, and his father was a northern Italian duke who had great ambitions for his oldest son (which did not include a vocation to the priesthood).  Consequently, he and his younger brother spent their youth bouncing from royal court to royal court, receiving a superlative education (in the age of the great “renaissance men”) and enjoying the innumerable pleasures of nobility.  But Aloysius had early on felt a deep desire to put his life fully at the service of God, and through all the fancies of high privilege, he faithfully upheld his rigorous prayer commitments and valiantly guarded his Christian virtue.  It served him well. When his father finally permitted him to enter the seminary (after exhausting an entire arsenal of crafty dissuasion attempts), not only was Aloysius already on the path to profound union with God, but his dad also reformed his vice-ridden life before dying two months later.

Sorry if I’ve been rambling.  My point here is just that you need a compass to navigate your way through this next stage of your life, and if you decide to make God’s will your magnetic north, I can guarantee that you will emerge amply prepared for a glorious life of intense meaning and joy in the service of the Eternal Kingdom.  God’s will: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Think about it.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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