St Aloysius Gonzaga

Religious (entered heaven this day in 1591)

Dear Gonzo,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re already bored.  It surprises me a little bit, since you tend to be so active and creative.  I imagine there’s a little bit of subtle rebellion at work inside your boredom – since you didn’t get the summer you were hoping for, your vanity is pouting a bit.  Shake yourself out of it, my bright young nephew, before the devil starts putting you under his spell.  I think a refreshing look at your patron saint may help.

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: seeking first the Kingdom of Christ.

His mother was the empress’s lady of honor, and his father was a northern Italian duke who had great ambitions for this, his oldest son (ambitions that 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, like sending him on a tour of the aristocratic courts of northern Italy, engaging powerful Dukes and nobles to “talk sense” to him, giving him a series of cushy, flashy commissions that might stir up worldly ambition, and even convincing Church prelates to try and talk him out of his vocation), not only was Aloysius already on the path to profound union with God, but his dad was so impressed that he too reformed his vice-ridden life before dying two months later.

Before he was able to join the seminary, even while he was little more than a boy, Aloysius would spend his summers organizing catechism classes and other healthy activities for the boys in and around whatever town or palace where he happened to be lodging.  This generosity, concern for others, and eager desire to spread Christ’s Kingdom was both the cause and the result of keeping Christ foremost in his heart and his mind: he always sought the Kingdom first.  And when you do that, there’s always much more work to be done than time to do it in.  The only thing you can’t find time for is being bored.

So, even though you didn’t get the summer job you most wanted, and even though your parents wouldn’t let you take that boat trip around the world (I can’t blame them), please don’t think your summer has to end up being a waste or a bore.  If it is, you’ll have only yourself to blame.

Your loving uncle,


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