“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.” (Mt 7, 14)
On June 21, the liturgy celebrates the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Today’s gospel couldn’t be a better reminder of the need of entering heaven through the narrow gate.
“Saint Aloysius was born of the princely family of Castiglione near Mantua, Lombardy, in the year 1568. Instructed in piety by his mother, he developed a yearning for religious life. After signing over his share of the ancestral dominion to his brother, he entered the Society of Jesus … While serving the sick during a plague, he himself contracted the disease and died in 1591, at the age of 23.”1
Another source reminds us that Aloysius Gonzaga received “the Last Rites from his spiritual director, St. Robert Bellarmine. He had come to the Roman College to begin his studies for the priesthood after completing the novitiate at the church of St. Andrew on the Quirinal Hill. With the permission of his superiors, he was allowed to attend to those who had already recovered from the plague in one of the Roman hospitals, but wound up contracting it himself, and although he did not die immediately, was fatally weakened.”2
Happiness Consists in Possessing God for All Eternity
St. Aloysius Gonzaga, wrote to his mother: “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.”
What was God like in the Mind of St. Aloysius?
The young saint near his death explains to his mother how he feels about the sweet presence of the divinity in his life: “The divine goodness … 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.” He continues to exhort her not to mourn for him, because he is “living face to face with God,” and he is “one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth.” This young man was very mature in his faith, and ready to die.
Aloysius has no doubts, based on his firm faith. That, he would see his mother 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.” Surely, his mother was suffering. But he was anticipating the greatest of joys. “I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favor 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.”
May this saint inspire us to exert ourselves to enter through the narrow gate into the joys of Heaven, that “fathomless and shoreless ocean” of the divine goodness.
God bless you all.
1 From https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/saint-aloysius-gonzaga-letter-to-his-mother/, accessed June 12, 2022 2 From: https://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2019/06/the-feast-of-st-aloysius-gonzaga-in-rome.html, accessed June 13, 2022.