“From all their distress – God rescues the just.” We hear this in the psalm today, as the psalmist declares that he blesses the Lord at all times. We can give blessings to the Lord very easily for our joy and our comforts, but can we bless the Lord in the midst of our sorrow and our distress?
God rescues the just, but sometimes the rescue is not from earthly dangers. The saint we celebrate is Aloysius Gonzaga, who was born into an aristocratic Italian family, but who died at the age of 23 while studying in Rome as a member of the Jesuits from the plague that he contracted while nursing some sick patients when an epidemic broke out in Rome in the late 16th century. Aloysius was known for his great piety, and was honored by many since the time of his death. He is buried in the Church of St Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. I remember visited that church in Rome when I went there with the St Richard Youth Choir in 2010, and remember the many people who came to that church looking for St Aloysius’ grave site.
As we bless the Lord in our joys and our sorrows, we follow the journey of faith where he calls us here on earth. Sometimes it is quite a difficult journey, but we are called to lift it all up to the Lord.
In 1729, Pope Benedict 13th declared Aloysius to be the patron saint of young students. And in 1926, he was named patron of all Christian youth by Pope Pius11th. We pray this prayer for his intercessions for our youth today:
St Aloysius ,you were a faithful follower of Christ as you were studying to enter the Society of Jesus. You steadily worked toward perfection in your life of faith while you generously served victims of the plague in Rome. Help our youth today who are faced with a plague of false cults, false gods, and false values in our modern secular world. Show them how to focus their energies toward God and to use them in service toward others. Amen.