Today is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a young Jesuit who died of the plague that he contracted while taking care of the poor. His innocence and purity are stressed strongly in the Mass prayers of the day, and I thought about the beauty of the younger saints, those who died under the age of 25. St. Aloysius and my patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux were two of a kind. They had all the energy and over-the-top passion of that age, the teens through the early twenties, and used it to love God as only people that age can. Their writings and sayings are almost embarassingly affectionate, intimate and loving; I sometimes have to turn my eyes away from such transparency, such glowing love.
Compare the older saints, St. Teresa of Avila or St. Augustine. St. Teresa, who entered religious life young, lived in comfort and gabby popularity for a long time before she had a conversion of heart. St. Augustine lived it up for years, until his mother's prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit knocked him to his knees. Their writings reflect their battles, their knowledge of the world, their understanding of the weaknesses and failures of others.
Both sets of saints are equally holy, I'm not setting up a scale. But they bring a different passion to their love of the Lord and we need both kinds as examples.
Help me think of other saints who blazed up early and died young. I am very attracted to them, probably as contrast to the scratched, bug-covered windshield through which I view the Lord and His Mercy.
A Very Francis Christmas
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