School is out for the summer, but that doesn't mean that our children are less in need of our prayers. How fortunate, then, that the feast day of the patron saint of youth, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, falls on June 21, right at the beginning of summer.
Saint Aloysius became the patron saint of youth largely because he died at the relatively young age of 23. But those 23 years were very spiritually fruitful—or, rather, the last 11 years of his life, because Saint Aloysius did not receive his first Holy Communion until the age of 12. It was the turning point in his life, when he decided to leave behind his father's desire for him to be a soldier, in favor of joining the Jesuit order.
Saint Aloysius's life was cut short as a result of ministering to the victims of plague. The prayer I have chosen for our novena of the week, a Prayer to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Patron of Youth, reminds us that the plagues of the body may kill us, but they cannot prevent us from striving for spiritual perfection, as the plagues of the souls, so prevalent today, can. Begin praying the novena on June 12 to finish it on the eve of Saint Aloysius's feast.
(Antique Polish prayer card of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Property of Scott P. Richert.)