Today, June 21, is the commemoration day of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, a young Jesuit seminarian of the 16th century who died before being ordained a priest because he contracted plague while caring for other plague victims. He has been made one of the patron saints of young people.
Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, a day which most pagans who worshiped the sun held in great esteem and built temples and arrangements of standing stones like Stonehenge to honor.
Back to Saint Aloysius: it seems to me that we owe to the young people of our time a special debt of prayer and help. The society and culture that we have created in this country, and really throughout much of the world, is terribly opposed to the spiritual well-being of our young people. The media are damaging their souls and their emotional and psychological lives as never before. The sexual immorality of our world is leading them into sexual sins almost before they even reach the stage of puberty. In the Church, many of the religious teaching communities of brothers and sisters have very foolishly embraced a policy of secularization, trying to live their religious lives as if they were secular, which is impossible. The result is that those communities are attracting none, or very few, young people and are therefore dying out, and far fewer Catholic youth are under the tutelage of authentic religious sisters and brothers than was the case fifty years ago when the magnificent structure of Catholic education in this country was at its height.
In addition to that, we look with tremendous sorrow at the undreamed-of scandal of sexual abuse of our young people by priests and religious brothers. Only 2% of these men have been guilty of the crimes, but their malignant example spreads far beyond them. Every time I walk down a street in my clerical garb, I wonder how many of the people I pass are wondering to themselves if I am a child-molester. The crimes of the 2% damage the other 98% and have created an atmosphere of scandal, suspicion, anti-clericalism and even anti-religion. Much prayer is needed to rid the Church not only of the criminal element among our priests and religious, but also of the atmosphere that they have caused and are still causing. So we have much to pray for on this feast of Saint Aloysius, patron of youth. God grant that a new summer of brightness and fervor within the Church will begin as we begin the natural summer at this time in the month of June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.