My thoughts this morning are of children – simple thoughts really, for a number of reasons. We have finally (some would say swiftly) arrived at the calendar designation of the beginning of summer and I have been aware that this is the last week of school for the youth of New York State. Freed for the summer from the constraints of study, some are likely jubilant while others quickly become bored. I suggest prayer for young people in general that this season will afford them some new, safe adventures and good friends to companion them.
Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga who lived in the 16th century and died at the age of 23. An extraordinarily spiritual youth, he had a “spiritual opening” at the age of 7 years and was teaching catechism by the age of eleven! After a 4 year struggle with his father who was determined that his son join the military, Aloysius entered the Jesuit order. Soon after, in caring for those brothers sickened by plague, he contracted the disease and died. As I read about his early life, I thought of the children I have known as “different” or extraordinary – often the intellectually brilliant ones – who are not well accepted by their peers. Conformity is a much safer path to walk, especially in our younger years. I pray for those children and teens who wish for a simpler life but know a different calling, that they may accept themselves and others and come to celebrate their uniqueness as God’s gift.
Finally, I see pictures of the beautifully alive faces of the youngest members of my own extended family and pray for children everywhere that they may be granted loving parents or guardians like those I know their parents, my younger cousins, to be. May we learn from the young the lessons of spontaneity and wonder, of simplicity and joy and may they be a blessing to us in this season.