The mystical dimension is part of the Society of Jesus, as evidenced by this Jesuit saint that we celebrate today
We are in the middle of the 16th century; During this period, the Castilian city of Segovia was undergoing significant industrial development, especially in the textile industry, and surely as a consequence of this, also a more than notable demographic increase, which placed Segovia as the third most important city in Castile after Valladolid. and Salamanca. The Jesuits Pedro Fabro and other companions of the order came to her with the intention of preaching a mission, deciding to stay at the house of Diego Rodríguez and María Gómez, merchants who were dedicated to the cloth business and who had eleven children. Finished the mission, this couple offered them their farm in the outskirts to rest and there they all went, taking with them little Alonso, who at that time would have been about 10 years old. This kind of retreat came in handy for the boy, because it helped him to receive a catechesis in preparation for his next first communion. Such an event would leave an impression on him that over time would be remembered with emotion.
When he was 14 years old, Alonso and an older brother left their father’s house to go to Alcalá to study at the school that the Jesuits had in this city. When his father passed away, things changed and her mother decided that Alonso would drop out of school and return home to help her manage the business, leaving the whole weight of it on him, when Alonso was 23 years old. Three years later he would marry a wealthy young woman named María Juárez. After a brief period of placidity, the storm broke out and Alonso saw how misfortunes hit him. In a short time he saw two children die, his wife and his mother also died, leaving him plunged into a deep crisis that barely let him live.
In this state of mind, without the strength to fight, he got rid of his business and went to live with his welcoming single sisters, taking his little son with him. During this time he gave himself to an intense pious exercise between prayers and penances, which led him to achieve notable progress in the spiritual life, as he himself explains to us in his Memoirs. He remained that way for six years, at the end of which he transferred his assets to his relatives, making the decision to leave Segovia to go to Valencia, with the intention of joining the Society of Jesus, but his wishes could not be fulfilled because the superiors of the order they understood that age, over forty years old, delicate health and lack of studies, were insurmountable impediments; however, they helped him get high so he could earn a living. After a period of time, without losing contact with the Jesuits who were following in his footsteps, the Provincial Fr reconsidered the case and came to the conclusion that “He had to be received into the Company so that he would be a saint in it and with his prayers and penances he would help and serve everyone.” So they let Alonso know, giving him the joy of his life.
The entry into the Company took place on January 31, 1571 with the taking of the habit, being transferred shortly after to the Colegio de Monte Sión in Palma de Mallorca, where shortly after he was appointed to take charge of the Porter’s lodge. In this position he would remain his whole life, working blow by blow his sanctification, which was exactly what he was looking for when he promised his vows and became a Jesuit. As his autobiographical memorial reveals to us, he had to endure temptations and tribulations, he had to fight like a titan, painfully modeling his spirit, until he achieved that high level of pure spirituality based on denying himself. For long periods, he also had to travel through extensive and arid deserts of desolation, devoid of spiritual consolation. Fr. Miguel Julián said of him “This brother is not a man, he is an angel. His life and his writings exude a mystical aroma”.
The disease, which was lurking, began to show its face in 1617, forcing him to stay in bed, from which he would never get up, dying in the midst of terrible suffering on October 31 of that same year, with the name of Jesus and Maria between her lips.
Reflection from the current context:
Currently there are those who continue to maintain that Jesuit spirituality feeds solely and exclusively on ascetic practices. Such an appreciation is more than doubtful and, of course, diminishes the charisma of the Society, reducing possibilities for the supernatural life that the Jesuits have always carefully cultivated. Without going any further, the life and writings of a Jesuit like Alonso Rodríguez, imbued with the Ignatian spirit, show us clearly that the Jesuit interior life is not exhausted in a pure ascetic aspiration. The reality seems to be quite another. The mystical dimension is part of the Society of Jesus, as evidenced by this Jesuit saint that we celebrate today.
S. Alonso Rodriguez. (More than a lay brother he looked like an angel)