3rd December – St Francis Xavier

Today we had Jackie’s funeral – see blog of 1st December. Heartbreaking…

francisxavierToday’s saint is Francis Xavier (*1506 +1552) a co-patron of the foreign missions. He is remarkable for his zeal for God and the salvation of souls. This is evident in the following excerpt from a letter he wrote to his superior St Ignatius Loyola, founder  of the Jesuits. This zeal for the salvation of souls is much diminished in our times because we have taken Jesus’ narrow gate that leads to salvation and turned it into a wide gate for our own ease and (false) peace of mind.

How can we imitate St Francis Xavier? Well we can pray for the work of the missions. Secondly we can look to the mission of our own families and pray for those who are lapsed and witness our personal faith to them as best we can – like having crucifixes and holy pictures around our home. Is there any children in the extended family that we can pray with and bring to Sunday Mass?

We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. No Portuguese live here, the country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God’s Law.

I have not stopped since the day I arrived. I conscientiously made the rounds of the villages. I bathed in the sacred waters all the children who had not yet been baptized. This means that I have purified a very large number of children so young that, as the saying goes, they could not tell their right hand from their left. The older children would not let me say my Office or eat or sleep until I taught them one prayer or another. Then I began to understand: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I could not refuse so devout a request without failing in devotion myself. I taught them, first the confession of faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, then the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father and Hail Mary. I noticed among them persons of great intelligence. If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians.

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”  I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.