Thought for the Day – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
“A near perfect imitation of Christ”
Francis Xavier believed no one was more ill-equipped than he to take the gospel overseas. But he was wrong. En route from Lisbon to Goa, Francis already displayed the cheerfulness and generosity that would become the trademarks of his work. Through his personal charm, he made friends with the toughest seamen on the ship. Then he engaged them in “apostolic conversations,” seeking to win them for Christ.
But Miracles, occurred frequently in his evangelisation to poor villages. Once, while travelling through a pagan territory, Francis learned of a woman who had been in labour for three days and was probably near death. Midwives and sorcerers were treating her with superstitious incantations. Xavier went to the woman’s home and called on the name of Christ to heal her. “I began with the Creed,” he wrote to Ignatius, “which my companion translated into Tamil. By the mercy of God, the woman came to believe in the articles of faith. I asked whether she desired to become a Christian and she replied that she would most willingly become one. Then I read excerpts from the Gospels in that house where, I think, they were never heard before. I then baptised the woman.” As soon as Francis baptised the woman, she was healed and gave birth to a healthy baby.
The woman’s family was so touched by this divine intervention that they invited Francis to instruct and baptise all of them, including the newborn. News then travelled quickly throughout the village. A representative of the Raja, the overlord, gave the village elders clearance to allow Francis to proclaim Christ there. “First, I baptised the chief men of the place and their families,” he wrote, “and afterwards the rest of the people, young and old.”
In another village, crowds besieged Francis, begging him to pray for ailing family members. Missionary and teaching duties overwhelmed him, so he enlisted some enthusiastic children to minister to the sick. He sent the children to the homes of the ill and had them gather the family and neighbours. He trained them to proclaim the creed and to assure the sick that if they believed, they would be cured. Thus, Xavier not only responded to requests for prayer but he managed to spread Christian doctrine throughout the village. Because the sick and their families had faith, he said, “God has shown great mercy to them, healing them in both body and soul.” The children of the village had become little miracle workers.
In his passion for spreading the gospel, in his simple obedience, in his humble disregard for himself, the saint was a near perfect imitation of Christ!
Quote/s of the Day – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
“It is impossible to find a saint who did not take the “two P’s” seriously – Prayer and Penance.”
“I am in a country where all the niceties of life are lacking. But I am filled with many inner consolations. Indeed, I run the risk of crying my eyes out because of my tears of joy!”
“It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a one’s progress, nor the nature of the task but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”
“When trying to evangelise, no tool is more effective, than that of personal witness. …People can argue with points of doctrine but no-one can argue, with a personal testimony!”
“Prayer is powerful! It fills the earth with mercy, it makes the Divine clemency pass from generation to generation, right along the course of the centuries. wonderful works have been achieved. through prayer.”
“If you are in danger, if your hearts are confused, turn to Mary!”
Our Morning Offering – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
I Love Thee, God, I love Thee By St Francis Xavier Translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ (1844-1889)
I love Thee, God, I love Thee—
Not out of hope for heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach Thine arms out dying,
For my sake suffered nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death and this for me,
And Thou could see me sinning.
Then I, why should not I love Thee,
Jesu so much in love with me?
Not for heaven’s sake, not to be
Out of hell by loving Thee,
Not for any gains I see,
But just the way that Thou didst me
I do love and will love Thee.
What must I love Thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God.
Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552 – aged 46) – Priest, Missionary, co-Founder with St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and St Peter Faber (1506-1546) of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) – he was born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta on 7 April 1506 at Javier, Spanish Navarre, Basque region and died on 3 December 1552 at Sancian, China of a fever contracted on a mission journey. Patronages: African missions, black missions, foreign missions (proclaimed on 25 March 1904 by St Pope Pius X), missionaries, navigators, parish missions, plague epidemics, World Youth Day 2011, Australia, Borneo, Brunei, China, East Indies, India, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Apostleship of Prayer, Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Fathers of the Precious Blood, Missioners of the Precious Blood, University of Saint Francis Xavier, 6 cities, 16 dioceses. His body is incorrupt.
St Francis was a companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris, in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelisation work, most notably in India. He also was the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands and other areas. In those areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. Xavier was about to extend his missionary preaching to China when he died on Shangchuan Island.
He was Beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and Canonised by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. In 1624 he was made co-patron of Navarre. Known as the “Apostle of the Indies” and “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since Saint Paul. In 1927, Pope Pius XI published the decree “Apostolicorum in Missionibus” naming Saint Francis Xavier, along with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patron of all foreign missions. He is now co-patron saint of Navarre with San Fermin. The Day of Navarre (Día de Navarra) in Spain marks the anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier’s death, on 3 December 1552.
A young Spanish gentleman, in the dangerous days of the Reformation, was making a name for himself as a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris. He was aspiring, apparently, to a high dignity, until Saint Ignatius of Loyola decided to undertake the spiritual conquest of this ardent soul. What does it profit a man to gain the entire world, if he suffers the loss of his soul? Ignatius often repeated to the brilliant teacher. The words of Christ, joined to the example of Ignatius and his disciples, prevailed. It was not long before his gifted friend decided to labour for the glory of God, by adopting the evangelical life of an apostle, to which he was indeed called. He was among the first members of the Society of Jesus, those who with Ignatius made their religious vows in the church of Montmartre in Paris, on the feast of the Assumption in 1534.
On his way to Rome with the others, handicapped by severe penances he had imposed on himself, he remained in Venice and exercised a brief apostolate by caring for the sick in the city hospital. The others waited for him to regain his ability to walk. These first fervent Jesuits were intending to embark for the Holy Land but were prevented by a war. In Rome, Francis again went to a hospital to serve the sick and visited the prisons to encourage and console the poor inmates, while preparing for ordination with the others, according to the desire of the Pope.
Saint Ignatius having remained in Venice, the other five returned there afterwards. Francis was sent by Saint Ignatius to the Orient in 1534, where for twelve years he laboured unceasingly to win souls, sleeping only three hours a night, eating very little, and bearing the Gospel to Hindustan, to Malacca and as far as Japan. At all times thwarted by jealousy, covetousness and the carelessness of those who should have helped and encouraged him, he did not slacken in his apostolic endeavours despite opposition and the difficulties of every sort which he encountered.
Miracles accompanied him everywhere, he resurrected several who had died. His inexhaustible kindness was not the least of his assets in winning thousands of pagans to the Faith. He baptised so many that his arm became virtually disabled, ten thousand in a single month in the kingdom of Trevancor, where in the same space of time he saw to the building of forty-five churches. At Meliapour, site of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas, he found the marble on which the Apostle was sacrificed and which exuded blood the first time Mass was said upon it. Passing through various islands, cities and provinces of India, he strengthened his first conquests by additional preaching. He planted crosses in the public squares and overcame all obstacles.
Saint Francis is called Apostle of Japan as well as of India. There the pagan priests opposed and calumniated him and tried without success to outwit him in debates. Humiliated, they used subtle means to instil dislike for him in the minds of the court authorities. But he won the love as well as the respect of those he evangelised, blessing them with such miracles as filling the hitherto sterile sea of Cangoxima with inexhaustible reserves of fish. The vast kingdom of China appealed to his charity and he was resolved to risk his life to force an entry, when God took him to Himself. It was on 2 December 1552, that the Apostle of the Indies died on Sancian, an island facing the city of Canton in China, like Moses, in sight of the land of promise.
St Francis was first buried on a beach at Shangchuan Island, Taishan, Guangdong. His incorrupt body was taken from the island in February 1553 and was temporarily buried in St Paul’s church in Portuguese Malacca on 22 March 1553. An open grave in the church now marks the place of Xavier’s burial. Pereira came back from Goa, removed the corpse shortly after 15 April 1553 and moved it to his house. On 11 December 1553, Xavier’s body was shipped to Goa. The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on 2 December 1637. This casket, constructed by Goan silversmiths between 1636 and 1637, was an exemplary blend of Italian and Indian aesthetic sensibilities. There are 32 silver plates on all the four sides of the casket depicting different episodes from the life of the Saint. The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptise his converts, was detached by Superior General Claudio Acquaviva in 1614. It has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.
Our Morning Offering – 6 February – The Memorial of St Paul Miki S.J. & Companions – 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki
O God, I Love You By St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
O God, I Love You,
not simply to be saved,
and not because
those who fail to love You
will be punished with eternal fire.
You, You, my JESUS,
have all-embraced me,
on the cross.
You have borne the nails,
the lance, much ignominy,
numberless griefs, sweatings
and anguish and death,
and these on account of me
and for me, a sinner.
should I not love You,
O, most loving JESUS?
Not that in heaven
You shall save me,
nor lest for eternity
You shall condemn me;
not with the hope of any reward,
but as You have loved me,
so also will I love You,
only because You are my King,
and because You are my God.
For the sake of the joy which lay before him he endured the cross………….Heb 12:2
REFLECTION – I am in a country whee all the niceties of life are lacking.
But I am filled with many inner consolations. Indeed, I run the risk of crying my eyes out because of my tears of joy!…..St Francis Xavier (Saint of the Day)
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, grant me the inner consolation to possess spiritual joy in all circumstances, Let me be so united with You that I will joyfully bear with all tribulations. St Francis Xavier be my example and pray for me! Amen