"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Saint Francis Xavier, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!"

Saint Francis Xavier, 
"Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!"

Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1562) was born in Spain in 1506. While studying the liberal arts at Paris, he became a follower of Ignatius Loyola. In 1537 he was ordained at Rome and there devoted himself to works of charity. Francis went to the Orient in 1541 where for ten years he tirelessly proclaimed the Gospel in India, the East Indies and Japan, and, through his preaching, brought many to believe and baptized over 40,000. He dined with head hunters, washed the sores of lepers in Venice, taught catechism to Indian children, baptizing 10,000 in a single month. He tolerated the most appalling conditions on long sea voyages, endured extreme heat and cold. Wherever he went he would seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He traveled thousands of miles, most on his bare feet, and he saw the greater part of the Far East. Had the gift of tongues and was known as a miracle worker, even raised some from the dead. He even calmed storms. It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 – 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many souls to Christianity. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He died at the age of 56 in the year 1552 near the China coast on the island of Sancian and was canonized a saint along with Saint Ignatius in 1622.

St. Francis Xavier - Procession 

Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel

"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.

This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like – even to India.

Source: The Liturgy of the Hours – Office of Readings

The Miracles of St Francis Xavier

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