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Saint Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier with mapThe holy Francis Xavier is recognized as one of the Church’s greatest missionaries. More than anything I see Xavier as a man with a great humanity who had an intense love for the Lord, His Church and for those given to him as friends. The Gospel only has a vitality if the minister reflects the tenderness of the Savior. It is the experience of the Lord’s gaze upon us that we can turn toward others. Hence, it was Xavier’s capacity to love and to work for his Lord that allowed him to be build the Body of Christ in Asia.

We know the story. Xavier was born near Pamplona, Spain, in 1506, the youngest child in a large family. While attending to studies at the University of Paris he met Ignatius of Loyola, who gave him the Exercises. Sensing the call to serve the Lord in a different way, he joined other early companions who became the first members of the Company of Jesus (the Society of Jesus, aka, the Jesuits). Xavier was ordained a priest and missioned to be first missionary to the East — coast of India.

Catholics were not doing well and things turned around with Xavier’s praying the Mass, the faithful administration of the sacraments, his preaching and teaching the faith. Xavier was renown for baptizing thousands. His missionary activity lasted for 11 years.

Georg Schurhammer’s three-volume biography of Francis Xavier is a wonderful gift to read. The intensity of his love is remarkable.

Martin Luther King, Jr and Saint Francis Xavier with the Church

Connecting people is a dangerous thing. It is even more perilous if you connect people from different centuries, places, ethnicities, religions and politics. I read this quote from Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968) that made me think of those like Saint Francis Xavier had some difficulty convincing the “powers that be” that their behaviors, policies and attitudes are incoherent with the Gospel and Christ’s Church. I am thinking of Bartholomew de las Casas, OP, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, OFS, Saint Katharine Drexel, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint Thomas More, Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, Servant of God Dorothy Day, Obl SB, Father Alexander Men and countless others.

What leads me to make this connect the dots? In his 1963 book, From his Sermons In Strength To Love, King stated, 
The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool. If the Church does not recapture it prophetic zeal it will become an irrelevant social club without morals or spiritual authority.
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Saint Francis Xavier

francisco javier detail.jpgO God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis
Xavier won many peoples to yourself, grant that the hearts of the faithful may
burn with the same zeal for the faith and that Holy Church may everywhere
rejoice in an abundance of offspring.

In Spanish he is known as Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta, from the Castillo de Javier, Navarra. The saint is known as Francis Xavier (1506-1552), canonized in 1622 and named patron of the missions.

Never satisfied with the status quo of living the faith and the rigid adherence of structuralism, Francis Xavier always knew that when faced with his own personal conversion and evangelization of those who had not heard of the saving name of Jesus Christ was the most important part of his life to remember. Ever since his first encounter with Saint Ignatius Francis knew what consistency of faith and the desires of the meant. Francis was the first Jesuit missionary sent by Ignatius opening a window of new world yet to be accepted as a grace, and not as a economic opportunity.

For the 500th anniversary Xavier’s birth in 2006, the John J. Burns Library at Boston College pulled together an exhibition to honor the saint.

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Saint Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier in glory.jpgToday, we take inspiration from the life and work of a great missionary of the Church in the person of Saint Francis Xavier. He got of the classroom and did something for Christ and the Church. Let’s take time today to pray for missionaries and a rejuvenation of the missionary work of the Church.

Xavier wrote…

Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg
that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of God, in all things
pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of
God; strengthened with all might according to the power of His glory, in all
patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to God the Father, who hath
made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light
who hath delivered us from the power of darkness
and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have
redemption through the His Blood, the remission of sins

(Epistle for the Last Sunday after Pentecost, Col. i, 9-14)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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