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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Memorial Saint Francis Xavier - December 3

Saint Francis Xavier
December 3

Saint Francis Xavier was born in the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa, in Navarre (now Spain) on April 7, 1506. He made his vow to the newly formed Society of Jesus in August 1534, receiving Holy Orders with St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1537. After his ordination Saint Francis Xavier was sent to the East Indies to begin his ministry of evangelization, becoming one of the greatest missionaries and evangelists of all time. During his life of ministry he also traveled, and preached in Malaysia, and Japan.

Wherever he went, he lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and meager accommodations, ministering to the sick, particularly the lepers. From one of his letters back to Saint Ignatius of Loyola we read, “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.”

Saint Francis Xavier had dreams of taking the gospel to China, but this plan was never realized, he died before reaching the mainland on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China on December 2, 1552.

The Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II remind us that every Christian is called to evangelize. To have just one ounce of the desire that Saint Francis Xavier had to spread the gospel or one ounce of the hunger for faith the children he taught had, would be a great gift indeed. Though we all cannot go on foreign missions, we are all called to go and preach to all nations let us start with our families this Advent Season.
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