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St. Francis Xavier (December 3)

December 3, 2003

St. Francis Xavier, a noble young bookish Spaniard,
had dreams of making a name for himself in the world.
He’d grown up with a knowledge of his faith,
but it was in the background of his life…
until he met another young Spaniard at the university, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Ignatius recognized Francis’ God-given gifts
and was determined to put them to good use in God’s service.
Francis wasn’t particularly interested, but Ignatius persisted in kindness,
befriending Francis and repeating often the Scripture,

What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world,
but lose his soul?
-Mark 8:36.

Those words, together with Ignatius’ kindness and the circumstances God brought into Francis’ life,
finally sank in and lit the fire of faith that would take St. Francis Xavier across the Orient,
spreading the Good News with great joy, humility and persuasiveness.

St. Francis Xavier joined St. Ignatius
as one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits.
After his ordination to the priesthood, he was sent on a mission to Portuguese colonies in the East.
To make a long story shorter, he traveled extensively in the Orient,
reforming Christians who were living scandalously unchristian lives
and bringing the Good News of the Gospel to tens of thousands of native people
in India, Japan and the islands in between.
He set his sights on China, but died on an island just off the shore, still awaiting passage.
He had the gift of being understood in languages he had not studied
(although he learned the native languages whenever possible),
and performed many miracles (including raising the dead)
for the sake of demonstrating that God is the true God.
He wrote that on some days he had baptized and instructed so many converts
that he couldn’t lift his arm anymore and his voice was gone.
He suffered a great deal of persecution, including three times having his hut set afire
when he was still in it (!).
The church he established in Japan was so strong that it survived for 200 years underground
with no priests–which means they had no Mass, no Eucharist, no Sacramental Confession, no Last Rites!

St. Francis Xavier, Apostle to the East, pray for us,
that we might catch your zeal to spread the good news of God’s redeeming love
to everyone God brings into our lives.

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