December 3 -- St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier was born in Navarre in 1506 and died near the coast of China in 1552. He, along with St. Ignatius Loyola and six others made the famous vow of Montmartre in 1534. The Society of Jesus was born.
St. Francis did missions in Paris, Venice, Rome and Lisbon before being appointed by John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies. The long and dangerous voyage to India ended in Goa. He spent the first five months preaching to the sick and catechizing children.
During this time, St. Francis saw that his fellow Catholics were subverting the Faith by their bad example.
He sent the King a dire warning: Do your duty to God and your subjects by insuring that your orders are carried out. Punish those who do not fulfill their obligations. Otherwise, expect God judgment and the loss of souls. St. Francis was not PC.
In 1542, St. Francis made many trips to the southern coast and even to Ceylon. Christianity had been preached here but fervor was waning because of a lack of priests, cruel persecutions and the bad example of Portuguese soldiers.
For three hard years, St. Francis labored and reaped an abundant harvest. Then he went to Malacca, the Moluccas and Mindanao, an island near the Philippines and back to Malacca, all within two years.
And he did all this traveling by ship, cart or on foot. No jet planes. How? By his zeal and God’s grace!
In Malacca, St. Francis met a Japanese who aroused his desire to bring Christ to Japan. Within two years, St. Francis landed in Kagoshima, Japan. He spent the next two year and a half years studying Japanese and converting many souls.
Two trusted clergymen assumed the Japanese missions enabling St. Francis to return to Goa where now his new venture was conquering China for Christ. Within sight of the mainland of China on a small island, St. Francis breathed his last. His incredible apostolate lasted ten short years.
Many nations and vast seas did not daunt his zeal. God rewarded St. Francis by allowing him to perform stupendous miracles and to convert tens of thousands of souls. He has been called the greatest missionary since the Apostles.
Today, many Catholics have become PC. We must ask for zeal and courage to go against the grain. To love souls enough to risk being pushed aside for telling the Truth. This is hard, but if we pray to Our Lady, she will help us. She will give us the right words and approach. The salvation of a soul could be at stake. And it may be our own.
(Photo taken in Béthanie, Hong Kong, by Isaac Wong)