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December 3rd- St. Francis Xavier.

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Hagiography and Meditations

The Life of St Francis Xavier

Francis was of noble family, and was born in the castle of Xavier, in the diocese of Pampeluna, in the year of our Lord 1506. He was a companion of St. Ignatius at Paris, and one of his earliest disciples. Under his teaching, he learnt to become so wrapt in the contemplation of divine things, that he was sometimes lifted in ecstasy off the ground, which happened to him several times when he was saying Mass in public before large congregations. He earned these refreshments of the soul by the sharpest punishment of the body. He gave up the use not only of meat and wine, but also of wheaten bread; he lived on the vilest food, and ate only once every two or three days. He used an iron scourge till his blood ran freely; he shortened the hours of his rest, and lay only on the ground. The hardness and holiness of his life had made him meet to be called to be an Apostle, and when John III, King of Portugal, asked Pope Paul III to send to the Indies some members of the then new Society of Jesus, the Pontiff, by the advice of St. Ignatius, sent Francis to enter on that vast field of labour with the powers of Apostolic Nuncio. He arrived (in India on the 6th day of May, in the year 1542.) When he began his work, it seemed as though God Himself taught him the many and difficult languages of the natives. It even happened that when he preached in one language to a mixed congregation of different nationalities, each one heard him in his own tongue wherein he was born. He travelled over countless districts, always walking, and often bare-footed. He introduced the faith into Japan, and six other countries. In India he turned many hundred thousands to Christ, and regenerated many chiefs and kings in the holy font. And notwithstanding that he was doing all these great things for God's service, so deep was his lowliness that when he wrote to St. Ignatius, the General of the Society, he did so on his knees. God was pleased to support his zeal for spreading the Gospel with many and great miracles. He gave sight to a blind man. On one occasion the supply of fresh water failed when he was at sea, and five hundred sailors were in danger of perishing by thirst, but the servant of God, by the sign of the Cross, turned salt water into fresh, and they used it for a considerable time. Some of this water was also carried into different countries, and a great number of sick persons were instantaneously cured by it. He called several dead men to life, among whom was one who had been buried the day before, and who was disinterred by command of the saint; and likewise two others who were being carried to the grave, and whom he took by the hand and restored living to their parents. He had the spirit of prophecy, and foretold many things, remote both in place and time. Utterly worn out with his labours, he died full of good works in the island of San-Chan in the Canton River, (upon the 2nd day of December, in the year of our Lord 1552.) His body was buried in quick lime, and, being again taken up, was again buried in the same, but at the end of many months it was found entirely incorrupt, and sweet, and, when cut, blood flowed freely from it. From China it was carried to Malacca, and, as soon as it reached that place, a plague, which was raging there, ceased. At length, when he had become famous throughout the whole world for new and wonderful miracles, Gregory XV added his name to the

list of the Saints.

Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation.

We will meditate tomorrow upon St. Francis Xavier, and we shall see that he had; First, the zeal of the greatest among the apostles; Second, the virtues of the greatest among the anchorites. We will then make the resolution; to revive in ourselves zeal for the salvation of souls and for our own salvation; to practise, during the day, certain acts of humility and of real mortifica­tion. We will retain as our spiritual nosegay the two ejaculatory prayers of St. Francis Xavier: " O holy Trinity, O Jesus my love"

Meditation for the morning

Let us adore Our Saviour Jesus Christ , the author of all holiness. Let us thank Him for having given to His Church a saint so admirable as was St. Francis Xavier, an apostle who united in his person, to so great a degree, a life which was ex­teriorly so wonderfully laborious and interiorly so holy; Let us ask Him for a share in the double grace of this great saint.·

First Point

St. Francis Xavier Possessed the zeal of the greatest among the Apostles. ,

Appointed by his superior to the mission of the Indies, Xavier sets off immediately, and from the time of his arrival at Goa, he evangelizes the chil­dren, the sick in the hospitals, and the prisoners. They are converted, and the whole town follows their example. Thence he passes to other places, and performs the same miracles; traverses the Indies, uprooting idolatry, reforming morals, bringing over kings and peoples to the Gospel. He flies, like "the clouds from one place· to another; it might be said that the winds carry him on their wings. He crosses vast seas, full of rocks and of tempests; he visits desert islands and lands peopled by barbarians, where hunger and thirst, nakedness and persecutions await him, and a thousand perils of death; and in ten years he evangelizes more than three thousand leagues of country, converts fifty-two kingdoms, and bap­tizes more than a million idolaters.

His devo­tion to the glory of God and the salvation of souls knows no limits. He visits the sick, dresses and kisses their wounds, receives all the sinners with gentleness, and patiently bears all their obstinacy, he knows that souls are to be gained only through kindness. His life is hard and austere, he knows it is that which most touches the hardest hearts. After having thus taken the Gospel from Goa to the last of the nations of our hemisphere, Xavier turns towards the North, plans the conquest of China, then of Tartary, thence he proposes to re­turn to Europe by way of the North, in order to con­vert the heretics there and to reform their morals, then into Africa to seek new kingdoms to evan­gelize. Thus his great heart dilated in proportion as he extended the kingdom of Jesus Christ, with out his ever saying, ''It is enough." What apos­tle had ever greater zeal than this? And how far are we from imitating him? Have we even a single spark of that great fire by which he was consumed?

Second Point

St. Francis Xavier had the Virtues ef the Greatest among the Anchorites.

"It would-serve me nothing to convert the whole universe if I were to lose my own soul," he often said, and, consequently, he occupied himself before all things with his own salvation. Beginning this great work with humility, he was filled with the most humble sentiments of himself. Although surrounded by the veneration of a whole world which he had converted, although he was honoured with the gift of miracles, he esteemed himself to be nothing but a useless servant, a vile and contemptible creature, an abominable sinner, who, by his infidelities and his sins without number, placed an obstacle to the progress of the Gospel, spoiled the work of God, and made the intentions of the divine mercy towards the nations of no avail? He attributed his successes to a designof God, who willed to make His power to show forth by choosing, in order to perform the greatest prodi­gies, the most unsuitable of instruments.

He is so penetrated with the necessity for humility, above all in a minister of the Gospel, that on a certain occasion he, throwing himself, with tears, on the neck of one of his fellow priests, conjures him to despise himself and to despise the esteem of men. "O human esteem, what evil you have done and what evil you will do! It is through you that the preacher opens hell for him­ self, whilst he opens heaven to others." As mor­tified as he was humble, Xavier loves suffering in the same way as others love pleasure. From the time of his entrance upon his mission, God shows him all that he will suffer there. "Still more, Lord," he exclaims, "Still more" And in the course of his mission he walks with naked feet over burning sands, he has no other bed than the bare ground, no other relaxation in the midst of his fatigues than attendance upon the sick in the hospitals, no other food than the bread he begs for, he who often might have been seated at the tables of the great, no other clothing than poor garments.

More mortified still interiorly than he was exteriorly, he maintains always perfect tran­quillity of mind, an unalterable equality of tem­per, a sweet gaiety which renders intercourse with him delightful and in this mortification his hap­piness consists. ''Oh,·how stupid men are," he said, ''not to understand that by refusing to mor­tify their natural desires, their tastes, and their inclinations, they deprive themselves of the sweet­est pleasures of life." How shall we give expression to the greatness of faith and the ardor of love of this holy apostle? Filled with superhuman courage, he travels alone to unknown shores, amidst barbarous nations, in the midst of a thou­sand perils and a thousand obstacles, even to the courts of powerful sovereigns, where he is not afraid of preaching the truth and of condemning vice.· "The more human succour fails me," he wrote "the more I count upon the help of God, No danger affrights me, for God holds in His hand the tempests of the seas; rocks and abysses are subject to His power, the rage of enemies and of persecutors, as well as that of devils, is submis­sive to His guidance. Wherefore, then, should I fear man or the fury of the elements let loose? In the midst of the greatest dangers I am overwhelmed with joy, and I know of nothing sweeter in this world than to live in continual peril of death for the honour of, Jesus Christ and the good of souls."

And he who thus spoke had seen himself during three days and three nights, upon a plank, exposed to the mercy of the winds and the waves, and had fallen a hundred times into the hands of his enemies, who had subjected him to the most cruel torments. But when we love nothing costs us aught, and Xavier loved Jesus Christ to such a degree that often, not being able to bear the flames of charity which consumed him, he cried out : "Enough, Lord, enough!" His face was inflamed, his breast on fire, and from his heart burst forth, as though they were sparks, these burning words : "O Most Holy Trinity! O Jesus, my love"

Sometimes, when looking at the crucifix, he would burst into tears, break forth into sighs, and he would burn with the desire to give his Saviour life for life sometimes, beneath a beautiful, clear sky, sparkling with stars, in the silence and calmness of night, with both his hands crossed on his breast, he would rise to the most sublime contemplations; at other times he passed in presence of the Blessed Sacrament a portion of the night, overwhelmed with love; lastly, always, even in the midst of the difficul­ties of his immense ministry, he kept himself always recollected in God. May such beautiful examples confound without discouraging us, and may they lead us to enter upon a better life.

Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.

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