Preach It, Father!

As we celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever seen, on Dec. 3, we are reminded once again to evangelize, as Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, explains in this excerpt from The 'One Thing' is Three, pgs. 158-160:

... Each one of us should say with St. Paul, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16). Indeed, each one of us should fight the temptation to narrow our hearts and think only of ourselves, our families, and our communities. Each one of us should ask God to give us hearts like the Heart of the Good Shepherd, who is restless for the lost sheep that are suffering outside the fold:

We cannot be content when we consider the millions of our brothers and sisters, who like us have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but who live in ignorance of the love of God. For each believer, as for the entire Church, the missionary task must remain foremost, for it concerns the eternal destiny of humanity.

In such a sad time as ours, when the mission of the Church ad gentes is still in decline, we do well to end this section by reflecting on the stirring testimony of one of the greatest missionaries of all time, the patron saint of foreign missions, St. Francis Xavier. As we read his testimony, let's reflect on why the Church's missionary task should be at the forefront of our minds and hearts:

We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. No Portuguese live here the country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God's Law.

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. I noticed among them persons of great intelligence. If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians.

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: There is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: "What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!"

I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.

This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God's will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like - even to India.

Let us ask St. Francis Xavier to pray that we may share his zeal for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world, beginning by bringing our own lives, minds, and hearts into alignment with the wisdom and love of God. Let us ask his intercession for the light of the Gospel to penetrate the darkness of the present time, and for peace, born of the truth lived in love, may break out everywhere.

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Father Dan Cambra, MIC, shares stories about St. Francis Xavier, one of his favorite saints. Check it out:


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