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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Life of St. Francis Xavier

Francis arrived in Goa in May 1542 after sailing from Lisbon in a tedious and dangerous journeyed. He must have been a pitiful sight, for the clothes he brought with him were much too warm for the hot climate in India and were in tatters and tar-stained from the trip.

One of the great evils of the city, as far as Francis was concerned, was religious ignorance. After mornings with the sick and afternoons with inmates, he would spend the cooler early evenings by going through the streets of the city ringing a bell and crying out, “Faithful Christians, friends of Jesus Christ, send your sons and daughters and your slaves, both men and women, to learn about the faith for the love of God” This unusual approach was successful and as many as 300 often gathered.

His goal was to get the people’s attention and confidence first by living among them, and truly living in their way. At the same time he was also living as nearly as possible in the way of Him whose story they were hearing for the first time. This was the Francis’ basic principle: he insisted on it, he wrote it, preached it, begged it and commanded it to all his fellow Jesuits all over the Indian seas and islands for all the 10 years of his stormy, exhausting and incomparably successful apostolate. One can only recall the words of the other great missionary, St Paul, “I have made myself all things to all [people] in order to save at least some of them.”

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