A Letter from St. Francis Xavier

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by the missionary St. Francis Xavier to his friend and founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola. Xavier was sent to the East by Ignatius as a missionary and would travel to India as well as Japan. Xavier was tasked with preaching the Gospel and is remembered as a patron saint of missions. This letter is an example of Xavier’s trust in God and zeal to spread the Good News. To learn more about Xavier’s travels, click here to view an interactive map.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 10.06.52 AMWe 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.

Patron Saints of Cooking

FF_SAINTS-ELIZABETH-250Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with family and friends to remember all that there is to be thankful for. It is also an opportunity to break bread over a home cooked meal. Unfortunately, sometimes the execution of said home cooked meal can be rather difficult. Between overcooked turkey, soggy stuffing, stale rolls and third degree burns it can feel like more trouble than it’s worth.

Fortunately, Loyola Press has assembled a list of saints with culinary patronages with enough holy men and women to help you get through any dinner disasters. There’s Saint Elizabeth of Hungary the patron of bakers, Saint Lawrence the patron of cooks and Saint Drogo the patron saint of coffee.

Also in a worst case scenario there’s always Saint Jude, patron of lost causes.

Did you know…?

Most Catholic schools, and especially Jesuit middle schools, high schools and universities, celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every school year. It is a tradition almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself, going back to the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily, in 1548.

Did you know…?

The Jesuits educated Descartes, Voltaire, Moliere, James Joyce, Peter Paul Rubens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Fidel Castro, Alfred Hitchcock, and Bill Clinton—not to mention Bing Crosby, Vince Lombardi, Robert Altman, Chris Farley, Salma Hayek, Al Roker, and Denzel Washington.

Source: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by Fr. James Martin, SJ