Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier, the great missionary saint of the Roman Catholic Church, was the son of Don John Giasso and Donna Maria d'Azpilqueta y Xavier; he was born at the castle Xavier, near Pamplona, Spain, on April 7, 1506, and is known to history by his mother's name.

At the age of eighteen he entered the University of Paris, where in due course he graduated, and then devoted himself to teaching. It was here that he became acquainted with Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits, who was then planning the colossal work which he afterwards accomplished. Xavier became one of the first nine of Loyola's converts, and the most enthusiastic of the little band. The date of the first vows by these early Jesuits was August 15, 1534, and the place as Montmartre near Paris. We also find Xavier at Venice with Loyola in 1537, where the visitation of a hospital for incurables was assigned to him. Here in the discharge of his duties he gave early evidence of his enthusiasm and self-devotion.

The Jesuits subsequently visited Rome, where John III of Portugal desired some of them for mission work in India.  Circumstances led to the selection of Xavier for the work. He left Rome in March 1540, and set sail on his 35th birthday April 7, 1541, for Goa, India— the chief city of the Portuguese possessions, where he arrived on May 6, 1542. From that time to the day of his death at Sancian, near Canton, on Dec. 22, 1552, he devoted himself to his work in a most heroic and devoted manner, visiting Travancore, Ceylon, Malacca, Japan, and other foreign lands with Cross in hand, and a burning zeal in his heart.

Xavier's life has been written by many hands. The roll of deeds which he is said to have done, and the miracles he is said to have wrought, even to the raising of the dead, is long  Many of the alleged facts are open to the gravest doubt, and others are beyond belief. The hymn associated with Xavier's name is, "O Deus ego amo Te, Nec amo Te ut salves me.” The hymn may possibly be his as it breathes his abnegation of self in every word, his spirit in every line.

O Deus, ego amo te,
Nec amo te, ut salves me,
Aut, quia non amantes te
Æterno punis igne.
Tu, tu, mi Jesu, totum me
Amplexus es in cruce;
Tuliste clavos, lanceam,
Multamque ignominiam,
Innumeros dolores,
Sudores, et angores,
Et mortem, et hæc propter me,
Ac pro me peccatore.
Cur igitur non amem te,
O Jesu amantissime,
Non, ut in cœlo salves me,
Aut ne æternum damnes me
Nec præmii ullius spe;
Sed sicut tu amasti me?
Sic amo et amabo te,
Solum quia Rex meus es,
Et solum, quia Deus es.

This hymn was translated by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

O GOD, I love thee, I love thee-
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails, and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu, so much in love with me?
Not for heaven's sake;
not to be out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.

Happy birthday Francis Xavier

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