Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Feast of Saint John the Apostle (Goffine's Devout Instructions)


December 27

JOHN, the brother of Saint James the Greater, was a son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee, and of Salome, a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Matthew 4:21). He was the youngest of the apostles, and, with Peter and James, was the most trusted of the disciples of Jesus, by Whom he was most tenderly loved, on which account he is called the Disciple of Love. Of this Jesus gave the most convincing evidence when, at the Last Supper, He allowed that disciple to lean upon His breast, and when, from the cross, He committed to the care of John His own Mother. After the ascension John preached the Gospel in Palestine; afterwards went to Asia Minor, fixed his residence in Ephesus, and established many churches there. He was, with the other apostles, taken prisoner and scourged by the Jews, and in the year 95, under the Emperor Domitian, before the Latin Gate, at Rome, was thrown into a vessel of boiling oil. Having endured this torture without injury, he was then banished to the island of Patmos, where, by command of the Lord, he wrote the Apocalypse, or Revelation, concerning the fortunes of the Church. On returning from hIs banishment he again governed the churches of Asia Minor as chief pastor, as he had done before, and, at the age of nearly one hundred years, died at Ephesus a peaceful and natural death.

The Introit of the Mass reads: "In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth, and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and clothed him with a robe of glory. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most High." Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Amen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Mercifully illustrate Thy Church, O Lord, that, enlightened by the doctrines of Thy blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John, she may arrive at gifts everlasting. Through Christ our Lord, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 15:1-6

He that feareth God will do good: and he that possesseth justice shall lay hold on her, and she will meet him as an honorable mother, and will receive him as a wife married of a virgin. With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink; and she shall be made strong in him, and he shall not be moved; and she shall hold him fast, and he shall not be confounded; and she shall exalt him among his neighbors, and in the midst of the Church she shall open his mouth, and shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and shall clothe him with a robe of glory. She shall heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness, and our Lord God shall cause him to inherit an everlasting name.

On Purity

"He that loves wisdom," saith the Holy Ghost, "will obtain it, for it will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins" (Wisdom 1:4). Saint John was from his childhood an angel of purity, on which account he was particularly beloved by Jesus, and endowed by the Holy Ghost with such wisdom and knowledge that, as Saint Augustine has remarked, he begins his gospel in a manner more lofty and sublime than the other three evangelists. For while they walk with the God-man upon earth, speaking comparatively little of His divinity, Saint John, as if despising the world, soars beyond the vault of heaven, above the hosts of angels, and comes to Him by Whom all things are made, saying, "In the beginning was the Word." At the Last Supper he was permitted to lean on the bosom of Jesus, but what he there drank in secretly he imparted openly. Apply thyself, therefore, to purity of heart, and thou shalt be like Saint John, a beloved disciple of Jesus, and shalt be filled with heavenly wisdom.

Gospel: John 21:19-24

At that time Jesus said to Peter: Follow Me. Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on His breast at supper, and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray Thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou Me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but, So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
Goffine's Devout Instructions


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Saint Francis Xavier


Priest and Missionary


Saint Francis Xavier (also known as Apostle to the Far East) was born in 1506 Castle of Xavier, near Sanguesa, Navarre, Spain. He was a nobleman from the Basque region. He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and planned a career as a professor. He was a friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. Francis is one of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary.

In Goa, India, while waiting to take ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. It is said that he converted the entire city.

Francis was a tremendously successful missionary for ten years in India, the East Indies, and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000. His journey finds him dining with headhunters, washing sores of lepers in Venice, teaching catechism to Indian children, and baptizing 10,000 in a single month. He tolerated the most appalling conditions on long sea voyages, enduring extremes of heat and cold. Wherever he went, he would seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He traveled thousands of miles, mostly on his bare feet, and he saw the greater part of the Far East.

Saint Francis Xavier died of a fever contracted on a mission journey on December 2, 1552 at Sancian, China. His body is at the former Jesuit church in Goa, and his right arm at the church of Gesu in Rome, Italy.

Patronage 

African missions; diocese of Agartala, India; diocese of Ahmedabad, India; diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; black missions; archdiocese of Bombay, India; Borneo; archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa; China; diocese of Dinajpur, Bangladesh; East Indies; Fathers of the Precious Blood; foreign missions; Freising, Germany; Goa India; diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana; Japan; diocese of Joiliet, Illinois; diocese of Kabankalan, Philippines; diocese of Malindi, Kenya; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; missions, black; missions, foreign; missions, parish; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith 

Representation 

crucifix; preacher carrying a flaming heart; bell; globe; vessel; young bearded Jesuit in the company of Saint Ignatius Loyola; young bearded Jesuit with a torch, flame, cross and lily 

Quotations:

"It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a man's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken." -- Saint Francis Xavier 

We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. 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. 

I wish the university students would work as hard at converting these people 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!" -- Saint Francis Xavier from his letters to Saint Ignatius of Loyola
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