Archive for the ‘St. Francis Xavier’ Tag

Feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS (JANUARY 11, 1819-OCTOBER 4, 1867)

German-American Roman Catholic Priest

Alternative feast days = October 4 and October 12

Franz Xaver Seelos, born in Füssen, Bavaria, on January 11, 1819, devoted his adult life to the service of God.  His mother was Frances Schwarzenbach.  Our saint’s father was Mang Seelos, a parish sacristan and a textile merchant.  Seelos, named after St. Francis Xavier (1505-1552), received the sacrament of baptism on the day of his birth.  Our saint, confirmed on September 3, 1828, received his First Communion on April 2, 1830.  He, having discerned his priestly vocation while a boy, graduated from the Institute of St. Stephen, Augsburg, in 1839.  He continued his education at the University of Munich, where he studied theology and philosophy.  In 1842 Seelos graduated from the University of Munich and matriculated at St. Jerome Seminary, Dillengen an der Danau.

1842 was a year of turning points in the life of our saint.  He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) on November 22.  St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori had founded the order in 1732.  Seelos felt drawn to the order, due to its work with the abandoned, the poor, and immigrants.  He left the seminary on December 9, 1842, with the intention of ministering to German immigrants in the United States of America.

Seelos spent 1843-1867 in the United States.  He, having sailed on March 17, 1843, arrived in the New York City on April 29.  Seelos, ordained to the priesthood in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 22, 1844, ministered to German immigrants faithfully.  For nine years he served in St. Philomena Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  For six of those years he was the assistant to and spiritual student of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (1811-1860).  For three of those years Seelos was the local Redemptorist novice master.  At. St. Philomena Church our saint was a popular confessor in three languages (French, German, and English) and from many people from various backgrounds.

Our saint’s final thirteen years were full of faithful service, too.  Seelos served in Baltimore (1854-1857), Cumberland (1857-1862), and Annapolis (1862-1863), all in Maryland.  Along the way, in 1860, he avoided becoming the Bishop of Pittsburgh.  In 1863, Seelos, as the Superior of the Redemptorist seminary, persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to exempt seminarians from the military draft.  Later that year our saint lost his job, for alleged leniency.  Seelos spent 1863-1866 as an itinerant priest in states in the North, from New England to the Midwest.  In 1866-1867 our saint served in a German immigrant parish in New Orleans, Louisiana.  On October 4, 1867, he, aged 46 years, died of yellow fever.  Seelos had contracted the disease while ministering to people afflicted with it.

Pope John Paul II declared Seelos a Venerable then beatified him in 2000.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos,

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Peter Claver (September 9)   2 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCIS BORGIA (OCTOBER 28, 1510-SEPTEMBER 30, 1572)

“Second Founder of the Society of Jesus”

Also known as Francisco de Borja y Aragon

His feast transferred from September 30, October 3, and October 10

worked with

SAINT PETER FABER (APRIL 13, 1506-AUGUST 1, 1546)

Apostle of Germany, and Cofounder of the Society of Jesus

His feast transferred from August 1

taught

SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ (JULY 25, 1532-OCTOBER 31, 1617)

Spanish Jesuit Lay Brother

His feast transferred from October 31

counseled

SAINT PETER CLAVER (1580/1581-SEPTEMBER 8, 1654)

“Apostle to the Negroes”

His feast day = September 9

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One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That goal is germane to this post.

I began by taking notes about St. Peter Claver.  During that process I noticed the link to St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.  While I took notes on him, I saw the name of St. Peter Faber.  I took notes about him and noticed the link to St. Francis Borgia, so I added Borgia to the post too.

Above:  St. Francis Borgia, S.J.

Image in the Public Domain

St. Francis Borgia, born in Gandia, Valencia, Aragon, on October 28, 1510, was a nobleman.  He, related to Aragonese royalty, was a great-grandson of the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, who, in 1492, bribed his way into the Papacy and became Alexander VI.  Our saint, raised in the court of King Charles I of Spain/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, married Eleanor de Castro (d. 1546) in 1529.  The couple had eight children.  From 1539 to 1543 Borgia was the Viceroy of Catalonia.  Then, in 1543, he became the Duke of Gandia.

Borgia made his greatest contributors as a Jesuit.  He, a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), joined the Society of Jesus in 1548.  Three years later our saint became a priest.  His responsibilities increased as time passed.  Borgia had oversight of missions in the East Indies and the West Indies before become the superior in Spain in 1560.  Five years later Borgia became the Superior General of the order.  In a few years he revitalized the order and established missions in Peru, Florida, and elsewhere in the Spanish Empire in the Americas.  Our saint, convinced that Jesuits were working too much and praying too little, introduced the hour-long meditation.

Borgia died in Ferrara (now in Italy) on September 30, 1572, about a month prior to what would have been his sixty-second birthday.  Pope Gregory XV beatified him in 1624.  Pope Clement X canonized him in 1670.

Above:  St. Peter Faber

Image in the Public Domain

Borgia worked with St. Peter Faber, born in Villaret, Savoy, on April 13, 1506.  Faber, from a farm family, worked as a shepherd when he was young.  Our saint was devout from childhood; he even catechized other children when he was one.

Faber, educated at Saint-Barbe College, Paris, became a priest in 1534, the same year he and his friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founded the Society of Jesus.  Faber, also a friend of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), was an active participant–a preacher and theologian–in the Counter-Reformation.  He enabled St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), leader of the Counter-Reformation in Germany, to fulfill that function.

Faber, aged 40 years, died in Rome on August 1, 1546.  Toward the end he was too ill to attend the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and to become the Patriarch of Ethiopia.  Pope Leo XIII beatified Faber in 1872.  Pope Francis canonized our saint in 2013.

Faber prepared the 10-year-old St. Alphonsus Rodriguez for First Communion.

Above:  St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Image in the Public Domain

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, once a businessman, became a Jesuit lay brother and an influential spiritual advisor.  He, born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, was the third of eleven children of prosperous wool merchant Diego Rodriguez, who died when our saint was 15 years old.  That death ended the education of young Alphonsus by the Jesuits, for a time.  Our saint, back home, took over the family business.  Rodriguez married Maria Suarez when he was 26 years old.  The couple had three children, two of whom predeceased their mother.  Rodriguez buried his wife then his mother in his thirties.  Next he sold the business and moved in with his sisters, who helped to raise the young son and taught our saint prayerful meditation.

Rodriguez had a vocation to religious life.  After the death of his third (of three) child, he inquired about becoming a novice.  Our saint did not meet the educational requirement to become a novice.  Attempts to acquire that education ended in failure.  He could, however, become a lay brother and study with children.  After six months the order sent Rodriguez to the College of Montesión, Palma, Majorca/Mallorca.  There our saint was the porter for 46 years; he delivered packages, gave alms to the poor, and assisted travelers in search of lodging.  Rodriguez made his final vows in 1586/1587, when he was 54 years old.

Above:  St. Peter Claver

Image in the Public Domain

St. Peter Claver, born into a farming family in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, in 1580/1581, grew up and became a great missionary.  His parents sent him to Barcelona, to study under Jesuits.  The Jesuit influence rubbed of on Claver, who became a novice at Tarragona.  The order sent him to Palma, Majorca/Mallorca, where he was unsure about what his future should be.  St. Adolphus Rodriguez convinced the novice to ask to become a missionary to the New World.  Claver arrived in Cartagena (now in Colombia) in 1610.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez continued to live at Palma until he died, aged 87 years, on October 31, 1617.  He was 87 years old.  Pope Urban VIII declared Rodriguez a Venerable in 1626.  Pope Leo XII beatified him in 1825.

Claver spent the rest of his life in Cartagena, where he was the “Apostle to the Negroes.”  He was initially the assistant to Father Alphonsus de Sandoval, S.J., who ministered to recently arrived African slaves, still in slave pens, prior to auction.  Sandoval was a dedicated minister to slaves; Claver was more so.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1815, catechized and baptized more than 300,000 African slaves through 1650.  Against strong opposition from powerful people and much indifference from his superiors in Cartagena, Claver labored faithfully.  He could not end slavery, but he did what he could; he advocated for improved conditions on plantations, and succeeded.  Mostly he was present with and sympathetic to slaves.  Claver described himself as

the slave of the Negroes forever.

Claver, ill and unable to leave his room during the last four years of his life, endured the company of just one servant, who beat him frequently.  Our saint died in Cartagena on September 8, 1654.  Surprisingly, the Church gave him a grand funeral.

Pope Pius IX beatified Claver in 1851.

Pope Leo XIII canonized Claver and Rodriguez together in 1888.

Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, and Alphonsus Rodriguez enabled the productive ministry of St. Peter Claver.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH STEIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK AND MISSIONARY TO THE ALEUT

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MARY SUMNER, FOUNDRESS OF THE MOTHERS’ UNION

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Peter Faber, Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Saint Peter Claver,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 724

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Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gold Medal of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF CALCUTTA (AUGUST 26, 1910-SEPTEMBER 5, 1997)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity

Also known as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Alternative feast day = October 19

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We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

–St. Teresa of Calcutta, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 393

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Reactions and responses to St. Teresa of Calcutta prove that, regardless of how good one is and how much one helps others, especially the poor and other marginalized persons, one will have vocal critics.  This is not surprising, especially if one considers Jesus of Nazareth, sinless, and the subject of intense criticism for nearly 2000 years.  One, such as St. Teresa, who makes no pretense of perfection while following Christ can expect criticism also.  The servant is not greater than the master.

Our saint was a native of Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, perhaps soon to become the Republic of North Macedonia.  On August 26, 1910, however, Skopje was a city in the Ottoman Empire.  St. Teresa, an ethnic Albanian, grew up in a series of countries for a few years without leaving the city; borders shifted around her.  In 1918, however, Skopje became part of the new country of Yugoslavia.   Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the youngest child of Nikollé Bojaxhiu and Dranafile Bernai, grew up in a devout family.  Her parents had her baptized when she was one day old.  Her father died when she was eight years old.  Our saint, having read accounts of missionaries in the Bengal region of India, decided at a young age to become a missionary and a nun.

St. Teresa became a religious when she was 18 years old.  Agnes joined the Sisters of Loreto and resided at the abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland.  She studied English there.  The following year she arrived in India, as a missionary.  At first Agnes, still a novice, learned the Bengali language and taught at St. Teresa’s School, Darjeeling, in the southern Himalaya region.  Agnes made her first religious vows on May 24, 1931, becoming Teresa, after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.  When Sister Teresa made her final vows on May 14, 1937, she was a teacher in Calcutta.  Our saint taught in that school until she became the headmistress in 1944.

St. Teresa began her work living among and helping the poor in Calcutta in 1948.  She did this in obedience to a divine vocation she received during a train ride on September 10, 1946.  Over the years our saint founded institutions and spin-off orders of her original order, the Missionaries of Charity, founded with thirteen members in 1950.  She also became an Indian citizen.  St. Teresa and those who worked with her ministered to the poor, the homeless, the dying, lepers, the addicted, and victims of epidemics of natural disasters.  They started work in Calcutta then expanded around the world.

Eventually St. Teresa became famous internationally.  She received many honors, perhaps most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  She had a reputation as a living saint.  She lived up to it, venturing into war zones to rescue children and assisting victims of devastating earthquakes.  The staunch Roman Catholic, who opposed divorce, abortion, and artificial contraception, also attracted strong criticism from across the political spectrum.  Some critics were right-wing Hindu nationalist politicians.  Others were those sensitive to the global reputation of Calcutta, now renamed Kolkata.  There were also antitheists (to use Reza Aslan‘s term), such as Christopher Hitchens.  Criticism also came from other quarters.  St. Teresa’s death has not abated criticism of her and her orders.

The 87-year-old saint died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997.  The Indian Government gave her a state funeral, but not without controversy.  The Roman Catholic Church fast-tracked her path to full sainthood, declaring her a Venerable in 2002, a Blessed the following year, and a full saint in 2016.

St. Teresa is the patron of the Missionaries of Charity and, with St. Francis Xavier, a patron of the Diocese of Calcutta.

As for criticisms of St. Teresa, she was, like each of us, a flawed human being.  But would it be too much to ask that we, who have done far less good than she did, follow the advice of the novelist Alex Haley and “find the good and praise it”?

The orders St. Teresa founded continue to minister to vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNARDINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND THE ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola (July 31)   3 comments

Above:  St. Ignatius of Loyola, by Peter Paul Rubens

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA (1491-JULY 31, 1556)

Founder of the Society of Jesus

Born Iñigo López de Loyola

Iñigo López de Loyola, born in 1491, was the youngest of thirteen children of Beltran Yañez de Onêz y Loyola and Marina Saenz Licona y Balda.  The site of the birth of the Basque saint was the Castle of Loyola, Azpeitia, Giupuscoa, Kingdom of Castille.   His parents named him after St. Enecus/Innicus, the Abbot of Oño.  St. Ignatius, raised in a culture of chivalry, became a soldier.  At the siege of Pameluna a cannonball broke our saint’s right leg and injured the left one.  Surgery was primitive in Europe in 1521, and St. Ignatius’s tended recovery at the Castle of Loyola gave him much time and opportunity to read the life of Christ and the lives of various saints.

St. Ignatius’s reading led him to repent.  Chivalry and martial valor fell far short of the standards of Christ, he concluded.  Our saint, recovered and repentant, made a pilgrimage to Montserrat in time for the Feast of the Annunciation, 1522.  Then he spent a year in prayer and penance in solitude in a cave outside Manresa, near Barcelona.  From this period came the framework for The Spiritual Exercises, a guide for a 31-day-long retreat and a series of guided meditations for the purpose of discerning vocations.  Next St. Ignatius, intent on settling in the Holy Land, made a pilgrimage there in 1523, but had to return to Barcelona.

The next few years contained ups and downs for St. Ignatius.  He studied at the University of Barcelona from 1524 to 1526 then at the University of Alcala from 1526 to 1527.  At Alcala the Inquisition incarcerated the suspected heretic.  St. Ignatius also had trouble with the Inquisition at Salamanca (1527-1528).  Our saint completed academic work through a Master’s degree at the University of Paris (1528-1535), but was too ill to pursue a doctorate.  At Paris St. Ignatius became the nucleus of a community of ten men, who became the nucleus of the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1534.  St. Ignatius and these ten men became priests in 1537.  Pope Paul III approved the order on September 27, 1540.

The Society of Jesus began as a part of the Counter-Reformation.  St. Ignatius sought to reform the Church from within via sacraments and evangelism.  He, the first General of the order from 1541, commenced global missions immediately.  When St. Ignatius died in 1556, there were 100 Jesuits in 12 provinces.  Failing health forced St. Ignatius to retire in 1551, but he remained in charge until he died.  He founded the Roman College in 1551 and the German College, Rome, the following year.  St. Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556.  He was about 65 years old.

The legacy of St. Ignatius has been both direct and indirect.  Two of the saints he influenced were St. Peter Canisius and St. Francis Xavier, with their own great legacies.

Pope Paul V beatified St. Ignatius in 1609.  Pope Gregory XV canonized our saint in 1622.

St. Ignatius sought to find God in all things and to glorify God through all his deeds.  That was a noble quest.

It should be the quest of all people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, PHILANTHROPIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE OJIBWA NATION

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH DACRE CARLYLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, from whom all good things come:

You called Ignatius of Loyola to the service of your Divine Majesty and to find you in all things.

Inspired by his example and strengthened by his companionship,

may we labor without counting the cost and seek no reward other than knowing that we do your will;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 22:1-6

Psalm 34:1-8

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Luke 9:57-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 497

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This is post #1550 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Francis Xavier (December 3)   4 comments

st-francis-xavier

Above:  St. Francis Xavier

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER (APRIL 7, 1506-DECEMBER 3, 1552)

Roman Catholic Missionary to the Far East

St. Francis Xavier lived for about 46 years and 8 months.  During his adult life, according to estimates, he converted about 40,000 or perhaps about 70,000 or maybe more than a million people to Christianity.  He was, as John K. Ryan, author of the article on our saint in The Encyclopedia Britannica (1962),

the greatest missionary since St. Paul.

–Volume 11, page 759

Our saint, who devoted his life to God, came from a Basque noble family.  He, born at the Castle of Xavier, Navarre, on April 7, 1506, was the youngest of three sons of Juan de Jasso y Atondo (steward of the castle) and Dona Maria de Azpilcueta y Aznarez (of Navarrese nobility).  In 1526 our saint commenced his study of philosophy at the University of Paris.  For a few years, starting in 1528, St. Ignatius Loyola was among his roommates.  After Xavier graduated in 1530 he started his theological studies and became a professor of philosophy.  Four years later Loyola, Xavier, and five other men–close associates for years and the core of what became the Society of Jesus in 1540–took vows of poverty and chastity then made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  In 1537, at Venice, these men became priests.  Loyola dispatched Xavier to preach to the poor of Bologna in 1538.  Later our saint became Loyola’s secretary.

King Joao (John) III (the Pious) of Portugal (reigned 1521-1557) requested that the Church send six Jesuits to the far eastern part of the Portuguese Empire.  Loyola could send only two.  Among these was our saint, who took the place of a man who had fallen ill.  On May 6, 1541, Xavier and Martin Alfonso de Sousa, the governor of Goa, sailed from Lisbon.  They spent six months (August 1541-February 1542) in Mozambique then arrived in Goa on May 6, 1542.  Xavier carried with him credentials of his new position, papal legate for the Indies.  Holy Mother Church already had missionaries from various orders active in the region.  Our saint not only built on the foundations other had laid but also laid foundations on which others built.

At first Xavier focused on the needs of colonists at Goa.  He lived in a hospital, visited prisoners, preached to the poor, and catechized children, poor free adults, and slaves.  There was much work for him to do, for immorality, such as harsh treatment of slaves, was rampant.

Then, after five months, Sousa suggested that our saint commence evangelism among the Paravan people.  Xavier accepted and followed this advice.  Through the end of 1544 Xavier helped them build up and organize their defenses and to make peace with their enemies.  He also converted many of them to Christianity.  Furthermore, in December 1544 alone, our saint baptized 10,000 in the neighboring Kingdom of Travancore and arranged for others to teach them.

Xavier, as a missionary, did not remain in one place for long.  Sometimes he was in Goa, but usually he was elsewhere.  In 1545 our saint began to evangelize in the East Indies.  He remained there until 1548, when he began to make plans to engage in missionary work in Japan.  In 1547, while at Malacca, Xavier had met Anjiro, a Japanese man interested in Christianity.  Our saint sent Anjiro and two other Japanese men to Goa for preparation for baptism.  On August 15, 1549, Xavier, two other Jesuits, Anjiro, and the two other Japanese converts arrived at the island of Kyushu.  Xavier’s mission in Japan proved successful and ended in September 1551.

Xavier, the new Jesuit Provincial for India, intended to evangelize in China, where foreigners were forbidden.  Diplomatic complications delayed our saint’s attempts to enter the empire as a missionary.  Finally Xavier made plans to go anyway.  For three months he waited on Sancian Island, near the port of Canton, for a ship to take him into China.  In November 1552 Xavier became ill.  He died on this island on December 3, 1552, aged 46 years.

Pope Paul V beatified Xavier in  1619.  Pope Gregory XV canonized our saint three years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL FAITHFUL BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF GERARD MOULTRIE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Loving God, you called Francis Xavier to lead many in India and Japan

to know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer:

Bring us to the new life of glory promised to all who follow in the Way;

through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:1-11

Psalm 62:1-2, 6-9

1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Mark 16:15-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 99

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Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (November 13)   Leave a comment

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Above:  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI (JULY 15, 1850-DECEMBER 22, 1917)

Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Francesca Savierio Cabrini, born at Sant’Angelo, Lodigiano, Italy, on July 15, 1850, became a great champion of emigrants and immigrants.  She, the youngest of thirteen children, grew up on a farm and trained at a convent to become a teacher.  At the age of 18 years she tried to become a nun, but her health prevented that effort from succeeding.  Our saint taught at the House of Providence Orphanage for girls (closed in 1880) at Cadogono, Italy, for six years.  Finally, in 1877, she was able to take her monastic vows.  Three years later Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to the care of poor children in schools and hospitals.

Our saint aspired to become a missionary to Asia, as St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) had done.  Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) had another idea, however.  He sent her and six other members of the order to the United States, where an influx of Italian immigrants had led U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to request priests and religious from Italy.  Italian immigrants were a despised population for a set of reasons:

  1. Most of them were Roman Catholics.  The United States was a predominantly Protestant nation-state in which anti-Roman Catholicism was endemic and accepted.  In various states in the late 1800s Blaine Amendments to constitutions prohibited the granting of public funds to parochial schools.  The real target was Catholic schools, although the wording of the amendments applied to institutions of other denominations, ironically.  And in 1884, at a rally for James G. Blaine, the Republican presidential nominee, a Presbyterian minister stated that Blaine would save the United States from the Democrats, the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” a reference to, in order, alcohol, Roman Catholicism, and the Civil War.  Blaine was almost certainly unaware of that remark in real time, but his support for the failed federal constitutional Blaine Amendment that inspired state constitutional amendments made criticisms of him for being anti-Roman Catholic seem not unreasonable.
  2. Most of Italian immigrants were also poor.  They competed with others, including many native-born Americans, for low-paying jobs.  Economic insecurity has frequently contributed to opposition to immigration.
  3. They spoke Italian and needed to learn English.  This was easier for some than it was for others.  With the issue of language came the related issue of the culture the tongue from the old country carried.  This was a point of controversy with regard to more than one ethnic group (i.e, Danes, Norwegians, Germans, Swedes) in the United States in previous generations.  [Aside:  It remains one today, mostly with regard to Hispanics.  The other groups assimilated, as many Hispanics are doing.  This year, for example, I have heard news stories about politicians having to appeal to Hispanic voters who do not speak Spanish.]
  4. Nativism and xenophobia have never ceased to exist in the United States, a country of immigrants and descendants thereof, since the founding of the republic.  They have fed off the fact that immigration alters the country’s demographics, a reality that has proven frightening in the U.S.A. since the late 1700s.  This has been evident in, for example, the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), the existence of the American Party (1843-1856), and the federal immigration law of 1924.  [Aside:  One can find evidence of nativism and xenophobia in contemporary social media and politics in many nation-states quite easily in 2016.]

Cabrini and her six companions arrived in New York City in 1889.  Their first convent, if one could call it that, was a tenement unfit for human habitation.  Archbishop Michael Corrigan, who initially thought this mission to slum-dwelling immigrants unsafe for the women, ordered them to return to Italy.  Cabrini replied that Pope Leo XIII outranked him.  In time the archbishop an advocate for and benefactor of the sisters’ work among the slum-dwelling immigrants.  Cabrini remained in the United States for the rest of her life and became a naturalized citizen.  She died of malaria at Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917.  She was 67 years old.  Our saint was responsible for the existence of 67 institutions–schools, hospitals, and orphanages–in Europe, North America, and South America.

The Roman Catholic Church moved relatively rapidly to recognize Cabrini formally.  Pope Pius XI declared her a Venerable in 1937 and a Blessed the following year.  Then, in 1946, Pope Pius XII canonized her.

Cabrini is the patron of emigrants, immigrants, orphans, hospital administrators, and victims of malaria.  Her life invites to consider those who are vulnerable and those who are foreign to us.  They bear the image of God also, her life reminds us.  Will we act accordingly?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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God our Father,

you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy

to serve the immigrants of America.

By her example teach us concern for the stranger,

the sick, and the frustrated.

By her prayers help us to see Christ

in all the men and women we meet.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), page 1318

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Feast of St. Matteo Ricci (May 11)   2 comments

Image in the Public Domain

SAINT MATTEO RICCI (OCTOBER 7, 1552-MAY 11, 1610)

Roman Catholic Missionary to China

To say or write that we stand on the shoulders of giants has become cliched.  Yet often the sentiment is accurate.  Certainly it applies to many Chinese Christians and Christians of Chinese descent.  For, despite the best efforts of Chinese authorities from the 1700s forward to suppress Christianity, the faith has never died there.  And a giant of faith–St. Matteo Ricci–a saint on my Ecunemical Calendar–did much to establish the church there.

Ricci, born to Italian nobility in Macarata, studied law at Rome.  There, in 1571, our saint, against his father’s wishes, joined the Society of Jesus.  Ricci volunteered for missions in India in 1577.  He arrived in Goa the following year.

Ricci’s greatest work, however, was in China, where St. Francis Xavier had labored faithfully yet not successfully.  (As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.)  Yet, in 1583, Ricci arrived at Chowkingfu (near Canton), from where he worked as a missionary for about six years.  From 1589 to 1595 our saint served as a missionary based at Chaochow.  His next stations were Nan-changfu (until 1598) then Nanjing then Beijing (fro 1601).

Ricci’s life as a missionary in China was challenging, for how does one adapt properly to a different culture?  How to dress was a major issue.  Our saint learned to adopt the wardrobe of a Confucian scholar.  He and his fellow Jesuits in China adapted to Chinese culture, becoming fluent in Mandarin, mastering Chinese classics,and speaking with Chinese scholars–working from the top of society down.  The fact that Ricci had prisms, clocks, and geographical, astronomical, and musical knowledge impressed many Chinese elites greatly, opening doors for his mission.

So, despite challenges, Ricci and his fellow Jesuits were able to make inroads at Beijing, with the emperor and the imperial court.  Jesuit knowledge of astronomy made members of that order useful to the Son of Heaven, whose duties included maintaining an accurate calendar showing the locations of heavenly bodies.  They were more skilled at that difficult task than were the people attempting it.  And the emperor, coming under Christian influence, did not convert, but some courtiers and members of the imperial family did.

The Jesuit mission in China, by working within Chinese culture–a tactic appropriate in the Middle Kingdom–opened up China to Catholic missionaries.  And the Jesuit mission created a cultural exchange.  Not only did Jesuits learn much about China, but Chinese elites gained knowledge about the West, learning Euclidian geometry and seeing an clavichord, for example.  Ricci’s detailed volume about Chinese geography expanded knowledge about that subject in Western Europe also.

The saint died at Beijing on May 11, 1610.

Unfortunately, political pressures sabotaged the Jesuit mission in China.  Had the Jesuits accommodated to Chinese culture too much?   Some Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians thought so.  Their tactics of working among the common people instead alienated leading elements in China, making life more difficult for the Jesuits.  And Confucian opposition to Christianity, grounded in xenophobia, cultural misunderstanding, and doubts about major doctrines, encouraged the imperial suppression of Christianity which began in 1722.

I wonder what would have happened if more missionaries had done as Ricci did.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE FRANCISCANS

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Saint Matteo Ricci,

who made the good news known in China.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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