03 December 2012

Monday of the First Week of Advent, Feast of St. Francis Xavier

Again, from The Liturgical Year:

From the Prophet Isaias.
Ch. i.

Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely, learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord. If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow; and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.

Today is the Feast of the great Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier.  Gueranger's entry is fascinating, focusing on the great miracles wrought by this Saint as he preached the Gospel to nations in darkness, and the flowering of sanctity within the Church in the wake of the Protestant revolution.  His words also bring solace, as the era in which he lived, and indeed, as he goes on to state, the time of Our Savior's birth, bear a marked resemblance to our own:

The life and apostolate of this wonderful man were a great triumph for our mother the holy Catholic Church; for St. Francis came just at a period when heresy, encouraged by false learning, by political intrigue, by covetousness, and by all the wicked passions of the human heart, seemed on the eve of victory.  Emboldened by all these, this enemy of God spoke, with the deepest contempt, of that ancient Church which rested on the promises of Jesus Christ; it declared that she was unworthy of the confidence of men, an dared even to call her the harlot of Babylon, as though the vices of her children could taint the purity of the mother.  God's time came at last, and He showed Himself in His power: the garden of the Church suddenly appeared rich in the most admirable fruits of sanctity.  Heroes and heroines issued from that apparent barrenness; and whilst the pretended reformers showed themselves to be the most wicked of men, two countries, Italy and Spain, gave to the world the most magnificent saints.

One of these is brought before us today, claiming our love and our praise.  The calendar of the liturgical year will present to us, from time to time, his contemporaries and his companions in divine grace and heroic sanctity.  The sixteenth century is, therefore, worthy of comparison which any other age of the Church.  The so-called reformers of those times gave little proof of their desire to convert infidel countries, when their only zeal was to bury Christianity beneath the ruin of her churches.  But at that very time, a society of apostles was offering itself to the Roman Pontiff, that he might send them to plant the true faith among people who were sitting in the thickest shades of death.  But, we repeat, not one of these holy men so closely imitated the first apostles as did Francis, the disciple of Ignatius.  He had all the marks and labours of an apostle: an immense world of people evangelized by his zeal, hundreds of thousands of infidels baptized by his indefatigable ministration, and miracles of every kind, which proved him, to the infidel, to be marked with the sign which they received who, living in the flesh, planted the Church, as the Church speaks in her liturgy.  So that, in the sixteenth century, the east received from the ever holy city of Rome an apostle, who, by his character and his works, resembled those earlier ones sent her by Jesus Himself.  May our Lord Jesus be for ever praised for having vindicated the honour of the Church, His bride, by raising up Francis Xavier, and giving to men, in this His servant, a representation of what the first apostles were, whom He sent to preach the Gospel when the whole world was pagan.

Gueranger later, in his prayer for the day, includes this reflection on the state of the world at the coming of the Messias:

Let us consider the wretched condition of the human race, at the time of Christ's coming into the world.  The diminution of truths is emphatically expressed by the little light which the earth enjoys at this season of the year.  The ancient traditions are gradually becoming extinct; the Creator is not acknowledged, even in the very work of His hands; everything has been made God, except the God who made all things.  This frightful pantheism produces the vilest immorality, both in society at large, and in individuals.  There are no rights acknowledged, save that of might.  Lust, avarice, and theft, are honoured by men in the gods of their altars.  There is no such thing as family, for divorce and infanticide are legalized; mankind is degraded by a general system of slavery; nations are being exterminated by endless wars.  The human race is in the last extreme of misery; and unless the hand that created it reform it, it must needs sink a prey to crime and bloodshed.  There are indeed some few just men still left upon the earth, and they struggle against the torrent of universal degradation; but they cannot save the world; the world despises them, and God will not accept their merits as a palliation of the hideous leprosy which covers the earth.  All flesh has corrupted its way, and is more guilty than even in the days of the deluge: and yet, a second destruction of the universe would but manifest anew the justice of God; it is time that a deluge of His divine mercy should flood the universe, and that He who made man, should come down and heal him.  Come then, O eternal Son of God! give life again to this dead body; heal all its wounds; purify it; let grace superabound where sin before abounded; and having converted the world to Thy holy law, Thou wilt have proved to all ages that Thou, who camest, wast in very truth the Word of the Father; for as none but a God could create the world, so none but the same omnipotent God could save it from satan and sin, and restore it to justice and holiness.

Sounds familiar, and we desperately need Christ's mercy.  Recall that he came first in humility, secondly in the secret of our hearts, but soon enough in power and justice.  Let that day not be a day of wrath to those who love Him.

Come, Lord Jesus!
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!

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