New Sherwood

St. Francis Xavier on evangelism

StFrancisXavierBaptizing
As today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, one of the Church’s greatest missionaries, I thought perhaps we should let him instruct us on the basics of Catholic evangelism:

“In the space of one month I made Christians of more than ten thousand. This is the method I have followed. As soon as I arrived in any heathen village where they had sent for me to give baptism, I gave orders for all, men, women, and children, to be collected in one place. Then, beginning with the first elements of the Christian faith, I taught them there is one God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and at the same time, calling on The three divine Persons and One God, I made them each make three times the sign of the Cross; then, putting on a surplice, I began to recite in a loud voice and in their own language the form of general Confession, the Apostles’ Creed, the ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ave Maria, and the Salve Regina. Two years ago I translated all these prayers into the language of the country, and learned them by heart. I recited them so that all of every age and condition followed me in them. Then I began to explain shortly the articles of the Creed and the Ten Commandments in the language of the country.

Where the people appeared to me sufficiently instructed to receive baptism, I ordered them all to ask God’s pardon publicly for the sins of their past life, and to do this with a loud voice and in the presence of their neighbours still hostile to the Christian religion, in order to touch the hearts of the heathen and confirm the faith of the good. All the heathen are filled with admiration at the holiness of the law of God, and express the greatest shame at having lived so long in ignorance of the true God. They willingly hear about the mysteries and rules of the Christian religion, and treat me, poor sinner as I am, with the greatest respect. Many, however, put away from them with hardness of heart the truth which they well know. When I have done my instruction, I ask one by one all those who desire baptism if they believe without hesitation in each of the articles of the faith. All immediately, holding their arms in the form of the Cross, declare with one voice that they believe all entirely.

Then at last I baptize them in due form, and I give to each his name written on a ticket. After their baptism the new Christians go back to their houses and bring me their wives and families for baptism. When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done, witnessing the destruction of the idols by the very people who but lately adored them. In all the towns and villages I leave the Christian doctrine in writing in the language of the country, and I prescribe at the same time the manner in which it is to be taught in the morning and evening schools. When I have done all this in one place, I pass to another, and so on successively to the rest. In this way I go all round the country, bringing the natives into the fold of Jesus Christ, and the joy that I feel in this is far too great to be expressed in a letter, or even by word of mouth.”

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December 4, 2013 - Posted by | Catholic Faith, Catholicism

6 Comments »

  1. My favorite passage:

    “When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done, witnessing the destruction of the idols by the very people who but lately adored them.”

    :-)

    Comment by Blogmaster | December 4, 2013 | Reply

  2. Homerun! I’ve got your dialogue and openness right here: I open the dialogue by opening the Scriptures, and you complete the dialogue by saying Amen and Credo. ;)

    Comment by Codgitator (Cadgertator) | December 4, 2013 | Reply

  3. Beautiful, isn’t it?

    Comment by Blogmaster | December 4, 2013 | Reply

  4. There is one small bit in this account that might be easily overlooked. St. Francis Xavier begins by noting that these are people who “had sent for me to give baptism.” He wasn’t going into places that knew nothing about the Christian missionaries and then rounding up the “heathens” for instruction and baptism. These were places where the natives had heard of him or his fellow missionaries in some way left unmentioned, and *asked* him to come and baptize them. That is the context for all that follows in St. Francis’s account.

    Comment by Michelle | December 5, 2013 | Reply

  5. Actually, Michelle, I think the people who sent for him are more likely to have been colonial government officials. Those who still had to be taught the first elements of the Christian faith are not going to be asking for baptism. But either way, it’s beside the point if you have been following our previous discussions about Pope Francis and evangelism. The point is that true evangelism requires: 1) the teaching of orthodox doctrine; 2) a call to repentance; and 3) repudiation of false beliefs – all of which Pope Francis undermines in EG.

    Comment by Blogmaster | December 5, 2013 | Reply

  6. […] the following data reflect the fact that winter is not over yet, and that, more important, perhaps the “Old Evangelization” wasn’t so bad, after all. I have previously drawn attention to such trends, and I think the […]

    Pingback by It’s the oikonomia, stupid… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com | February 14, 2014 | Reply


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