Thoughts for the Feast of St Francis Xavier from Fr Willie Doyle

Death of St Francis Xavier
Death of St Francis Xavier

Xavier’s hour has come, the hour of his eternal reward and never-ending bliss. In a little hut, open on all sides to the biting blast, the great Apostle lies dying. Far from home and all that makes this life pleasant, far from the quiet of his own religious house, alone upon this barren isle, our Saint will yield his soul to God. What joy fills his heart now at the thought of the sacrifices he has made, the honours he has despised, the pleasures left behind. Happy sufferings! Happy penances! He thinks of what his life might have been, the life of a gay worldling, and in gratitude he lifts his eyes to thank his God for the graces given him. What matter now the hardships he has endured? All, all, are past, for now the sweet reward of heaven is inviting him to his eternal rest.

COMMENT: Today is the feast of St Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionary saints of all time. He was a good man, although proud and ambitious, when Ignatius met him at the University of Paris. Just like Fr Doyle, it was the experience of the Spiritual Exercises that inflamed his soul and set him on the path to sanctity.

Ultimately St Francis Xavier gave up all human comforts and friendships, leaving Europe behind forever to evangelise in the far east. How strange that land must have seemed, and how far away from everything that he knew. Yet it mattered not to Francis – his love for God spilled over into a love for souls and a passionate desire to bring them to Heaven. So too it was with Fr Doyle. He originally wanted to become a missionary in the Congo. He ended up as a missionary in the bloody trenches instead. If he survived that experience, he had resolved to offer himself as a missionary in a leper colony.

Today we no longer have to go to India or Japan to find mission territory – there are more than enough souls who have not yet properly heard the word of God in our own families and neighbourhoods and towns. Let us pray for a share in the missionary zeal and effectiveness of St Francis Xavier and of Fr Doyle. Let us also pray especially for Ireland, which has truly become a mission territory.

One thought on “Thoughts for the Feast of St Francis Xavier from Fr Willie Doyle

  1. G’day Pat from Down Under

    I’m with you on your response to the Irish bishop’s comment re the unlikely canonization of Fr Doyle.

    Your nine points were well reasoned and most logical. (Like to see your response if you had more time! Time I’m imagining is something you’re a little short of- how’s the new arrival settling in? She must be four months now.)

    I’d like to thank you for your kindness to my wife and myself when we visited Dalkey back in early August 2014. Appreciated you taking us on that great walk past Melrose to the top of the quarry.

    By the way, it does seem Fr Doyle is known widely: Where we went to Mass near Queens Park, London, I picked up a little 70 page booklet called ‘Fr Willie Doyle & World War I’ published by the Catholic Truth Society; In the Cathedral of Mary Magdalen in Vezelay, France the priest I went to confession to knew of him very well (he was from England and had been in Vezelay for over 30 years); It turns out my sister’s Italian husband has known of him for 20 years and prays for his intercession daily.

    Will certainly let you know if the favour I’m requesting is granted.

    Enjoyed the rest of our trip to England, France and Italy.

    Keep up the good work

    Vince Breen, Kiama, Australia.

    PS Downloaded the Irish TV RTE Player App on my iPad and watched Spirit Level. Very good. Everything worked fine at this end. It may have worked well because I’m in one of the areas in Australia which has the National Broadband Network connected to my home.

    Sent from my iPad


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