Thursday, May 04, 2006

Saint Vincent de Paul

Vincent, was born in a town in Southwest France and was the son of poor French peasants. Today the town is called Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Landes, France.

When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school to study under the Franciscan friars.

After finishing his studies Vincent became a priest at the age of 20. He was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. But while he was traveling by sea from one city to another, he fell into the hands of Turkish pirates who sold him as a slave. Two years later after he was finally set free by one of his owners, who he converted to Christianity and he returned to France where he served as a parish priest.

One day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones.

Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor.

The charities of Saint Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much.

· He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships
· He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity
· He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people
· He collected large sums of money for poor areas
· He sent missionaries to many countries
· and he bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans

Even though he was such a charitable man, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace." "It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor."

Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. His feast day is September 27th.
O God, You gave St.Vincent de Paul apostolic virtues for the salvation of the poor and formation of the clergy. Grant that, endowed with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and act according to his teaching. Amen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Saint Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier was born in 1506 in Spain of noble parents He went to the University of Paris when he was eighteen, where he studied and taught Philosophy. Here he met St. Ignatius Loyola, who was about to start the Society of Jesus.

St. Ignatius tried to get Francis to join him and at first the happy-go-lucky young man just laughed. St. Ignatius repeated to him the words of Jesus in the Gospel: "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" At last, Francis saw clearly that he could use his talents to bring people to God and agreed to join the Jesuits.

When Francis was thirty-four, St. Ignatius sent him as a missionary to the East Indies. The king of Portugal wanted to give him presents to take along and a servant. Francis refused his kind offer and explained: "The best way to acquire true dignity is to wash one's own clothes and boil one's own pot."

During his travels as a missionary in Goa, India, Japan and other lands of the east, Francis converted thousands. He baptized so many people that he became too weak to raise his arms.

Francis' love for Jesus was so strong that he could not rest at the thought of so many people who had never heard the Gospel. He found that there were so many villages where there were Christians but no priest to say Mass or teach them their prayers and the Commandments of God's Law.

When he landed in India, he would go down the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. He would take them to a nearby Church and teach them Catechism and prayers. He made little lay apostles of them and invited them to spread the faith they had learned.

There was nothing St. Francis wouldn't do to help people. Once he faced a fierce band of robbers alone with no weapon but his crucifix. They backed up and did not attack his Christian tribes. He brought many bad-living Christians to repentance. His only "tools" were his gentle, polite ways and his prayers.

During his painful journeys and hard work, Francis was full of a special joy that came from God. He longed to get into China, into which no foreigner was permitted. At last, the arrangements were made, but he fell ill. He died almost alone in 1552 on an island off the Chinese coast when he was just forty-six-years-old. Today his body is preserved in a church in Goa. We remember Saint Francis Xavier on December 3rd.

O Lord, You won many peoples for Your Church through the preaching of St. Francis. Inspire the faithful today with the same zeal for spreading the Faith, so that everywhere the Church might rejoice in her many children. Amen.