"Francis Xavier is at the origin of the nature of modern missionary that opened to new worlds and that asserted itself during the XV and XVI centuries", highlighted the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, during the Mass he presided on Saturday evening December 3 in the Roman church of Jesus, the feast of the Patron Saint of the Missions.
America had been discovered fourteen years before Francis Xavier was
born in 1506, and eight since the opening routes towards the East
Indies. "It was at the dawn of that century which led the Holy See to
take care of evangelization in the West, East and South of Europe" the
Cardinal recalled, even though, one has to wait until 1599, a few
decades after his death, to see the structure of the precursor of the
Congregation of Propaganda Fide.
"His letters, his relationships and his
gestures had been so prominent in Europe to force the Popes at the time
to show every attention not only in financing the apostolic missionary
journeys, but to assume the missionary initiative".
"Francis Xavier is certainly the man who was totally captured by the
grace of the Holy Spirit for mission", said Cardinal Filoni, but "today
the task of evangelizing is increasingly urgent in front of us".
Following the footsteps of Paul of Tarsus and Francis Xavier, an immense
crowd of missionaries in these centuries have succeeded in bringing the
Gospel to all the continents, and still today "the missionary challenge
motivates us to welcome, with intimate adhesion, the invitation of Pope
Francis in being a Church that goes forth, a missionary community that
always takes the initiative to reach all peoples". A challenge that
belongs to all the baptized, the task entrusted by the Risen Lord to his
Then the Prefect of the Missionary Congregation compared Francis Xavier,
"the great and extraordinary missionary traveler", Therese of the Child
Jesus, and Pauline Jaricot, the young founder of the secular Society of
the Propagation of the Faith, who, through the chain of the Rosary and
the collection of offerings among the workers of the factory where she
worked, made those young women participate in the missionary work.
"Three personalities, different and so much in love of the missionary
aspect – he highlighted -, zealous in spiritual and material support,
beset by the desire that Jesus Christ was brought, known and loved by
all men and all women".
In concluding his homily, Cardinal Filoni even pointed out that "the
missionary aspect of the Church brings joy in announcing the Gospel,
which is not a book of philosophy or edifying tales, but is the
encounter with Christ; the missionary essence is to bring, to encounter
Christ the Lord".