Xavier & the New Evangelisation
Fr Neil Fryer, Fr Nicholas Pearce, Fr Denis Stanley EV and parishioners with the relic of St Francis Xavier at St Francis Xavier Church, Frankston.
Photo: Casamento Photography.
Originally published in Catholic Outlook November 2012
What can we learn from St Francis Xavier for our time, and for our situation in Australia in this period of the New Evangelisation? We should note, firstly, that Xavier too was engaged, to some extent, in the New Evangelisation.
In Europe, Francis and his fellow Jesuits were part of the renewal movements within the Catholic Church, seeking to enliven the Catholic faith in a time of Reformation and breakaway groups.
Part of his ministry in the East was to enliven the faith in people who had long been Christians, especially the Portuguese colonists and traders.
But his more properly missionary work also speaks to us. For what the New Evangelisation requires is what any evangelisation requires:
- Having a zeal for Christ: being on fire with a personal love for Christ and His Body, the Church, nourished by our contemplation of His face and His Word, and our reception of the sacraments;
- Going to the frontiers: more cultural than geographical for us - such as the new atheism, apathy towards the spiritual life and practice of the faith, the challenges of injustice, the culture of death;
- Being discerning - asking for knowledge of where and how Christ wishes me to be involved in His mission in the circumstances of my life;
- Embracing hardships - especially the less overt but more subtle denigration of our faith or indifference to it;
- Engaging with our culture - knowing the ways of thinking of our culture, discerning what is good and what is inauthentic, seeking to engage with it but always bringing Christ;
- Walking the talk: preaching by our lives and our genuine compassion for all, especially the most needy;
- Seeking always the Kingdom of God, and not our own gain.
Such lessons from the life of a great missionary about how to be an evangelist in our time and place will help us bear fruit as Xavier did.
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