Saint Francis Xavier:
The Impact of His Evangelization
in the Building
Up of the Church in India and in the Far East -- A Critical Analysis
Archbishop Emeritus of Nagpur
Scholars and students of the world’s religions and wisdom traditions often suggest that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are like people who drive while looking through a rear view mirror! They suggest that we are so caught up in our pasts that we seldom if ever take time to imagine our futures. In some measure this is probably true of any and every religion and movement that is concerned with its history.
But perhaps there is another side to all of this. Perhaps it is in the Semitic traditions in particular that we experience that people who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. And so we insist that our younger members and people new to our traditions take time to learn our history, although we surely are dealing with the most ahistorical generation that the world may ever have seen. More and more we are invited to live for the moment and ignore long term consequences. Our television sitcoms both at home and those we import from abroad encourage this. The age of instant gratification is upon us.
This is why it is especially interesting and gratifying to be asked to deal with this historic topic today of the role of Saint Francis Xavier in bringing the Good News to
I want to begin by suggesting to you what I believe we as church are for today. That is what mission means. I hope to emphasize this role in particular in terms of
WHAT WE ARE FOR
It is interesting, if not downright frightening at times, to uncover the presumptions and assumptions about what we are for as a church, to say nothing of what individuals and congregations within our community are for. After Vatican Council II, numbers of institutions began a search for their particular charism, thinking that somehow that would give them direction for the future. In some cases that may have happened. Forty years after the conclusion of that council there are still many congregations “renewing” themselves.
Will you think me too simplistic if I suggest to you that Jesus has told us what we are for in no uncertain terms? In John’s gospel we have him saying, “I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” If we say that we are his followers, that our church exists to perpetuate in our time and place what he did in his, then are we not required to effect life, abundant life, for all of creation?
We are told that Jesus himself “went about doing good.” Is that not then also our mission, to go about doing good, to give witness to goodness, to work with and for all people of good will everywhere, to celebrate goodness wherever we find it? Yes, this may be simple, even too simple in the thoughts of many, but the bulk who think that this is easy have, in my experience, rarely or never tried to do so. It may be simple but it is not easy.
The scripture scholar, John Dominic Crossan, and other members of the Jesus Seminar in particular, have made clear to us that the bulk of Jesus’ teaching was to the truly destitute of his own people. These people no longer had even a plot of land on which to grow the few things that provided them with some kind of subsistence. They lived from hand to mouth as day labourers. It was to them that Jesus preached their dignity and worth before God and each other. The abundant life he called them to was immediate in Jesus’ understanding of a God who was Lover and Friend and not an Enforcer. Jesus preached a God whose nature was loving-kindness and whose purpose was justice and charity for all of the created order. 
Crossan tells us, for example, that the prayer for daily bread in what we call the Lord’s Prayer – Crossan says it ought to be called the Peasant’s Prayer for greater accuracy – is real. These people were starving, literally and metaphorically. Women and children were especially considered non-entities and perhaps that is why we have so many stories of their gravitating toward Jesus, someone who considered them anything but useless and expendable.
Made in the image and likeness of God, we, too, Jesus preached, are called to effect abundant life for all whom we encounter. The “increase and multiply” of Genesis is not simply about human reproduction but a call to us to be co-creators with God of a fruitful universe. Crossan and others remind us that Jesus was no country bumpkin and
Jesus could very likely have continued his preaching in the
This, then, is what we are for, to give our lives -- which today is often to give our time – to effect abundant life for all of creation, right here, right now. That includes an abundant religious life, but that is only one portion of the health of body, mind, and spirit to which the Jesus way of life calls us. While we do not live by bread alone, we surely do not live well without bread no matter our spiritual inclinations and insights.
If you are wondering now what this abundant life is today, you are following well my presentation. It is to that topic which I want to turn briefly before looking more closely at the life of St. Francis and what we can draw from it.
Abundant Life in the Third Millennium
During the Second Vatican Council, Doctor (Father) Francois Houtart, a Belgian, from the
Many of you will recognize the name of Doctor (Father) Stephen Fuchs, S.V.D., who has lived and worked in
Will I shock you if I tell you that sociological studies done in the
Sociologists themselves often laugh at themselves and say they tell people what they already know. In fact, sociologists confirm or deny prevalent ideas and among the most famous Catholic sociologists today is Doctor (Father) Andrew Greeley whom we know more for his novels than his sociology. He has, in fact, just completed a massive study which proves definitely that priests in the
I am not trying to belabour a point. I am trying to make clear that the bulk of us guess at what would constitute abundant life, perhaps not for ourselves but certainly for those for whom we are responsible in some way or other. We ignore the hard work of working with people on their own projects, helping them to get done with their lives what they want to do with them, rather than coming to them with our pre-packaged projects born out of our particular charisms, as if there were such a thing. Fortunately, we do have a world organization that has taken sociology seriously and can tell us what it is that people want and need, what in their eyes constitutes abundant life for them. I am referring to the United Nations Development Programme. 
Let me summarize for you what these reports say constitute abundant life for people today, right here, and right now. People want and need food, clothing, shelter, education that will make them and keep them employable, some leisure for reflection, a part in the decision making which affects their lives, and the latest findings indicate that cultural liberty is beginning to be a prime need for sustainable, integral human development.
I want to quote to you from the first page of the 2004 report:
Cultural liberty is a vital part of human development because being able to choose one’s identity—who one is—without losing the respect of others or being excluded from other choices is important in leading a full life. People want the freedom to practice their religion openly, to speak their language, to celebrate their ethnic or religious heritage without fear of ridicule or punishment or diminished opportunity. People want the freedom to participate in society without having to slip off their chosen cultural moorings. It is a simple idea, but profoundly unsettling.
The report goes on to explain that despite all appearances to the contrary this will not cause great chaos and confusion in our world but will, in fact, help resolve all kinds of current conflicts. Diversity is not to be feared but to be encouraged and applauded. This is why it is so unsettling to persons whose lives consist of “only way” or fundamentalist, literalist approaches to things political, social, and religious.
There is a regional report on
I want to move now to look at what we thought we were for at the time of St. Francis Xavier. In a word, we thought we were for “conversions”, or in the words of King John of
“Spices and Souls” 
It was on
This was indeed what we are told continued to motivate rulers like King John of Portugal almost half a century later to ask for Jesuits to work in India and other places in Asia. John is reported to have called these efforts the quest for “spices and souls”. European housewives had become enamored of pepper and
Spanish rulers had become enamored of gold and the western hemisphere offered that in abundance along with indigenous peoples galore who were to be brought to know Christ. But that is another story and outside the realm of this paper.
In general, it is probably fair to say that in addition to wanting “conversions”, the institutional church in the Sixteenth Century was about countering anything and everything that the Protestant reformers were for! The fact that a pope like Alexander VI had contributed enormously to this desire for reformation of the institution was going unnoticed by Catholics or if noticed spoken of only in whispers apart from the reformers who were shouting their concerns at every possible opportunity.
If we had lived at the time of Xavier would our concerns have been any different? I doubt it. Four hundred years after Xavier and the early Jesuits the battle cry of “outside the Church no salvation!” continued to be preached by the Boston Jesuit Leonard Feeney. The nuanced theology that had taken place since the Counter-Reformation with re-definitions of the church itself, insights about culpable and inculpable ignorance, baptism by water, blood, or desire, were either unknown or ignored by Father Feeney and his followers.
Indeed it was only in 1961 that Father Karl Rahner, S.J., proposed his idea of “anonymous Christianity”, which we are told sent some missionaries weeping from the room when he made these suggestions and proposed this approach to mission. Rahner was subsequently to admit the influence on his thinking along this line of the Swiss theologian Otto Karrer. One has only to read the Vorgrimmler  commentaries on Vatican Council II to come to grips with the huge debates over the possibilities that the religions of the world other than Catholicism could be genuine pathways to God.
Our Protestant brothers and sisters began as early as 1910 to examine in their meetings what they called the “only way” mentality in terms of things religious. Their efforts to identify the positive dimensions of traditions other than Christianity were thwarted by the rise of National Socialism in Germany when Christian scholars in that country insisted that anything but a united Christian front in terms of the uniqueness of its ethos would be the destruction of the religion in Germany if not universally.
We need to keep this “only way” conviction about Catholicism in mind as we look at Xavier in
Let me offer a reflection on proponents of the “only way” or literalist mentality in terms of religions or any other dimensions of human living including the political. When we are convinced of something, when some experience of ours has held us in good stead, when we are convinced that a stance we take is healthy, human, and humane, is it not a special gift to be joined by others who share our convictions? Is it not incredibly frustrating to be thwarted by others in terms of these genuine concerns of ours? Add to that the conviction that this is what God wants as revealed by God, and it is those who are not proponents of an “only way” especially religious whom the true believers call to an accounting.
Work done by Dr. James Fowler and his associates at
Living with ambiguity is hard for the most mature and mentally healthy among us. Working for win-win situations as they are now called, for conflict resolution, for conciliation is hard work especially in a world where change is rapid and where information sometimes overwhelms us. Bringing wisdom to these situations is no job for the faint-hearted.
Perhaps this is a point at which to remind ourselves that it is not only conservatives or traditionalists who are proponents of the “only way”. Many of those who think of themselves as liberal or progressive Catholics are surely narrow-minded about what we are for and are proponents of “my way or the highway”. This is the situation in the
To summarize where we have come so far – I have suggested to you that we Catholics are for the effecting of abundant life in our time and place even as Jesus was in his. I have suggested that we need to do this with all women and men of good will. I have explained what that abundant life is likely to be for the third millennium, namely, integral, sustainable human development and the stewardship of all creation. I have spelled out what I understand that to be in some detail. I have then suggested to you what the Church in the Sixteenth Century thought it was for in terms of abundant life and how much Xavier was a product of that thinking. It was that we existed to “save” souls or to “help” souls, but mostly the former. Life after this life was far more the preoccupation of Xavier and most missionaries of his era than anything this side of death. 
I now want to share with you what scholars say was Xavier’s method of saving or helping souls, and specifically how he did that. Then I want to look for the principles behind those works of his, which cannot really be separated from the principles which guided Xavier’s close and dear friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola. I then want to suggest what those methods and principles of Xavier do or do not offer us today in terms of the dialogue and proclamation in which we are to be involved if we are truly to be animators of abundant life
How Xavier got to
I want for now to pass over Xavier’s general background, coming to
For those who know his history with the Portuguese and with
Portuguese Jesuits did not fare too much better in Xavier’s estimation, especially those in
Xavier’s mission method was simple. He lived and worked in whatever hospital or poor house for incurables he could find as the earliest members of the company had done. He also had a little bell which he rang and did a kind of Pied Piper thing by using the equivalent of today’s rap artistry to teach prayers and the creed. He would ask the children to teach these to their parents as well. When he found someone who would say they believed the articles of the creed, their catechumenate was over and he baptized them. He usually then sent his converts out to destroy every Hindu image they could find and rejoiced when they did so.
Xavier was especially happy to be able to baptize dying babies, believing that he gave them a better life after death in doing so. He agonized over those who did not know Christ and vacillated between asking for help of Jesuits from the least intellectually capable among them to the most learned who were “wasting their time” in Europe in university discourses with all these souls in Asia needing them! Brodrick says he eventually changed his mind about wanting Jesuits who were strong of body but weak of mind.
Xavier wore a cassock that was almost falling off him. That would not change until
A contemporary Jesuit scholar does, however, suggest that Xavier offers the first instance of “dialogue” when he did enter into discussion with a Brahmin who helped him to understand that they, too, worship one God but keep this secret and make it available only to their special initiates, “lest the revenues of idolatry dry up”. Xavier was happy with their monogamy as well. The Brahmin wanted Xavier to baptize him but to keep it secret which the saint would not do. 
The people at large seemed to love Xavier. He returned that affection especially for the pearl fishers on
The legends about Xavier were rife even during his time including the special one about a crab which retrieved a crucifix dear to Francis when he threw it overboard to quell a storm at sea. While we have no evidence of this from Xavier himself, an alleged eye-witness came forth in Quilon with the story, when Xavier’s life was under investigation. However it was some sixty-seven years after the event itself, when the man involved was 90. Xavier at times seems to have been clairvoyant but one wonders if it were anything more than the intimations for weal or for woe that many of us experience in terms of those with whom we are in some way intimate. 
Xavier produced a catechism in Konkani, and eventually did the same in Malay. He actually did both of these rhythmically in catchy tunes and with episodes sometimes more connected with his memory of the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises than the gospels. He seems to have known the Exercises by heart. His biographers suggest that he sometimes played a bit with the actual materials to produce rhymes that would easily be remembered and they also lament that translations of these materials often appear in prose rather than poetry. 
On two occasions in Indian territories Xavier engaged in what we might today call power politics, asking the government to send armies to avenge slaughters by Moslems of people at
It was in Malacca that Xavier encountered his first Japanese person, a man named Anjiro. Xavier decided that all Japanese must be “civilized pagans”, unlike the Moslems or Hindus. Xavier paid little attention to the motivations for conversion of his pearl fishers or others among his Indian converts. However, he was told by Anjiro that the Japanese would need to have reasons for the faith which Xavier had and would need to see him “walking his talk”, as we would say today. Xavier was intrigued. Anjiro said if that were to happen, the Japanese would become Christians within six months of the arrival of Jesuits among them.
Anjiro’s inquiring mind delighted Xavier, perhaps reminiscent of his own university days and his professorship. Xavier answered Anjiro’s queries and the man was delighted by seeing Xavier in action with the poorest of the poor and living the gospel in other ways. He asked for baptism but Xavier determined to delay Anjiro’s request until it could take place publicly by the Bishop of Goa, a Franciscan for whom Xavier had great respect.
Francis thought that Anjiro’s conversion had major implications for an all out mission to
Francis returned as often as he could to the locations in
His orders to these Jesuits were clear: educate the children, the boys in particular, by teaching them their prayers and catechism; provide whatever other education is possible especially with the hopes of producing an indigenous clergy; baptize all babies in danger of death so that they might have eternal life; feel free to baptize without any real ceremony; have the men pray in the morning and the women at night; care for these converts and do not allow the venality and greed of their Portuguese overlords to destroy them.
Both Fathers Schurhammer and Brodrick traveled to the actual places Francis visited during his time in
We look now at Francis in
Francis spent an additional sixteen months in
In addition to the advice quoted above Xavier told his Jesuit priests to “preach gently” and never reprimand in public persons in positions of authority. He did suggest using the confessional to ask pointed questions like where did these notables get their money and did they possess anything which wasn’t really theirs to keep. He said that the best penances would be those that did not involve any kind of public humiliation but which required service in hospitals or prison visitors especially in conjunction with the Confraternity of Mercy.
Anjiro, now called Paul of the Faith, and two of his Japanese companions were to accompany Xavier to
I will skip the hazardous journey to reach
Xavier was delighted at the great universities and began plans for exchanging professorships with the European universities with which he was familiar. He was also intrigued with the “politeness toward possibilities” which marked his discourses concerning religion with the literati of
Brother Alexander who was Xavier’s companion did master basic Japanese after two years of study. Anjiro tried to be what help he could but Catholic theology was difficult for him to understand much less to translate. He mistakenly told Xavier that Dianichi was identical to Deus so Xavier adopted this name for God and it was only about two years later near the end of his stay that Xavier learned it means something like Aristotle’s prime matter! But Brodrick assures us from other testimony that Xavier’s “presence, face, character, obvious sanctity, preached for him.” 
Francis and his companions were amazed at the Japanese fastidiousness in terms of cleanliness and table manners. Their stay at Kagamuchi resulted in a few converts but Xavier was keen to meet the emperor thinking that his conversion would mean that of all of
Denied access to a famous shrine near
In great pomp and circumstance with many gifts provided by his friend Pedro da Silva Francis was received and given permission to preach. He and his companions continued to do so although the anticipated mass conversions did not happen. Through interpreters, especially Brother Alexander, Francis preached again sodomy, abortion, infanticide, and denounced the marriages of Buddhist priests allowed by the Amida Buddha sect. Out of deference to the Buddhists, Francis would eat not even fish except on rare occasions.
The “true” Buddhists, for whom the Amida sect was a horror, were happy with Francis’ denouncing of them. But a major stumbling block for all of the Japanese was that Francis would not consider any kind of reincarnation. Condemning individuals to heaven or to hell on the basis of just one lifetime struck the Japanese as lacking in any kind of mercy on the part of divinity.
Xavier did make converts and they were incredibly steadfast, many of them still practicing that with which they had been left by Xavier years afterwards when Jesuits and others finally arrived to take up more permanent residence. One of these was Mary of Yamaguchi who died at the age of 84 and is celebrated today among Japanese Christians. 
Xavier would travel miles when he heard of a Portuguese vessel in any proximity to him, always hoping for news from Ignatius or from the Jesuits in
It was on
It was here on this island to which Xavier would return that he had a “eureka” moment, as it were. He knew by then that the Japanese followed the Chinese in all that they could thinking them the civilization to be admired and imitated. Convert
I have dealt perhaps too quickly with Xavier in
Little is known of the eventual fate of Xavier’s beloved Anjiro, a married layman. He may have been martyred. It seems more likely that he became a pirate to keep body and soul together, an acceptable practice at this time, and was drowned in the course of this work.
Francis arrived in
Xavier actually arrived in
Xavier’s letters from this period are filled with practical advice about paying one’s own debts before sending money to other mission stations but he wants the needs of those stations kept in mind. He asks for collaboration with the Dominicans, Franciscans, and secular clergy, and with the politicians so long as no scandal of any sort is given. He does suggest that two slaves be purchased to assist the brother who is gardener at
Superiors in general, but especially the Dutch Father Breze who is to become rector of the College and Francis’ heir in India, are asked to deal with their Jesuit subjects with love and kindness unless they see these as weaknesses and try to take advantage of Breze. Then he is to deal with them with all severity. With all Indians the fathers and brothers are to act with “gentle persuasion but nothing by force”. Xavier says that in
In terms of difficulties in marriages, “both parties are always to blame but in different measure”. The spiritual direction of women is to be avoided.
Francis also wanted the jubilee year benefits of 1550 which was to last two years in
Meanwhile the Portuguese captains were gathering the silks and other gorgeous items which Francis intended to take with him to
We know now that Francis got as close to
Xavier fell ill on November 21st. The Portuguese ship’s captain who had refused to go to China, provided Xavier with some food, but a local merchant, Diogo Vaz took him into his home and cared for him as much as possible, including having him bled but all to no avail. Xavier died at about on
Fearing what had happened, the captain of the Portuguese vessel who had refused to take Xavier to
When the body was finally returned to
Xavier was almost forty-seven years old at the time of his death. It remains to be seen what inspired these heroic efforts of his and what if anything in them offers us today direction in “helping souls”, which is in our day probably best understood as the peace and happiness of ourselves and of all our brothers and sisters, or what I have suggested in the first pages of this work is sustainable, integral human development.
“Good enough. I’m ready....”
Several of his biographers report this as the English equivalent of Xavier’s response to Ignatius when he was asked on the spur of the moment to replace a sick comrade destined for
Based on his own experiences, Ignatius wanted others to do the same to unleash the individual’s unique potential in service of God and of all others. He saw the director of this process as one who points the retreatant to possibilities but knows full well that only the individual involved can bring personal insights to bear to make essential changes. Ignatius held out the Exercises as the way to achieve self-awareness, ingenuity, heroism, and indeed love, although self-awareness and ingenuity were probably not in his vocabulary. To know oneself, Ignatius presents a real, formidable Satan to the retreatant. While today, many of us would think of the devil as a metaphor, Ignatius wants us to rid ourselves of the “devil made me do it” mentality. It is not addictions, nor an unloving childhood, nor anything in our lives that can be used as a crutch. If we choose to be otherwise, with God’s help we can. Xavier was asked to make an inventory of weaknesses so that they could be overcome and so that they would not hamper him from being what he wanted to be or doing what he wanted to do to “help souls”.
The Exercises are also a means to achieve indifference which Ignatius deemed essential if imagination and creativity were to be welcomed and lived. He is aiming for what a later scholar of religion will call “attached detachment and detached attachment”, viz., if you cannot live well without someone or something, you cannot live well with them.  Ignatius wanted the men of his company to be free from prejudices and inordinate attachments. Nothing else would give them the freedom and flexibility to function he believed they needed.
Another major experience of the Exercises was what Jesuits did and do call magis. It meant a constant search for “more”, for a “better way to accomplish a greater good”. Ignatius’ goal was to “conquer the whole land of the infidels”, and this could only happen with a kind of divine discontent in the hearts of his company. So after massive introspection at the beginning of the Exercises, the retreatant is catapulted back into the world with the Contemplation on Divine Love. Real love “ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words”. When we looked at his life, we saw how much this figured in the life and activities of Xavier. 
So, the retreatant comes to know himself, abandons prejudices, understands the need for indifference, determines not to be ever satisfied with his efforts and always seeks different ways to better purposes, with the over-riding purpose of helping souls. Combine this with Jesuit obedience, to the Holy Father and to the Jesuit General, and this kind of man can be sent anywhere in the global organization which Ignatius envisioned as the structure of the society.
Ignatius required something else, a pilgrimage in which the Jesuit was to do what Ignatius himself had done, travel to an unknown part of the world, beg for his food, and find his own shelter. It was aimed to teach the man self-reliance in a way that not much else could and also to confirm that he had “nowhere to lay his head”.
There was a follow-up to this thirty-day retreat experience and the pilgrimage which Lowney and others suggest is a brilliant way to keep the dynamic going, a spiritual “pit stop” three times each day for brief periods of time. On arising the Jesuit reminds himself of what he is for. At mid-day he examines what he has done to make that goal a reality, and before retiring he does the same thing. It is called the “examen”.
Along with this the Jesuit was to embrace the best of any “secular” learning that was possible to him and for him, and all of this because “nothing human is foreign to me”, and because the love of God courses through all that is.
Although sent to
But what else did Ignatius do that Xavier built on? Prayer in common in the monastic tradition was jettisoned. Ignatius insisted on embracing the world rather than retreating from it as had been the case since the time of Anthony of Egypt. Jesuits were to pray on the run as it were and Ignatius once chastised one of his closest associates, Father Nadal, when he learned that Nadal had given Spanish Jesuits leave to spend an hour and a half in prayer each day. If a man could not be recollected in a quarter of an hour the society was not for him, Father Nadal was advised. Unlike the Benedictines who up until Ignatius’ time were really considered the models for religious life, Ignatius said that “stability” was not to be found in monastic enclosures but in oneself. True enough, Franciscans and Dominicans were expected to go out to the people but they were still tethered to monasteries. Ignatius thought that neither the Dominican nor Franciscan management modes provided persons fully engaged in field work to help souls. He wanted his company free to do whatever helped souls but to avoid anything that limited their flexibility to do so. 
Ignatius trained every member of the company to be a leader because he was convinced that they all would lead in some areas of their lives, e.g., the lay brother at St. Paul’s who would “lead” two slave helpers in the care of the college’s garden. There was leadership potential, God was present in, every conversation the Jesuit had no matter with whom, every walk he took, everything and anything he saw, tasted, heard.
What I have just mentioned above was the Jesuit vision on paper as it were. Xavier became the lived reality of that vision. His peripatetic life style became the norm for Jesuit mission everywhere, not just in
Xavier’s letters were the mission pot-boilers of his day. They were eagerly awaited and poured over by all Jesuits including those who would follow his method in North and
It would be left to Matteo Ricci in
The successors of Ignatius were often not the men of vision and valour that the founder was. Their risk taking and flexibility began to diminish as Jesuit missions and especially their schools flourished financially. They were suppressed in 1773 partly out of jealousy of their successes and partly out of some stupidity on their own part. But no fewer than 46 of them became diocesan bishops as a result of that suppression, another fluke, or perhaps God’s providence? John Carroll of
Self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism were at the heart of Francis’ efforts. He did build up the church in
I have suggested to you that our mission mandate is from Jesus himself, the effecting of abundant life for every human being which includes the created order without which abundant human life is impossible. I have also told you at some length what we know about sustainable, integral human development which abundant life is in today’s language. I have suggested to you that whether or work is within the institution or to those who are not members of it, our goals are one and the same. Those within the institution must make the larger world mission possible.
Let me make very clear to you that early on the message about abundant life was given a spiritual dimension and connotation that was far from the intention of the Jewish Jesus. The abundant life he wanted was right here, right now, and this side of death. His was a “heaven” on earth, and heaven was a Jewish circumlocution for “God”, for the palpable life of God alive and well among the Jewish people. Anything that oppressed human beings, anything that was inhumane was not of God nor was it wanted by God in Jesus’ scheme of things of his beloved Abba. Life after life will take care of itself when we take care of life this side of death.
If we are going to make abundant life happen today that means we Catholics must position ourselves as one player in global efforts to bring to an end anything and everything that betrays human dignity. This is where Ignatius and Xavier offer us role models, not precisely in what they did, but the spirit with which they did it. Let me cite what I see in Xavier that will hold us in good stead.
The man was incredibly optimistic. There is no indication that in the most dire circumstances the man despaired. He almost seems to have done so in terms of the Portuguese rulers and some of his Portuguese Jesuit colleagues but he was constantly trying to find ways for them to “shape up”, to use their talents more effectively, and to abandon their weaknesses. There was nothing of the fatalist about him. (For years I have thought that if conversions are needed in
Xavier’s heroism sought to make the future happen rather than passively endure what enfolds. You have heard me say time and time again that in
Eventually he took time to understand the world view of the Brahmins and of the Japanese Buddhists. Father Francis Xavier Clooney whom I cited earlier claims that Xavier is actually the pioneer of dialogue and a model for all who would engage in it today especially in terms of things inter-religious and inter-ideological. He also reminds us that as Xavier “let go” of his dirty cassock to make dialogue possible with his beloved Japanese, that we, too, must think of letting go, perhaps even of our “Catholic-speak”, where we talk in a language unintelligible to many of our co-religionists as well as to those who are not. Remember Xavier’s preaching about Dianichi? Misguided though it turned out to be, the effort was sound. 
Xavier embraced and adapted to a changing world and did not flee from it. The discoveries of the Portuguese and Spanish were opening vistas that had not happened for the five hundred years preceding Xavier. He sought to understand the potential in the change and use it, thus the printing press in
And Francis failed. I have mentioned Archbishop Goodier’s report on these failures from our present hindsight, and the article is well worth reviewing. But I see in Xavier a relentless quest for truth, a daring, single-minded loving approach to life, a person who learned to listen, and to act on what he learned from that listening. Lowney tells us that Francis acted without a script. Are we doing the same when we come to others, including our own people with our pre-packaged programmes, thinking that we know what they need no matter what it is that they themselves need and want?
And what of those in our own country who come to do “mission” work with their script in hand, determining that it is their way that is right and true and good and if others do not embrace that “only way”, they are today’s infidels? I think Francis himself learned to be more generous than that.
It is Francis’s self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism that ought to be our models for contemporary mission and ministry. And above all, it is in the reminder that true love speaks best in deeds not words that we need to keep to the forefront of whatever we are about. Our witness is in this. Our goal is human inter-dependence, the animation and empowerment of all peoples. Anything less betrays our God, his Christ, and Francis Xavier.
Colleagues from North America and Northern Europe tell me that their major cities are at least as diverse as is a country like India, in fact moreso, and with higher concentrations of many different kinds of people. In my trips abroad I have encountered this diversity personally. Dialogue with persons of many religions and wisdom traditions is at the heart of what many of those abroad increasingly feel the need to do. They follow closely the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, among other resources, especially the plenary session of FABC which took place in
For a summary of these insights I have used Crossan’s, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, published in 1994, HarperSanFrancisco. This is a popular summary of his extensive works. Contributions to the work of the Jesus Seminar by Crossan and other scholars, Christian and Jewish, are available at the site of the Westar Institute, www.westarinstitute.org. Of special interest to us in
For many of these insights and those regarding the work of Xavier himself I returned to a book I read some 52 years ago when I was studying philosophy at St. Albert’s Seminary in Ranchi. It is Saint Francis Xavier, by James Brodrick, S.J.,
English translations of the Schurhammer/Wicki materials were subsequently produced by M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J., who also produced his own summary of these materials entitled The Letters and Instructions of
 Brodrick, p. 148.
Commentaries on the Documents of Vatican Council II, Herbert Vorgrimmler, editor,
There are brilliant insights into the “failures” of St. Francis Xavier in the book Saints and Sinners, written by Alban Goodier, S.J.,
Perhaps it should be remarked that Ignatius’ famous “Letter on Obedience” was addressed to the members of the
Brodrick, p. 228.
This is the position of Francis X. Clooney, S.J., especially in his A Charism for Dialog: Advice from the Early Jesuit Missionaries in Our World of Religious Pluralism. He quotes from a number of materials available in M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J., Letters and Instructions of St. Francis Xavier, Chicago: Loyola Press, 1992, to make this point. Clooney goes on to suggest that it is this dialogue of Xavier’s that sets the precedent for Jesuits years later to pursue this approach to mission and cites in particular the influence of Xavier on the work of Roberto de Nobili, Matteo Ricci, and Joseph Beschi. Father Clooney has worked and studied in
 Brodrick, p. 237.
Brodrick, pp. 263-273.
Brodrick, pp. 276-77.
Brodrick, pp. 288-89.
Brodrick, p. 297ff.
 Brodrick, pp. 326-27.
Brodrick, p. 333ff.
Brodrick, p. 370
Brodrick, p. 385. Anjiro’s reports and attempts at translating Catholic concepts into Japanese are with the Jesuit archives at their
 Brodrick, p. 434.
Brodrick, p. 460 ff. Just before this Brodrick gives the lie to the “hoary and still persistent legend that” Xavier was polyglot. He lays this at the feet of one Antonio Pereira whom he accuses of other exaggerations in terms of Xavier, on p. 457.
Brodrick, p. 475ff.
Brodrick suggests that his readers not make much of this since Xavier was a man of his times. It was the treatment of these slaves as less than human which brought down Xavier’s wrath upon their owners.
 Brodrick, p. 483ff.
 Brodrick, p. 515.
 Much of the information about Xavier’s death comes from Antonio who provided information to Manuel Teixeira, Xavier’s first biographer. Brodrick notes that this work, however, was not published until 1912.
 Brodrick is at pains to make clear that while incorruption itself is not a guarantee of sanctity, as the Bollandists were among the first to point out, it does often merit a special look at the life of the person involved.
 I feel deeply how inadequate is the summary of Xavier’s life which I report here. I have a suspicion that at the end of their works, Fathers Schurhammer, Wicki, Brodrick, and Costelloe felt the same. How do we do justice to a man who carried the signatures of letters from his beloved friends next to his heart during all his journeys? Xavier is reported as delighted to have played games with children and also to have become so sick of his Japanese diet of wet rice that he pleaded with Indian Jesuits to now and then send those who would go to Japan some food for respite from this boredom. He seems very comfortable with wearing his heart on his sleeve. In the last pages of his book Brodrick suggests that Xavier could have been beatified and canonized on the basis of the heroic virtues found in his letters alone although the required miracles did come. If Xavier were indeed “authoritative” and not authoritarian, he was truly once again ahead of his time. He seems to have been an original man for all seasons and beyond.
One has only to put “Jesuit Spirituality” into an internet search engine and thousands of sites appear. For the purpose of this paper, however, I am using in particular, Heroic Leadership, Chris Lowney, Chicago: Loyola Press, 2003. Lowney depends for many insights about Xavier on the work of Francis X. Clooney, S.J., who has for many years lived and worked in
 This was a recurrent theme of William Ernest Hocking, professor of religion at Harvard University, who when he met the Jesuits in Darjeeling during a 1930 trip to India was so very much impressed with them that he wanted to join them, Anglican though he was! His wife, Agnes Boyle O’Reilly Hocking, who was with him, made clear that this would happen literally only over her dead body.
 Lowney, p. 121.
 Lowney, p. 122 ff.
Lowney, p. 134ff.
Lowney, p. 132. Xavier’s was not the first overseas Jesuit mission. A mission to
Ignatius did not want a “third order” of any sort nor did he want any kind of women’s congregation associated with the society. Interestingly, however, lay graduates of Jesuit schools eventually formed themselves into special kind of alumni associations referred to as the Sodality of Our Lady. In the mid-1900s, mostly through the efforts of Fr. Daniel Lord, S.J., in
Clooney, who knows