Francis was born in Navarre (now in northern Spain), at the family castle of Xavier, where Basque was the native language. He was the third son of the president of the council of the king of Navarre, most of whose kingdom was soon to fall to the crown of Castile (1512). Francis grew up at Xavier and received his early education there. As was often the case with younger sons of the nobility, he was destined for an ecclesiastical career, and in 1525 he journeyed to the University of Paris, the theological centre of Europe, to begin his studies.

In 1529 Ignatius of Loyola, another Basque student, was assigned to room with Francis. A former soldier 15 years Francis’s senior, he had undergone a profound religious conversion and was then gathering about himself a group of men who shared his ideals. Gradually, Ignatius won over the initially recalcitrant Francis, and Francis was among the band of seven who, in a chapel on Montmartre in Paris, on August 15, 1534, vowed lives of poverty and celibacy in imitation of Christ and solemnly promised to undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and subsequently to devote themselves to the salvation of believers and unbelievers alike. Francis then performed the Spiritual Exercises, a series of meditations lasting about 30 days and devised by Ignatius in light of his own experience of conversion to guide the individual toward greater generosity in the service of God and humankind. They implanted in Francis the motivation that carried him for the rest of his life and prepared the way for his recurrent mystical experiences.

It’s the encounter between Francis and Ignatius that helped Francis to understand better the message of the prophet Isaiah that in God, our security is ensured because for those who trust in the Lord, those whose mind is stayed on him, the Lord God will be their peace, and this is what it means to built our house on rock as the Gospel reading clearly illustrates. The message is clear here: A friend can be both a catalyst that will inspire you to progress or spur you to doom, influence you positively or negatively, lead you to the sky or push you into a pit. Be careful of who your friends are. Keep friends of benefit and you will be a happy man. In the end, God is all we need. He’s our best friend. St. Francis Xavier, Pray for us.

Good morning and God bless!


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