The Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier

Today, December 3, is the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.  Francis Xavier was the third companion of Saint Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Society of Jesus and the great missionary to Asia during the Age of Discovery in the 16th century.  Possessed by a great apostolic zeal he devoted his life to bringing unbelievers into the Faith and worked tirelessly to this end, preaching the Gospel and achieving many conversions in India and throughout East Asia.  It is one of the tragedies of the Age of Discovery that, instead of penetrating the Middle East and going on from there, the Church was only able to go around Islam and seek to convert the outer edges of Asia while leaving its ancient heartland on that continent untouched, but such is the will of God.  St. Francis Xavier was however the greatest missionary of that age, and established presence for the Church in those regions of the world that continues to this day.  This man who was so devoted to bringing unbelievers into the Church has left us this prayer, reprinted from the 1962 Roman Missal:

Aeterne rerum omnium effector Deus, memento abs te animas infidelium procreatas, easque ad imaginem et similitudinem tuam conditas.  Memento Iesum, Filium tuum, pro illorum salute atrocissimam subisse necem.  Noli, quaeso Domine, ultra permittere, ut Filius tuus ab infidelibus contemnatur, sed precibus sanctorum virorum et Ecclesiae, sanctissimi Filii tui sponsae, placatus, recordare misericordiae tuae et, oblitus idolitriae et infidelitatis eorum, effice ut ipsi quoque agnoscant aliquando quem misisti Dominum Iesum Christum, qui est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra, per quem salvati et liberati sumus, cui sit gloria per infinita saecula saeculorum.  Amen.

“O God, everlasting creator of all things, remember that the souls of unbelievers were made by Thee and formed in Thine own image and likeness.  Remember that Jesus, Thy Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation.  Permit not, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy Son should be despised any longer by unbelievers, but do Thou graciously accept the prayers of holy men and of the Church, the Spouse of Thy most holy Son, and be mindful of Thy mercy.  Forget their idolatry and unbelief and grant that they too may some day know Him Thou hast sent, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Life and Resurrection, by whom we have been saved and delivered, to whom be glory for endless ages. Amen.”

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage: for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Jewish people and the Muslim peoples.  And add in the prayer of St. Francis Xavier for unbelievers at the end if you like.  It can’t hurt.

November 24, 2013: Homage to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of all the world, of all the nations and tribes, and of all men.  Let us pray today especially that all mankind may one day stand before his throne and with a single mighty voice sing praise to his holy and glorious Name.  What follows is the great hymn of praise to the primacy of Jesus Christ from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Col. i, 12-20) that is recited every Wednesday evening in the Liturgy of the Hours and is the second reading in today’s Mass for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe:

Gratias agentes Deo Patri, qui dignos nos fecit in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine: qui eripuit nos de ptestate tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum filii dilectionis suae, in quo habemus redemptionem per sangiunem ejus, remissionem peccatorum: qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae: quoniam in ipso condita sunt universa in caelis, et in terra, visibilia, et invisibilia, sive throni, sive dominationes, sive principatus, sive potestates: omnia per ipsum et in ipso creata sunt: et ipse est ante omnes, et omnia in ipso constant.  Et ipse est caput corporis Ecclesiae, qui est principium, primogenitus ex mortuis: ut sit in omnibus ipse primatum tenens: quia in ipso complacuit, omnem plenitudinem inhabitare: et per eum reconciliare omnia in ipsum, pacificans per sanguinem crucis eius, sive quae in terris, sive quae in caelis sunt.

Here is the English translation from the Liturgy of the Hours that comes from the New American Bible 1970 that leaves out the bit about the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers:

“Let us give thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light.  He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.  Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creatures.  In him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible.  Al were created through him; all were created for him.  He is before all else that is.  In him everything continues in being.  It is he who is head of the body, the Church!  he who is the beginning, the first-born of the dead, so that primacy may be his in everything.  It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him and, by means of him, to reconcile everything in his person, both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross.”

Jesus Christ is King, not just of us but of all.  Let us pray that all mankind be united under Him.  Pray the Rosary.  Monday for the See of Constantinople, Tuesday for the See of Antioch, Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, Thursday for the See of Alexandria, Friday for the See of Carthage: for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  Jesus Christ shed his Blood for them too and He is King of us all.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

My own thoughts gleaned from others and from my own experience of offering these Mysteries.  If they are a help then take them use them where you will, and if they are a hinderance then please ignore them.

The Agony in the Garden is a poignant scene.  For it was another garden that God established for man in the first place.  The garden of paradise, and it was there that our first ancestor fell from grace into the darkness and of sin.  So now Our Lord and Savior enters another garden; in the dark of night after offering Himself to the Father for our salvation in the Cenaculum he enters the garden once more.  Except this is a garden disordered by sin.  The only thing awaiting Him in this garden are temptation and betrayal.  The temptation comes from the Tempter himself, the same who had deceived Eve so that she plucked the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and ate it.  We do not know what words passed between the enemy and Our Lord in that garden but we know that He was sorely tried, and kept praying to his Father to let that chalice pass from Him.  But, in a reversal of what Adam and Eve did, when Our Lord was tried by temptation in this terrible garden He called out to the Father for aid and then resolved to do his Will.

The Scourging at the Pillar.  The relentless tearing of Our Lord’s flesh as that bone studded whip end ripped into his skin.  This is pain that most of us cannot understand, suffered in reparation for all the times that we have sought the pleasures of the flesh that destroy our relationship with God.  It is our sins, each and every one of us both individually and as a group, that flung this whip onto his back and drew his blood.

When He was crowned with Thorns the soldiers stripped Him and dressed Him in a torn purple cloak.  They placed a reed in his hand and put on his head a crown of sharp and mangled thorns that drew yet more blood from Him and caused Him more pain, mocking his Kingship.  We did all this and we do all of this every time that we put anyone or anything above our King, and we do it all the time.  When we worship this world or its fruits then we strike Him with our fist and spit in his face.  Yet He sits there and takes and makes no move to protest.  God is Love.

He carried his Cross then, the weight of our sins, on his back after have taken such a beating.  The Jews mock Him and declare that the “have no king but Caesar (Jn. 19: 15)”, trading the God who brought them forth from Abraham’s loins, and from exile in Egypt and in Babylonia back to their land, and who had cared for them above all other peoples for a mortal man, a foreign conqueror whom the day before they had wanted to expel from their land.  Think of the enormity of what they did there, and we must remind ourselves that we are vulnerable to this same temptation every day of our lives when we choose to worship the world and ignore the Lord who bore our sins upon his back.

Our Lord then reaches the hill of Golgotha, the skull place, and is stripped, tied to those planks of wood, and nailed to his Cross.  He is then raised up before the mocking gaze of all the people just as the serpent was raised up in the desert to heal the people in the book of Numbers.  The crowd ridicules Him, feeling that this is their moment of triumph.  He is crucified between two criminals (Lk. 23: 39-43).  These two thieves, murderers, revolutionary terrorists, whatever they were represent the two segments of mankind it seems.  We are all, all of us sinners, thieves and murderers, subject to the just judgement of God. The one mocks the Lord, wants to be freed on his own terms, and dies alone; the other acknowledges his own guilt, that he deserves death (as all of us sinners truly do), declares the innocence and majesty of Christ, recognizes his Sacrifice, and is saved.  Our Lord cries out to his Father in torment and the crowd mocks Him all the more and mocks the prophet Elijah as well, but his Father hears Him.  In the end the Father’s Will is done and the sin of Adam and Eve is reversed.  Grace is born in the world.  The veil of the Holy of Holies is torn.  God no longer resides in an empty room on a hill in Palestine but comes into the whole world through the Sacrifice of his Son that gives birth to the Church.

The important thing in meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries is to remember that it is our sins that are inflicting these torments on Our Lord and to meditate accordingly.   Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch and on Friday for the See of Carthage, for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The See of Antioch (The other See of St. Peter)

The city of Antioch was in many ways the mother of the Church in the Roman world.  It lay just inland from the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Turkey in the region of Hatay near the current border between Turkey and Syria.  The city became a great metropolis following the conquests of Alexander that opened up the highway of trade from India and the east to the Mediterranean.  Antioch, during Roman times, was in a highly favorable location at the western terminus of the Silk Road and took full advantage of this to profit in the exchange of goods between distant Asia and the rest of the Roman Empire.  During the apostolic age Antioch was the third city of the Empire after Rome itself and Alexandria.  It was here that the Prince of the Apostles seems first to have moved to after leaving Jerusalem and he became the city’s first bishop before moving on to Rome.  Paul and Barnabas also spent much time preaching and winning converts in the city.  St. Luke, companion of St. Paul and author both of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was a native of Antioch.  And it was in Antioch that the name of Christian was first applied to believers in Jesus Christ and members of the Church.

After the age of the Apostles had ended the church in Antioch continued to supply the Church with great teachers and martyrs.  St. Ignatius of Antioch’s, who himself was a hearer of the apostles, letters written on the way to his martyrdom in Rome provide us with a fascinating glimpse of the Church during the decades following the death of the apostles, and give ample evidence of the primacy of the church of Rome even at that early date.  St. Ignatius’ Feast Day is October 17.

Following  Ignatius the city continued to supply the Church with bishops and martyrs, among them Babylas who suffered martyrdom under the reign of Decius during the middle of the third century.  The church of Antioch expanded its reach to become the leading church of the East, and second only in primacy to Rome, by the ascension of Constantine to power during the early fourth century.  The church there unfortunately was also a place of discord and a birthplace for heresy.  Paul of Samosata in the third century was bishop of Antioch and denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.  And the ideas of Arius, while first publicly proclaimed in Alexandria, have their roots in Antioch.  The Arian heresy which also denied the divinity of Jesus Christ but were far more successful than Paul’s troubled the Church for three centuries following the Edict of Milan.

Antioch continued to form a part of the Pentarchy, the five great Sees (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria) of Roman times but fell into decline after the rise of Constantinople in the fourth century.  Constantinople became master of the East religiously, politically, and economically and Antioch suffered both from the Christological disputes and the resulting schisms in the Church, and from the depredations of the Persian Empire during the epoch of wars between Rome and Persia that stretched from the third to the seventh centuries during which Antioch and/or its hinterland were often battlegrounds.  The Muslims conquered Antioch in 638 AD and the city was now on the front lines of the almost constant warring between the Constantinople and the Caliphate and its importance in the Christian world rapidly diminished.  The Orthodox Church was unable regularly to supply a patriarch for the city as its Muslim political masters showed a preference for their Monophysite rivals, hostile as they were to Constantinople.  The Byzantines briefly reconquered the city in 969 before losing it again to the Turks during the following century.  Antioch was taken by the Crusaders in 1098 and they established the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch which endured for more than a century and a half before the Turkish reconquest of the city and the martyrdom of its last resident Latin Patriarch in 1268.  The city of Antioch has more or less disappeared from the map since that time and the site is now occupied by the Turkish city of Antakya.  The Pope continued to appoint Latin Patriarchs of Antioch, none of whom were able to take residence in the city after 1268, until the Patriarchate was abolished in 1964.  There are now a whole host of Patriarchs of Antioch, five at last count; none of whom actually reside in the city.

Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for this ancient and once great apostolic See of the Church: for its liberty and its salvation, and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  We should also remember the currently suffering land of Syria which forms the patrimony of this ancient See in our prayers, if we can find the heart.

Raison d’Etre of this Blog

This site exists to encourage people to pray the Rosary.  And to pray the Rosary for a very specific group of intentions.  For the five great Sees of the Catholic Church lost to Islam so long ago.  Fourteen centuries ago the Catholic Church covered the entire Mediterranean basin and the True Faith was spread and gaining adherents from Scotland to the Euphrates river and beyond.  Then Islam came out of the desert and shattered the old, if by that point strained, unity.  Immediately they took the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean and cast a veil between Rome and the great and ancient Christian Sees of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Carthage while greatly weakening the power and influence of Constantinople which the Muslim armies continually preyed upon for the next eight centuries until it finally fell to the Turks in 1453.

While the Catholic Church has gained large numbers of adherents in the Americas, Asia, and sub Saharan Africa over the last half millennium it has not penetrated a jot into our ancient heartland in all of the centuries since this was lost to us.  A small number of Catholics remain there, and there are still a decent number of adherents to the ancient apostolic churches unfortunately separated from Rome by schism, but their number is rapidly shrinking due to the convulsions of the Middle East over the last century and particularly over this last decade.  Islam seeks now to cement its domination and control won first a millennium and a half ago and sees within its grasp a final victory over the Catholic Church in the land of its birth.

We must now call upon the Mother of God, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Victory to come to our aid and to the aid of the Church founded by her son Our Lord Jesus Christ.  No weapon of war will return the Church to its birthplace; the Crusades failed because they were in the end only a military adventure.  Let us use then a far more powerful weapon than guns or bombs: the Rosary.  Pray the Rosary Monday for Constantinople, Tuesday for Antioch, Wednesday for Jerusalem, Thursday for Alexandria, and Friday for Carthage.  And along with this intention let us beseech the Lord God the conversion of the Jewish and the Muslim peoples: Jesus Christ shed his blood for them too.  All of the great accomplishments of the Church have begun with prayer.  The life of Our Lord as passed down to us by the Evangelists shows this to be the case.  Pray the Rosary and meditate on its Mysteries.  Our Lady has proclaimed at all of her apparitions that this will change the world.  The time is now.

In the fifth chapter of St. Luke’s (a native of Antioch) Gospel the Evangelist narrates an episode where Our Lord enters Peter’s boat to teach the multitude and, when finished, he tells St. Peter to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. (Lk. 5: 4)”  After protesting that he had been fishing all night and catching nothing the Apostle does as commanded, and the haul of fish is so large that his net breaks and he has to call on the other boats for aid.  They are so full of fish that they almost sink before reaching the shore.  The prophetic aspects of these events, from the perspective of someone living 2,000 years after the fact, seems to refer to the first great conversion that brought the Roman Empire into the Church’s net.  The net was broken however by schism and discord which continues down to our own day.

But there is a second miraculous draught of fishes.  At the conclusion of the Gospel of St. John the beloved disciple relates to us an event which he himself took part in.  After Our Lord’s Resurrection some (not all) of the Apostles venture out on the Lake of Galilee with St. Peter to fish.  After fishing all night and again catching nothing they are approaching the shore at first light when they catch sight of Our Lord standing on the shoreline.  He tells them to cast their nets over the right side of the boat and the haul was the miraculous number of 153 (symbolic of all the species of fish known to the ancient world) fish.  The Prince of Apostles then himself hauls the net full of fish ashore and “although there were so many, the net was not broken. (Jn. 21: 11)”  This seems to indicate that near the end of time approaching the end of the Church’s journey there will be another and greater mass conversion that will not be broken apart as of old.  This must begin with the five great Sees.  This region forms the geographic heart of the world, and it was in the part of the world where Our Lord chose to reveal Himself.  I am no prophet and do not claim that the end is upon us, that is not the point of this effort, but we must begin to repair the saving net of the Church and should we not begin this task with prayer?

This site becomes active on Wednesday of the 30th week of Ordinary Time, October 30, the first year of Francis’ pontificate, and in the year MMXIII of the Incarnation.  I will attempt to post here with the greatest frequency I can muster some reminder of the lost world of the five great Sees.  I beg Our Lady of Victory her bountiful aid in attracting visitors to this site that we may together beseech her most powerful assistance in repairing the Church’s broken net.