When Cardinal Tauran stepped onto the loggia of St. Peter’s and announced to the world that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the 265th successor of Peter, he told us “qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum“.
Hearing it for the first time, and having already been told by news commentators that the new pope was a Jesuit, we all assumed he was taking the name of St. Francis Xavier, close companion of St. Ignatius and one of the greatest missionaries of all time. Everyone assumed as much. It wasn’t until a press conference soon after that we learned he had actually chosen the name after St. Francis of Assisi, known for his evangelical simplicity and poverty, his humility and his charity.
Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, and in the Office of Readings we read an excerpt from one of his letters to St. Ignatius. It struck us how he, too, possessed all those same qualities of the Little Poor Man of Assisi. St. Francis Xavier’s own burning desire to spread the Gospel also sounds very much like some of the things we hear Pope Francis saying in his homilies and addresses. In fact, it sounds very much like the call to all Catholics to take part in the New Evangelization.
Here is the part of the second reading that really jumped out at us:
Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”
I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.
This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like—even to India.