Connection to Year of Grace

This Pilgrimage of Grace is part of The Year of Grace to which the bishops have invited the Australian Church.  Grace is about Christ’s relationship with us, and always involves a deepening of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love, by which we are united to him.  The Bishops have invited us grow in holiness by starting afresh from Christ.  A key way of doing this is to implore God to refresh our hope in Christ, our faith in Christ, and our love for Christ and his people.   In this, St Francis Xavier is a great example since we see each of these virtues shining forth in his life. 

Xavier often wrote about hoping in Christ alone.  When his friends warn him not to visit a tribe which poisons its enemies, or at least to carry antidotes for those poisons, he refuses, wanting his hope to be only in God.  Every other hope may end up disappointing, but never this one; hope in God alone is what Pope Benedict calls ‘the great hope’.  

There is little need to expound on Xavier’s faith.  He believed God’s Word - transmitted to him in the Church he loved - and he entrusted himself completely to that Word.  Hence his readiness to go at short notice to the other side of the world, his desire to share the gift of faith he treasured so that others might come to faith, and his complete trust in God in all the perilous situations in which he found himself.   

Love of Christ and of his people was the source of Xavier’s incredible energy and generosity. God’s life shone out of him as he was lovingly united to Christ in prayer or at Mass.  He was known for his friendship with all, and delighted in news of Ignatius and his brother Jesuits back in Europe.  He encouraged his fellow missionaries to love the people if they wished to do true good amongst them, and he set the example himself - tending the sick, the plague-stricken, the prisoners; seeking to reconcile the estranged; welcoming people back to the faith.  Wherever the need was greatest, he sought to be there, loving as he had been loved.