Decalogue for a Church Militant

Today, like the land of Asia to which St. Francis Xavier set sail, it is our land that is the land of mission.

June 22, 2024-Reading time: 4 minutes

The ship to sail from Lisbon to the Indies was being prepared and the FranciscoThe restless heart, impatient divine, longed for this moment to arrive. Many at the Portuguese court wanted the young priests of this new order founded by the former soldier from Guipuzcoa to stay in Lisbon.

There was so much to do there! Surely it was much more important to renew the religious spirit in that city, which was the center of that great maritime empire, than to be lost on an island in who knows what sea. 

Francis did not listen to these reasons. He knew he had a mission and did not want to delay fulfilling it. José María Pemán puts some verses in Francisco's mouth that express his spirit very well:

I am more a friend of the wind,

lady, that from the breeze...

And you have to do good quickly,

that evil wastes no time!

It is true. Evil never misses an opportunity. The children of darkness are shrewder than the children of light (cf. Lk 16:1) and we must do good quickly. It is not enough to fight evil, to be on the defensive. It is not enough to wait to be called to lend a hand. It is necessary to do good, to set ourselves in motion, to activate a militant and committed lifestyle.

I am sure that St. Francis Xavier would encourage us today to live this way and would give us a few keys to live as missionaries in the place in the world where God places us.

  1. Feeling with the Church. The first interior attitude that we must cultivate is a unity of hearts with the Church, with the Pope, with our bishops. We must signify our love for the Church, even in the most difficult times. And we must be impeccable in this attitude. There is no mission without unity with the pastors. Francis himself went on mission as ambassador of the king of Portugal, but also as nuncio of the pope.
  2. Ecumenical ecclesial visionThe same way St. Francis Xavier felt from the shores of Lisbon when he was about to embark on his mission. Without capillismswith ecclesial breadth, with a Catholic, universal outlook. We are not here to do our own work, but to serve the Church. A Church in which we all need each other. No one charism has everything. We all form a single body with charisms that enrich the rest.
  3. At the forefrontWhatever expression we use, we know that our place is at the front. And each one of us knows what his place is. It is more a question of an attitude than a place. Capable of hearing the cry for help of those who live close to us. Always seeking new paths for the Gospel.
  4. Discernment. More necessary than ever in a complex world, in constant change, which is losing references. Francis had to make every effort to listen to the new cultures that presented him with unsuspected challenges for evangelization. Today we listen to the Spirit, to follow the paths that we must begin to open in this new world.
  5. Availability. Attitude of dedication, to serve where it is needed. Committed. Men of their word, who answer for what they have to do. Men who can be trusted. Almost nothing! Because without this unconditional commitment there is no mission.
  6. Practical. The militant, the missionary, does not lose himself in reflections and speeches, but sets himself in motion. He does not put obstacles, he solves them. At the same time, he is aware of the urgent need for formation that provides the keys for action, that structures the mind and the heart. 
  7. No to the bourgeois spirit. The missionary knows how to live from a healthy inner tension that prevents him from being comfortable. He does not live from security, but from trust in God. He cultivates a spirit that nourishes a necessary hardiness and human and spiritual strength. Tiredness, fatigue and persecutions are an essential part of the life of every missionary. 
  8. Men of communion. In all the places where the missionary finds himself, he must create bonds, build bridges; within the Church and in society. Drawing closer to those who apparently are not our own, but who are our brothers and sisters, with whom we share our destiny in eternity. It will not be easy. We will not be understood many times. Communion demands a martyr's love.
  9. Creativity and initiative. We are not snipers, but we must have a capacity for initiative with which to contribute to the joint mission. Initiative and docility, together. New times require new wineskins. St. Francis Xavier used all his ingenuity to reach out to everyone. From the poor pearl fishermen besieged by the terrible badagasto the emperor of Japan. To each one he knew how to speak to the heart in a completely different way.
  10. Praying rearguard. We live by prayer. Our action is born from it. We rely on the contemplative life. And we ourselves know that we have to cultivate the life of prayer as the best lever to move hearts and to anchor ours in the Lord.

The ship that will take Francisco to the Indies, bordering Africa, is approaching. He does not know it, but this voyage will take thirteen months, including one that will have to be stopped for lack of wind. But there is no fear in his eyes, but an expectant illusion and a strong desire to leave now.

A last memory of his heart flies to his Navarrese lands, to the haughty tower of the castle whipped by the wind. And as the ship sails away and the coastline blurs, a smile is drawn on Javier's lips, echoing that of the Romanesque Christ before whom he prayed so many times as a child.

We stay in the harbor, in old Europe, watching the ship sail away. We know that our land is also mission land. 

Holy Mary, be worthy of me! -Mother, take care of all of us who have felt this call and have embarked on the mission of your Son; protect us in the stormy waters that will endanger our lives; give us the breath of the Spirit for our sails when we seem to stop and run out of strength to continue; show that you are our mother and that you are always near us, taking care of us.

We are yours, Saint Mary's, for a reason. And we are at the service of Jesus Christ, eternal king and universal lord.

The authorJavier Segura

Teaching Delegate in the Diocese of Getafe since the 2010-2011 academic year, he has previously exercised this service in the Archbishopric of Pamplona and Tudela, for seven years (2003-2009). He currently combines this work with his dedication to youth ministry directing the Public Association of the Faithful 'Milicia de Santa Maria' and the educational association 'VEN Y VERÁS. EDUCATION', of which he is President.

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