Final Vows of Frs. Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
We feel privileged to have many Jesuits saints – 54 of them and about a hundred and fifty four blessed—so many that we remember them with great pride, even if we cannot recall all their names! We remember them not to boast of our past glory, but to seek inspiration from them, and reflect on their extraordinary contribution to God and to his Church, in-spite of their own human weaknesses.
One of the most inspiring of our Jesuit saints is St Francis Xavier. The Jesuits of the Goa Province gather around the relics of our brother Francis Xavier at this Basilica of Bom Jesus every year on the feast of our founder St Ignatius of Loyola and on the feast of Francis Xavier himself, to thank God for these inspiring models, and to seek inspiration for each one of us to grow in our own love and commitment to God and his people. Like Mary and Joseph, and like Jesus himself, they responded to God’s plan for them with a bold surrender.
Hence, it is fitting that two of our brothers—Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza—have chosen to take their Final Vows in the Society of Jesus near the mortal remains of Francis Xavier. The Final Vows are the most important moment in a Jesuit’s life; it is the time when a Jesuit is finally and definitively incorporation into and becomes a full member of the Society of Jesus. On this occasion of the Final Vows, we can reflect on the life of St. Francis Xavier and be inspired by his tireless zeal, his availability, and his great love for the Society of Jesus.
First of all, Xavier had his tireless zeal for the salvation of souls. He was truly a man of the Magis; he was never content with what he had done for Christ or what he was doing for Christ. He always asked what MORE and HOW BETTER could he do it for Christ. For him the world was not enough; he tirelessly kept seeking new frontiers, he kept pushing the boundaries (using various means possible) to help more and more people to encounter God. When many of us are already slackening in our enthusiasm and zeal for our mission, Xavier keeps inspiring us towards the Magis – to give more, to be more!
Secondly, Xavier was available to God and to his mission. His availability stemmed from his detachment to his own dreams and ideas, and to be ready to accept God’s dreams for him. A person of Xavier’s calibre would have been an indispensable asset for St Ignatius to have with him in Rome. Yet Xavier makes himself dispensable and available for mission on his 35th birthday, with hardly any goodbyes to his loved ones, whom he would never see again! When we think of ourselves today as indispensable, holding on to our own dreams and ideas, Xavier inspires us to take a leap into God’s hands and welcome God’s dreams for us.
Finally, Xavier had a great love for the Society of Jesus. Although he was detached from his own dreams and wishes, he was attached to the cross. He was also attached to the Society of Jesus, an affection he displayed by cutting out the signatures from the letters he received from his companions in Europe and keeping them in a locket close to his heart. In his moments of loneliness and disappointments, Xavier was convinced that he was not alone in this mission – that his story was part of a bigger narrative. He knew that he was a spark from a bigger fire lit by Christ himself, who he passionately clung to! When we feel disappointed and alone in our endeavours today, or when we become very individualistic in our approach to our work, let us remember that we are not alone in this service, nor are we isolated stories; we are part of a bigger narrative which God himself is working in the world.
Let us seek God’s grace to keep alive the fire within us – the fire that was there when we joined the Society or got married; that we may be a source of warmth and light to those around us and that we be a fire that enkindles other fires, as Francis Xavier was. Our presence at the Final Vows of Frs. Kelwin Monteiro and Rinald D’Souza is an invitation to all of us to renew the quality of our response to our own vows: in religious or married life. We also pray that we may grow in the qualities that Francis Xavier had - of the Magis, his zeal to do good, total availability to God and people, and in a readiness to join others in efforts to create a more just world. All this for the Greater Glory of God. Amen.