Today, 1 Jul 2012, is the feast day of Blessed Ignatius Falzon (a.k.a. Nazju Falzon), a Maltese man who received minor Orders and became a very effective catechist and guider of souls. The spiritual plight of sailors and soldiers who came to the island of Malta on their way to somewhere else was the special object of his ministry. He befriended them, invited them to prayer meetings, obtained devotional materials for them and provided catechesis for them.
Blessed Ignatius Falzon was born on 1 July 1813 into a prominent and devout Maltese family in Valetta, the capital city. His father was a judge, and he and his brothers all received legal training. Some went on to become lawyers, others priests. From an early age Ignatius began to pray the holy Rosary and to develop a deep love for Mary, the Mother of God. He was given a thorough education in Latin, English, Italian, Philosophy, Law and Theology. Ignatius passed the law exam but didn’t practice as a lawyer. Instead he received minor Orders from the bishop, and dedicated himself to serving God’s children. Although he was often encouraged to become a priest, this was something Ignatius did not feel worthy of. Instead he became a Franciscan tertiary.
Prayer was the powerhouse behind all that Ignatius achieved for God. Each morning, afternoon and evening he prayed in his family’s private chapel. Every day he would attend the 5am Mass and spend time in thanksgiving afterwards. He made use of the sacrament of Penance at least once a week, and often more frequently. During the day he would pray the Stations of the Cross and all 15 decades of the Rosary.
God gave him a great passion for preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith. Dressed in clerical attire he would assist at the catechism classes for children and adults in the parish. In the streets where he lived many soldiers and sailors would come to drink alcohol, party and seek prostitutes. God gave Ignatius a heart full of love for these men and ardent desire for their salvation. So with God’s courage he would go into the various local bars and befriend the soldiers and sailors. He offered them prayer groups at his home, and opportunities to grow spiritually. Always he had a priest on hand for any who felt motivated to return to God via the Sacrament of Penance.
His catechism classes proved popular, and over 650 adults came into the Church via Baptism as a result of them. Knowing that the soldiers and sailors would need support and encouragement when they left port, Ignatius obtained printed catechectical and devotional material in the major sea-faring languages and distrbuted them. That way, the work that the Lord had done in their souls could continue when they left Malta. The men felt genuinely loved and cared for, and in turn entrusted to Ignatius their belongings and instructions about what to do and who to contact if they should die at sea or at war. In many quiet ways Ignatius managed to obtain and distribute goods and money to those in need. Often he would offer his legal knowledge free of charge to those too poor to obtain advice via the regular channels. Not only Catholics received his help. Ignatius welcomed anyone who came to the Congregation of the Rosary meetings, whatever their religious background. He was also diligent in following up all those who had received baptism, encouraging them to grow in God’s ways. With so many British men finding Maltese wives, he also helped them deal with all of the ups and downs of mixed marriages.
For more detailed information about Ignatius’ holy life, go through the menu of subpages at http://184.108.40.206/www1/ofm/mla/Pnews1.html
Some of Ignatius’s sayings were, ‘He who wills only what God wills is always happy, whatever may happen.’ , ‘God leaves no good desire unrewarded’ , and ‘By aridities and temptations God proved those who love Him.’
On his birthday in 1865, at the age of 52, Ignatius died of cancer and was mourned by many. In 2001, he was beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul the Great following the complete cure of a man suffering from cancer.
Blessed Ignatius Falzon, pray for us.