The powerful words of the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas should move us from the very depths of our souls to do great things for God. These words? “One immortal soul of one person is worth more than the entire created universe.”
In fact, if we meditate upon the first two chapters in the Bible from the Book of Genesis, we contemplate God as Artist, Architect, Engineer and Builder as He brings all that never before existed into existence. God creates, and all that He created was GOOD!
The water in the immense oceans, the splendid, sparkling and dazzling sky in its remarkable beauty from the first streaks of dawn to the deepening twilight, the flowers and plants in their boundless variety, the multitude of animals from a small squiggly lizard to an immense and muscular rhinoceros—all were brought from non-existence into existence by God the Creator.
Of all the immensity, variety and beauty of creation, nothing can compare to the creation of the human person. In fact, in the eyes of God, man and woman are the very crown and apex of creation. Not only that, all the rest of creation came into existence for the benefit of the human person. If you like, God created all things for the proper use of man and woman so that they might arrive at their eternal destiny—Heaven. For this reason, the human person, given life from God the Author of Life, must use all of creation as a ladder and steppingstone to arrive at Heaven!
The one word that describes Our Lord Jesus Christ best according to Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is that of SAVIOR! Indeed, Jesus came into the world through the Incarnation and consent of the Virgin Mary specifically for that primary purpose—to save all of humanity from sin and bring them into the Kingdom of peace, justice, joy and life—Heaven!
Jesus is the only Savior. Nobody goes to the Father except through His Son, Jesus Christ. However, Jesus wants all of us to do all we can to collaborate with Him in the salvation of the world. Saint Paul expresses it in these pungent words: “Let us fill up what is lacking in the passion of Christ.” (Col. 1:24) Jesus is the only Redeemer, but we can collaborate with Him and become mini Co-Redeemers!
After a bombardment that shook, rattled and partially destroyed a Catholic Church, the Pastor observed that the Crucifix on the wall was severely damaged. Due to the impact of the bomb—the arms and hands, the legs and feet of Jesus on the cross had been destroyed. Utilizing great ingenuity and apostolic zeal, the Pastor posted below the partially destroyed image these words coming from the Sacred Heart of the Savior: “I need your arms and hands, your legs and feet!”
How true! Jesus needs and wants your person—your arms, your hands, your legs, your feet, your voice, and especially the zeal of love in your heart so as to carry the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation, to the distant corners of the earth!
Therefore, let us discern and decide upon ways that we can drop the nets for a catch of souls; go in search of the Lost Sheep and invite the many Prodigal sons and daughters back to the Good Shepherd. The motto of the great Saint John Bosco was: “Give me souls and take all the rest away!” May this likewise be our motto!
1. FERVENT PRAYER. Prayer is the key to salvation. Prayer is the key to the conversion of poor sinners. Prayer unlocks the treasure-chest of God’s graces. Let us lift up fervent prayers every day, especially for the conversion of sinners and their eternal salvation. Remember, one soul is worth more than the whole created universe!
2. INVITE THE LOST SHEEP TO CONFESSION. When all is said and done, bringing a wandering soul, a confused Catholic, an angry and bitter Catholic to the fount of God’s Mercy, manifested and applied through the Sacrament of Confession, can be one of the most efficacious tools in placing this lost sheep back on the Highway to salvation and eternal life.
3. CONFESSION SCHEDULE, EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE, AND EXAMPLE. If a wandering sheep has not been to confession in a long time, they may need a little advice, orientation and encouragement. This you can do by telling them when and where the Confessions are being held. Offer them an examination of conscience pamphlet or booklet explaining the Ten Commandments. Go with them to the place where the priest is hearing Confessions. Then you go to Confession first and come out with a radiant smile. By following this protocol, you have a winner, a winner in saving souls for Christ!
4. A GOOD BOOK. Bad books are proven to be intellectual poison. However, a good book can serve as a catalyst to save a soul. We have never lived in a world with so much information; however, we have never lived in a world with so much confusion. The world is truly a Tower of Babel! This cloud of confusion can be dissipated and cleared by the reading of good books that tell the truth. Many have been saved by reading and reflecting on good books. Recommend a good spiritual book to them! Humdrum to Holy by this author is a practical and easily accessible way to introduce or re-introduce someone to the practice of the faith and to grow deeper in their faith!
5. A GOOD CATHOLIC FRIEND. That good Catholic friend should be you and me. As a priest, many people come to me with their problems in all shapes, forms and sizes. Off the bat I tell them that I cannot solve their problems, but I know the Person who can solve their problems—JESUS THE LORD. Like Saint John the Baptist, I point to the Lord Jesus as the only Savior. We should not have a Messiah-complex—believing that we can save. Wrong! Only Jesus can save! Fulton Sheen put it in these words: “The starting point of our spiritual life has two principles: there is a God, and it is not you!!!” Again, only Jesus can save! Like John the Baptist, let us be human signposts pointing to Jesus.
6. A RETREAT EXPERIENCE. One of the principal reasons why the modern person remains stuck in the mud of their own ignorance and sin is due to a world filled with noise, a world filled with excessive movement, resulting in a lack of silence which does not allow for reflection, meditation, and examination of conscience. A spiritual retreat—for a weekend, eight days, or even a month—can serve as a powerful means to examine one’s life and make radical changes. Promote retreats, especially Ignatian Retreats. These can really be conversion experiences!
7. APOSTOLATE OF SUFFERING. Jesus willingly chose the cross—His passion and suffering, as the means by which He would save all of humanity. Your suffering has infinite value, most especially for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls if united to Jesus in His Passion, death and Resurrection. Do not waste your suffering but offer it for the salvation of immortal souls!
8. OFFER MASSES. As a sequel to the concept of suffering is that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As a priest, many mothers come to me in tears with a broken heart because their children no longer practice their faith and have so many doubts. My advice: have Masses offered for the conversion of sinners, starting with your own children, and for the salvation of immortal souls. By far, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most efficacious tool or means of conversion and salvation. One drop of the Precious Blood of Jesus that He shed on Calvary is enough to save the whole universe!
9. PATIENCE, PATIENCE, AND EVEN MORE PATIENCE. One of the most powerful and exemplary models of patience in the pursuit of sinners and their conversion and eternal salvation is the person and example of Saint Monica. Talk about a dysfunctional family, Monica had one and in the most full sense of the term! A husband who was violent, a drunk, and a womanizer! A wayward son addicted to sexual pleasure! And finally, a gossipy mother-in-law! Through Monica’s prayers, penance, patience and perseverance, God granted power and grace for the conversion of the whole family! Follow the example of Saint Monica and imitate her prayers, penance, and most of all her patience!
10. OUR LADY: REFUGE OF SINNERS! The famous prayer rings so true related to the conversion of sinners and the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is the Memorare! The words? “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided…” The great Saint Frances de Sales received a deluge of grace, comfort and consolation when he prayed this prayer in the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Paris. In our lives, may the prayers of Mary prove victorious in the conversion and salvation of countless souls, beginning with our families! Remember the words of the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas: “One immortal soul is worth more than the whole created universe.” Let us work energetically with Jesus and Mary, the angels and saints, to save an abundant harvest of souls for the eternal Banquet—Heaven!