JESUS is calling us to announce His gospel of mercy, forgiveness and love. Winning souls for Him by interesting others in our holy Faith should be the business and concern of every Catholic. Christ’s words were addressed to all His followers including you. “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). And again: “Go, therefore, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:19,20). These words were addressed not only to the Apostles but also to all His followers.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ promised: “Therefore everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge him before My Father in Heaven” (Matt. 10:32), and “He who reaps, receives a wage and gathers fruit unto life everlasting so that the sower and reaper may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
Consider the zeal and examples of some of the saints and holy persons listed below:
St. James the Apostle: “He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way will save his own soul from death and shall cover a multitude of sins” (St. James 5, 19-20).
St. John Chrysostom, (347-407), the illustrious Bishop of Constantinople, and Doctor of the Church, tells us: “Zeal for the salvation of souls is of so great a merit before God, that to give up all our goods to the poor, or to spend our whole life in the exercises of all sorts of austerities cannot equal the merit of it. There is no service more agreeable to God than this one. To employ one’s life in this blessed labor is more pleasing to the Divine Majesty than to suffer martyrdom. Would you not feel happy if you could spend large sums of money in corporal works of mercy? But know, that he who labors for the salvation of souls does far more; nay, the zeal of souls is of far greater merit before God…than the working of miracles.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604): “No sacrifice is more acceptable to God than zeal for souls.”
St. Vincent de Paul (1576-1660): That St. Vincent was devoured by zeal for the house of God, his entire life testifies, because that life was employed in combating evil and extending the reign of good; and in this consists true zeal. Listen to some of his instructions to his community: “Let us give ourselves to God, gentlemen, to go to carry His holy Gospel over the entire earth and into whatever part He may lead us; there, let us maintain our part, and continue our duties until such time as His good pleasure will withdraw us. Let no difficulties move us, the glory of the eternal Father and the efficacy of the Word and of the passion of His Son are at stake. The salvation of men and our own are so great that they merit to be obtained at any price.”
St. Rose of Lima, (1586-1617). We read that her confessor offered himself to go to the missions, but he feared because of the dangers it would entail. After consulting the saint, he heard these words: “Go Father, and do not fear. Leave all to labor for the conversion of the infidel, and know that the greatest service that man can offer to God is to convert souls, for this is a work proper of the Apostolate. What greater happiness could there be than to baptize, be it only a little Indian child who would enter Heaven through the gates of Baptism?
St. John de Brebeuf (1593-1649), one of the eight North American Martyrs, was heard to say, after pouring the saving waters of Baptism on a dying Indian child, “For this one single occasion I would travel all the way from France; I would cross the great ocean to win one little soul for Our Lord!”
St. Margaret Mary (1647-1690); “My divine Savior has given to understand that those who work for the salvation of souls will have a gift of touching the most hardened hearts, and will labor with marvelous success, if they themselves are penetrated with a tender devotion to His Divine Heart.”
Venerable Cardinal John Newman (1801- 1890): “How can we answer to ourselves for the souls who have in our times lived and died in sin; the souls that have been lost and are now waiting for the judgment, seeing that for what we know, we were ordained to influence or reverse their present destiny and have not done it?”
St. Anthony Mary Claret (1808-1870): “Another thing that spurs me on to preach ceaselessly is the thought of the multitude of souls which fall into the depths of hell, who die in mortal sin, condemned forever and ever…if you were to see a blind man about to fall into a pit or over a precipice, would you not warn him? Behold, I do the same….”How often I pray with St. Catherine of Siena: O my God, grant me a place by the gates of Hell, that I may stop those who enter there, saying: “Where are you going, unhappy one? Back, go back! Make a good confession. Save your soul. Don’t come here to be lost for all eternity!” St. Anthony resolved never to waste a moment of time, and during his 35 years as a priest, he wrote 144 books and preached some 25,000 sermons. On one trip, besides traveling, he preached 205 sermons in 48 days and 12 in one day.
The motivating force that dominated St. John Bosco’s (1815-1888) life is found in a phrase that is typically his: “Give me souls, you take the rest.” “There is nothing more holy in this world than to work for the good of souls, for whose salvation Jesus Christ poured out the last drops of His Blood.” In his writings and conferences, he consistently pointed out that: “Man is successful in this world if he saves his soul and is very knowledgeable if he knows the science of salvation; but he is a total failure if he loses his soul and knows nothing if he is ignorant of those things that can assure him of eternal salvation.” From his book The Life of St. Dominic Savio, St. John Bosco had this to say of St. Dominic Savio (the teenage saint who died in his 15th year): “The thought of saving souls for God was never out of his mind.”
St. Dominic Savio, (1842-1856), in a serious conversation with one of his companions, gave several reasons for his apostolic zeal in “saving souls”:
- My companion’s soul has been redeemed by Jesus Christ.
- We are all brothers and so we must love each other’s souls.
- God urges us to help each other.
- If I manage to save one soul I also ensure the salvation of my own.
St. Theresa of Lisieux (1873-1897): “We have only short moments of this life to work for God’s glory. The devil knows this and that is why he tries to make us waste time in useless things. O, let us not waste our time! Let us save souls! Souls are falling into hell innumerable as the flakes of snow on a winter day. Jesus weeps! Instead of consoling Him we are brooding over our own sorrows…There is only one thing to do during the brief day, or rather, night of this life: Love Jesus with all the strength of your heart and save souls for Him, so that He may be loved!”
St. Padre Pio (1887-1968): “Time spent in honor of God and for the salvation of souls is never badly spent.”
St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941): “We have no right to rest as long as a single soul is Satan’s slave.”
Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez (1890- 1923): “I am not attracted by your merits but by your love for souls.” “When a soul is generous enough to give me all I ask, she gathers up treasures for herself and others and snatches great numbers of souls from perdition.” “I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done.”
“Understand this well, Josefa: when a soul loves Me, she can make up for many who offend Me, and this relieves My Heart.” “One faithful soul can repair and obtain mercy for many ungrateful ones.” “A little act of generosity, of patience, of poverty…may become treasure that will win a great number of souls to My Heart.”
Our Lord to Sr. Consolata Betrone (1903-1946): “I prefer one act of love to all other prayers: ‘Jesus, Mary, I love Thee! Save Souls!’ This comprises all: the souls in Purgatory, those in the Church Militant, the guilty and the innocent, the dying and the godless! One act of love can determine eternal happiness for
a soul, Therefore, be careful never to omit one “Jesus, Mary, I love Thee, Save Souls!’ Do not lose time! Every act of love means a soul!’
Our Lady told Sister Consolata, “Only in Heaven will you realize the value and the fruitfulness of saving souls. The act of love is especially meritorious as one of reparation.”
Pope Pius XII (1939-1958): “No one is permitted to be idle and lazy while so many evils and dangers impend, and while those who are on the other side are working so hard to destroy the very basis of Catholic religion.”
Who are the best prospects for conversion? Listen to St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419): “For whoever will proudly dispute or contradict, will always stand without the door, Christ, the master of humility, manifests His truth only to the humble, and hides Himself from the proud.”
Reprinted from: Our Lady of the Rosary Library, www.olrl.org