Relatives will expend time, energy
and all of their material resources to find the best Doctor to cure a disease
of their love one. Olympic athletes will
train years, amounting to thousands of hours of training, to perform in the
Olympic Games, hoping to win the Gold medal or at least the Silver. Natural
beauties that exist—the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the change of color of the
leaves in bloom in New England (the “foliage season”)--- people will travel
long distances just to “see” these
Masterpieces of world beauty.
Even a day of entertainment at Disney, or Magic Mountain, or Sea
world—how much time, importance and energy can be expended on all of these
pursuits? None of these are sinful, and
many can be enriching and life-giving, but all on a purely natural level.
How much time and energy do we expend
in providing for the salvation of our immortal soul and those immortal souls—if
parents, your children—that have been entrusted to your care???
Jesus clearly expresses the value of
one’s immortal soul. After denouncing
greed in all forms Jesus spoke out with the utmost clarity: “What would it profit a man if he were to
gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?” What can a man give in
exchange for his immortal soul?
It was the great St. Ignatius of
Loyola who challenged the future “Patron saint of the missions”, Saint Francis
Xavier with this same Biblical challenge.
According to tradition, Ignatius kept repeating this same biblical
passage until Xavier capitulated, gave in to Ignatius’ desires, went through
the Spiritual Exercises, and eventually was transformed into one of the most
loved and greatest saints of the Jesuit family, and an example for all of us
who are called to be missionaries.
While doing mission work in India
Xavier baptized so many souls every day that at the end of the day he could no
longer lift up his arm due to the weariness of the number of the souls he had
baptized in just one day. The Body of
Xavier is conserved in Rome, Italy, whereas the “arm” that Baptized so many
still remains in India.
The young Italian saint, who would
die not even 15 years old, St. Dominic Savio, met with his spiritual Director,
Saint John Bosco. On the wall in the office of St. John Bosco was some saying
written in Latin. Curious as to its meaning, Savio asked Bosco to translate. St. John Bosco responded to its meaning:
“Give me souls and take all the rest away!”
This was the motivating principle of the apostolic zeal of St. John
Bosco: to save as many souls as he possibly could!
St. John Vianney, known as the Cure of Ars, understood
very well the value of a soul. This was
proven with the greatest clarity by his willingness to sacrifice himself to the
extreme for the salvation of souls. What
were some of the sacrifices that the Cure of Ars willingly underwent for the
salvation of souls? Here are just a few!
He would sometimes go days without
eating, to save souls!
In other intervals, he would prepare
a pot of potatoes and eat two or three a day; this went on for the first few
years in his Parish of Ars.
SLEEP! He would deprive himself of sleep, often
sleeping no more than 3-4 hours a night, after an exhausting daily schedule.
DISCIPLINE. He would spare himself nothing to save souls.
He would scourge himself at night to the shedding of blood to bring souls back
DEVIL! To add to the suffering, the devil would
visit him at night, insult him, shake his bed and even at times set his bed on
fire. The Cure of Ars patiently suffered
this to save souls!
THE FLOOR, NO BED! He chose to willingly sleep on the floor and
sacrifice the comfort of a normal bed. He knew that the true time for resting
would be in heaven with the many souls that he would suffer to save!
Physical ailments such as an open
sore arm, rheumatism, a double hernia, headaches and toothaches, neuralgia—all
of these he willingly suffered, keenly aware of the value of one immortal soul
before the eyes of God!
CONFESSOR. Without a doubt the greatest penance of the
Cure of Ars was the long hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades that he
spent in the confessional. He spent 41 years in the parish of Ars. The length of time that he would spend in the
confessional defies reason and any natural explanation. Only God’s grace could
sustain anyone to carry out such an insurmountable task. He would spend from 13
to 17 hours in the confessional on a daily basis.
THE CONFESSIONAL ITSELF! In most modern churches confessionals are
well-lighted, air-conditioned in the summer and warmly-heated in the winter.
Not so for the Cure of Ars and his little cubicle! It was literally the size of
a small closet. In the summer the fetid air was suffocating, burning,
asphyxiating to the point of being unsupportable; in the winter, it would be like being cooped
up in a freezer. How could it be done?
Simply because this great saint knew keenly the value of an immortal soul.
10.CALUMNY! The Cure of Ars was slandered and calumniated
more than once. The other priests signed a petition to send to the Bishop to expel
him from the parish of Ars—The Cure of Ars also signed it, feeling himself
unworthy! Why all this grief? Only one reason—great love for “The Good God” and
great love for what God loves most the salvation of an immortal soul!
We have one life to live. No second
chances! The devil knows that his time
is short; so he launches all of his ammunition to win souls for himself and rob
them from Almighty God. Your immortal
soul was created out of love for God; it was redeemed by the Precious Blood of
Jesus that was shed in abundance on Calvary that first Good Friday. Following in the footsteps of St. Ignatius
of Loyola, St Francis Xavier, Saints John
Bosco and St Dominic Savio and the holy Saint John Vianney, the Cure of
Ars, what are you willing to do to procure the salvation of your immortal soul,
the immortal souls of those whom God has entrusted to you, and to strive for
the salvation of the whole world.
Remember the words of Jesus: “What would it profit a man to gain the
whole world and lose his soul?” May we all treasure the salvation of our soul
as the pearl of infinite price!