These Souls! These Souls!

Then Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
What profit is there for a man to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”    -Luke 9:23-25

In commenting on this Gospel passage earlier this Lent, one of our priests cited a line from “A Man for All Seasons”.  When Richard Rich had just perjured himself against Sir Thomas More in exchange for the Attorney Generalship of Wales, the Saint says to him, “Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but Wales!”  So many forfeit so much for so little!

Reflecting on this, Father said:  “There are souls who die, and die forever.  There are souls who are born again, and live forever.”

These are souls who die, and die forever.  There are souls who are born again, and live forever.

The salvation of souls is at stake.

Crucifixion with St. DominicThis is what motivated the great missionary and founder St. Anthony Mary Claret, who as a child would like awake at night whispering to himself, “Siempre!  Siempre!”  “Forever!  Forever!”

This is what motivated St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit “proto-missionary” and patron of the missions, who wrote from India his impassioned plea for missionaries to the apparently indifferent academics of Europe:  “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”

This is what motivated our Holy Father St. Dominic, who spent his days tirelessly preaching the Gospel and his nights crying out to God in prayer: “What will become of sinners?”

Dominican Nun praying at foot of CrucifixThis cry of our Holy Father St. Dominic echoes in the heart of his cloistered daughters, impelling us to pour out our lives in fidelity and generosity to God in union with Jesus and Mary for the salvation of souls.  “As the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all, offered Himself completely for our salvation, [the Dominican friars and nuns] consider themselves to be truly His members primarily when they are spending themselves totally for souls” (our Constitutions).

Can anyone who loves God and neighbor continue on complaisantly while souls are choosing eternal damnation over eternal life?  In the words of this ardent prayer from the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary handbook:

Mercy, mercy O my God, mercy for souls, that are lost around us each day!

The devil in his course springs from his abyss to make his horrible conquests, to excite his infernal troops to cry out: these souls! these souls! to ruin souls.

They fall poor souls like the leaves in Autumn, into the eternal gulf.

Mercy, mercy, O my God, and we Thy servants again cry: These souls! these souls! we must have these souls, to lead them to Heaven.

We ask this favor, by the wounds of Jesus our Savior, who descended from Heaven, for our redemption, who at this hour is obliged to punish. Perhaps one more prayer will be heard that will stay the punishment.

Mercy for the guilty souls, who are on the point of falling into Hell.

Mercy for the feeble and tottering souls, who are on the point of abandoning their vocations.

Mercy for souls, who at this hour blaspheme, curse and swear.

With Jesus, by Jesus, in the name of Jesus and in the name of Mary, we cry: Mercy! mercy! O God.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!