The last words that St. Ignatius said to his dear friend St. Francis Xavier as he sent him off to India and the Far East to save souls were: “Go set all on fire!” The two friends would not be reunited in friendship until they met in heaven.
The saints have a double quality (a two-edged sword) within their hearts and souls: a burning and all- consuming love for God and a hunger and thirst for the salvation of immortal souls!
Fr. John Hardon, S.J. , of happy memory, asserts that the Sacrament of Confirmation is a Sacrament that is an ardent call to the apostolate. Once we have received the abundance of the Holy Spirit, a fiery passion for the love of God and the salvation of souls should consume us!
St. Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit priest and modern saint, loved God and souls to the point of exhaustion. One of his most challenging statements was: “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.” Once when his friends thought that he was overdoing and working too hard, another Jesuit saint, Saint Peter Canisius S.J. rebutted: “We will have all eternity to rest; now is the time to work.”
What motivated these saints? A burning love for God and a keen awareness of the value of one immortal soul. St. Thomas Aquinas asserted: “One immortal soul is worth more than the whole created universe.” If that were not enough to motivate apostolic zeal why not ponder the Precious Blood of Jesus. Every drop of the Precious Blood of Jesus was poured out on Calvary that first Good Friday for the salvation of all souls as well as every individual soul!
St. Peter affirms this: “You were ransomed by your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” (I Pet. 18-19)
On the wall of St. John Bosco, St. Dominic Savio noticed a saying written in Latin. St. John Bosco interpreted it: “Give me souls and take all the rest away.” This was the motto that motivated the life of this great saint who worked to save so many young people whose life and souls were in grave jeopardy!
After leading us through the demanding process of meditating upon sin, culminating in the General Confession, St. Ignatius of Loyola presents us with the Contemplation of the Call of the King. The grace that we beg for is not to be deaf to the call of the King. However, the authentic drive in this Ignatian Contemplation is to motivate us with an insatiable hunger and zeal for the salvation of immortal souls.
The Mystical Doctor of the Church, Saint John of the Cross, commented that true charity is manifested by apostolic zeal—a love for God and what God loves. What does God love most of all in His creation? Beyond the shadow of the doubt: the salvation of immortal souls.
If all of these testimonies of the saints were not enough to ignite within our hearts a fire of zeal and love for souls, then let the words of Jesus our Lord, God and Savior motivate you. Here are three motivational verses:
“What would it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process? What can a man exchange for his soul? (These words Ignatius repeated to knock at the heart of Xavier and move him towards conversion!)
Also, Our Lord said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth and I am not in peace until that fire be enkindled.”
Using an image from the farm and nature Jesus challenges us to overcome our laziness and complacency with these words: “The harvest is rich and the laborers are few; beg the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers.”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, once preaching on Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said that Jesus was the greatest of all Teachers. However, the most essential and fundamental of the missions of Jesus, and His primary purpose for which He came to earth, is to be a Savior!
Jesus was conceived, born, lived, suffered and died on the cross to save all of humanity as well as every individual soul from the grips of the devil, slavery to sin, and the eternal fires of hell. For that reason His name, given to Him by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, was JESUS. Why? “He will come to save the people of their sins.”(Lk. 1: 31).
May we have the greatest respect for the Name that is above all names: Jesus. At this Holy Name all knees will bend in heaven, on earth and even under the earth. (Phil. 2:10)
In conclusion, bring this reflection to the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in prayer. Do I really love God? If so, how do I show this love for God in my concrete actions? In imitation of the saints, the authentic friends of God, do I have a fiery zeal and passion in my heart that is consuming me to hear the voice of Christ the King and labor strenuously with Him for the salvation of immortal souls? Bring this to prayer. Ask Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, who with fiery zeal brought Jesus to St. Elizabeth and the baby John the Baptist, to ignite within your heart an unquenchable zeal and fire—Go set all on fire!