One of the greatest desires of Almighty God is the conversion of sinners. That poor sinners will leave their sinful lifestyles and turn back to the love of God is high on the list of God’s desires.
Furthermore, Our Lady, who is the one closest to God Almighty, shares this same desire: that poor sinners will renounce their sinful lifestyles and return to God. Our Lady of Lourdes, who appeared 18 times in the year 1858 to the little peasant child, Bernadette Soubirous, asked the little girl to pray and to offer up sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Very similar to the message of Lourdes was that of Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared 6 times in the year 1917 to three simple shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. Our Lady said with great sorrow in her heart that many souls were lost because there were not sufficient prayers and sacrifices offered for these poor sinners.
On July 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared to the three children of Fatima and revealed to them a graphic vision of Hell! From then on the children, but most especially Jacinta, offered many sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. This vision of hell left such a profound and indelible impression upon Jacinta that she offered all she possibly could in her short life for the conversion of poor sinners, to win souls for God.
The sacrifices of this little girl, beatified by Saint Pope John Paul II together with her brother Francisco, were constant and heroic:
- She sacrificed her favorite food: those sweet and delicious grapes.
- She wore around her waist a rope which caused her discomfort all day.
- She sacrificed her lunch for the poor whom she met on the roadside.
- On a hot summer day, dying of thirst, she sacrificed drinking water.
- She prayed the prayers the angel taught her, prostrate on the ground.
- With the reminder of her brother Francisco, she offered up her headache.
- She prayed many, many Rosaries to Our Lady for the conversion of sinners.
- Interrogated and threatened by the local authorities, she was willing to suffer being boiled to death rather than to deny that she saw Our Lady.
- Finally, Jacinta suffered a painful death, in which she died almost alone in a hospital far from her home. All this she did out of love for Almighty God and for the conversion and salvation of sinners. How much love this little girl had for God and God’s crown of creation in this world—the human person!
The saints are different in many ways, coming from different historical periods, diverse family backgrounds, widely diverse cultural environments, endowed with different temperaments as well as intellectual gifts. However, all the saints have this in common: a great love for God and a great love for what God really loves most in all of His creation, the salvation of the souls of all the human persons that He has created. This is what He desires first and foremost: their eternal salvation.
On one occasion a child entered into the office of a priest. The young boy, looking up on the wall saw a few words written in Latin. Inquisitive, the boy asked the priest the meaning of those few words; these words were the motto and motor-force of the life of this great priest. The interpretation would be: “Give me souls and take all the rest away.” The name of this priest was the great Saint John Bosco; the name of the boy was Saint Dominic Savio. This boy turned to Bosco and said: “I am the cloth and you are the tailor; make me into a saint.” Before the boy turned 15 he was already dead. However, he reached his ardent desire: he died a saint! Both Bosco and Savio had this point in common: a great love for God and an inflamed love for the salvation of souls.
One of the most pervasive maladies in the modern world, even all-pervasive within the Catholic Church, is the cancer of mediocrity. This is an all-pervasive, poisonous and contagious spiritual disease in which many Catholics, millions upon millions have no fire, have no zeal, have no burning desire to work with God for the salvation of immortal souls.
The Word of God speaks powerfully against this spiritual condition with these words from the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation: “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: I know your works: I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:14-15)
Mediocre Catholics are lukewarm; they are tepid; they are lifeless. They are languid, slovenly and lazy. They have no fire, no zeal, no life, no strong desires. They have lost their first love, if indeed they had love in the first place! They suffer from an appalling spiritual anemia. They are living but not really alive spiritually! As the Word of God says so forcefully, God vomits or spits them out of His mouth. Living in this spiritual environment, all of us must fight forcefully so as not to slowly descend into this dangerous pit of mediocrity. The lives of the saints can spur us on as in the following…
Conversion to God and a Zeal for Souls
Both Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier underwent powerful conversions which transformed both of them into fiery warriors of God, with an ardent desire to save many souls. Ignatius was converted by receiving a near-fatal wound in the battle of Pamplona and by reading the lives of saints. Upon reading about the saints, a fire and ardent zeal were ignited in Ignatius’ heart to work with God for the salvation of immortal souls. In his classic, the Spiritual Exercises, he presents a meditation/contemplation The Call of the Temporal King so as to follow the call of the Eternal King. One of the primary purposes of this meditation is for us to listen attentively to the Call of the Eternal King, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to work side by side with Jesus in striving for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of immortal souls.
Saint Francis Xavier went through his conversion by means of the doing the Spiritual Exercises under the direction of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Paris. After completing the Exercises, Xavier was radically transformed and converted into a fiery warrior and disciple of the Lord of Lord’s, the King of King’s, Jesus Christ. After Xavier was ordained a priest, he became the secretary of Ignatius. The Pope wanted to send priests to India and other countries in the Far-East, following the missionary mandate of Jesus to go out to the whole world to preach and baptize. So Ignatius sent Francis Xavier. The last words that Ignatius said to Xavier, who would become one of the greatest missionaries in world history, were: go set the world on fire! Thousands upon thousands of souls were saved in India, Malaysia and even Japan by Xavier, who desired ardently the conversion of sinners and the salvation of immortal souls. Many nights he could no longer lift up his arm because he had baptized so many individuals during the course of the day—that is truly love for the conversion and salvation of souls!
Now it is your turn! Enter into silence which will lead you into prayer. The Lord of Lord’s and the King of Kings is calling you right now. He wants you to work with Him in the conversion of sinners and the salvation of immortal souls. What can you do right now to bring at least one soul to conversion? Listen to these encouraging words in the Letter of Saint James: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
In imitation of the saints, let us work hard now and we can rest for all eternity with the angels, the saints, Our Lady who is the Queen of angels and saints, and with God Himself. May we all be motivated by the virtue of apostolic zeal and an ardent desire to work with God in the salvation of countless sinners! Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that one soul is worth more than the whole created universe. Why? Saint Peter teaches us: “You were ransomed from 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 and unblemished lamb. (I Peter 1:18-19). May the reality of the Precious Blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross on Good Friday for the conversion of sinners, with all of the pain and anguish He suffered for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of their immortal souls, ignite within us zeal for the conversion and salvation of sinners. Right now God is speaking to your heart with these words: GO NOW AND SET ALL ON FIRE!!!