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On the Importance of Salvation

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SALVATION

“But we entreat you, brethren…that you do your own business.”
cf 1 Thessalonians 4:10, 11

The business of eternal salvation is to us the most important of all business; but it is also the most neglected by Christians. They are diligent, and lose no time in seeking to gain a lawsuit or a situation of emolument. How many measures taken to attain these objects! How many means adopted! They neither eat nor sleep. And what CieloEInfierno(4949292904)[HeavenAndHell]efforts do they make to secure their eternal salvation? How do they live? To save their souls, the greater number of Christians do nothing; on the contrary, they do everything to bring their souls to perdition; they live as if death, judgment, hell, heaven, and eternity were not truths of faith, but fables invented by the poets. If a person lose a lawsuit, or a harvest crop, how great is his pain and distress of mind! With what zeal does he labor to repair the loss! If worldlings lose a horse, or a dog, with what diligence do they seek after it! But if they lose the grace of God, they sleep, and jest, and laugh. All blush at being told that they neglect their worldly affairs; but how few are ashamed to neglect the business of eternity, which is the most important of all business. The worldling says that the saints were truly wise, because they sought only the salvation of their souls; and still he attends to all worldly business, but utterly neglects the concerns of the soul. Brethren, says St. Paul, let the great business of your eternal salvation be the sole object of all your care. This is to you the most important of all affairs. “Rogamus vos, ut vetrum negotium agatis.” Let us then be persuaded that eternal salvation is for us the most important business–the only business–and that, if once neglected, it is an irreparable business.

It is the most important business; because, if the soul be lost, all is lost. We ought to set a higher value on the soul than all the goods of the earth. “The soul,” says St. Chrysostom,” is more precious than the whole world!” To be convinced of this truth, it is enough to know that God himself has condemned his Son to death in order to save our souls. “For God so loved the world,, as to give his only-begotten Son” (John 3:16). The Eternal Word has not refused to purchase them with his own blood. “You are bought with a great price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Hence a holy father says that man appears to be of as much value as God. “Tam pretioso munere humana redemptio agitur, ut homo Deum valere videatur.” Hence Jesus Christ has asked, “What exchange shall a man give for his soul?” (cf Matthew 16:26). If, then, such is the value of the soul, for what earthly good shall a man exchange and lose it?

StPhilipNeri4St. Philip Neri had just reason to say that he who does not attend to the salvation of his soul, is a fool. Were there on this earth two classes of men, one mortal and the other immortal, and were the former to see the latter seeking after the things of this world, its honors, goods and amusements, they should certainly exclaim, “O fools that you are! You have it in your power to acquire eternal riches; and do you fix your thoughts on those miserable and transitory things? Will you, for these, condemn yourselves to an eternity of torments in the next life? Leave us, for whom all shall end at death, to seek after the earthly goods.” But no; we are all immortal. How, then, does it happen that so many lose their souls for the miserable pleasures of this life? How does it come to pass, says Salvian, that Christians believe in judgment, hell and eternity, and still live as if they feared them not? “Quid causae est quod Christianus, si futura credit, futura non timeat?”

Affections and Prayers

Ah, my God! How have I spent so many years, which thou hast given me in order to secure my eternal salvation? Thou, my Redeemer, hast purchased my soul with thy blood, and hast consigned it to me that I might attend to its salvation; and I have labored only for its perdition by offending thee, who hast loved me so tenderly. I thank thee for giving me time to be able to repair the great loss which I have suffered. I have lost my soul and thy grace. Lord, I am sorry with my whole heart for my past offenses, and I resolve, henceforth, to lose every thing, even my life, rather than forfeit thy friendship. I love thee above all things, and I resolve always to love thee, my Sovereign Good, who art worthy of infinite love. Assist me, my Jesus, that this purpose may not be like my past resolutions, to which I have been always unfaithful. Take me out of life rather than suffer me ever again to offend thee, or ever to cease to love thee. O Mary, my hope after Jesus, save me by obtaining for me holy perseverance.

Editor’s Note: This meditation is from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Preparation for Death” (1758).

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Art: Cielo e infierno [Heaven and Hell] (Dura subexposición del atardecer desde el balcón de casa) [Timed underexposure of nightfall from the balcony of my house], Andrés Nieto Porras from Palma de Mallorca, España, uploaded by russavia, 1 September 2010, CC; Portrait von Philipp (Filippo) Neri [1615-1595], Federico Zuccaro, 1593, PD-US copyright expired; both Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Albert Fiedeldey

    Very good. It is very hard to get into contact with our own soul I find. I try and say my prayers, go to mass, confession, etc. but only seem to be scratching at the surface. Those deeper powers or impulses that are at the heart of my bad thoughts
    and deeds are very hard to reach. I think we have to turn things around, ourselves inside out so to speak to allow those true Colours to surface. This is a scary process though, as we are all pharisees at heart

    • LizEst

      A spiritual director can be very helpful for these blind spots. We recommend you make an appointment to a see a Magisterium-faithful director, if you do not have one already. God bless you, Albert.

    • Patricia

      Try reading Dan’s book, Navigating the Interior Life! Is is a great guide and wil open up your spiritual life and journey from right where you are now. 🙂

  • Patricia

    The words of this great saint and others put so much emphasis on our souls, preparing our souls with our interior surrender to the will of God and growing in virtue, the value of one Mass, one Holy Communion, one Hail Mary, of spending time with the Blessed Sacrament! Today we don’t hear this….we hear that we have a reasonable expectation that all (or most) men are saved…..and most are not living with Christ as the very deepest center of their lives with all that goes with it! Thank you for sharing this work and guiding us back to where we are meant to be in seeking our salvation. We also need to do more to address the idea in the world about that “once saved, always saved”mentalitity, which is a saying that is seeping into the minds of Catholics too!

    • marybernadette

      Tragically, this is true, Patricia. It reminds me of the Words of Our Lord that we cannot love both ‘God and mammon.’ If we are not truly trying to ‘sell out for God’ ( ‘with fear and trembling work out your salvation’ the words of St. Paul,, I’m not sure where he said it), there is a danger of us being lulled into a false sense of security and forget the Words of the Lord when he said, ‘Be you hot or cold or I will spew you out of my mouth.’

      • Patricia

        Perhaps this is the verse you are thinking about …it is from Rev 3:14-19:
        ‘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. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire* so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.j

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