Our One Purpose
Urged by faith, We are obliged to believe and to hold that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We firmly believe in her, and We confess absolutely that outside of Her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins... Furthermore, We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is wholly necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.--Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam
Such muscular Catholicism one hardly hears anymore from the pulpits, since we now live in an age of pluralism and ecumenism, where "ecumenism" is defined as mutual understanding and little more. The purpose of ecumenism, as the Church has always taught, is to turn souls from error, bring them into the one true Church, and thus save them. Today, a lamentable indifferentism prevails among Catholics, many who think it suffices that one merely be sincere and of good will in order to be saved. This is a modern idea, which has found its home only in the 20th and 21st centuries; the Church has never so held. Rather, the vast majority of papal pronouncements echo the words of Pope Boniface above: the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation.
Before people go quoting Lumen Gentium, bear in mind that no new formulations of doctrine may contradict previously stated doctrine. Vatican II seems to have softened the teaching of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, and, considering it was a pastoral and not dogmatic council, its teachings must be interpreted and understood in light of and consonant with all that came before. Where there is doubt, it is not traditional magisterial pronouncements that must bend, but rather the non-dogmatic formulations of Vatican II.
Some claim that those in invincible ignorance may be saved. If so, this is the exception and not the rule. Yet Catholics treat the exception as the rule, and too many consider hell a quaint notion that no longer applies. Not so the saints of old. St. Leonard of Pt. Maurice rankled many by this sobering sermon, which brings forth the reality of hell and the many who tumble headlong there. One illuminating excerpt:
[St. Vincent Ferrer] relates that an archdeacon in Lyons gave up his charge and retreated into a desert place to do penance, and that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After his death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, "Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell."Five saved out of 33,000.
And Our Lady of Fatima, showing the shepherd children a vision of hell, which was forever seared into their memories, said, "Souls are falling into hell like snowflakes because there are none to pray and sacrifice for them."
The Catholic Church teaches unambiguously that one mortal sin kills the soul, deprives it of the life of grace and of all merits, and cuts it off from God. The Church also teaches that the only way to be forgiven of mortal sin is through sacramental confession. The Church yet again clearly teaches what some of those mortal sins are: sex outside of marriage, masturbation, use of contraception, missing one's Sunday obligation...
Now consider the many non-Catholics in the world who have even ONCE committed any of the sins above. It is sufficient to bring about the death of their souls! Consider the many people who do not even consider these sins, and therefore feel no need to confess them to obtain forgiveness. They may be well-intentioned; they may volunteer at charities; they may be good parents who love their children--none of that changes the fact that these are mortal sins that may result in the death of the soul, and therefore could send the offender to hell. Subjective culpability, of course, will be weighed in the eyes of God, and we can't judge that--but it does not change the fact that the world is in desperate need of the light of truth, found in its fullness in the one true faith.
No other conclusion is possible, not if we believe what the Church teaches. And if we do, then our task is urgent. The time for idleness, for frivolity, for indifference is over. The fate of millions hangs in the balance--and Scripture makes clear that we WILL be held accountable for their souls.
When I say to the wicked: O wicked man, thou shalt surely die: if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked man from his way: that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand.--Ezekiel 33:8The gift of your Catholic faith is given to you, not to keep to yourself, but to take to a world desperately in need of light and truth and LOVE. Evangelization is not optional; it is our solemn duty. The enemy would like nothing more than to keep us from this duty by luring us away by the thousand distractions this world offers. Those serious about becoming saints, however, know we must be vigilant against turning away from this one goal that eclipses all others: the salvation of souls.
Our whole being should strive to love God above all things--and if we love God, we love what He loves: souls. It is for souls that He suffered and died. If we are His true friends, we will suffer and die with him--some as white martyrs, some as red--in order to bring souls to Our Lord, who so thirsts for souls.
If the task seems daunting and you don't know where to begin, then begin with this simple prayer, which God will not fail to answer: "Lord, use me to save souls, in whatever way you wish."