We are not universalists. What that means is that we do not believe that people are saved automatically. I am not by the way referring to the Unitarian Universalist Church we are not them either. That is something different. I am referring to an idea in Catholicism called universalism that says all will be saved.
The reason I say this is because if we were Catholic universalists Paul’s reading would be completely unnecessary. We would simply live our lives as we want, pray when we had a chance and do our best not to sin and we would be saved just like everyone else. This, however, is not what Paul says. He actually says that we must do all things for the Glory of God that as many may be saved as possible. This means that people’s salvation requires our co-operation with grace. The more we co-operate with grace the more grace can work through us and people may be saved.
What the Church also teaches is that we must co-operate with grace charitably. We must be careful of a form of faith that attacks others and angrily destroys others for the sake of being right theologically. This principle which comes from St. Augustine is in all things charity. Therefore, our response must be one that communicates our faith in a way the helps people understand it. A good example is the saying you catch more flies with honey.
Our finest hour
We are living in a time where this call is our finest hour. I remember a story once of Gene Kranz who by the way was Catholic. If you do not remember the name, he was the man in charge of Mission Control during Apollo 13. I remember those days and I remember all eyes were on Gene Kranz like they are on Anthony Fauci today. Of course, Apollo 13 did not last months into over a year but that is a story for another time.
He is quoted as saying that Apollo 13 was not a failure but was NASA's finest hour.
Our country is going through a difficult time and here we see the impeachment proceedings happening again due to the January 6th event at the Capitol building.
Aside from the proceedings what do we see people fighting for—they are fighting for their political territory for the future of the country for many things some of which we agree with and some of which we do not. What must our response be? Our focus is not on Washington but on the Kingdom of Heaven. Our focus must be completely different. We must do whatever it takes for the salvation of souls and when I say we, I mean we.
Our prime mission: salvation of souls
It is our job. It is every Catholic’s job from the Pope to children receiving First Communion but many people are instead lost in seeking political, social and economic territory. There is nothing wrong with that as long as our first priority is not only the salvation of our souls but the souls of others. That must be a motivator of our actions.
If you are a legislator—do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
If you are a doctor— do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
If you are a mother or father— do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
If you are a son or daughter— do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
If you are a student— do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
If you are a house cleaner— do your work as you see fit but do it for the glory of God.
Holiness is not doing good things, it is allowing Christ in to change our whole being so that He forms us into Holy people.
The formula for sainthood
St. Maximillian Kolbe taught a great principle: W+w=S. What that means is when our will matches God’s will we become saints. We invite the Lord to mold us and shape us so that we may become more like him in all we do. In our thoughts and in our actions. On the radio, I explain it in the terms of speaking another language. The key to learning another language is to think in that language. When you do that your personality changes slightly so to conform more to the culture of the language. I am a slightly different person when I speak Spanish and when I speak Portuguese. I am thinking in the language and in the culture.
Seeking to be a saint is doing the same thing. It is not to do good things, it is to ask God to conform us to the way he wants us so that all we do glorifies him. This means the more our will matches God’s will the more we become the people Christ called us to be personally, as a parish and a Church. That is why over and over again Catholic teaching says prayer must be the sine qua non of our faith.
We need to be people of prayer to allow God to change us. To lead us away from sin and towards holiness that all we do will glorify God and everything we do will glorify God. We can only do that when we allow Him to conform us according to His will.
If you are looking for a good measure for an examination of conscience ask yourself where you have not glorified God in your actions and your speech. Ask where you do not represent the Kingdom of God as an agent in the mission for the salvation of souls.
Lord Jesus make me holy
Here is a prayer for Lent which begins on Wednesday. Say this every day throughout Lent and encourage it in your families and in your lives and among your Catholic friends. “Lord Jesus make me holy.” Make that a part of your daily routine adding it to your daily prayer. See what happens during Lent and where you are in Easter.
We have a mission to grow in holiness and to do all for the glory of God. That is why we were baptized everything else is secondary to that regardless of whom we may be.