How can I preach the truth and save souls
learn how to preach with courage, correctness and charity
Saving Souls…this is our life’s calling. This is it. This is how we love like Jesus loved us. We are all called to be missionaries and “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel” (Mark 16:15) in our neighborhood and aboard.
After the fall of Adam and Eve, there is no other reason for our existence but to see that we and others obtain Eternal Life. We are not here on earth to have a great time with each other and the world’s pleasures; we are here to love God by serving Him for the salvation of souls. That is what Jesus did, and we are to follow His example so we can do just that.
God, His apostles and the saints preached in varied ways according to what was best for each unique circumstance. They never omitted the topics the people needed to hear most; they preached them.
We need to learn what the specific words God wills us to speak and/or not speak; certain things He wishes us to do and/or not do, so we can TRULY help others come to truly love God, which brings about a wonderful life of joy/peace on earth and for all eternity.
One Person Can Save Souls
Truly, souls are dying. Does anyone care?
If we really do, then we must preach. Nothing else matters if we can’t avoid eternal torment.
There is a perfect way to preach (God’s will) that will be greatly effective, so much so, that with the Holy Spirit working through us, we can increase fear of the Lord in God’s children and they will actually desire a saving faith.
Then we can go on and teach them The Way.
Yes, just one man God can turn a dying soul towards the path of Life.
“She [riddled in sin] then told him [St. John of the Cross] that she had been tempted sorely, and that she had resolved to fight no longer [to obtain a saving faith]; the attractions of sin has prevailed over the terrors of the judgment to come. The holy man heard her with horror, and then lifting up his eyes to God, and full of the cost compassionate zeal [for her soul], spoke to the miserable woman of the terrible judgment of God upon sinners, and of the inevitable penalties which awaited her. She was moved at last, and burst into tears of true contrition, fell upon her knees and cried to God for pardon.”
— Life of St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
Soul’s Aren’t Being Saved
Tragically, because we live in a time of such great darkness most of God’s children don’t even know we need to be running to God, for mercy, to grow into a saving faith in order to Live. As a result, we are going off to eternal torment. Horrific!
The truth simply isn’t being preached. I hate to think of the punishment that is being incurred upon those God has called to preach the truth, who simply aren’t. I shutter!
If someone were to be so blessed and given the grace to know they need to amend their ways for the salvation of their soul, tragically there will simply be no one to truly help them (outside of God) so they can more easily flee to God’s love for His helping grace to move them away from their sins, so they can grow from just some faith into a true saving faith in Christ.
Sadly, most, even among the faithful, have been deceived so greatly, we have little, if any, knowledge of The Way, from not possessing much, if any, Fear of the Lord: fear of sin and its horrible consequences against God, others and ourselves.
We are dying! The devil has us in his trap. Where are God’s disciples to help save our souls? Where is the preaching that will put fire under our feet and move us to change?
Well, this kind of preaching like the apostles and saints have done–like God calls us to do–simply isn’t here today, but if you feel God calling you to really follow Him and truly save souls, you can become one of God’s few beloved disciples who actually preaches The Way to Eternal Life.
Please answer God’s call, your and others eternity depends upon you, “Yes, Lord.” Work hard to grow in faith so God can use you to save His children. God can use you to give His children the fear of the Lord they simply NEED so to have the motivation to change.
We can do this in every thought we think, word we speak, and work we perform. Praise God! We can come to preach the truth and teach God’s children how to obtain Eternal Life just like Christ and His disciples had done. Lets learn how to do just that.
In this article I will not only go over the qualities we need to have and how to work on increasing them so we can preach well, but I will tell us when, where and how we can most effectively preach as we learn from every experience to grow and change and obtain the virtues and knowledge we need to allow God to truly save souls through us.
Qualities Needed to Preach Well
To save souls by preaching the truth we must have the following qualities:
- Know The Way or we will preach a false truth;
- Be growing in our personal faith–growing in virtues (patience, self-control, etc.)–towards maturity in the faith or we are really dead in our faith and can’t truly help anyone;
- Desire to preach, only to love God and fulfill His will for the salvation of souls or we will seek to do “good” but our intentions will actually be bad or we will omit doing good to please others and keep/win friends;
- Truly love others, by being willing to suffer greatly, and forgive others when others treat us poorly, or we won’t love like Christ loves us but instead we will guide others away from God by our poor examples;
- Be humble or our pride will blind us to what is truly good and we won’t know what to say or not say, or do or not do;
- Grateful for criticism or we won’t be able to grow ourselves and leave our sins so to come to truly preach perfectly;
- Have courage or our fears–especially of rejection and ridicule–will keep us from serving God the way God wills. Then God’s plans to use us will be lost;
- Endure under tribulation or we won’t persevere under trial, loving the cross, and we will suffer despair and run from our suffering, not rejoice in it;
- Be a person of great humble prayer or our preaching will simply be ineffective, since for the devil to be combated, prayer (grace) must be accompanied with preaching;
- Love of the cross (desire to do penance for our and other’s sins) or our preaching will be in vain as the devil will do all he can to keep the ones we preach to from hearing and/or having the strength to change (from a lack grace) that comes from carrying the cross like Christ did for us.
- Exercise prudence or we will not do things according to God’s will and we’ll be working outside of God’s priorities;
- Be meek or we will seek to force others to hear instead of enlightening them and/or speak outside of love–but watch out, the devil will try to convince us that much needed directness (like Christ and His disciples spoke at times) isn’t loving, when it most certainly is;
- Tolerant/understanding of others sinfulness (for we too are great sinners) or we will speak out of disgust for others sins and be too harsh in correcting them;
- Be patient or we will stop helping others who simply need more time to convert;
- Be able to learn or we won’t know what to change or do for each particular situation;
- Have self-control or we will speak or act outside of love;
- Be hard working or this job, which is harder than all of the rest, from being a sloth, will be poorly performed.
We don’t need to have all of these qualities to perfection to begin being a true disciple for Christ, but all of those qualities must be there to some degree and at least, the first five qualities must be in good working order before we can go out and even begin to learn how to serve God well.
Therefore, if we have our foundation correct and are seeking to grow the rest of our virtues, in time, those first qualities and the rest will grow and grow and develop more perfectly as we increase in our faith and learn from our successes and failures. Then with God’s increasing grace, we will come to truly preach, as God wills, just like Christ has done for the salvation of souls.
Learn The Way – Live The Way
The number one quality we need to preach well–to truly do what Jesus did–is of course to learn The Truth (The Way) correctly. Countless people are guiding others right into darkness and don’t even know it. People what to help others, but if we don’t truly know The Way, we will be guiding others to their doom instead. We don’t want to do that.
If we aren’t removing bounds of sins ourselves, increasing in trust and growing in wonderful virtue: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we still haven’t found The Way ourselves and can’t correctly guide anyone else to The Light.
How can we teach anyone how to follow The Way, amend their life so to find the Path to Life for the salvation of their soul, if we don’t know it ourselves? We can’t
Therefore, learning The Way–and living it–is the first and most important quality to preaching well. Oh, please don’t be deceived. We might have gone to school and learned fantastic theology, and have great knowledge of the faith, but that isn’t necessarily The Way. Plenty of us have been taught quite wrong.
Plus, we can hear the true Word, if we are still shrouded in sin. Truly if we aren’t constantly amending our life so to one day perfectly live the Word, then we don’t really know The Way. It is our sins that block us from truly understanding it…therefore, no matter how knowledgeable we believe we are, if we aren’t daily growing into the likeness of Christ, we simply don’t know it.
So we need to go back and learn the faith again…from the saints and then modify our lives accordingly so we can become true teachers of the faith.
“You have become sluggish in hearing. Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).
We don’t necessarily need to know great theology to save souls…we just need to know the requirements of salvation and be able to preach with our own lives, as I will explain.
I’m not saying we need to understand The Way as wonderfully as one of God’s saints–living it perfectly–but we must learn it well enough to where we know what it really takes to become saved and have successfully removed some of our sins–proving we know how to obtain grace and how to discern good from evil–and are continuing to remove sin after sins striving for perfection.
We must have proof our knowledge of the faith is true. Then we can go out and serve God saving souls.
Therefore, if we aren’t successfully removing sin after sin growing in wonderful virtue (qualities of goodness) and we want to preach…wait. We must wean ourselves off of God’s milk and grow enough to at least to be on some solid food. So, please learn The Way or re-learn The Way and begin to live it first before we preach.
Then from seeking God, we will learn how to obtain God’s transforming grace and become able to teach it to others…We will know what works and what doesn’t from our own efforts in succeeding and failing to remove our wretchedness.
Truly, would we want to learn how to paint from someone who only read a book on how to paint or would we want to learn from someone who conquered the many problems the arise with composing a successful painting and is now an accomplished painter. Therefore, before we can successfully preach The Way, we must learn how to live the faith first (or at least some of it correctly), if we want to successfully teach someone else how to live it and obtain a saving faith because wrongful preaching only leads people to their doom.
Must Preach for the Love of God
After we have learned The Way, we can really want to save souls, but if we can’t get our intentions in proper order and preach for the love of God alone to fulfill His will, our preaching will end up leading us into sin and failing.
I can’t express how important it is to be willing to die so to serve God and save souls–wanting nothing but His will.
Our work will seem good but fall into sin…guaranteed, if we get tangled up in seeking anything but to Love God by doing His will, like wanting:
- success in our preaching (hoping for success in our prayers, words or actions)
- conversions (desiring conversions),
- friends to preach with us (seek help, companionship and supporters),
- approval of others (boost our confidence with praise and admiration of others),
Success-If we aren’t careful, when success happens, we will begin to crave it. Who doesn’t like being successful? Oh, lets say someone converts, someone complements us, people begin seeing us a holy…oh, that is exciting and can be good. But with everything good, the devil does his best to twist it and make it into something to pride ourselves with. Then the good winds up destroying our souls. Beware!
We must let go of all desire for anything but God’s will.
If we allow the devil, he will take what is good and see to it we make our success into an attachment–something we long for–an idol. Then we will be seemingly doing “good” on the outside to everyone around us but inside our “good” will be derived and driven by sin, which injures God’s Sacred Heart–doesn’t actually serve Him–causing all sorts of loss of grace and the ruin of works (even if they appear successful).
Plus, when failure happens, from wanting success, we will become upset, fall into despair…or disappointment to say the least. Then, we will clearly see how we have made success our idol–what we long for or need to make us happy. This longing for our will will stifle our progress too, since we took our eyes off of serving God and seeking His will alone and sought our own will. Instead of living for God, we will want things to go the way we desire, as if our will is The Way. Oh, how foolish we can become.
When success doesn’t happen, which is of course God’s will, we must stay strong, trust in God, learn God’s lessons (as there is a lesson in all moment to grow and change towards greater holiness in the good and especially the bad), then accept His wonderful grace and modify our life.
When failure happens, God has a plan listen for if. Perhaps it is to continue to preach the truth even if only a few people can hear a little or even if nobody hears at all. Yes, sadly, with this work, much of the time, we will wind up not appearing to reap any benefits as most people are too hardened in the heart to truly hear.
Such a reality will rip out our hearts, and we will cry for souls as we see people just ignore our warnings and continue to live their life for the world, not repenting of their sins.
“Why do you cry?” a brother asked St. Padre Pio, “Why should I not cry seeing humanity damning itself at all cost.” Biography of St. Padre Pio
Nonetheless, if God allows it, it is His will, therefore we accept it. However, trust in Him and patiently wait for what God wants us to do next and continue to pray especially since sometimes conversion takes a while to happen. Along this journey to save souls, perhaps God will want us to stop preaching with our words and just preach in our prayers and actions…but no matter what we do, we must continue to preach and do what we can for others to learn The Way.
Conversions-To truly love/serve God and preach well, we must never put hope in anyone converting as our goal for our efforts. We must do all simply for the one reason–to love God for His will alone. That is it. Sure we can desire for everyone in the world to be saved, but our true desire–what we really long for–is for God’s will alone.
If God wills to use us for one person to truly convert, great! If He wills 20 million to convert, great! If He wills nobody to convert, great! Yes, whatever God wills is great! We are simply called to serve Him however He wills, success or not.
However, if we are actively seeking the salvation of souls and nobody is growing in Fear of the Lord (fear of sin and its consequences) and moving towards the Light…one must take a good, honest look as to why that is occurring so we can learn from all moments as God intends. (I speak about this later in this article.)
Friends-A great trap we fall into that is opposed to loving God is seeking to make others happy, avoid conflict and have people like us; in other words, wanting friends. We must learn how to banish those sinful desires before we can have any real success in our preaching. To learn more please read, “What is God’s plan for Family, Friends and Salvation.”
Truly, we must seek to love only and be OK with others not liking us. No where in the Word does it say we are to seek to make others happy…not once–that isn’t true love. Yet, bounds of people spend all their days trying to put a smile on others faces as if that is the love God taught us…it isn’t.
We are to seek to save souls and preach the truth. If that makes someone happy and they want to be our friend great, but if not that is fine as well. That is what Jesus did. That is how we love God. People pleasing is only from the deception of the devil to fill us with misguided love for another so we don’t say and do what is needed for the salvation of their soul.
Truly, we are more in danger of falling into great sin if we have just one person befriend us than if the whole world hated us. So beware. Far better to be rejected by all than to have just one supporter if we lack great humility. Don’t crave supporters/friends. The incredible humility one must have to have supporters/friends and not fall into great deadly pride is a terrifying reality. Therefore, trust in what God wills…don’t seek friends.
Approval–When someone likes us and approves of what we are doing or saying, especially if it is someone we reverence, it is very hard to not want their repeated kindness and approval. Just like with seeking friends, wanting conversions or desiring anything that is opposed to God’s will–wanting to be approved by others leads to the loss of God’s fantastic peace, when we don’t get the approval we desire.
We might not realize it, but to do all for God’s approval alone is quite the surrender of one’s will. It won’t come overnight, but with repeatedly repenting and seeking God’s grace crying out “Lord, only You I want…only You!” Focusing on loving others and seeking nothing in return, being willing to carry any cross God allows is the way our preaching won’t be tainted with evil.
However we should know, that prideful pleasure, of wanting praise, can easily become an attachment which causes us to do things solely for the approval of others, because we are now craving the gratification their approval brings. But from our hidden pride most won’t see it. Please beware.
The desire for approval is a most dangerous of desires. If we aren’t careful, our self-seeking attitude will wind up tainting every action we do. This is an issue I speak about in “How to See My Sin.”
This problem is so great, but most will never see that our desires for self-glory are controlling our life choices. But, they can control us so much to where we won’t preach how we are called to preach. We will change what we should say to gain approval, preach with a modified truth, veiled truth or not even say the truth at all, just so we can protect our fan club–even if it is just one person.
Rather than love God and preach the truth, if we seek the approval of others, we will choose to stay mute and prefer others stay in darkness or being misguided–walking to their eternal death–all so we can be approved and avoid conflict. So tragic!
“Those who risk all for God will find that they have both lost all [in the world] and gained all [Eternal Life].”
—St. Teresa of Avila
Truly, many would rather not teach someone about Fear of the Lord (fear of sin and its consequences) nor truly explain what is needed to obtain a saving faith, if there could be a potential conflict.
What kind of horrific punishment awaits us for such a crime against humanity! We MUST banish all desires of self-love to preach well so to save our and other’s souls.
This love of ourselves over others is so great, people will even allow their family members to die, even the ones we are supposed to be honoring and never say a word…all to avoid potential problems. So horrible. We don’t truly love others, but ourselves. When we do this we are guilty of a horrible crime against God and our neighbor.
We must truly love others and be willing to suffer for the love of them. This is how we preach like Christ and His saints, who truly loved and saved souls.
Of course we are not to intentionally upset others nor speak without tackfulness (which I speak about later) but in whatever we do ask ourselves, are we REALLY loving how God would love…with the truth spoken the way we need to hear?
Truly Love Others
How can we preach like Christ if we don’t truly love others. Truly loving another is to want what is best for someone even if it hurts us for them to obtain it. When someone does what is wrong or is following the path of darkness, we must enlighten them to The Way. That is true love…the love God showed us.
“Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
This is very hard as most, from a lack of grace, take enlightenment to ones sinfulness in a negitive light, but the humble, who have ears that can hear will be glad their evil deeds were exposed so they can repent and change. However, for the proud, they will reject the truth, try to cover it and even respond with anger as such reality.
If we try to guide someone to the light the best we can, we will learn how humble they are from their responses to correction. Then we will learn what we need to do to try to humble them enough so they can become open to the truth that saves. For many this takes time, but if we want to save souls this is what we must do.
What is the greatest gift we can give someone…the salvation of their soul. Now we can’t directly give that to anyone, but we can give them the next best thing…we can teach them The Way and provide them with enlightenment of their sinfulness so they can more easily work toward a saving faith.
God provides us with different opportunities to preach (truly love others). Each one is unique so there is no specific direction I can give to help us in each situation. But one fact remains the same: some people will love and really want our gift and some people won’t and then there will be all of the people in-between.
The ones who love our gift, will see what God has done for us, and they will want His transforming miracles in their life. We will speak to them, and they won’t want to argue with us to try to prove they are right or just brush off what we are saying. They will hear the truth and feel the love and seriousness of the matter from God speaking to them through us. They will want our gift. We won’t have to go to them over and over again to beg them to transform. They might even come to us, not for attention, but they might come over and over again for us to help them obtain a saving faith. They have ears that can hear and are humble.
While others, from their great sickness (great blinding sinfulness), will not see our greatest gift to them as a gift at all and will actually think we are disrespecting them and not in fact loving them. They will be offended. They won’t see God’s wonders in our life, because they can only see through distorted lenses which can’t see good from bad. Horribly the Light–the greatest gift we can give someone–will be given to them, and they will reject it…even despise us for it. But we still must love them…especially if they persecute us in return. God perform’s miracles through love.
How to Love-Since we and the one’s we are trying to help suffer from much pride, it makes it is very hard to truly love others. To truly love someone else we must have all of our pride die, but we have much pride. So what are we to do?
Well, Jesus gave us an example of what true love is, which we must strive to follow. Are we REALLY willing to do what Jesus did for another? Are we willing to proclaim the truth soley to love God and Christ who lives in each one of His children…even if it is for someone who we don’t really like? Are we willing to be hated by all and even die to preach the Word that saves?
“Yes!” our excited spirit to serve God might resound. But from our weakness, the first time someone speaks poorly to us, about us or no longer wants to be our friend, from a lack of grace, most won’t rejoice in the cross.
Honestly, how are we going to react when someone goes around from their self-pity, changing the truth, speaking evil about us, telling others what a horrible unloving, self-righteous person we are, when all we tried to do was love them? Are we going to silently endure this cross, praise God for such mistreatment, truly forgive and pray for our offenders salvation? We should.
However, most will have their own self-pity, become angry, seek to reduce what we said so others don’t stay offended or try to prove we are right. Perhaps we will put them down and try to build ourselves up. Aw, many will become just like those we are tying to save…who have little grace, because we have such little grace too. But to preach the true Word for the salvation of souls that takes MUCH GRACE.
Without much grace when the cross of Our Lord comes, most won’t seek to love our neighbor but ourselves. Tragically, if we lack much of grace, our efforts to save souls won’t wind up to enlighten the blind–to save them–but for self-love to prove our righteousness and correctness.
Some people who try to preach the Word but aren’t ready will leave and never try to help (truly love) someone again who treats them badly. Sadly, many have so little willingness to suffer for another.
Sometimes it takes time for hearts to soften. We may need to try many many things to try to figure how someone can hear, and we must be willing to be treated poorly along the Way.
What are we willing to endure to truly love someone and help save their soul from eternal torment?
Even if we have much grace, horribly some people, even in our own families, we will just have to leave–outside of praying and sacrificing for them.
“Though father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).
Sadly there are some people who will be so hard in the heart that nothing we do or say can get them to reduce their pride enough to hear anything at all. “Neither will they be persuaded [to amend their lives] if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). They just won’t hear.
Tragically, they may even become completely opposed to us and the truth–the Word–we preach. To our surprise, from their horrible blindness they suffer, they will truly believe they are correct and justified in their behavior even as they persecute us. But with God’s grace we will still love them…just without words.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” Matthew 10:34-36
But for some, who can obtain ears that can hear, if we don’t grow weary waiting for their conversion, and keep on reaching out to them, little by little as God wills, they will start to hear and change and continue to change, much of the time needing us to spur them along, and move closer and closer towards a saving faith. Hopefully they will obtain it before their hour comes. Praise Jesus!
Therefore just because someone didn’t convert right away, doesn’t mean they won’t ever change. Sometimes we will have to say the same thing over and over again…just in different ways, along with our many prayers, fasting and sacrificing for them, then God’s grace will finally take effect.
Bear the Cross for Souls
Preaching effectively so at least those who have ears to hear or those who one day can have ears can be given the opportunity to repent and change to be saved is what Jesus did for us and that is what following Him is all about, but get ready to suffer.
If we don’t wish to suffer with Christ, then preaching the truth isn’t for us. This we must understand so we don’t run when crosses of various kinds come along as they most certainly will.
If we think we are preaching the truth and saving souls, but we don’t have great crosses like Our Lord and His disciples had suffered, then we simply aren’t preaching the way Christ has done. If we are preaching correctly, we will suffer and suffer just like Our Lord and His saints have experienced.
When we are preaching, we must understand we are preaching to those with illnesses (like ourselves)…who are tainted with pride, perversions and all sorts of issues that keep them from hearing correctly and that can cause them to react in all sorts of horrible ways.
Just like with Christ, the more we speak–especially with clear words directed towards an individual (rather than a group) the more we will suffer.
Most people don’t want their sinfulness and need to repent and change brought into the light. The Light came into the world, but horribly the people prefer the darkness.
This is especially true if we, who are preaching, are considered nothing in the eyes of others. People of authority won’t have as many problems as those who are considered beneath others.
You see, people from their great pride can become even more infuriated when someone as lowly as us preaches The Way to someone who considers themselves so much above us. They won’t see our love, but from their pride, think we are offending them.
Just like with Herodias (Herod’s wife), she was outraged when John the Baptist brought her sin to the light so she could see her evil and great need to repent and change. Therefore, we too should expect similar responses. Sadly when God sent the truth to Herodias to help save her, she greatly lacked humility, demanded respect and was horribly offended at John the Baptist’s words of truth so much so that she sought to kill him for such an offence against her pride.
Instead of praising God for sending someone to enlighten her to the darkness that lived within, so she may have real hope for eternal life, she allowed the evil one to consume her in prideful anger, and she chose to destroy the greatest man ever born of a woman.
When God calls us to speak the direct clear truth, even what might seem to be the harsh, like John the Baptist, sure most won’t want to literally chop off our heads for bringing to light what has been in the dark but I tell you, many of the proud will want to cause us pain for exposing their misery (sending them guilt or having them believe they are being falsely accused which produces pain).
Since most just don’t want to be humbled, many refuse to admit their sin even if we bring it right in front of their face. They will lie–and believe it and are compelled to boost their egos and seek revenge instead of humble themselves and repent.
The proud, who reject grace are under the power of the evil one greatly. They will even when seeking to harm us, spread lies about us all from their great blindness. Sadly they will truly believe those delivering the truth are the one’s at fault and causing them harm. They are suffering in such a horribly misery. They will think they have every right to their behavior. Oh, the misery of blinding pride!
Now that we have been blessed and can see The Way and want to preach, we very well might understand this horrible behavior clearly, as we too, before our conversion, might have behaved just the same. But someone loved us enough to guide us to the Light, even if it was just Jesus, now is our opertunity to love others too.
Are we willing to suffer to save souls? Without self-sacrificial love, we won’t really preach–not the way Christ and the saints have done…not in a way that can save our or other’s souls.
When we first begin to preach with our words, after we gain a good amount of the first five virtues, we should only speak a little…especially until we acquire great humility and much meekness.
With each interaction we do have, we must contemplate what occurred so to learn what worked and what didn’t…so to repent and change with what sins we committed and grow in faith. There is so much to learn, more than I could fill in volumes of books. We will learn mostly from our failures, if we want too. we have to look for our errors.
Each of these qualities I listed in the beginning that we must have to preach well, and grow towards perfection from each time we preach, if we seek God (His grace and lesson).
Sometimes the rejection we might receive from others isn’t just from them rejecting The Way or not liking what we said, sure that can be part of it but perhaps they couldn’t hear the message correctly because of how we delivered the message. Therefore, whenever someone is angry with us, we need to not look to see if we can improve, if we delivered God’s message of love and truth how Jesus would speak His message or did we fall short on some level. Now this is challenging as sometimes Jesus was blunt and other time He spoke in parables or didn’t speak in His words at all, but we know all He did was the best for each persons salvation. at them but look at us and see if we are in deed at fault. Perhaps, in our efforts to love and preach the truth we actually weren’t meek, didn’t have humility–understanding of the other’s faults–or lacked some other quality to preach well. Then we need to apologies and make right our wrong if possible.
At first when we try to preach, until more grace is received, we will fail to preach how we should. If we fail to love how Christ loves that is OK. But we must be truly sorry and seek to do what is necessary to grow in grace, make right our wrongs and make resolutions to amend that sin so it doesn’t happen again.
If we can’t do the above, then this job of being a disciple of Christ isn’t yet for you. Pray, fast and do what you can for others, obtain more grace and then go out and be a true self-sacrificing servant for the salvation of souls.
Our focus must be to seek to do what God wills, doing everything for the love of Him. This is first done by bring to light our desire for self-love and then running to God for grace to banish that longing…proclaiming with all of our heart, “Only You I want, Lord…only You,” as we reject any desire for even the slightest kindness from another.
However sadly some of us, who know some of The Way, won’t love others from fear alone that a cross might come. Many won’t follow Christ and truly love His children with the truth because they have allowed the devil to conjure up all sorts of excuses as to why the clear truth isn’t good to preach. Sure we are supposed to think before we preach and approach everyone differently (as I speak about later), but many will be convinced it is better to have many friends/supporters than just a few true friends…that the people can’t hear anything if they leave. If we have a ministry, we will wonder how we will function if so many leave from hating the truth. But that isn’t what Jesus did.
Where is our trust in God?
Who says everyone is going to leave? Oh, the devil has caught us with fear. Either we preach a dead word driven by the devil or we let go of fear, and allow the Spirit of truth to flow through us and preach the true words of Everlasting Life.
Sure, the saints who preached in churches suffered but after they suffered a little, they had the churches packed with the people who were longing to hear the true words of Everlasting Life. The people are waiting for the truth. They want to be saved. Lets save them!
Don’t Be Someone Who Speaks but is Still Mute
Horribly, because of the great darkness we live in, there are bound of souls, who know nothing about how to obtain a saving faith and are dying an eternal death. We must do more.
“I don’t know how we can be calm, when we see Satan carry so many souls daily away.”
–St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
Souls are dying but tragically most are mute. If we know the truth and speak, sadly most speak so gently so veiled that nobody can hear any message at all…nothing that will give them any fear of the Lord or awaken them to the fact that they are walking to their doom.
Horribly, from our self-love, we shrink from preaching boldly for fear of being rejected. Now there are some, we have no problem with preaching boldly but they lack true love for the people and preach without meekness. We obtain much of God grace to preach like Christ, with all love for the salvation of souls.
We must learn and preach the Way with conviction and love for souls; most of the sheep are very lost.
Preaching the truth, with all love for lost souls, is how we love God. If we can hear God calling us fantastic. God has a plan for us to serve Him for the salvation of souls. He just has us going about doing this in different ways, but the goal is the same the salvation of His beloved children.
Today because we live in a time of great darkness, we are so deprived of the truth. Therefore, we need disciples, who have ears that can hear, with courage to speak, who want to give their lives to God without concern for themselves and save souls.
We must remove our self-love and not be concerned if someone will love or hate us and preach the life saving truth, all for God’s honor and glory. Our sins of omission allowing so many of God’s children to remain in great darkness. If God gives us ears and we don’t preach the truth, truly God will hold us accountable for their loss. God calls us to preach and we must preach the CONSEQUENCE OF SIN.
If we understand the Way (at least enough to help others) and can speak it in a loving intelligible way, we are responsible to preach with words…especially today since the need is so great and the greatest way we can hear is through direct clarity as most aren’t even looking to know the truth nor know they need a saving faith to live.
“Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.”
–St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church
Some of us might be preaching, and that is wonderful, but it is rare if the devil hasn’t muted our tongue or veiled our words so we can avoid confrontation for our benefit. Few preach like the saints with clarity and tell God’s children what will happen if we don’t live the Way. Most are quite guilty of not giving God’s children Fear of the Lord (fear of sin). So few are willing to love God enough to preach Fear of the Lord and give people an understanding of the consequences of sin. As a result of such lukewarm preaching, there are hardly any of God’s children who know the Way and are seeking a saving faith. Sadly, most don’t even know we need such a faith to live.
But if you are up for the challenge and want to serve God and as a result of your service to God, save your own soul, then Praise God. Your and others souls will hasten towards the Light for salvation and can become part of the “few”.
But like I said, this work of saving souls, requires carrying huge crosses. Just like Our Lord told His disciples.
“I have told you this [suffering to come] so that you may not fall away [before you have the grace to delight in such suffering]” (John 16:1).
Truly, this ministry of “go[ing] into the whole world and proclaim[ing] the gospel” (Mark 16:15) is full of pain. Once we clearly tell people what will happen if we don’t truly strive to obey or we try to enlighten them to their sinfulness…when we preach the truth and tell others they don’t appear to be even close to having a saving faith, many, who don’t want to hear, will send us much suffering. Many people don’t want to know they are choosing Hell and don’t want to be told if they are.
“Don’t judge me!” they will call out…as they can’t bear having their sin brought to the light, as they try to convince themselves we are judging them and the one in error so to not see their guilt.
Oh, but if we don’t bring others sins to the light, warn them of the consequences of their sins and teach them what is a saving faith and how to obtain it, they will surely die, and we will be to blame as God has commanded us to preach His entire plan of merry and justice for the salvation of souls.
“I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood [eternal death] of any of you, for I did not shrink [from fear of persecution] from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God” (Acts 20 26-27).
Of course enlightening someone to their sinfulness and telling someone what is a saving faith and what isn’t, isn’t rashly judging anyone at all. Jesus and His true disciples did that. To learn what the sinful judging is that God speaks about in the Word please read the article “What is So Wrong With Judging?”
But, until God blesses us with much grace, this pain people deliver us for loving them will be hard to bear. But stand strong…grace is coming through trust. Then after we receive God’s fantastic strength, we will rejoice in our suffering as God’s holy will for us and for the salvation of souls. But until then, pray–don’t abandon preaching the Way, unless of course our crosses are crushing us (from a lack of grace)–then seek God’s strength from humility, receive His grace and preach again, trusting in God to deliver us the strength needed to correctly and joyfully serve Him as He has called us to do.
Most Don’t Hear
Sadly when we do preach, with all love for the salvation of souls, we will cry out to souls as we preach–in our prayers, actions and words–crying and crying for them to wake up from their sleep of death, and yet, hardly anyone will hear well enough to understand the seriousness of what is at stake nor understand with enough conviction to truly want to leave the world and strive with all our hearts to turn from sin and seek only God and His will alone–by way of the cross. Most simply can’t hear.
Sadly, no matter what we say (in our prayers, actions or words), most will reject the grace God is sending them and still believe they are already doing well enough..that their prayers, devotions and/or good works will save them, when so many are still rejecting God’s saving mercy from liking some horrid sin instead of God and His saving love.
But if we want to serve God and preach, we simply must be willing to endure this cross that will come…for there are a few elect who God wants to use us to bring to the Light so they can be saved. If we say no to God’s call and don’t bravely speak, souls we were called to save will die. Can we imagine, we will be the cause of someones eternal torment. Can there be anything more horrible than that?
On a wonderful note, after we do say yes and preach during the good and the bad, even some of those who persecuted us from their lack of grace and great blindness, if we persist in all patience, meekness and love seeking their salvation through our prayers, actions and words (as God’s wills), just like God has done for us, who have persecuted and reject Him just the same–some of our persecutors might finally accept God’s grace and see their great need to repent and change. Praise Jesus! Truly, we must be there for those who can hear or eventually hear. Our brave preaching will save their and our souls too. Eternity is forever!
The More We Preach the More We Will Suffer
Learn What is the Greatest Good
Yes, we must preach clearly, but, we must also know sometimes God preached silently (in prayer) and sometimes He was very direct and called others lairs and hippocrates, but all of the time He did what was best for each person’s individual needs for their greatest chance of conversion. Sometimes silence is best and other times we must strive to get through others great denial of their sinfulness with the clear direct truth.
To do this correctly, we need to pray and pray a lot, so the Spirit of Love can guide us, while learning what to say and what not to…what is truly the greatest act of love for our neighbor…since we are to seek to love and convert not to make war or prove we are correct. Arguing and defending our selves (to prove we are right) should never exist…Jesus didn’t do that. Humbly take the abuse and false witness preached against us just as Christ did…sure the “proud men [will] smear me with lies” (Psalm 119), but I promise trying to prove we are right…our arguing–even the best of arguments–won’t soften hearts even if we can crush someone’s ill-logic with the truth…guiding someone to the Light with loving/clear words of concern (sometimes soft, sometimes harsh) but with meekness and love is the only way.
But since we, who are preaching, are still great sinners ourselves, as we try to proclaim the Gospel and fail to love how Christ loves (as most certainly will happen), we must repent, forgive ourselves for our sinfulness, and learn from each moment, growing from God’s grace and changing, so we can one day truly grow into God’s image and preach the perfect Way as God intends for us to do.
“This covering [atoning for sin] is charity [love], the readiness to die for God [do what ever is necessary to save souls], and even – if it were possible – to be separated from God for the sake of the salvation of one’s brethren. This kind of charity covers all sins [makes saints], preserves the virtues, placates God’s wrath, makes all things possible, frightens demons away, and is the joy of angels” (The Blessed Mother to St. Bridget of Sweden).
Humility Suffers in Silence
To serve God well, we must be humble and the humble who are rejected, ostracized, mocked, beard false-witness against, looked down upon, accused of being self righteous and have nobody understand them but God, suffer all of this in silence. As St. Anthony Mary Clare teaches, we must “bear in silence [not seeking pity or consolations from man] for the love of God all the harassment which your state of life [living the faith] carries with it, and all the troubles coming to you from Divine Providence [God’s will for our good].” Truly, if we love God and want to save His children, we will be more than willing to endure whatever God wills silently, all with the hopes of someone being able to correctly hear, and learn how to love Our Lord so to be with Him for eternity.
Learn How to Be Silent
When we do begin to preach, we will be rejected and hurt by others. Those of us who are still lacking much grace will not rejoice in our suffering silently. Some will become angry and maybe even reject and treat poorly those who have rejected us. Or depending upon what kind of issues of pride we are suffering from, we might want to prove we are right or maybe perhaps we will seek to re-gain one’s approval (for self-love reasons). These sinful behaviors are very harmful to the work of saving souls and must be rid of before the devil destroys some or all of our efforts.
Of course, we, who are great sinners ourselves, have no right to be angry at anyone for their sinfulness. We are to show mercy: forgive, love and understand their weakness. Truly we are no better (we just perhaps sin differently). We also should never strive to prove we are right for the sake of winning an argument because we don’t want to be seen as wrong. Humble ourselves. Our pride must decrease so God’s glory can shine not our self-love. Only God will save through humility. Nor should we seek to re-gain someone’s approval because we are unwilling to be rejected or not liked by someone. It is OK if people don’t like us; who are trying to impress; who do we want to be our friend God or man. Be silent.
We must we willing to be hated or have someone not behave towards us the way we desire. We don’t need everyone or even anyone’s love and support. All we need is God. If God does provide others to support us…great! If not that is OK too. Focus our eyes on God. Allow His will to be done and accept it–of course it is good. Let go of control. Sure we should continue to seek to win souls for their salvation…not for our self-love or self-glory. Look carefully into our actions to see what our true intentions are. Just seek to love others (not to be loved). If there is the slightest imperfect motive in our preaching/actions amend it. Figure out how to speak/act without sinning ourselves.
To learn how to preach well, of course we need to seek perfection. To do this, we need to learn how to be silent and only speak when necessary. Sure some will think we are oh so rude for not socializing and speaking, but again, who are we trying to impress? If someone wants to judge us as to why we aren’t talking, that is an issue they will have to resolve. We need to seek the greatest good and learning how to speak is essential for saving souls. Therefore, to learn how to speak we must learn how be silent. Unnecessary words only allows the devil to use our weakness to offend God and others. Idle chatter or conversations that aren’t to know, serve and love God through loving others for the salvation of souls should be omitted. Until we gain much grace, we need to be very careful and mostly practice great silence even when preaching or sin will ruin God’s work.
“Every virtue is a good thing but most of all gentleness and meekness” -St. John Chrysostom
This proclaiming of the Word surely won’t be effortless. We will need much courage and wisdom so to preach correctly. It is so easy to be scared right into saying and doing nothing, or being so vague and gentle nobody can hear, when God is crying out to us to live our faith. For others, who lack patience with God, we might want to force others to hear when they won’t. It will be quite hard to say nothing and just pray and sacrifice in silence when God is calling us to love in our actions and prayers alone–not our words. But with the strength of God, constantly learning and improving, we can learn how to live His will.
To do this well, we need to stop thinking we are the ones doing anything…because if we are relying on our abilities, we will fail. We simply can’t do anything truly good without God moving our hand no matter how blessed with talents and knowledge we might have. We need to let go of being in control and allow God to love and convert His children through us at whatever pace He wishes and who He desires.
We need to look for ways to relate to others, so they can hear. We need to change ourselves, not seek for others to simply hear, but for us to adapt to them so they can have a better change of hearing.
“I [Paul] have become all things to all people, that I might by all means [doing whatever I can] save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Sometimes, it will seem like nobody is hearing. There are many reasons could be happening. We need look to improving ourselves as perhaps the lack of conversion has much to do with us. Perhaps we are preaching poorly…too aggressively, too tepid, not clear…etc. Perhaps, we don’t pray fervently before we speak or even ask God if we should speak. Perhaps our actions of serving and suffering isn’t genuine and is lacking from laziness and selfishness. Oh, we must learn from God how to improve–humbling ourselves with our failures and then allowing God to grow us towards perfection.
When God sends grace to His faithful servants, if we are accepting it correctly, we receive it in over flowing quantities that spill out onto the ones we are trying to save, which hopefully moves their hearts ever more greatly. Sure perhaps God wants us to be patient and wait for His glory to show and perhaps some will simply never hear no matter how much grace is sent, but much of the time the reason we aren’t seeing true conversions is from our own inability to learn (like humble children) so to preach better and from our lack of faith. We need to not only deliver God’s children the truth with the words that save but also with the grace that moves hearts to hear and desire to completely change their life to live for God alone. And this takes much grace since most have rejected bounds of grace from God, because of their pride and lack of fear of the Lord, and are in dire need of it to be moved at all.
“The grace of our Lord overflowed for me [Paul] with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).
God’s grace is constantly compelling hearts to turn to the faith. Some are even so blessed to receive enough grace to learn the correct Way to Life. Frankly however, none of that matters, if we don’t obtain enough grace to move into a saving faith. Many souls grow in faith and knowledge, but not for the right reasons or they don’t grow enough…they might gain much knowledge, increased prayers and many works but they gain no wisdom or not enough to bring them to a saving faith. They feel Gods love but sadly use that to boost their prideful thinking, and don’t truly return His love with a heart of true love. A full conversion of souls into a faith that saves, one driven by fear of the Lord into true contrition for our sins, must be our goal. It is God’s. What does it matter if we are baptized into the faith, begin doing great works for God, change and become better people but still die from a desire for a single sin (lack of contrition). Oh the horror. We all must grow to truly seek to become saints, who honestly want to sin no more, who seek to surrender their will completely for God because we can’t bear offending God by a single sin if we want to Live.
Sermons alone will do very little if our faith is so little. If we aren’t a person of great prayer and suffering/sacrificing for souls so few will be saved…not even ourselves. I’m not saying that all will convert correctly, as God gives us a free will to hear Him or not; to leave sin or stay in it; to choose Him or not. And even Christ, Himself, didn’t have everyone who heard Him convert either. Sadly, so many were even deaf to the thoughts (prayers), words and actions of truth coming from God Himself. However, we see clearly through the apostles and the saints after Christ that a great number can convert through us miserable souls too and seek a saving faith if the faith of those delivering the message of truth is great. With great faith, we let go of ourselves, pick up our crosses and allow God’s incredible grace to work through us. We stop hindering God’s work by our sinfulness, but allow God to work true miracles through our wretched souls as His tools for His divine providence. This we must learn how to do if we are to truly preach the truth effectively.
Don’t Doubt Mercy
Even in the most tragic situations, as we see people so far from understanding the Way, living a life of great sin, this mercy God pours out upon us, especially at the hour of our death, for our salvation, can never be doubted especially since we can’t read our souls. God wants us to hope in mercy for all. Oh, what one word or prayer, especially from a faithful soul, can do! I have watched God raise a boy from the dead from one prayer. One prayer prayed from a heart pouring out to God, completely open to God’s will, through faith, is very powerful. “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith [trusting in God and what ever He wills], you will receive [and what do we want to receive?…whatever God wills]” (Matthew 21:21). One word of guidance of God’s truth can send enough grace to make a life changing effect in any soul. “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective” (Hebrews 4:12).
“The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).
Therefore increase in our own faith so God’s power can flow from us and grow in knowledge and perfection as we serve God for the salvation of souls. That “by prayer and supplication [begging] with thanksgiving [for all God allows as being good] let your requests be made known to God [with faith and trust]” (Philippians 4:6). May we preserver in serving God seeking His will alone for the salvation of souls. Oh, for the sinner who finally obtains enough grace to open up their souls and humble themselves before Our Lord, they can receive all the grace needed to save their soul even at the moment of death. This is true; very rare, but oh so possible. So never doubt in the mercy of God. But so sadly, as we know, so few will reduce their pride and choose to gain true self-knowledge to see their misery and their real need for mercy and still sadly blindfully reject God’s saving love. But even though all of this is true, if we pray, fast and sacrifice–preach the Word in our words, thoughts and deeds–on behalf of God’s children…there is always hope. God’s power is simply amazing. We are never to doubt that God’s mercy can’t save anyone. We must not despair.
Our hearts might be crushed as we see beautiful faithful people loving God and giving so much of their life to Him, but so tragically from their deadly pride, because of the very faith they believe is saving them, they won’t see their sins they are tragically still delighting in, nor the need to live the faith more perfectly with true contrition. Horribly, many in the faith are simply stuck in much self-righteousness and never choose to grow into a saving faith. We will just want to cry; as they believe with a deceived heart that Jesus will save them. It is incredible sad. There will be so much sorrow in our heart like Our Lord’s and His Mother’s Sacred and Immaculate hearts that are ” ” as Jesus said to St. Margret Mary. Oh, our hearts will bleed along with God for His children. But we must be aware, when our agony seem more than we can bear, that is when the devil comes in and tries to convince us it is hopeless…so why continue. Oh, don’t fall for his trap of despair. No matter how hopeless salvation seems for any person…no matter how steeped in the darkness of presumption of salvation someone may appear, there is always hope in God’s mercy to save them. Therefore, continue to preach in thought, word and deed and never despair.
Wonderfully, when we truly embrace God’s will, with all sorrow in our hearts for the souls of others, God will fill us with great peace, trust and joy in suffering any cross for the salvation of others. How long did St. Monica pray for her son (St. Augustine) to convert…17 years. Yes, some times we need to pray and suffer for many years for God’s glory to shine. The problem is our hearts don’t burn for our neighbors salvation like a holy mother does for her child and the grace many need to be saved simply isn’t given from our lack of fervent consistent prayers of each other. Nonetheless, we simply don’t know what God wills; so even if we can pray just one prayer for someone, there are some who are just waiting for one sacrifice one additional prayer and it will be enough of grace to move them towards Life. Don’t underestimate the power of one prayer.
There is a wonderful story that Our Blessed Mother told to St. Bridge of Sweden of a soul the devil wanted, but he couldn’t take him. This soul was spared from eternal punishment from the prayers, fasting, alms giving (donating money) and suffering from His mother. This soul’s pious mother’s life time of tears that she wept to God resulted in magnificent grace being sent to her son that merited in enough grace for him to seek frequent confession with true contrition for his sins…Wow! “[With] his mother’s tears and long labors and many prayers [fearing for her son’s salvation]. God sympathized with her sighs and gave to her son this grace: namely, that for every sin he committed, he obtained contrition, making a humble confession out of love for God. Therefore those sins [the devil was trying to find him guilty for] have been blotted out” (Blessed Virgin to St. Bridget of Sweden). Therefore, since God came to suffer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls and God wants us to do the same, we must do our best to do it with a heart of great love for our neighbor especially as they are mistreating us for our love for them. It is amazing what great love for another can do.
So if we are mistreated and told we are the most disrespectful person alive, etc. for trying to save someones soul, remember it is so hard for the proud to hear God speaking through us; love and understand them and pray for their souls and along with the saints, “rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). If we properly offer up to God any malicious words or actions done to us and God sees fit, God will envelop us with a joy so great that the greater the mistreatment of us the more joy we will feel. This is true. We will begin to experience what the saints have delighted in “The Joy of Suffering.” Wonderfully when a soul truly looses all self care and offers up any misuderstanding or malicousness given to us, for the sake of proclaiming the gospel out of great love for God and our neighbor, we will be immersed with God’s fantastic love. This love will squash any physical or emotional pain that is being inflicted upon us, as sadly the poor lost soul, without much grace, will be stuck in their fit of anger towards us for loving them how Christ loved us. Truly for the soul serving God correctly, nothing will cause them to despair and frankly the more horrible someone treats us the greater God’s love and joy will increase in us. It can grow above anything we have ever experienced with any worldly pleasure..and this is all possible from saying “yes, Lord…they will be done” as we happily accept all God allows out of great love for God and our neighbor seeking to live for His will alone.
Preaching the Word
Preaching the words of Everlasting Life is very hard to do. It is amazing how greatly we have been deceived. If we are blessed to be able to see how we have been tricked into believing a false truth in one aspect of the faith, then I can assure you, we have been deceived in other ways too. It will just take some time for us to open up our souls to understand more completely the real truth. But if we can go with true humility wanting to know our errors so to learn the truth, God will enlighten us. Day by day, understanding our nothingness, God will begin to show us to His truth that will save. How can we possibly show someone the Way if we don’t know it ourselves? Therefore, we must learn before we being to preach.
So the first thing we need to do is begin seeking God grace correctly–with a humble contrite heart–making resolutions and removing our sins we can see, since our unrepentant sins (lack of real desire to amend) is the biggest blinder to understanding the truth. It is our sins that are our obstacles to God’s grace. Then work to gain self-knowledge of all of the sins we have been covering so we can remove them too by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church along with the books from the saints, and of course along with the Word, wanting to know our failings so we can amend our life and learn the Way. Then, after we gain a better understanding of the Way from gaining humility and removing sin, we can guide others to Life correctly.
Shepherding the sheep (the people God gives us to help save) is hard for various reasons. The evil one will have us being silent, when we should speak, being veiled when we should be clear…not really speaking with our thoughts and actions when we think we are. Our thoughts, words and deeds will be selfish and not truly for love of our neighbor. Even when we do or don’t speak, as God wills, our thoughts, actions and words will constantly need improving as they will be less than perfect and from God’s grace need to change. Therefore, we always have to be alert and changing–improving–to grow closer to God’s image in everything so the most perfect truth that Our Lord can deliver to His children through us for the salvation of souls can occur.
This work of guiding the flock to Life bears great responsibility so we want to do it well. Lukewarm love isn’t acceptable in God’s eyes. Like St. Benedict declared, “Be aware that the shepherd [those guiding the people] will bear the blame wherever the father of the household [God] finds that the sheep [the people] have yielded no profit [aren’t converted into a saving faith]. Still, if he [the shepherd] has faithfully shepherded a restive [difficult] and disobedient flock, always striving to cure their unhealthy ways, it will be otherwise: the shepherd will be acquitted at the Lord’s judgement. Then like the Prophet, he may say to the Lord: I have not hidden your justice in my heart; I have proclaimed your truth and your salvation (Ps 39:11), but they spurned and rejected me (Isa :2; Ezek 20:27)). Then at last the sheep that have rebelled against his care will be punished by the overwhelming power of death.” This Christian role of being a Shepard to the lost sheep varies in responsibility from the Head Shepard the leader of the Church–the Pope, down to the bishops, the priests and to us lay members who are called also to guide those God brings into our lives towards Heaven. But all of us are accountable for the role God has called us to according to His Divine Providence (God’s will).
Oh this role of being a true Christian is a serious one. Therefore, since Jesus was the example of the Way (the Perfect Shepard), we, in every facet of our lives, need to be the correct example too. What are we doing that isn’t guiding others to Life by our actions, even if it is hidden? As all hidden sins, not only condemn us, but silently taint our every action by pushing away God’s actual (helping) grace which effects all that we do. Oh, we must change into the image of Christ to preach in any way correctly.
Three Ways to Preach
Most think of preaching as only done by our words, but preaching is so much more. God speaks His Words of Everlasting Life through our thoughts (prayers), words and deeds (behaviors and sacrifices/sufferings of love)…this is how Christ preached to us and is the fullness of how we are to proclaim the Word to others. Since we are all called to do everything for the salvation of souls, because that was Jesus’ intention for all that He did, and we are to follow Him. We need to learn how to preach properly just like Christ in every thought, word and deed making sure everything is being done, with the driving motive, for the benefit of our neighbor and not ourselves.
Not that everyone is called to be a preacher with the spoken word, yet we are all called to preach (proclaim the good news in various ways). We are mostly called to preach with our prayers and actions as we are all called to be missionaries. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16: 15). But if it is appropriate to speak and it’s God’s will to speak, yet, we are too scared to proclaim the truth with our words, when words are necessary, souls will be lost, souls God wanted us to use our prayers, actions and words combined to bring others to salvation. God wants His children saved and desires to use us, His disciples, to heal the hearts of man and guide them to Live.
“Jesus Christ has declared that to save men his Passion alone was not sufficient, but that preaching was also necessary in order that men might do penance [repent-choosing the cross-to obtain grace to grow in holiness] for their sins and amend their lives” (St. Alphonosus, Doctor of the Church).
For some, God simply won’t give us the gift of eloquent, convicting speaking and that is just fine. God can us is in other ways for the salvation of souls. God provides many with gratuitous grace (gifts to be used for the salvation of souls). Some of the gifts God gives are more prevalent and in greater quantity is some than in others but these gifts we have received from God are all given to us for His honor and glory for the salvation of souls. Most think of gratuitous grace strictly as prophecy, gift of miracles, gift of tongues and all of the priestly powers. But the natural gifts/talents God gives us are to be used for God’s service, not self-glory, and are in a way a gratuitous grace from God as well. We have a choice to use the gifts God gives us to better know, serve and love Him or for personal gain. And of course, if we want to preach the words of Everlasting Life, we need to use our blessings to guide souls to Life.
Speaking the true “words” of Everlasting Life, in our prayerful, written, active and spoken words is hard to do since someone needs both knowledge and wisdom from God. Without both knowledge and wisdom being lukewarm in our “words” will happen. We will negate to say and do what moves souls to repent and change and/or misguide others away from the Light as well from not fully understanding the Way ourselves. To fulfill God’s command to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” we need to seek out knowledge and wisdom to do this correctly. Knowledge without wisdom is fruitless. Someone can gain all the knowledge in the world from reading books and taking theology classes and won’t truly know what it means or how to preach the real truth to save themselves or others. Wisdom is what we should first seek and wisdom is faith. And faith is gaining the firm resolve to change from our sinful ways and follow Christ to Heaven, and faith is blossomed by gaining humility. Therefore we must gain wisdom, which is fear of the Lord by coming to know our great sinfulness.
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres [in trying to live it perfectly], and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does [that will profit him towards the goal of Eternal Life]” (James 1:22-25).
But like I said before, it takes not only knowing the Way but much courage too. And to have true courage, we need to be with a saving faith–to have left all mortal sin behind and are now burning on fire with the Holy Spirit to proclaim Christ as crucified for our sins so we can follow Him by doing the same. Those who obtained this goal of a saving faith with holy courage, as God the Father told to St. Catherine of Sienna, have “persevered in fasting [self-denial] and in humble and continual prayer, until they had received the abundance of the Holy Spirit, they lost their fear, and followed and preached Christ crucified.”
The more we grow in greater knowledge of the truth, the more God might allow us to feel like we are just dying of grief. It will be very hard to bear.
Horribly, the ones we love, when we try to bring them to the Light, most likely won’t hear and/or will be offended. It is true everyone responds differently to their sins being brought to the light or being told they need to change or they will perish for they don’t appear to have a saving faith. Some will hear with joy and gratitude, and then we will be able to continue to motivate them (and each other) towards the Light, while others will be embarrassed, insulted, hurt, shocked, or angered. Some will do all in their power to justify how the truth just isn’t so and will even con others onto the path of death too all to stay in their sinful ways without guilt. Horrible! But God has called us to concur all of this with His love.
“You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone” (Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary #1767).
Yes, prayer and this suffering–grief, saves too. That is much of the “preaching” we will need to do…suffering. Those are the actions that save.
Oh, this of saving souls is simply agonizing, as we look on to so many marching to their doom even after we have done all we can. Of course, that doesn’t mean we stop preaching, for until someone dies there is always hope for conversion–even at the moment of death. However, the pain in our hearts, the pity for their loss, could be so intense from the vivid understanding of our neighbors pending doom that is so clearly present before us. It might be as if we are seeing them fall into eternal torment right before our very eyes with every rejection of the truth they choose to believe and live, but what a gift!
Oh, how much more diligently we can work, and more fervently and unceasingly one can pray, when our hearts are bleeding like Our Lord’s for our neighbors’ salvation…not that I really mean “like” Our Lords. Our hearts could never really suffer like God’s since our love for our neighbor pales in comparison to the love He has for us, but the pain we experience will move and inspire us to do all we can and give up everything of pleasure for the cross so God can use us to the fullest for their Eternal Life and of course God will help our poor broken souls work towards salvation at the same time too.
“Why do you cry?” a brother asked St. Padre Pio, “Why should I not cry seeing humanity damning itself at all cost.”
But if we believe in the power of God–His great Spirit that transforms cowards into fearless servants of God–that comes from the Holy Spirit, we will gain courage and preach fearlessly. God calls us to use all means that we can to help God’s children obtain the grace and knowledge needed to be saved. As the Word says, “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). Therefore, preach we must do and learn how to do it well.
“There is a remnant [few], chosen by grace” that are waiting for us to proclaim the Gospel to them; “the elect attained it [will hear and change]; the rest were [remain] hardened” (Romans 11:5).
If God can use us to save the souls of those able to hear, oh what joy! For certain, we surely don’t want to be accountable to God for neglecting to save the souls of His children. What an incredible tragedy it would be to loose someone God was calling upon us to save-who had ears but nobody to proclaim the Word to them. Therefore, with all joy in the cross, for the sake of the Gospel, we proclaim the Word that saves.
“I [Luke] solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you [going to Hell], for I did not shrink [decline] from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God” (Acts 20:27).
When we are a preacher, we are a counselor too…a guider of others away from the pain they are suffering in life from sin towards Life. Any good counselor knows one persons interpretation of events is truly just “their” version of reality. Only God knows the real truth…even if someone is being, what they think is, perfectly honest, they still can’t really see. The more blinded we are by sin–especially that of pride–the more jaded our version of the real truth can be.
Our goal as a counselor isn’t to believe everything someone says thinking that is how we are to help them. We know only God knows reality. Everything is a lie to some degree…we just can’t see the truth. We aren’t God. Our goal is to pull someone away from blaming others or situations–what they think is their reason for their misery and put the focus on how they can learn and grow from all circumstances in life. We are to teach others how they can love and change to more truly follow Christ during the worst of situations.