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“Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.”1 Peter 1:8-9
There is a Latin phrase that I often reflect upon: “salus animarum suprema lex”. That is, “the salvation of souls is the supreme law.” Canon 1752, the very last line of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, states that “the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.” The salvation of souls is so critical that it must always be in our plane of view. All of the Ten Commandments, all laws, dogma, doctrine, and discipline are directed towards this end. The salvation of souls is our ‘telos’, our ultimate goal; and all other goals are subservient towards this end. If we fail this decisive and most important goal then all other goals, no matter how noble, become almost irrelevant. See Mark 8:36 and Matthew 16:26: “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?”
“Our most important affair is that of our eternal salvation; upon it depends our happiness or misery forever. This affair will come to an end in eternity, and will decide whether we shall be saved or lost forever; whether we shall have acquired an eternity of delights, or an eternity of torments; whether we shall live forever happy, or forever miserable.”St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, The Way of Salvation and of Perfection, Part 1, meditation I: Eternal Salvation
How does this principle impact us as evangelists? Obviously, I cannot directly save my own soul, much less the soul of another. However, I certainly can lead others toward salvation or, for that matter, away from salvation. Every interaction, in one way or another, to one degree, can lead souls either toward God or away from God. Are we complacent when a poor soul is obstinate in his sin or do we lovingly correct him and pray for him? Do we counsel the doubtful or do we reinforce their disbelief? Our evangelization, whether it be direct or relational, should edify and sanctify those we meet.
“He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:9
At St. Paul Street Evangelization, we follow the mission statement of “Working with God for the salvation of souls through the proclamation of the Gospel in the public square.” We plant seeds of faith and conversion through simple acts of handing out rosaries, medals, pamphlets, etc. Through the proclamation of the kerygma, praying out loud with people, and encouraging in their faith journey, we can point others in the right direction. We can lead others to Jesus Christ, His Holy Catholic Church, and towards their ultimate salvation.
Geoffrey K. Mondello. “‘Salus Animarum’ the Salvation of Souls.” Boston Catholic Journal.