June 18, 2021

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Ken Ogorek

Let zeal for souls shine through in our care for others

Ken Ogorek“The salvation of souls.” What goal could be more lofty? What need could be more pressing? What wish for another person could be more important than the salvation of her or his soul?

But how often are we reminded that we have an immortal soul? How frequently are we taught, or retaught, that our soul and body—our very self—will spend eternity in one of two places, one of them more awesome than we can imagine, the other, more horrible than we could ever conceive?

When’s the last time you heard about the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell? At what point in recent memory did you consider your own mortality, your lifelong struggle with sin, your need for salvation from sin and death? How is zeal for your own soul, and the souls of others, stirred?

Be Not Afraid

“Fear is bad.” Various voices in our culture want you to believe this.

But isn’t apprehension at the thought of something powerful and potentially dangerous a normal, natural, healthy emotion? Shouldn’t the possibility of hell make us a little edgy? Not to the point of despair, of course—and ideally motivating us to seek the loving, merciful gift of salvation offered us by Jesus.

Again, though, if the possibility of hell doesn’t cause you concern—if not for yourself then at least for your loved ones—you might not be squared away regarding what sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition make clear about the afterlife.

Square Tactics

To be square is to be straightforward and honest. Jesus was very frank in addressing the danger of damnation.

And among the Spirit-guided, authoritative teachings of his Church, we hear, “Following the example of Christ, the Church warns the faithful of the ‘sad and lamentable reality of eternal death,’ also called ‘hell.’ ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1056)

Far from using scare tactics, holy Mother Church loves you enough to share the truth about what can await some souls.

The Love of Christ Impels Us

Speaking the truth in love is a Christ-like behavior and an excellent goal for all disciples of Jesus. Love is generally better than fear as a motivator, just as perfect contrition (love-based) is preferable to imperfect (based on fear of punishment).

Loving our neighbor can lead to ardor for sharing the Good News of salvation from sin and death, thanks to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Zeal for souls certainly helps drive the work of our archdiocesan worship and evangelization secretariat.

Zealous but not Zealots

I recall hearing or reading that it’s good to be zealous but not a zealot—that zealots tend to suck the joy out of what otherwise might be inspiring, invigorating experiences. So let’s continue working out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).

Let’s care deeply about the salvation of others. And let us all—by God’s grace and mercy—feel, show and live a noticeable zeal for souls.

(Ken Ogorek is the director of the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis.)

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