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“Unless souls are saved,nothing is saved.” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
That is the purpose for which you are called hither.  Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands.  You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so.  Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.” (Elrond at the Council in Rivendell in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)


The urgency of the salvation of souls from eternal damnation for eternal fulfillment is why the Church exists. The urgency was first stated by Our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’” (Lk 13:23-30)

This is no isolated text: the entire New Testament roars the truth, page after page, that no one is saved by travelling along the “broad way”: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Mt 7:13).

The Church has never ceased to echo this most important and urgent truth. As the climax of her Code of Canon Law, the Church presents in all its majesty, sobriety, and succinctness the supreme law governing all the legislation of the Church: the salvation of souls. “Salus animarum lex maxima Ecclesiae” (The salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church).

The Society of Ignatians as part of the Church, has the same reason for existing as that of the Catholic Church, which, as the Mystical Body of Christ, prolongs the reason for the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven” (Nicene Creed).

Man, wounded by original sin, was defenseless in the face of the ancient enemy, Satan, and needed to be freed “from the slavery of sin” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 601) because his sins, “following on original sin, are punishable by death”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 602)

“Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.457)


“To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1033).

Vatican Council II, in continuity with the Church’s Tradition, defines hell as “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,” and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1034)

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1035)

“The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.1036)


This salvation involves not only our liberation from the slavery of the Axis of Evil – the gravitational pull towards sin within us, the corruption of the world around us and Satan – but  it goes much, much further:

The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”72 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 458)

The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”74On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!” Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”76 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 459)

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature“:78 “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”79 “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”80 “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 460).