ADMONITIONS

 

ADDRESSED TO PERSONS OF ALL STATES WHO DESIRE

TO BE SAVED.*

 

GOD wishes us all to be saved: Who will have all men saved. ( 1 Tim 2:3-4 NIV) "And he is ready to give to all the help necessary for salvation; but he grants it only to those that ask him, as St. Augustine says: "He gives only to those who ask." (cf. Ps 52 DR) Hence, it is a common opinion of theologians and of the holy Fathers, that prayer is necessary for adults as a means of salvation; that is to say, that a person who does not pray, and neglects to ask of God the help requisite for overcoming temptations, and for preserving grace already received, cannot be saved.

On the other hand, our Lord cannot refuse to give graces to those who ask for them, because he has promised to do so: Cry to Me, and I will hear you. (Jer. 33:3 DR compare NIV) Have recourse to me, and I will not fail to hear you. Ask of me all you desire, and you shall attain it: Ask, and it shall be given to you. (John 15:7) These promises, however, are not to be understood with reference to temporal goods, because God only gives these when they are for the good of the soul; but he has promised absolutely to give spiritual graces to any one who asks him; and having promised it, he is obliged to give them to us: "By his promise, he has made himself our debtor," says St. Augustine.

It should also be observed, that on God's part prayer is a promise, and on our part a binding precept: Ask. and it shall be given you. (Matt 7:7) We ought always to pray. (Luke 18:1 ) These words, "ask, we ought," convey, as St. Thomas teaches, a grave precept, which is binding for our whole life; but especially when a man is in danger of death, of falling into sin; because if he does not then have recourse to God, he will certainly be overcome. And he who has already fallen under God's displeasure commits a fresh sin when he does not turn to God for help to rise out of his miserable state. But will God then hear him while he is yet his enemy? Yes, he does hear, if the sinner humbles himself, and prays for pardon from his heart; since it is written in the Gospel: For every one that asks, receives. (Lk 11:10) It says that God has promised to hear all that pray to him, whether they are just or sinners. In another place God says, Call upon Me . . . and I will deliver you. (Ps 49:15 DR, Ps 50:15 NIV) Call upon Me, and I will deliver you from hell, to which you do stand condemned.

No, there will be no excuse in the day of judgment for any one who dies in mortal sin. It will be of no use for him to say that he had not the strength to resist the temptation which troubled him; because Jesus Christ will answer: If you had not the strength, why did you not ask it of me, and I should certainly have given it you? If you fell into sin, why did you not have recourse to me, that I might have delivered you from it?

You see, then, that if you desire to be saved, and would keep yourself in the grace of God, you must often pray to him, that he would keep his hand over you. The Council of Trent declares that for a man to persevere in the grace of God, it is not enough that he should have only that general aid which he gives to all; but he must also have that special assistance which can only be obtained by prayer. [See Trent on Prayer.] For this reason all the Doctors of the Church say, that each one is bound, under grievous sin, to recommend himself often to God, and to ask for the grace of holy perseverance at least once a month. And any one who finds himself in the midst of many dangerous occasions is under the obligation of asking more frequently for the grace of perseverance.

It is besides most useful to keep up some particular devotion to the Mother of God, who is called the Mother of perseverance, in order to obtain this grace; and a person who has not this special devotion to the Blessed Virgin will find it very difficult to persevere; for as St. Bernard says, all divine graces, and especially this one of perseverance, which is the greatest of all, come to us by means of Mary.

Would to God that preachers were more mindful in putting before their hearers this great means of prayer Some even in the whole course of their Lenten sermons scarcely mention it more than once or twice in passing: while they ought often to make it their chief subject, besides speaking of it in every discourse; if they omit to do so, they will have to render a severe account for it to God. Thus also many confessors are particular merely about the resolution their penitents make not to offend God again, and few take the trouble to inculcate that they must pray when they are tempted again to fall; but we must be well persuaded, that when a temptation is violent, if the penitent does not beg for God's assistance, all his resolutions will avail him little; prayer alone can save him. It is certain that he who prays is saved; he who prays not is damned.

Therefore, I repeat, if you wish to be saved, pray continually to the Lord that he would give you light and strength not to fall into sin. Thus we must be importunate with God, in asking him for his grace. "This importunity with God is our opportunity," says St. Jerome. Every morning we must beseech him to keep us from sin during that day. And when any bad thought or occasion of sin presents itself to your mind or you are tempted by some dangerous occasion, immediately have recourse to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin, and say, "My Jesus, help me Most Blessed Virgin, come to my aid." It is enough at such a time to pronounce the names of Jesus and Mary, and the temptation will vanish; but should the temptation continue persevere in invoking the assistance of Jesus and Mary. and you will be victorious.


St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Preparation for Death, Rev Eugene Grimm Trans., Redemptorist Fathers Brooklyn Publishers (1926) p. 460-463. Imprimatur +Patrick Cardinal Hayes, 1926.


Prayer to obtain Final Perseverance.

 

O sovereign and eternal God, I thank you for having created me; for having redeemed me by means of Jesus Christ; for having made me a Christian by calling me to the true faith, and giving me time to repent after the many sins I have committed. O Infinite Goodness, I love you above all things; and I repent with all my heart of all my offenses against you. I hope You have already pardoned me; but I am continually in danger of again offending you. For the love of Jesus Christ, I beg of you holy perseverance till death. You know my weakness; help me, then, and permit me never again to separate myself from you. Rather let me die a thousand times, than ever again to lose Your grace. O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me holy perseverance!


Ibid. p. 429.

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* "These admonitions on the necessity of prayer and on the devotion to the Blessed Virgin were written or dictated by Saint Alphonsus when he was nearly eighty years of age. See Tannoia, Book 4, cli. 18." Fr. Grimm.