Importance of Prayer


Prayer in the Garden - by RICCI, Sebastiano - from Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Jesus Christ is One (1) Person, Who has Two (2) Natures; a Divine Nature, which is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and a Human Nature, which He 'Assumed' via the Power of the Holy Spirit, in the Womb of Mary. This Union of Natures, is termed the Hypostatic Union. The Passion and Death of Jesus was Suffered solely-by His Human Nature, since He was Redeeming Humanity from Sin. He received no Consolation from His Divine Nature, during His Suffering. "My God, My God, why have You Forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). The Depiction above, shows Jesus, Suffering in His Human Nature, Praying to God the Night before His Crucifixion, and being Strengthened-by an Angel. In His Cross and Sufferings, Jesus received the same Treatment from God, as you and I Receive-from God, via our Guardian Angels. We should Pray, as Jesus Prayed Constantly.

 

I do not think I have Written a more-useful Work, than this one, in-which I Speak-of Prayer as a Necessary and Certain means-of obtaining Salvation, and all the Graces we need-for it. If it were in my Power, I would Distribute a Copy to every Catholic in the World, in-order-to show him the Absolute Necessity-of-Prayer, for Salvation. The Absolute Necessity-of-Prayer, is Taught throughout the Holy Scriptures, and by all the Holy Fathers; but too-often, Christians are very-Careless in their Practice-of this Great Means-of-Salvation.

Consequently, there is nothing which Preachers, Confessors, and Spiritual Books should Insist-upon with more Warmth and Energy, than Prayer. They Teach many Excellent Means-of keeping ourselves in the Grace-of-God, such as 'Avoiding' Occasions-of-Sin, 'Frequenting' the Sacraments, 'Resisting' Temptations, 'Hearing' the Word-of-God, 'Meditating'-on the Eternal Truths, and other Means. But what if we forget-to Pray? Without Prayer, in most cases, all the Meditations we make, all our Resolutions, all our Promises, will be useless. If we do not Pray, we shall be always Unfaithful-to the Inspirations-of-God, and to the Promises we make Him. Because to do-Good, to 'Conquer'-Temptations, to 'Practice'-Virtues, and to 'Observe'-God's Law, it is not enough to-'Receive' Insight-from God, and to-Meditate and make-Resolutions. We Require the Actual Assistance-of God; and He does not give this Assistance, except-to those who Pray, and Pray-with Perseverance.

When we are in-Danger, and Tempted to-disobey God's Law, Prayer will obtain-for us God's Help, and we shall be Preserved-from Sin. But if in such Moments, we do not Pray, we shall be Lost.

I hope my Readers may 'Thank' God for 'Giving' them this Opportunity, to-Think more-Deeply on the Importance-of Prayer; for all Adults who are Saved, are ordinarily Saved-by this Single (1), Means-of-Grace. I ask my Readers to 'Thank' God, for surely, it is a Great Mercy when He 'Gives' the Light and Grace, to Pray. I Hope, then, that you, after Reading this little-Work, will never from this day forward, neglect-to Turn-to God in-Prayer, whenever you are Tempted-to offend Him. If you have ever had your Conscience, burdened-with many Sins, know that the Cause-of this has been the Neglect-of Prayer, and not asking God for-Help to-Resist the Temptations which Attacked you. And after Reading this yourself, 'Encourage' your Friends and Neighbors, to Read it too.

Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori
Bishop, Doctor-of-the-Church

 

Importance of Prayer

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

Necessity, Value, and Conditions of Prayer

Saint Paul writes-to Timothy: "First of all, I urge that Petitions, Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgiving, be Offered" (1Timothy 2:1). Saint Thomas explains that Prayer is the Lifting-up of the Soul, to God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Petition is that Kind-of Prayer, which Begs-for Specific Favors.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Thanksgiving is the Returning-of Thanks for Benefits Received, whereby we Merit to Receive Greater Favors.

The Word "Prayer" is used here in its General-Meaning, which includes all its different Forms and Purposes.

 

Necessity of Prayer

God has so-'Formed' Man, that He Himself is Man's only Strength. God has Willed that whatever Man has, or can have, should come Entirely-from the Assistance-of His Grace. But, this Grace is not Given-in God's Ordinary Providence, except-to those who Pray for it. So realizing, on the One Hand, that we can do nothing without the Assistance-of Grace, and on the Other Hand, that this Assistance is Ordinarily only Given-by God, to the Man that Prays; who does not see that Prayer is Absolutely Necessary-for our Salvation? And although the First Graces, which Come-to us without any Cooperation-on our Part — such as the Call-to Faith, or to Penance — are Granted-by God even to those who do not Pray, it is considered certain-that the other-Graces, especially the Gift-of-Perseverance, are not Granted, except-in Answer-to Prayer.

 

Supernatural Order
(Resides in the Essence of the Soul)

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural
Body
(Subordinate-Partner)

Natural
Soul
(Dominant Partner)

Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

A Supernatural Gift (Grace) is a particular Grant of Almighty God to Rational Beings (Men or Angels) unwarranted by Man's Nature, Natural Powers or Needs; a Grant therefore outside the limits of God's General Providence and consistent support of Human Life and Human Activity. It may be received in the Soul itself, in the Soul's Faculties, or even in the Soul's Operations. Wherever found, it is something added-to God's Primal Gift-of-Creation, something impossible-for Unaided Nature, to Merit or Achieve.
 

 

In the Ordinary Course-of Providence, it is impossible-for a Christian to be Saved, without 'Recommending' himself to God, and 'Asking'-for the Graces necessary-to Salvation. Saint Thomas 'Teaches' the same thing: "After Baptism, continual Prayer is Necessary to Man, in order that he may enter Heaven". Our Human Weaknesses Attack us from 'Within', and the World and the Devil, Attack us from 'Without'. The Reason then, which makes us Certain-of the Necessity-of Prayer is this: In-order-to be Saved, we must Struggle and Conquer. But without the Divine Assistance, we cannot Resist the Might-of so-Many and so-Powerful Enemies. Now, this Assistance is only Granted-through Prayer. Therefore, without Prayer, there is no Salvation. Saint Thomas, in another place, says that whatever Graces, God has Determined-to 'Give' us, He will only 'Give' them, if we Pray-for them. "Ask, and you will Receive. Seek, and you will Find" (Matthew 7:7).

We are Beggars, who have Nothing, but what God 'Gives' us. The Lord, says Saint Augustine, 'Desires' and 'Wills' to Pour-forth His Graces upon us, but will not 'Give' them, except-to him who Prays. This is Declared in the Words, "Seek, and it shall be Given you". He who does not 'Seek', does not 'Receive'. Saint John Chrysostom says: "As the Body without Soul, cannot Live, so the Soul without Prayer, is Dead". Prayer is also called the Food-of the Soul, because the Body cannot be-Supported without Food, nor can the Soul, says Saint Augustine, be-Kept Alive without Prayer. All these Comparisons, Used-by the Holy Fathers, are Intended-to Teach the Absolute Necessity-of Prayer, for the Salvation-of Everyone.

Prayer is the most-necessary Weapon-of-Defense, against our Enemies. Saint Thomas does not Doubt that the Reason-for Adam's Fall, was that he did not 'Recommend' himself to God, when he was Tempted. In Darkness, Distress, and Danger, we have no-other Hope than to-Raise our Eyes to-God, and with Fervent Prayers, to-'Beg' His Mercy to-Save us. Said King Jehoshaphat, "We are at a Loss what to do, hence our Eyes are Turned-toward You" (2Chronicles 20:12). This also was David's Practice, who could find no-other Means-of-Safety from his Enemies, than Continual Prayer to-God, to 'Deliver' him from their Traps: "My Eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will Free my Feet, from the Snare" (Psalm 25:15).

"God does not Command Impossibilities; but by Commanding, He suggests you do what you can, and ask for what is beyond your Strength; and He Helps you, that you may be Able". This is a Famous Text from Saint Augustine, which was afterward-Adopted and made a Doctrine-of-Faith, by the Council-of-Trent. We cannot Believe, the Saint 'Explains', that God would have Imposed-on us, the Observance-of a Law, and then made the Law impossible-to Keep. God knows-that Alone, we are unable-to Observe all His Commands. We can do the more-Difficult Things, only by-means-of the Greater Help, which we can Obtain-by Prayer.

Why has God 'Commanded' us to do Things, Impossible-to our Natural Strength? Precisely for this, says Saint Augustine, that we may be Led-to Pray-for Help, to do what we cannot do-Alone. It is especially Difficult for someone to-Resist Temptations against Purity, without 'Recommending' himself to-God, when he is Tempted. This Type-of Temptation, often seems to take-away all Light; it makes us 'Forget' all our Meditations and Good Resolutions, Induces us to Disregard the Truths-of-Faith, and even almost Causes us to-Lose Fear-of the Divine Punishments. When such Temptation comes, the Person who does not have Recourse-to God, is Lost. Chastity is a Virtue, which we do not have Strength to-Practice, unless God 'Gives' it to us; and God does not 'Give' this Strength, except-to someone who Asks-for it. But whoever Prays for it, will certainly Obtain it.

Saint-Francis-of-Assisi, says that without Prayer, you can never Hope-to find Good Fruit in a Soul. Sinners, wrongly-Excuse themselves by-Saying that they have no Strength to-'Resist' Temptation. If you do not have this Strength, why do you not 'Ask' for it? That is the Reproof which Saint James gives them: "You do not Obtain, because you do not Ask" (James 4:2).

There is no-Doubt. that we are too-Weak to-'Resist' the Attacks-of our Enemies. But, on the other-hand, it is Certain-that God is Faithful. Saint Paul says that He will not-Permit us to be Tempted, beyond our Strength (1Corinthians 10:13). We are Weak, but God is Strong. When we ask Him for Aid, He 'Communicates' His Strength to us, and we are able to do all-things, as Paul reasonably Assured himself: "In Him Who is the Source-of my Strength, I have Strength for Everything" (Philippians 4:13). The Man who Falls has no-Excuse, if he has neglected-to Pray. For if he had Prayed, he would not have been Overcome-by his Enemies.

In this Painting by Lodovico Carracci, from the Pinacoteca, Vatican, God sits on His Throne-of-Mercy. An Angel prepares-to Lead a Soul from-Purgatory to-Heaven, as Saints in Heaven Pray-for God's Mercy on those Souls remaining-in Purgatory.
 

Is it Necessary-also, to Pray-to the Saints, to-Obtain the Grace-of-God? Not quite. But it is a Lawful and Useful Thing, to Call-on the Saints as Intercessors, to Obtain-for us, by the Merits-of Jesus Christ, what we are not-Worthy to-Receive. This is a Doctrine-of the Church, Declared-by the Council-of-Trent.

It is Lawful and Profitable to ask Living Saints, to-Assist us, with their Prayers, as God Himself 'Commanded' the Friends-of-Job, to 'Recommend' themselves to his Prayers, that by the Merits-of Job, He might look Favorably-on them. If, then, it is Lawful to-'Recommend' ourselves to the Living, how can it be Unlawful to-Invoke the Saints, who in Heaven, Enjoy God Face-to-face? This is not Taking-away the Honor due-to God, but Doubling (2) it, for it is Honoring the King, not only in His Person, but in His Servants.

Again, it is Questioned, whether there is any use-in 'Recommending' oneself to the Souls in Purgatory. Some rely-on the Authority-of Saint Thomas, who says that those Souls "are not in a State, to Pray-for us, but rather Require our Prayers". But many other Doctors-of-the-Church, as, for example, Saint-Robert-Bellarmine, Affirm-with great-Probability, that we should 'Believe', God 'Reveals' our Prayer to those Holy Souls, so-that they may Pray-for us. The Souls in Purgatory, being Beloved-of God, and Confirmed-in Grace, have Absolutely no-Obstacle to-Prevent their Praying-for us. If we Desire the Help-of their Prayers, it is only Fair that we should Remember-to-Help them with our Prayers and Good Works. I said it is Fair, but I should have said it is a Christian Duty. For Charity 'Obliges' us to Help our Neighbor, when he Requires our Aid, and we can Help him, without Excessive Inconvenience. Now it is certain that among our Neighbors, are to be Counted the Souls in Purgatory, who Share-in the Communion of Saints. They are Destined-to Reign-with Christ, but they are 'Withheld'-from taking Possession-of their Kingdom, until the Time-of their Purifying is 'Accomplished'.

Jesus, Incarnate of Mary
Mary, Mother of God,
Mary, Mother of Salvation
Mary, Tabernacle of God
Mary, Our Spiritual Mother
Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth
Mary, our Mediatrix with God

"Hail Mary, Full of Grace"

On the other-hand, since it is Certain-that, by our Sacrifices and our Prayers, we can Relieve those Holy Souls, I do not know how to-Excuse that Man who Neglects-to Give them some-Assistance, by his Prayers. If a Sense-of-Duty will not 'Persuade' us to Help them, let us Think-of the Pleasure it will give Jesus Christ, to see us Trying-to Help them, be with Him in Paradise. Let us Think-of the Store-of Merits, which we can Gain by-Practicing this Great Act-of Charity. Those Souls are not Ungrateful, and will never Forget the Great Benefit we do them. And if God 'Promises' Mercy, to him who 'Practices' Mercy toward his Neighbor — "Blessed are they who Show Mercy; Mercy shall be theirs" (Matthew 5:7) — he may Reasonably Expect-to be Saved, who 'Remembers'-to Assist those Souls, so Dear-to God.

If Prayer-to the Saints, and the Souls in Purgatory, is so-important, how much-more-so is Prayer-to Our Blessed Lady. Mary's Share-in the Work-of Salvation is Unique. Saint Bernard Speaks-to Mary: "Through you we have Access-to your Son, O Discoverer of Grace and Mother of Salvation". Saint Bernard says in another place, that Mary has 'Received' a Twofold (2) Fullness-of-Grace. The First (1st) was the Incarnation-of the Word, Who was made Man in her most-Holy Womb. The Second (2nd) is that Fullness-of-Grace, which we Receive-from God, by-means-of her Prayers. "God has Placed the Fullness of all Good in Mary, that if we have any Hope, any Grace, any Salvation, we may know that it Overflows-from her". Saint Augustine says that Mary is Justly-called Our Mother, because she 'Cooperated'-by her Charity, in the Birth-of the Faithful to the Life-of-Grace, by which we become Members-of Jesus Christ, our Head. Therefore, as Mary Cooperated-by her Charity in the Spiritual Birth-of the Faithful, so also God Willed that she should Cooperate-by her Intercession, to make them enjoy the Life-of-Grace in this World, and the Life-of-Glory, in the Next. Saint Bernard urges us to-Continually Turn-to the Mother of God, because her Prayers are Certain to-be Heard by her Son: "Go to Mary, I say, without Hesitation; the Son will Hear the Mother". At the Conclusion-of this First (1st) Part, we stress again: Whoever Prays, is certainly Saved. He who does not, is certainly Damned. All the Blessed (except Infants) have been Saved-by Prayer. All the Damned have been Lost, through not Praying. If they had Prayed, they would not have been Lost. And this is, and will be, their Greatest Torment in Hell; to think how easily they might have been Saved, just by-'Asking' God for His Grace, but that now, it is too-Late — their Time-of Prayer is Gone.

 

Value of Prayer

In-order-to Understand-better, the Value-of Prayers in God's Sight, it is enough to-Read the Innumerable Promises God makes to the Man who Prays, both in the Old and New Testaments:

"Call to Me, and I will Answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3).

"Then call upon Me in Time-of-Distress; I will Rescue you" (Psalm 50:15).

"I give you My Word, if you are Ready to Believe that you will Receive, whatever you Ask for in Prayer, it shall be Done-for you" (Mark 11:24).

"I give you My Assurance, whatever you Ask the Father, He will Give you, in My Name" (John 16:23).

There are many similar Texts, but it would take too-Long to-Quote them.

God Wills us, to be Saved. But for our Greater Good, He Wills us to be Saved, as Conquerors. While we Remain here, we have to Live-in Continual Warfare, and if we are to be Saved, we have to Fight and Conquer. "No one can be Crowned, without Victory" says Saint-John-Chrysostom. We are very Weak and our Enemies are Many and Mighty. How shall we be able to-Stand-against them, or to-Defeat them? Let us take Courage, and say with Saint Paul, "In Him Who is the Source of my Strength, I have Strength for Everything" (Philippians 4:13).

God Knows the Great Good it does us, to Need-to Pray, and He 'Permits' us to be Assaulted-by our Enemies, in-order-that we may 'Ask' Him for the Help which He 'Offers' and 'Promises' to us. He is Pleased when we Run-to Him in our Dangers; He is Displeased when He sees us Neglectful-of Prayer. As the king, says Saint Bonaventure, would consider an Officer Unfaithful, who did not Ask him for-Reinforcements, when his Post was Attacked; so God thinks Himself Betrayed by the Man who is Surrounded-by Temptations, and does not Run-to Him for Assistance. For He Desires-to Help us; He only Waits to-be Asked, and then Gives Abundant Help. This is Strikingly Shown-by Isaiah, when, on God's Behalf, he told King Ahaz to Ask-for some Sign, to-Prove to himself, God's Readiness-to Help him: "Ask for a Sign from the Lord, your God" (Isaiah 7:11).

The Faithless King answered: "I will not Ask! I will not Tempt the Lord", for he Trusted-in his own-Power, to-Overcome his Enemies, without God's Aid. And for this, the Prophet Admonished him. For that Man is Offensive to God, who will not 'Ask' Him for the Graces which He 'Offers'.

If God were to-Allow us, to-Present our Petitions-to Him once a Month, even this would be a Great Favor. The Kings-of-the-Earth, give Audiences a Few Times a Year, but God gives a Continual Audience. Saint-John-Chrysostom writes that God is always Waiting to-Hear our Prayers, and that a Case never 'Occurred', when He Neglected-to Hear a Petition, Offered-to Him Properly. And in Another-place, he says that when we Pray-to God, before we have Finished-telling Him our Requests, He has already Heard us. We even have the Promise-of God to do this: "While they are yet Speaking, I will Hearken-to them" (Isaiah 65:24).

We are so-Poor, that we have Nothing. But if we Pray, we are no-Longer Poor. If we are Poor, God is Rich. Since we have a Lord of Infinite (∞) Power and Infinite (∞) Riches, let us not go-to Him for Little, Valueless Things, but let us 'Ask' some Great Thing of Him: "You Seek from the Almighty — Seek something Great. "You may Ask what you Will — it will be done for you" (John 15:7).

On this Point, then, we have to-'Fix' all our Attention, namely, to Pray with-Confidence, Feeling-sure that by Prayer, all the Treasures-of-Heaven are Thrown-open to us. "Let us Attend to this", says Saint-John-Chrysostom, "and we shall Open Heaven-to ourselves". Prayer is a Treasure; he who Prays-most, 'Receives'-most. Saint Bonaventure says that, every-Time a Man Turns-to God by Fervent Prayer, he Gains Good Things, that are of more-Value than the Whole World. There is no-Doubt that Spiritual Reading and Meditation-on the Eternal Truths, are very-Useful Things; but, says Saint Augustine, it is of much-more-Use, to-Pray. "By Reading and Meditation, we Learn our Duty, but by Prayer, we Obtain the Grace to do it. It's better to Pray, than to Read; by Reading, we Know what we ought to do, by Prayer, we Receive what we Ask". We shall never-Satisfy our Obligations, unless we Ask-of God, the Grace to-Fulfill them.

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes) The Devil is never-Busier, Trying-to Distract us, than when he sees us Praying and 'Asking' God for Grace. And why? Because the Enemy sees that at no other-Time, do we 'Gain' so-many Treasures-of Heavenly Goods, as when we Pray. This is the Chief Benefit-of Prayer, to 'Ask' God for the Graces, we Need-for Perseverance, and Eternal Salvation. A Person who Prays Thoughtfully, every day, will Easily See the Needs-of his Soul, its Dangers, and the Necessity-of his Prayer, and so he will-Pray and will-obtain the Graces which will Enable him to Persevere, and Save his Soul.

We ought-to Pray, as-soon-as we Wake-up in the Morning, and then continue doing it in all our Needs, and in Setting-about all our Business, and most especially, when we find ourselves Troubled-by any Temptation or Passion. Saint Bonaventure says that, at-times we obtain a Grace sooner, by a Short Prayer, than by many other Good Works. Saint-John-Chrysostom wrote-that, "There is nothing more-Powerful, than a Man who Prays", because such a one is made Partaker-of the Power-of God. To arrive-at Perfection, said Saint Bernard, we must Meditate and Pray. By Meditation, we See what we Want; by Prayer we Receive what we Want. "The One teaches what is Lacking, the Other assures that there should be nothing Lacking". To Save one's Soul without Prayer, is most-Difficult, and perhaps even Impossible, according to the Ordinary Course-of God's Providence. But, by Praying, our Salvation is made Secure and Very Easy. It is not Necessary-for Salvation, to-go-to Foreign Missions, and give-up our Life. It is not Necessary-to become a Hermit and 'Fast' for Long Periods. What does it Cost us to-say, littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)My God, Help me! littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Lord, Assist me! littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Have Mercy on me! Is there anything Easier than this? These Few Words are enough-to Save us, if we will be Faithful in-Saying them. Let no one, says Saint Bernard, think Lightly-of Prayer, because God Values it; and then He Gives us either what we Ask, or what is even more Useful-to us. And let us Understand that, if we do not Pray, we have no-Excuse, because the Grace-of Prayer, is Given-to everyone. It is in our Power-to Pray, whenever we 'Will' to do so.

 

Conditions of Prayer

"I give you My Assurance, whatever you Ask the Father, He will Give you in My Name" (John 16:23). Jesus Christ has 'Promised' that, whatever we 'Ask' His Father in His Name, His Father will 'Give' us. But He does-so, always-with the Understanding-that we 'Ask' under the Proper Conditions. Many 'Seek', says Saint James, but do not-'Obtain' because they 'Seek' Improperly: "You Ask and you do not Receive, because you 'Ask' Wrongly" (James 4:3). So Saint Basil, following-out the Argument-of the Apostle, says, "You sometimes Ask, and Fail-to Receive, because you have 'Asked' Badly, either Faithlessly, or Lightly; or you have Requested things not Fit-for you, or you have not Persevered". "Faithlessly", that is, with little Faith or Confidence. "Lightly", with little Desire-for the Grace you Request. "Things not Fit-for you", when you 'Seek' good things, that will not be Helpful-to your Salvation. Or you have left-off Praying, and have Lost "Perseverance".

Saint Thomas 'Reduces'-to Four (4), the Conditions required-in Prayer, in-order-that it may 'Procure' its Effect. These are, that a Man 'Ask':

1) for himself;

2) Things Necessary-for Salvation;

3) Devoutly; and

4) with-Perseverance.

When a Man Prays-for his own Needs, he Naturally Thinks-of the Needs-of others. No Soul, that really Loves God, Neglects-to Pray-for Poor Sinners. For how is it Possible-for a Person who Loves God, and Knows what Love He has for our Souls, and what Jesus Christ has Done and Suffered-for their Salvation, to Look-with Indifference-on the Numbers-of Poor Souls, who are Living-without God? God, with the Help-of our Prayers, often Sees fit-to Bring-back the most Blinded and Stubborn Sinners, to a State-of Salvation, by-means-of Extraordinary Graces. Therefore we should never Fail-to 'Recommend' Poor Sinners to-God. A Learned Author says that he who Prays-for others, will Find that his Prayers-for himself, are Heard much-sooner.

A Man may Pray Faithfully for the Necessities-of this Life, and God may Mercifully 'Refuse to-Hear him, because the Physician knows-better than the Patient, what is Good-for the Sick Man. When Men ask God for Health or Riches, He often 'Denies' them, because He Loves them, Knowing-that these Things would be an Occasion-of Losing His Grace, or at any Rate, of Growing Weak in the Spiritual Life. We do not mean-to-say that it is Wrong to Pray-to God for the Needs-of this Present Life, so-far-as they are not Inconsistent-with our Eternal Salvation. Nor is it a Defect, says Saint Thomas, to have Anxiety-about such Goods, if it is not Overdone. The Defect consists-in Desiring and Seeking these Material Goods, and in having an Excessive Anxiety about them, as if they were our Highest Good. Therefore, when we 'Ask' God for these Material Favors, we ought always to 'Ask' for them with the Condition-that they will be Useful-to our Souls. When we see that God does not Grant them, let us be certain-that He then Denies them to us, because-of the Love He 'Bears' us, and because He Sees-that they would be Harmful-to the Salvation of our Souls.

It often Happens-that we Pray-to God, to Deliver us from some Dangerous Temptation, and yet God does not Hear us, but Permits the Temptation to-continue Troubling us. In such a Case, we should Understand that God Permits even this, for our Greater Good. It is not Temptation or Bad Thoughts that Separate us from God, but our Consent-to the Evil. When a Soul in Temptation, turns-to God and by His Help Resists, that Soul then Advances-in Perfection, and is United more-closely-to God! We ought to Pray in Temptations, saying: Lord, Deliver me from this Trouble, if it is Truly Good to-Deliver me; and if not, at least Give me Help to Resist. Be sure that God, then, really Hears us and is Secretly Aiding us, and Strengthening us by His Grace to-Resist all the Assaults-of our Enemies. He Himself Assures us of this by the Mouth-of King David: "In Distress you Called, and I Rescued you" (Psalm 81:8).

(Here we will Treat the above Conditions under Three (3) Headings. We must Pray

with-Humility,
with-Confidence, and
with-Perseverance.)

 

Prayer Demands Humility

We all ought-to Realize-that we are 'Supported', only by the Power-of God's Grace. If this Power Fails us, we shall Certainly Fall: "Were not the Lord, my Help, I would soon Dwell-in the Silent Grave" (Psalm 94:17).

We must Believe-that without the Aid-of Grace, we cannot do any Good Work, nor even 'Think' a Good Thought. As the Eye cannot 'See' without Light, so, said Saint Augustine, Man can do no Good, without Grace. Saint Paul had said the same thing before him: "It is not that we are Entitled-of ourselves, to take Credit-for anything. Our Sole Credit is from God" (2Corinthians 3:5). And David had said it before Saint Paul: "Unless the Lord Build the House, they Labor in-Vain, who Build it" (Psalm 127:1). In-Vain, does Man Weary himself, to become a Saint, unless God Lends a Helping Hand: "Unless the Lord, Guard the City, in Vain does the Guard, keep Vigil" (Psalm 127:1). If God did not 'Preserve' the Soul from-Sins, in-Vain would She try to 'Preserve' herself, by her own Strength.

If a Man says he has no-Fear, it is a Sign that he Trusts-in himself, and in his Good Resolutions. But, such a Man Deceives himself, because through Trust-in his own-Strength, he Neglects-to Fear, and through not Fearing, he Neglects-to 'Recommend' himself to-God; and then, he certainly will Fall. We should all stop Scowling-at the Sins-of other People. Rather, we should consider that we may be-Worse Spiritually than they are, and should Say, "Lord, if You had not Helped me, I should have done Worse". Otherwise, to Punish us for our Pride, God will 'Permit' us to-Fall into Worse and more-Shameful Sins. For this Reason, Saint Paul 'Instructs' us to 'Work'-for our Salvation. But how? Always in Fear and Trembling (Philippians 2:12). The Man who has a Great Fear-of Falling, Distrusts his own Strength, and therefore Places his Confidence-in God, and will Turn-to Him in-Dangers. God will then Aid him, so that he will 'Defeat' his Temptations, and be Saved.

And so, with the Help-of God, Who never Refuses anything-to the Man who Prays to-Him with-Humility, he will be able-to do All-things: "The Prayer of the Lowly, Pierces the Clouds; it does not Rest, till it Reaches its Goal, nor will it Withdraw, till the Most High Responds" (Sirach 35:17-18).

 

Prayer Demands Confidence

dm5.jpg (52864 bytes) When did it ever-happen, that a Man had Confidence-in God, and was Lost? Says Saint Augustine: "God is not a Deceiver, that He should Offer-to Support us, and then when we Lean-upon Him, should Slip-away from us". David calls the Man 'Happy', who Trusts-in God: "O Lord of Hosts, Happy the Men who Trust-in You!" (Psalm 84:13). And why? Because he who Trusts-in God, will always Find himself Surrounded-by God's Mercy, so that he will be Guarded-by God, on-every Side, and be Prevented-from Losing his Soul.

David said, that our Confidence-in God, ought to be Firm-as a Mountain, which is not Moved-by each Gust-of-Wind: "They who Trust-in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which is Immovable" (Psalm 125:1). It is this which Our Lord Recommends-to us, if we Wish-to Obtain the Graces, which we Ask: "If you are Ready-to Believe, it shall be Done-for you" (Mark 11:24).

But what is the Basis-of this Certain Confidence-of Obtaining what I Ask? It is the Promise made-by Jesus Christ, "Ask and you shall Receive" (John 16:24). "Who will Fear to be Deceived, when The Truth, Promises?" says Saint Augustine. How can we Doubt our being-Heard when God, Who is Truth itself, 'Promises' to-Give us what we Ask-of Him in Prayer? Pray, 'Ask', 'Seek', and you will Obtain what you Desire. Our Savior has Taught us in the "Our Father" that we should 'Call' Him, not Lord, but Father — "Our Father" — because it is His Will that we should 'Ask' God for-Grace, with the same Confidence with-which a Son, when in-Need or in-Sickness, asks Food or Medicine, from his own Father.

Trusting-in God's Promises, let us always Pray with-Confidence, not Wavering, but Stable and Firm: "Let us hold Unswervingly-to our Profession, which Gives us Hope, for He Who made the Promise, deserves our Trust" (Hebrews 10:23). As it is Certain-that God is Faithful-in His Promises, so our Faith should be Certain, that He will Hear us when we Pray. Sometimes, when we feel Spiritually Dried-up or Disturbed, by some Fault we have Committed, we perhaps do not feel that Prayerful Confidence, which we would Wish to-Experience. In Spite-of this, let us Force ourselves to-Pray and to-Pray without Ceasing, for God will not Neglect-to Hear us. No, on the contrary, He will Hear us more-Readily, because we shall then Pray with more Distrust-of ourselves, and with more Trust-in God, Who has Promised to-Hear the Man who Prays to Him.

canaanite_woman.jpg (258486 bytes)

The Canaanite Woman, Prays to Jesus -
from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

 

If we have Great Confidence when we Pray, we shall get what we Want, from God. The Canaanite Woman did so, and she Obtained all she Wished-from Jesus Christ. This Woman had a Daughter, Possessed-by a Devil, and Prayed that Jesus would Free her: "Lord, Son of David, have Pity on me! My Daughter is Terribly Troubled by a Demon" (Matthew 15:22). Our Lord Answered, that He had been Sent, First (1st) of-all, to-Aid His own People, not the Gentiles. However, she did not Lose Heart, but Renewed her Prayer, with Confidence: "Help me, Lord!". Jesus Replied, "It is not Right to take the Food of Sons and Daughters, and throw it to the Dogs". But, my Lord, she Answered, even the Dogs are Allowed-to have the Fragments-of Bread, which fall-from the Table. Then, Our Savior, seeing the Great Confidence of this Woman, Praised her and did what she Asked, saying, "Woman, you have Great Faith! Your Wish will Come-to Pass". For who, says the Author-of-Sirach, has ever Called-on God for Aid, and has been Neglected and left Unaided by Him? (Sirach 2:10). When we find ourselves Weak, and unable to-Overcome any Passion or any Great Difficulty to-Fulfill what God Requires-of us, we should take Courage and not Say, as some do: I cannot, I Distrust myself. With our own-Strength, Certainly we can do Nothing, but with God's Help, we can do Everything. Let us Pray with David: "The Lord is with me; I Fear not; what can Man do against me?" (Psalm 118:6). With the Help of my Lord, I shall Overcome. And when we find ourselves in Danger-of Offending God, or in any other Critical Position, and are too-Confused to-Know what is Best to-do, let us 'Recommend' ourselves to God, Saying, "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom should I Fear?" (Psalm 27:1). We can be sure then that God will Certainly Give us Light, and will Save us from every Evil.

We read-in John's Gospel, the Words-of the Blind Man, who was Cured: "We Know that God does not Hear Sinners, but that if someone is Devout and Obeys His Will, He Listens-to him" (John 9:31). God does not-Hear the Petition which the Sinner makes, when he Asks, while at the same-Time Desiring-to Continue-in Sin. The same is True-for the Sinner who Prays God to-Save him, but has no Desire-to Quit the State-of-Sin. The Prayers of such Men, are not Heard-by God.

 

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Publican)
(Luke 18: 9-14)
 

Persons, who Sin, due-to Weakness, or by the Violence-of some Great Passion, but who really Desire-to Escape-from Slavery-to Sin, should 'Ask' the Assistance-of God. Their Prayer, if it is 'Persevering', will certainly be Heard-by Him. In Saint Luke's Gospel, Jesus, Speaking-of the Man who 'Gave' all the Loaves he had, to his Friend, not so-much because-of his Friendship, as-because-of the other's Strong Request, says, "I tell you, even though he does not Get-up and take Care-of the Man, because of Friendship, he will do so, because-of his Persistence, and Give him as-much-as he Needs. So I say to you, 'Ask and you shall Receive' " (Luke 11:8-9). Continued Prayer, Obtains Mercy-from God, even for those who are not in His Grace. Saint Jerome says that even the Sinner, can Call God his Father, if he Prays Him to be-Accepted again as a Son. The Prodigal Son 'Returned', to say: "Father, I have Sinned", even though he had not as yet been Pardoned. If God did not 'Hear' Sinners, says Saint Augustine, it would have been useless-for the Tax Collector to-Seek Forgiveness. But the Gospel 'Assures' us, that the Tax Collector Prayed, and did Obtain Forgiveness: "This Man went Home, from the Temple, Justified" (Luke 18:14).

Saint-John-Chrysostom says that the only-Time God is Angry-with us, is when we Neglect-to 'Ask' Him for His Gifts: "He is only Angry when we do not Pray". And how can it ever-happen that God will not Hear a Soul, who 'Asks' Him for Favors, all according-to His Pleasure? When the Soul says-to Him, Lord, I do not Ask you for Goods of this World, Riches, Pleasures, Honors; I Ask You only for Your Grace: Deliver me from Sin, Grant me a Good Death, Give me Paradise, Give me Your Love, Help me to-accept Your Will — how is it possible-that God should not Hear? Above all, our Confidence ought-to 'Revive', when we Pray to God for Spiritual Graces, as Jesus Christ says, "If you, with all your Sins, know how to Give your Children Good Things, how much more will the Heavenly Father, Give the Holy Spirit to those who Ask Him" (Luke 11:13). If you, who are so Attached-to your own Interests, so Full-of Self-love, cannot Deny your Children what they 'Ask', how much-more will your Heavenly Father, Who Loves you better than any Earthly Father, Grant you His Spiritual Goods, when you Pray-for them.

 

 Prayer Demands Perseverance

Our Prayers, then, must be Humble and Confident. But this is not enough-to 'Obtain' Final Perseverance for-Eternal Life. Individual Prayers will Obtain Individual Graces from God, but the Grace-of Final Perseverance, requires many Prayers, right-up-until Death. The Grace-of-Salvation is not a Single (1) Grace, but a Chain-of Graces, all of which are at-last Linked-with the Grace-of Final Perseverance. Now to this Chain-of Graces, there ought-to Correspond another Chain-of our Prayers. If we, by Neglecting-to Pray, 'Break' the Chain-of our Prayers, the Chain-of Graces will be Broken too, and we shall not be Saved. "So be on the Watch. Pray Constantly-for the Strength-to Escape whatever is in Prospect, and to Stand Secure-before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).

Since God can 'Give' me the Grace-of-Perseverance, and really Wishes-to, why does He not give it to me, All-at-Once, when I Ask Him? God does not 'Grant' it at-Once, but 'Delays' it, First (1st), so that He may better-'Prove' our Confidence and, Secondly, so that we may Long-for it, more-Forcefully. Great Gifts should be Greatly Desired, for Good Things, easily-Gotten, are not Valued as-much-as those which have been Long Sought-for. If we were already Sure-of Persevering, and of being Saved, and if we did not have Continual Need-of God's Help to-Preserve us in His Grace and to-Save us, we should soon 'Forget' God. God Wishes-to make us Careful, and to-Draw us to Himself. Our Continual Turning-to God in Prayer, and the Confident Expectation-of the Graces, which we Desire-from Him, 'Stimulate' and 'Inflame' us to-Bind ourselves more-closely-to God! But for how-long must we Pray? Always, until we Receive Favorable Sentence-of Eternal Life, that is to say, until our Death. The Man who will never stop Praying until he is Saved, will most-certainly be Saved. Saint Paul writes: "All Run-for the Prize, but he only Receives it, who Runs until he Wins" (1Corinthians 9:24). It is not-enough for-Salvation, simply-to Pray, but we must Pray Always, in-order-to 'Receive' the Crown which God Promises, but Promises only-to those, who are Constant-in Prayer, to the End.

 

Everybody Gets the Grace to Pray

Supernatural Order
(Resides in the Essence of the Soul)

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural
Order

Supernatural
Order

Natural Body/
Lower Powers
(Subordinate-Partner)

Natural Soul/
Natural Virtues
(Dominant Partner)

Sanctifying Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

 

Taking for-Granted, then, that Prayer is necessary-for Gaining Eternal Life, we should also Take for-Granted that everyone has Sufficient Aid from God, to Enable him to-Pray. By Prayer, he may Obtain all other Graces, necessary-to Persevere in-Keeping the Commandments, and so-Gain Eternal Life. No one who is Lost, can ever Excuse himself, by saying that it was through Lack-of the Aid, necessary-for his Salvation. God, in the Natural Order, arranged-that Man should be born-Naked, and Lacking several-things Necessary-for Life, but then has Given him Hands and Intelligence, to Clothe himself and Provide-for his other Needs. In the Supernatural Order, Man is born Unable to-Obtain Salvation, by his own Strength, but God in His Goodness, Grants to everyone the Grace-of-Prayer, by which he can Gain all other Graces, which he needs-to Keep the Commandments, and be Saved.

Before Expanding this Theme, we will consider Two (2) Preliminary Points:

First (1st), that God Wills all Men to be Saved, and therefore, that Jesus Christ Died for All;

Secondly (2nd), that God Gives-to all Men the Graces necessary-for Salvation, by-which they may be Saved, if they Cooperate-with them.

 

God Wills All Men to Be Saved

God Loves all-things that He has Created: "For you Love all things that are, and Loathe nothing that you have Made" (Wisdom 11:24). The Person who Loves, cannot Help doing Good-to the Person Beloved, whenever there is an Opportunity: "Love Persuades a Man to do what he Believes to be Good, for the One he Loves", says Aristotle. If God Loves all Men, He must then Will that all Men 'Reach' Eternal Salvation, which is the Greatest Good of Man, the One End for-which he was Created. God "Wants all Men to be Saved, and Come to Know the Truth" (1Timothy 2:4). Therefore, the Grace-of-God is Lacking-to no Man; He makes it Available-to Everyone.

If God Punishes us, He does it because-of our Sins. He does not Will our Death, but our Life. It is God's Proper Nature to-Save All, and to-Deliver All-from Eternal Death. Saint Peter says: "He wants None to Perish, but All to-come-to Repentance" (2Peter 3:9). He does not Will the Damnation-of Anyone, but He Wills that All should do-Penance, and so should be- Saved. All the Holy Fathers 'Agree', in-Saying that Jesus Christ Died to 'Obtain' Eternal Salvation for all Men. Saint Jerome: "Christ Died for-All; He was the only One Who could-be Offered-for All, because All were-Dead in-Sins". Saint Ambrose: "Christ came to-Cure our Wounds; but since All do not Search-for the Remedy, therefore He Cures those who are Willing; He does not-Force the Unwilling". God, for His Part, really Wills us all to be-Saved; otherwise, it would not be in our Power, to obtain Health and Eternal Life. He Who Redeemed us, at-such a Cost, does not-Will that we Perish, for He does not-Purchase, in-order-to Destroy, but He Redeems in-order-to Give Life. He has Redeemed us All, in-order-to Save us All. We are 'Encouraged'-to Hope-for Eternal Happiness, by what Christ has 'Done' and has 'Promised,. What has He 'Done'? He has Died-for us. What has He 'Promised'? That we shall Live-with Him.

Saint Augustine left no-Doubt when he said, "All my Hope, and the Certainty-of my Faith, is in the Precious Blood of Christ, Which was Shed-for us, and for our Salvation". Thus, the Saint 'Placed' all his Hope in the Blood-of-Jesus-Christ, because the Faith 'Assured' him, that Christ Died for All.

 

This Means Both the Just and Sinners

If God Wills All to be-Saved, it follows-that He 'Gives'-to All, that Grace, and those Aids, which are Necessary-for Salvation. Otherwise, it could Never-be Said-that He has a True Will, to-Save All. God does not-Impose a Law, that it is Impossible-to 'Observe'. On the other-hand, it is Certain-that without the Assistance-of Grace, the Observance-of the Law, is Impossible. If God 'Refused' us Grace, to-Enable us to-Fulfill the Law, either the Law would have been 'Given' in-Vain, or Sin would be Necessary, and if-Necessary, would no-longer be-Sin.

sunshine.gif (5039 bytes) As the Sun 'Sheds' its Light upon All, and only those are Deprived-of it, who Voluntarily 'Blind' themselves to its Rays, so God Communicates-to all-Men, Grace-to 'Observe' the Law, and Men are Lost, simply-because they will not make Use-of it. God 'Gives' all-Men the Graces necessary-for Salvation. Actual Grace is necessary-to 'Overcome' Temptations, and to 'Observe' the Commandments. We must necessarily Conclude-that He 'Gives' all-Men the Actual Grace to-do Good.

jesus_knocking_280.jpg (12268 bytes)
Note that the Door does not have an Outside Latch, with which Jesus can open it. The Latch is on the Inside, and only we can Open the Door, to let Jesus in.
 

Scripture, in several-places, most-Clearly 'Assures' us that He does not Neglect-to 'Assist' us with His Grace, if we are Willing to 'Make' use-of it, either for Perseverance, if we are in a State-of-Grace, or for Conversion, if we are in Sin. "Here I Stand, Knocking at the Door. If anyone Hears Me Calling, and Opens the Door, I will Enter his House" (Revelation 3:20). Our Lord Knows that Man cannot 'Open', without His Grace.

This is exactly what Saint Thomas 'Teaches', in Explaining the Text. He says that God 'Gives' everyone the Grace necessary-for Salvation, so that he may Cooperate-with it, if he Wishes. "God, by His most Liberal Will, gives Grace to everyone who Prepares himself". Therefore, the Grace-of-God is Lacking-to no one, but Communicates itself to all-Men. In another-Place he 'Says', "It is the Business-of God's Providence, to-Provide everyone with what is necessary-to Salvation". The Lord 'Knocks'-at the Gate, because He Truly Wishes to-Enter; if He does-not 'Enter', or if He does not Remain-in our Souls, it is because we Prevent His 'Entering', or Drive Him out, when He has 'Entered'.

"Do you not know that God's Kindness is an Invitation-to you to Repent?" (Romans 2:4). It is through his own Malice, that the Sinner is not Converted, because he Despises the Riches-of God's Goodness, which 'Calls' him, Untiringly-to Conversion, by Grace. God 'Hates' Sin, but at the Same Time, never-Stops Loving the Sinful Soul while it Remains-on Earth, and always 'Gives' it the Assistance it Requires-for Salvation: "But You Spare all-things, because they are Yours, O Lord and Lover-of Souls" (Wisdom 11:26).

Saint-Robert-Bellarmine 'Writes': "Assistance to-Avoid new Sin is always at-hand for all Men, either Immediately or Mediately", (that is, by-means-of Prayer), "so that they may-Ask further-Aid from God, to-avoid Sin". In the Book-of-Ezekiel, we 'Read': "As I Live, says the Lord God, I swear I take no-Pleasure in the Death-of the Wicked Man, but rather, in the Wicked Man's Conversion, that he may Live" (Ezekiel 33:11). Saint Peter says the same, "The Lord shows you Generous Patience, since He wants None to-Perish, but all to Come-to Repentance" (2Peter 3:9). If, therefore, God Wishes-that All, should actually be Converted, it must necessarily be-held that He Gives-to All, the Grace they need-for Actual Conversion.

Saint Paul 'Teaches': "God 'Keeps' His Promise. He will not let you be-Tested, beyond your Strength. Along with the Test, He will 'Give' you a Way out-of it, so-that you may be-able-to Endure it" (1Corinthians 10:13). And Saints Augustine-and-Thomas, go so-far-as to-Say that God would be Unjust and Cruel, if He 'Obliged' anyone to a Command, which he could not Keep. The Former says, "It is the Deepest Injustice-to Judge anyone Guilty-of Sin, for not-doing what he Could-not do". The Latter maintains that it is considered Cruelty in a Man, to 'Oblige' a Person by-Law, to do what he cannot do; therefore, we must by no-Means, Imagine this of-God. But he adds that the Case is different, "when it is through his own Neglect, that Man does not have the Grace, to-be-able to-Keep the Commandments". And the Council-of-Trent Teaches, "God does not Command Impossibilities, but by-Commanding, 'Urges' you both to-do what you Can, and to-Ask-for what is beyond your Power, and by His Help, He Enables you to do it".

 

Man Makes the Choice

Assuming, then, that God Wills all Men, to be Saved, and that as-far-as He is Concerned, He 'Gives'-to All, the Graces necessary-for their Salvation, we must say-that all-Men are-given the Grace to-enable them to-Pray and, by-Prayer, to-Obtain all further-Aid, needed-for-'Observing' the Commandments, and for-Salvation.

No Father is Clearer-on this Point, than Saint Augustine. According-to him, no one is Deprived-of the Grace-of-Prayer, to-Obtain Help-for his Conversion. Otherwise, if this Grace were Lacking, it could not be his Fault, if he were not Converted. "It is He, Who gives us Power to-Ask, and to-Seek, and to-Know, Who Commands us to-do these things". He 'Gives' us Commandments for this Reason: that when we have Tried to-do what we are Commanded, and are Wearied through our Weakness, we may Know how-to 'Ask' the Help-of-Grace. In making this Choice, we Call-on the Virtue-of-Hope, which is so Pleasing to God, that He has said He Delights-in those who Trust-in Him: "The Lord is Pleased-with those who Hope-for His Kindness" (Psalm 147:11). And He 'Promises':

Victory-over his Enemies,
Perseverance in-Grace, and
Eternal Glory,

to the Man who Hopes. "Has anyone Hoped-in the Lord, and been Disappointed?" (Sirach 2:10). We can be sure that, though Heaven and Earth Pass-away, the Promises-of God cannot Fail: "The Heavens and the Earth will Pass-away, but My Words will not Pass" (Matthew 24:35). Saint Bernard, therefore, says that all our Merit consists in-Placing all our Confidence-in God: "This is the Whole Merit-of Man, if he Places all his Hope, in Him". The Reason is that, he who Hopes-in God, 'Honors' Him much: "Then Call upon Me in Time-of Distress; I will Rescue you, and you shall Glorify Me" (Psalm 50:15). He 'Honors' the Power, the Mercy, and the Faithfulness-of God, since he Believes that God 'Can' and 'Will' Save him, and that He cannot Fail-in His Promises to-Save the Man, who Trusts-in Him. The Greater our Confidence is, the Greater will be the Measure-of God's Mercy, Poured-out Upon us: "May Your Kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our Hope in You" (Psalm 33:22). Hope-of Eternal Life, ought to-be 'Sure' and 'Firm', in us.

The Council-of-Trent has expressly-Declared, "All Men should Place and Keep a most Firm Hope-in the Help-of God; for, unless they Fail to Cooperate-with His Grace, He Who has begun the Good Work will Finish it". And long-before, Saint Paul had said of himself, "I know Him in Whom I have Believed, and I am Confident that He is Able to-Guard what has been Entrusted to me, until that Day" (2Timothy 1:12). Herein lies the Difference-between Christian and Worldly Hope. Worldly Hope is often, just an Uncertain Expectation.

It is always Doubtful, whether-or-not a Man, who has 'Promised' a Favor, may later 'Change' his Mind, if he has not already Changed it. But the Christian Hope-of Eternal Salvation, is Certain on-God's Part, for He 'Can' and 'Will' Save us, and has 'Promised' to- Save those, who 'Obey' His Law. For this Reason, He has 'Promised' us All necessary-Graces, to-Enable us to-'Obey' this Law, if we 'Ask'-for them. It is True, that Hope is accompanied-by Fear, as Saint Thomas says; but this Fear does not Arise-from God's Part, but from our own, since we may at any-time Fail, by not Cooperating-as we should, and by 'Putting' an Obstacle in the Way-of Grace, by our Sins. Reasonably, then, did the Council-of-Trent Condemn those who, because they entirely Deprive Man of Free Will, are Obliged-to make every Believer have an Infallible Certitude-of Perseverance and Salvation. This Error was Condemned-by the Council, because, as we have said, in-order-to Obtain Salvation, it is necessary-for us to-Cooperate, and this Cooperation-of ours is Uncertain and Fallible. Therefore, God Wills that we should always Fear-for ourselves, when we Presume-on our own Strength; but we should be always Certain of-His Good Will, and of-His Assistance to-Save us, Provided-that we 'Ask' Him for it. Saint Thomas says we ought to-Look with-Certainty, to-Receive Eternal Happiness from-God, Trusting-in His Power and Mercy, and Believing-that He 'Can' and 'Will' Save us. "Whoever has Faith, is certain-of God's Power and Mercy". This is why the Apostle-James, Declares-that the Man who Desires God's Grace, must 'Ask' for it, not with-Hesitation, but with the Confident Certainty-of, 'Obtaining' it. "Yet he must Ask in-Faith, never Doubting" (James 1:6). And Saint Paul 'Praises' Abraham for not-Doubting God's Promise; Abraham knew-that when God 'Promises', He cannot Fail-to Perform: "Yet he never Questioned or Doubted God's Promise; rather, he was Strengthened in Faith, and gave Glory to God, fully Persuaded that God could do, whatever He had Promised" (Romans 4:20-21).

 

To Sum up

Our Hope-of-Salvation and of-Receiving the Means Necessary-for it, must be Certain-on God's Part. The Motives on-which this Certainty is-Founded, are the Power, Mercy, and Truth-of God. The Strongest and most-Certain Motive, is God's Infallible Faithfulness to the Promise, He has 'Made' us, through the Merits-of Jesus Christ, to-Save us, and to-'Give' us the Graces needed-for our Salvation. We might Believe God to be Infinite (∞) in Power and Mercy; nevertheless, we could not feel Confident Expectation-of God's Saving us, unless He had surely 'Promised'-to do-so. He has made that Promise, but there is a Condition: We must 'Actively Cooperate'-with God's Grace, and Pray.

We have seen that many-Passages, both of the Old and New Testament, show the Absolute Necessity-of Prayer. This is why a Sermon-on Prayer, is Preached-on all the Missions, Given-by our Redemptorists. I Say and Repeat, and will keep-Repeating, as-long-as I Live, that All our Salvation, Depends-on Prayer.

All-Writers in their Books, all-Preachers in their Sermons, all-Confessors in their Instructions-to their Penitents, should not-Urge anything more-Strongly, than Continual Prayer. They should always Encourage and Continually Repeat: Pray, Pray, never Cease-to Pray. For if you Pray, your Salvation will be Assured; but if you stop Praying, your Damnation will be-Certain. All Preachers and Directors ought to do this because, according-to the Opinion-of every Catholic School-of-Theology, there is no-doubt of this Truth:

He who Prays, 'Obtains' Grace, and is Saved.

 

 

- End of Liguori Discourse -