On Human Respect


Worldliness

 

Whosoever Killeth you, will think that he doth a Service to God - John 16:2.

 

On Human Respect

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In 'Exhorting' His Disciples to be Faithful to Him, under the Persecutions which they were-to Endure, the Savior said: "Yea; the Hour cometh, that whosoever Killeth you, will think that he doth a Service to God". Thus, the Enemies of the Faith, Believed that in-putting Christians to Death, they did a Service, to God. It is thus that many Christians of the Present Day, Act. They Kill their own Souls, by Losing the Grace of God through Human Respect, and to please Worldly Friends. Oh! how many Souls has Human Respect - that Great Enemy of our Salvation - sent to Hell! I shall speak on this Subject today, that, if you wish to 'Serve' God and 'Save' your Souls, you may Guard, as-much-as-possible, against Human Respect. In the First (1st) Point, I will show the Importance-of not being Influenced-by Human Respect; and in the Second (2nd), I will point-out the 'Means', by which this Vice may be overcome.

 

First Point
On the Importance of not being Influenced by Human Respect

"Woe to the World because of Scandals" - Matthew 18:7. Jesus Christ has said that, through the Scandals of the Wicked many Souls Fall into Hell. But, how is it possible to Live-in the Midst-of the World, and not to take Scandal? This is impossible. To avoid taking Scandal, Saint Paul says, we should 'Leave' this World. "Otherwise, you must needs go out of this World". - 1Corinthians 5:10. But, it is in our Power to avoid Familiarity-with Scandalous Sinners. Hence the Apostle adds: "But now I have written to you not to keep company ... with such a one, not as much as to Eat" - 1Corinthians 5:11. We should Beware-of Contracting an Intimacy with such Sinners; for, should we be United-with them in the Bonds-of Friendship, we shall Feel an Unwillingness-to Oppose their Bad Practices and Bad Counsels. Thus, through Human Respect and the Fear of Contradicting them, we will 'Imitate' their Example, and 'Lose' the Friendship of God.

Such Lovers of the World, not only Glory in their own Iniquities - ("They Rejoice in most Wicked Things" - Proverbs 2:14) - but, what is Worse, they wish to have Companions, and Ridicule all who Endeavor-to Live-like True Christians, and to-Avoid the Dangers of Offending God. This is a Sin which is very Displeasing to God, and which He Forbids in a Particular Manner. "Despise not a Man that turneth away from Sin, nor Reproach him therewith". Despise not those, who Keep-at a Distance from Sin, and Seek not to draw them to Evil, by your Reproaches and Irregularities. The Lord declares, that, for those who throw Ridicule, on the Virtuous, Chastisements are prepared in this, and in the Next Life. "Judgments are prepared for Scorners, and Striking Hammers for the Bodies of Fools" - Proverbs 19:29. They Mock the Servants of God, and He shall Mock them for all Eternity (∞). "But the Lord shall Laugh them to Scorn. And they shall Fall after this, without Honor, and be a Reproach among the Dead, for ever" - Wisdom 4:18-19. They Endeavor-to make the Saints Contemptible in the Eyes-of the World, and God shall make them Die without Honor, and shall send them to Hell, to Suffer Eternal Ignominy, among the Damned.

Not only to Offend God, but also to Endeavor-to make others Offend Him, is Truly an Enormous Excess-of Wickedness. This Execrable Intention, arises-from a Conviction, that there are many Weak and Pusillanimous Souls, who, to escape Derision and Contempt, Abandon the Practice-of Virtue, and give themselves up to a Life-of Sin. After his Conversion-to God, Saint Augustine Wept, for having associated-with those Ministers of Lucifer, and Confessed, that he felt Ashamed, not to-be-as Wicked and as Shameless as they were. "Pudebat me", says the Saint, "esse pudentem". How many, to avoid the Scoffs of Wicked Friends, have been Induced-to Imitate their Wickedness! Behold the Saint, these Impious Scoffers will say: Get me a piece of his Garment; I will preserve it as a Relic; He ought to go into the Desert; Why does he not become a Monk? How many also, when they receive an Insult, Resolve to take Revenge, not so much through Passion, as to Escape the Reputation-of being Cowards! How many are there who, after having Inadvertently given Expression-to a Scandalous Maxim, neglect to Retract it (as they are bound to do), through Fear of Losing the Esteem-of others! How many, because they are Afraid of Forfeiting the Favor-of a Friend, sell their Souls to the Devil! They Imitate the Conduct-of Pilate, who, through the Apprehension-of Losing the Friendship of Caesar, Condemned Jesus Christ to Death.

Be attentive! Brethren, if we wish to Save our Souls, we must overcome Human Respect, and bear the little Confusion which may Arise-from the Scoffs of the Enemies of the Cross of Jesus Christ. "For there is a Shame that Bringeth Sin, and there is a Shame that bringeth Glory and Grace" - Ecclesiastes 4:25. If we do not Suffer this Confusion with Patience, it will lead us into the Pit of Sin; but, if we Submit-to it for God's Sake, it will Obtain-for us the Divine Grace here, and Great Glory hereafter. "As", says Saint Gregory, "Bashfulness is Laudable in Evil, so it is Reprehensible in Good".

But some of you will say: I attend to my own Affairs; I wish to Save my Soul; why then should I be Persecuted? But, there is no Remedy; it is 'Impossible' to Serve God, and not be Persecuted. "The Wicked Loathe them that are in the Right Way" - Proverbs 29:27. Sinners cannot bear the Sight-of the Man who Lives according-to the Gospel, because his Life is a Continual Censure on their Disorderly Conduct; and therefore they say: "Let us Lie in Wait for the Just; because he is not for our Turn, and he is contrary to our Doings, and Upbraideth us with Transgressions of the Law" - Wisdom 2:12. The Proud Man, who seeks Revenge for every Insult which he receives, would wish that All should Avenge the Offences that may be Offered-to him. The Avaricious, who Grow Rich by Injustice, wish that All should Imitate their Fraudulent Practices. The Drunkard wishes to see others Indulge-like himself, in Intoxication. The Immoral, who Boast-of their Impurities, and can scarcely utter a word which does not Savor-of Obscenity, desire that All should Act and Speak as they do: and those who do not Imitate their Conduct, they regard as Mean, Clownish, and Intractable - as Men without-Honor and without-Education. "They are of the World; therefore of the World, they speak" - 1John 4:5. Worldlings can speak no-other Language, than that of the World. Oh! how Great is their Poverty and Blindness! Sin has Blinded them, and therefore they speak so Profanely. "These things they Thought, and were Deceived; for their own Malice, Blinded them" - Wisdom 2:21.

But, I say again, that there is no Remedy. All, as Saint Paul says, who wish to-Live in Union-with Jesus Christ, must be Persecuted by the World. "And all that will Live Godly in Christ, shall Suffer Persecution" - 2Timothy 3:12. All the Saints have been Persecuted. You say: I do not Injure any one; why then am I not Left-in Peace? What Evil have the Saints, and particularly the Martyrs, done? They were Full-of Charity; they Loved all, and Labored to do Good to all. And how have they been Treated-by the World? They have been Flayed Alive; they have been Tortured with Red-hot Plates-of Iron; and have been put-to Death, in the most-Cruel Manner. And whom has Jesus Christ, the Saint of Saints, Injured? He 'Consoled' All; He 'Healed' All. "Virtue went out from Him, and Healed all" - Luke 6:19. And how has the World treated Him? It has Persecuted Him, so as to make Him Die through Pain on the Infamous Gibbet of the Cross.

This happens because the Maxims of the World are Diametrically Opposed-to the Maxims of Jesus Christ. What the World 'Esteems', Jesus Christ regards as 'Folly'. "For the Wisdom of this World is Foolishness with God" - 1Corinthians 3:19. And what is Foolish in the Eyes of the World - that is Crosses, Sickness, Contempt, and Ignominies - Jesus Christ holds in Great Estimation. "For the Word of the Cross, to them indeed that Perish, is Foolishness" - 1Corinthians 1:18. How, says Saint Cyprian, can a Man think himself to be a Christian, when he is Afraid to be a Christian? "Christianum, se putat si Christianum esse veretur?". If we are Christians, let us show that we are Christians in-Name and in-Truth; for, if we are Ashamed of Jesus Christ, He will be Ashamed of Us, and cannot give us a place on His Right Hand, on the Last Day. "For he that shall be Ashamed of Me and of My Words, of him the Son of Man shall be Ashamed when He shall come in His Majesty" - Luke 9:26. On the 'Day of Judgment', He shall say: You have been Ashamed-of Me on Earth: I am now Ashamed to see you with Me in Paradise. Begone, Accursed Souls; go into Hell to meet your Companions, who have been Ashamed-of Me. But Mark the Words, he that shall be Ashamed of Me and of My Words. Saint Augustine says, that some are Ashamed to-deny Jesus Christ, but do not Blush to-deny the Maxims of Jesus Christ. "Erubescunt negare Christum, et non erubescunt negare verba Christi". But, you may tell me, that, if you say you cannot do such an Act, because it is contrary-to the Gospel, your Friends will turn you into Ridicule, and will call you a Hypocrite. Then, says Saint John Chrysostom, you will not Suffer to be Treated-with Derision by a 'Companion', and you are 'Content', to be Hated-by God? "Non vis a conservo derideri, sed odio haberi a Deo tuo?".

The Apostle, who Gloried in being a Follower-of Christ, said: "The World is Crucified to me, and I to the World" - Galatians 6:14. As I am a Person, Crucified-to the World - an Object-of its Scoffs and Injustice, so the World is to me, an Object-of Contempt and Abomination. It is necessary to be Convinced, that if we do not Trample-on the World, the World will Trample-on our Souls. But, what is the World, and all its Goods? "All that is in the World, is the Concupiscence of the Flesh, and the Concupiscence of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life" - 1John 2:16. To what are all the Goods-of this Earth reduced? To Riches, which are but Dung; to Honors, which are only Smoke; and to Carnal Pleasures. But what shall all these Profit us, if we Lose our Souls? "What doth it Profit a Man, if he gain the Whole World, and Suffer the Loss of his own Soul?" - Matthew 16:26.

He that Loves God and Wishes-to Save his Soul, must Despise the World and all Human Respect; and to do this, every one must offer Violence to himself. Saint Mary Magdalene had to do great Violence to herself, in-order-to overcome Human Respect, and the 'Murmurings' and 'Scoffs' of the World, when in the Presence-of so many Persons, she cast herself at the Feet of Jesus Christ, to Wash them with her Tears, and Dry them with her Hair. But she thus became a Saint, and Merited from Jesus Christ, Pardon-of her Sins and Praise-for her Great Love. "Many Sins are Forgiven her, because she hath Loved much" - Luke 7:47. One day, as Saint Francis Borgia carried to certain Prisoners a Vessel-of Broth under his Cloak, he met his Son, mounted-on a Fine Horse, and accompanied-by Several Noblemen. The Saint felt Ashamed to show what he carried under his Cloak. But what did he do, in-order-to Conquer Human Respect? He took the Vessel-of Broth, placed it on his Head, and thus showed his Contempt-for the World. Jesus Christ, our Head and Master, when Nailed-to the Cross, was Mocked by the Soldiers. "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross" - Matthew 27:40. He was Mocked by the Priests, saying: "He Saved others; Himself He cannot Save" - Matthew 27:42. But He remained 'Firm', on the Cross; He Cheerfully Died upon it, and thus Conquered the World.

"I give Thanks to God", says Saint Jerome, "that I am Worthy to be Hated by the World". The Saint returns Thanks to God for having made him Worthy-of the Hatred of the World. Jesus Christ pronounced His Disciples Blessed, when they should be Hated by Men. "Blessed shall you be, when Men shall Hate you" - Luke 6:22. Christians, let us Rejoice; for, if Worldlings Curse and Up-Braid us, God at the same-time, Praises and Blesses us. "They will Curse, and Thou wilt Bless" - Psalm 108:28. Is it not enough for us to be Praised by God, to be Praised by the Queen of Heaven, by all the Angels, by all the Saints, and by all Just Men? Let Worldlings say what they wish; but let us continue-to Please God, Who will give us, in the Next Life, a Reward proportioned-to the Violence we shall have done to ourselves in Despising the Contradictions of Men. Each of you should figure to himself that there is no one in the World, but himself and God. When the Wicked treat us with Contempt, let us Recommend-to God, these Blind and Miserable Men, who run in the Road to Perdition; and let us Thank the Lord for giving to us the Light which He refuses-to them. Let us continue-in our own Way: to obtain all, it is necessary to Conquer all.

 

Second point
On the Means of overcoming Human Respect

To overcome Human Respect, it is necessary to Fix-in our Hearts, the Holy Resolution of preferring the Grace of God, to all the Goods and Favors of this World, and to say with Saint Paul: "Neither Death, nor Life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers nor any other Creature, shall be able to Separate us from the Love of God" - Romans 8:38-39. Jesus Christ exhorts us not to be Afraid of those who can take-away the Life-of the Body; but to Fear Him only, Who can Condemn the Soul and Body to Hell. "And Fear ye not them that Kill the Body, and are not able to Kill the Soul: but rather Fear Him, that can Destroy both Soul and Body in Hell" - Matthew 10:28. We wish either to-follow God or the World; if we wish to-follow God, we must give-up the World. "How long do you halt between two sides?" said Elijah to the People. "If the Lord be God, follow Him" - 1Kings 18:21. You cannot Serve God and the World. He that seeks-to Please Men, cannot Please God. "If", says the Apostle, "I yet Pleased Men, I should not be the Servant of Christ" - Galatians1:10.

The True Servants of God, Rejoice to see themselves Despised and Maltreated for the sake-of Jesus Christ. The Holy Apostles went from the Presence-of the Council, "Rejoicing, that they were Accounted Worthy to Suffer Reproach for the Name of Jesus" - Acts 5:41. Moses could have prevented the Anger of Pharaoh, by not Contradicting the Current Report, that he was the Son of Pharaoh's Daughter. But he denied that he was her son, preferring, as Saint Paul says, the Opprobrium of Christ, to all the Riches of the World. "Rather, Choosing to be Afflicted with the People of God; ... Esteeming the Reproach of Christ, Greater Riches, than the Treasure of the Egyptians" - Hebrews 11:25-26.

Wicked Friends come to you and say: What Extravagancies are those in which you Indulge? Why do you not Act like others? Say to them in answer: My Conduct is not opposed-to that of all Men; there are others who lead a Holy Life. They are indeed Few; but I will follow their Example; for the Gospel says: "Many are Called, but Few are Chosen" - Matthew 20:16. "If" says Saint John Climacus, "you wish to be Saved with the Few, Live like the Few". But, they will add: Do you not see that all Murmur against you, and Condemn your Manner of Living? Let your Answer be: It is enough for me, that God does not Censure my Conduct. Is it not better to Obey God, than to Obey Men? Such was the Answer-of Saint Peter and Saint John to the Jewish Priests: "If it be Just in the Sight of God to Hear you, rather than God, Judge ye" - Acts 4:19. If they ask you how can you Bear an Insult? or how, after Submitting-to it, can you appear among your Equals? Answer them by saying, that you are a Christian, and that it is enough for you to appear Well in the Eyes of God. Such should be your Answer-to all these Satellites of Satan: you must Despise all their Maxims and Reproaches. And when it is necessary to Reprove those who make Little-of God's Law, you must take-Courage and Correct them Publicly. "Them that Sin, Reprove before all" - 1Timothy 5:20. And when there is Question of the Divine Honor, we should not be Frightened by the Dignity-of the Man who Offends God; let us say to him openly: This is Sinful; it cannot be done. Let us Imitate the Baptist, who Reproved King Herod for living-with his Brother's Wife, and said to him: "It is not Lawful for thee to have her" - Matthew 14:4. Men indeed shall regard us as Fools, and turn us into Derision; but, on the Day-of Judgment, they shall Acknowledge that they have been Foolish, and we shall have the Glory, of being Numbered among the Saints. They shall say: "These are they, whom we had some Time in Derision . . . We Fools esteemed their Life, Madness, and their End without Honor. Behold how they are Numbered among the Children of God, and their Lot is among the Saints" - Wisdom 5:3-5.

 

- End of Liguori Sermon -

 

Prayer for the Graces Necessary for Salvation

Eternal Father, Your Son has Promised that You will Grant us all the Graces which we ask for in His Name. In the Name and Merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following Graces for myself and for all Mankind. Please give me a Lively Faith in all that the Church Teaches. Enlighten me, that I may know the Vanity of the Goods of this World, and the Immensity of the Infinite Good that You are. Make me also see the Deformity of the Sins I have Committed, that I may Humble myself and Detest them as I should.

Give me a Firm Confidence of Receiving Pardon for my Sins, Holy Perseverance, and the Glory of Heaven, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, and the Intercession of Mary. Give me a Great Love for You, that will Detach me from the Love of this World, and of myself, so that I may Love none other, but You.

I Beg of You a Perfect Resignation to Your Will. I Offer myself entirely to You, that You might do with me, and all that belongs to me, as You Please.

I Beg of You a Great Sorrow for my Sins.

I ask You to give me the Spirit of True Humility and Meekness, that I may Accept with Peace, and even with Joy, all the Contempt, Ingratitude and Ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time, I also ask You to give me Perfect Charity, which shall make me wish well to those who have done Evil to me.

Give me Love for the Virtue of Mortification, by which I may Chastise my Rebellious Senses and oppose my Self-Love. Give me a Great Confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the Intercession of Mary Immaculate. Give me a Great Love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a Tender Devotion and Love to Your Holy Mother. Give me, above all, Holy Perseverance, and the Grace always to Pray for it, especially in Time-of Temptation, and at the Hour-of Death.

Finally, I recommend to You the Holy Souls of Purgatory, my Relatives and Benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to You all those who Hate me or who have in any way Offended me; I Beg You to Render them Good, for the Evil they have done or may wish to do me. Grant that, by Your Goodness, I may come One Day to sing Your Mercies in Heaven; for my Hope is in the Merits of Your Blood and in the Patronage of Mary. Mary, Mother of God, Pray to Jesus for me.

Amen