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.
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
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
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
But some of you will say: I attend to my own Affairs; I wish to Save my Soul; why then should I be Persecuted?
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.
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.