On The Means Necessary For Salvation

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Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation (rear view) - by MEMLING, Hans - from Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg
(Center panel - Christ is presented as Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World. The Trefoil, copied after the Clover or Shamrock, represents the Trinity. The Orb surmounted with a Cross means that the Christian Religion is for All. It often has under it written in Latin, "The Cross stands, while the World revolves". The Stole symbolizes the Voice of Immortality. Catholic priests don Stoles as a sign of accepting the New Covenant. The Texts on the Right Panel refer to the End of Mankind and the Way to its Salvation) - Click image to view these details full-size -

 

"I am the Voice of one Crying in the Wilderness:
Make Straight, the Way of the Lord" - John 1:23

 

On The Means Necessary For Salvation

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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All would wish to be Saved and to Enjoy the Glory of Paradise; but to gain Heaven, it is necessary to Walk-in the 'Straight Road' that leads to Eternal Bliss. This 'Road' is the Observance-of the Divine Commands. Hence, in his Preaching, the Baptist exclaimed: "Make Straight the Way of the Lord". In order to be able to Walk always in the Way-of the Lord, without turning to the Right, or to the Left, it is necessary to Adopt the Proper 'Means'. These 'Means' are:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) First (1st), Diffidence (Distrust) in Ourselves;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Secondly (2nd), Confidence-in God;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Thirdly (3rd), Resistance to Temptations.

 

First Means
Distrust in Ourselves

"With Fear and Trembling", says the Apostle, "Work out your Salvation" - (Philippians 2:12). To secure Eternal Life, we must be always Penetrated-with Fear; we must be always Afraid of ourselves (with Fear and Trembling), and Distrust-altogether our own Strength; for, without the Divine Grace, we can do nothing. "Without Me", says Jesus Christ, "you can do nothing". We can do nothing for the Salvation of our own Souls. Saint Paul tells us, that of ourselves, we are not capable-of even a Good Thought. "Not that we are Sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our Sufficiency is from God" - (2Corinthians 3:5). Without the Aid of the Holy Ghost, we cannot even Pronounce the Name of Jesus, so as to deserve a Reward. "And no one can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost" - (1Corinthians 12:3).

peter_denies.jpg (12591 bytes) Miserable the Man who Trusts-to himself in the Way-of God. Saint Peter experienced the Sad Effect of Self-confidence. Jesus Christ said to him: "In this Night, before Cock-crow, thou wilt deny me Thrice" - (Matthew 26:34). Trusting-in his own Strength and in his Good Will, the Apostle replies: "Yea, though I should Die with Thee, I will not Deny Thee" - (Matthew 26:35). What was the result? On the Night on which Jesus Christ had been Taken, Peter was Reproached, in the Court of Caiaphas, with being One of the Disciples of the Savior. The Reproach filled him with Fear: he Thrice (3) Denied his Master, and Swore that he had never known Him. Humility and Diffidence in ourselves are so-necessary for us, that God permits us sometimes to Fall into Sin, that, by our Fall, we may Acquire Humility and a Knowledge-of our own Weakness. Through Want-of Humility, David also Fell: hence, after his Sin, he said: "Before I was Humbled, I Offended".

Hence the Holy Ghost pronounces Blessed the Man who is always in Fear: "Blessed is the Man who is always Fearful" - (Proverbs 28:14). He who is Afraid of Falling, Distrusts his own Strength, avoids as-much-as possible all Dangerous Occasions, and Recommends himself often to God, and thus Preserves his Soul from Sin. But the Man who is not Fearful, but full-of Self-confidence, easily Exposes himself to the Danger of Sin: he seldom Recommends himself to God, and thus he Falls. Let us Imagine a Person suspended-over a Great Precipice by a Cord, held by another. Surely he would constantly Cry-out to the Person who supports him: Hold Fast, Hold Fast; for God's Sake, do not let go. We are all in Danger of Falling into the Abyss of all Crime, if God does not Support us. Hence, we should Constantly Beseech Him to keep His Hands over us, and to Help us in all Dangers.

In Rising from Bed, Saint Philip Neri used to say every Morning: O Lord, keep Thy Hand this Day over Philip; if Thou do not, Philip will Betray Thee. And One Day, as he walked through the City, reflecting-on his own Misery, he frequently said, I Despair, I Despair. A certain Religious, who heard him, believing that the Saint was really Tempted to Despair, Corrected him and Encouraged him to Hope in the Divine Mercy. But the Saint replied: "I Despair of myself, but I Trust in God", hence, during this Life which we are Exposed-to so many Dangers of Losing God, it is necessary for us to Live always in Great Distrust in Ourselves, and 'Full-of Confidence' in God.

 

Second Means
Confidence in God

scaleslg.gif (10895 bytes) Saint Francis de Sales says, that the mere attention-to Self-Diffidence on account of our own Weakness, would only render us Pusillanimous (timid), and expose us to Great Danger of Abandoning ourselves to a Tepid Life, or even to Despair. The more we Distrust our own Strength, the more we should Confide-in the Divine Mercy. This is a 'Balance', says the same Saint, in which the more the 'Scale-of-Confidence' in God is Raised, the more the 'Scale-of-Diffidence' in ourselves, Descends.

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes) Listen to me, O Sinners, who have had the Misfortune of having hitherto Offended God, and of being Condemned to Hell: if the Devil tells you that but Little Hope remains of your Eternal Salvation, answer him in the Words of the Scripture: "No one hath Hoped in the Lord, and hath been Confounded" - (Ecclesiastes 2:11). No Sinner has ever Trusted in God, and has been Lost. Make, then, a firm-purpose to Sin no-more; Abandon yourselves into the Arms of the Divine Goodness; and rest-assured that God will have Mercy on you, and Save you from Hell. "Cast thy Care upon the Lord, and He shall Sustain thee". The Lord, as we read in Blosius, One Day said to Saint Gertrude: "He who Confides in Me, does Me such Violence, that I cannot but Hear all his Petitions".

"But", says the Prophet Isaiah, "They that Hope in the Lord shall Renew their Strength; they shall take Wings as Eagles; they shall Run, and not be Wary; they shall Walk, and not Faint" - (Isaiah 40:31). They who place their Confidence in God, shall Renew their Strength; they shall lay aside their own Weakness, and shall acquire the Strength of God; they shall Fly-like Eagles in the Way of the Lord, without Fatigues and without ever Failing. David says, that " Mercy shall Encompass him that Hopeth in the Lord". He that Hopes in the Lord, shall be Encompassed-by His Mercy, so that he shall never be Abandoned by it.

This Vatican Painting of The Mystical Press,
by Da Siena, depicts the Infinite Supply of Grace,
Won for us by Jesus Christ's Passion and Death.
 

Saint Cyprian says, that the Divine Mercy is an Inexhaustible Fountain. They who bring Vessels-of the Greatest Confidence, draw from it the Greatest Graces. Hence, the Royal Prophet has said: "Let Thy Mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have Hoped in Thee" - (Psalm 33:22). Whenever the Devil Terrifies us, by placing before our Eyes, the Great Difficulty of Persevering-in the Grace of God, in spite of all the Dangers and Sinful Occasions of this Life, let us, without answering him, Raise our Eyes to God, and Hope that in His Goodness, He will certainly send us Help to Resist every Attack. "I have Lifted up my Eyes to the Mountains, from whence Help shall come to me" - (Psalm 121:1). And when the Enemy represents-to us our Weakness, let us say with the Apostle: "I can do all things in Him Who Strengtheneth me" - (Philippians 4:13). Of myself I can do nothing; but I Trust in God, that, by His Grace, I shall be able to do All Things.

Hence, in the Midst-of the Greatest Dangers of Perdition to which we are Exposed, we should continually Turn-to Jesus Christ, and throwing ourselves into the Hands of Him Who Redeemed us by His Death, should say: "Into Thy Hands I Commend my Spirit; Thou hast Redeemed me, O Lord, the God of Truth" - (Psalm 31:5). This Prayer should be said with Great Confidence of obtaining Eternal Life, and to it we should add: "In Thee, O Lord, I have Hoped; let me not be Confounded Forever" - (Psalm 31:1).

 

Third Means
Resistance to Temptations

handscru.gif (11372 bytes) It is True, that when we have Recourse-to God with-Confidence, in Dangerous Temptations, He Assists us; but, in certain, very Urgent Occasions, the Lord sometimes wishes that we Cooperate, and do Violence to ourselves, to Resist Temptations. On such Occasions, it will not be enough to have Recourse-to God Once (1) or Twice (2); it will be Necessary-to Multiply Prayers, and frequently-to Prostrate ourselves, and send-up our Sighs before the Image-of the Blessed Virgin and the Crucifix, crying-out with Tears: "Mary, my mother, assist me; Jesus, my Savior, Save me; for Thy Mercy's sake, do not Abandon me - do not Permit me to Lose Thee".

Let us keep in Mind, the Words of the Gospel: "How Narrow is the Gate, and Straight is the Way that leadeth to Life: and Few there are that find it" - (Matthew 7:14). The Way to Heaven is 'Straight' and 'Narrow': they who Wish-to arrive-at that Place of Bliss, by walking-in the Paths of Pleasure, shall be Disappointed; and therefore 'Few' reach it, because 'Few' are Willing-to use Violence-to themselves, in Resisting Temptations. "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth Violence, and the Violent bear it away" - (Matthew 11:12). In explaining this Passage, a certain Writer says: "Vi queritur, invaditur, occupatur". It (Heaven) must be Sought-for and Obtained-by Violence: he who Wishes to obtain it, without Inconvenience, or by Leading a Soft and Irregular Life, shall not Acquire it - he shall be Excluded-from it.

To Save their Souls, some of the Saints have retired-into the Cloister; some have confined themselves in a Cave; others have embraced Torments and Death. "The Violent bear it away". Some complain-of their Want-of Confidence-in God; but they do not perceive that their Diffidence arises-from the Weakness of their Resolution-to serve God. Saint Teresa used to say: "Of Irresolute Souls, the Devil has no Fear". And the Wise Man has declared, that “Desires kill the Slothful” - (Proverbs 21:25). two_hearts_salvation.jpg (10097 bytes) Some would wish to be Saved and to become Saints, but never resolve-to adopt the Means-of Salvation, such as Meditation, the Frequentation of the Sacraments, Detachment from Creatures; or, if they adopt these Means, they soon give them up. In a Word, they are satisfied with Fruitless Desires, and thus continue to Live-in Enmity with God, or at least in Tepidity, which, in the End, leads them to the Loss of God. Thus in them are verified the Words of the Holy Ghost, "Desires kill the Slothful".

If, then, we wish to Save our Souls, and to become Saints, we must make a Strong Resolution, not only in-general to give ourselves to God, but also in-particular to Adopt the Proper Means, and never to Abandon them, after having once taken them up. Hence we must never Cease to Pray to Jesus Christ, and to His Holy Mother, for Holy Perseverance.

 

- 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

 

Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron of Departing Souls

This Prayer was found in the Fiftieth Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into Battle. Whoever shall Read this Prayer, or Hear it, or Keep it about themselves, shall never Die a Sudden Death, or be Drowned, nor shall Poison take-effect on them; neither shall they Fall into the Hands of the Enemy, nor shall they be Burned in any Fire, nor shall they be Overpowered in Battle.

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O Saint Joseph, whose Protection is so Great, so Strong, so Prompt before the Throne of God, I Place in you, all my Interests and Desires.

O Saint Joseph, do Assist me by your Powerful Intercession, and Obtain for me from your Divine Son, all Spiritual Blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having Engaged here below your Heavenly Power, I may Offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never Weary Contemplating you and Jesus Asleep in your Arms; I dare not approach while He Reposes near your Heart. Press Him in my name and Kiss His Fine Head for me, and ask Him to Return the Kiss when I Draw my Dying Breath, Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, Pray for us.

Amen

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Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .

 

Consecration to God thru Mary