On The Means Necessary For Salvation
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
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:
First (1st), Diffidence (Distrust) in Ourselves;
Secondly (2nd), Confidence-in God;
Thirdly (3rd), Resistance to Temptations.
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" -
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
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.
Confidence in God
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.
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).
Resistance to Temptations
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .