Dangers to Eternal Salvation


Christ asleep in the Storm, on the Sea of Galilee - by Rijn van Rembrandt

 

"And when He entered into the Boat, His Disciples followed Him;
And Behold, a Great Tempest arose in the Sea, so that the Boat
was covered with Waves, but He was Asleep." - Matthew 8:23-24.

 

On the Greatness of the Dangers
to which our Eternal Salvation is Exposed
and on the Manner in which we ought to Guard
against them

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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In this Day's Gospel we find that when Jesus Christ entered the Boat, along with His Disciples, a Great Tempest arose, so that the Boat was Agitated by the Waves, and was on the Point-of being Lost. During this Storm, the Savior was Asleep; but the Disciples, Terrified by the Storm, ran to Wake Him and said: "Lord, Save us, we Perish" - Matthew 8:25. Jesus gave them Courage by saying: "Why are you Fearful, O ye of little Faith? Then rising-up He Commanded the Winds, and the Sea, and there came a Great Calm" - Matthew 8:26. Let us examine what is meant by the 'Boat', in the 'Midst-of the Sea', and by the Tempest, which Agitated the Sea.

The Boat-on the Sea, Represents Man in this World. As a Vessel on the Sea is exposed-to a Thousand (1000) Dangers - to Pirates, to Quick-sands, to Hidden Rocks, and to Tempests; so Man in this Life is encompassed-with Perils arising-from the Temptations of Hell:

from the Occasions of Sin,

from the Scandals or Bad Counsels of Men,

from Human Respect, and above all

from the Bad Passions of Corrupt Nature (i.e. Concupiscence),

represented-by the Winds that Agitate the Sea, and Expose the Vessel to Great Danger of being Lost.

Thus, as Saint Leo says, our Life is Full, of Dangers, of Snares, and of Enemies: "Plena omnia periculis, plena laqueis; incitant cupiditates, insidiantur illecebrae; blandiuntur lucra" - Saint Leo Sermon. The First (1st) Enemy of the Salvation of every Christian is his own Corruption. "But every Man is Tempted by his own Concupiscence, being Drawn away and Allured" - James 1:14. Along with the Corrupt Inclinations which Live within us, and drag us to Evil, we have many Enemies from without, which Fight against us. We have the Devils, with whom the Contest is very Difficult, because they are Stronger than we are. "Bellum grave", says Cassiodorus, "quia cum fortiore" - Psalm 5. Hence, because we have to contend-with Powerful Enemies, Saint Paul exhorts us to Arm ourselves with the Divine Aid: "Put you on the Armor of God, that you may be able to Stand against the Deceits of the Devil. For our Wrestling is not against Flesh and Blood; but against Principalities and Powers, against the Rulers of the World of this Darkness, against the Spirits of Wickedness in the High Places" - Ephesians 6:11-12. The Devil, according to Saint Peter, is a Lion who is continually going-about Roaring, through the 'Rage' and 'Hunger' which Impel him to Devour Souls. "Your Adversary the Devil, as a Roaring Lion, goeth about seeking whom he may Devour" - 1Peter 5:8. Saint Cyprian says that Satan is continually Lying-in-Wait for us, in order to make us his Slaves. "Circuit demon nos singulos, et tanquam hostis clausos obsidens muros explorat et tentat numsit pars aliqua minus stabilis, cujus aditu ad interiora penetretur" - Saint Cyprian.

Even the Men, with whom we must converse, Endanger our Salvation. They Persecute or Betray us, or Deceive us by their Flattery and Bad Counsels. Saint Augustine says that, among the Faithful, there are in every Profession, Hollow and Deceitful Men. "Omnis professio in ecclesia habet fictos" - Psalm 99. Now if a Fortress were full-of Rebels within, and encompassed-by Enemies from without, who is there that would not regard it as Lost? Such is the condition-of each of us, as-long-as we Live in this World. Who shall be able to Deliver us from so many Enemies? Only God: "Unless the Lord keep the City, he Watcheth in vain that Keepeth it" - Psalm 126:1

What then is the Means, by which we can Save our Souls, in the midst-of so many Dangers? It is to Imitate the Holy Disciples - to have Recourse-to our Divine Master, and say to Him: "Save us, we Perish". Save us, O Lord; if Thou do not, we are Lost. When the Tempest is Violent, the Pilot never takes his Eyes from the Light which Guides him to the Port. In like manner, we should keep our Eyes always turned-to God, Who alone can deliver us from the many Dangers, to which we are Exposed. It was thus David acted, when he found himself Assailed-by the Dangers of Sin. "I have Lifted up my Eyes to the Mountains, from whence Help shall come to me" - Psalm 120:1. To Teach us to Recommend ourselves continually-to Him, Who alone can Save us by His Grace, the Lord has Ordained that, as-long-as we remain on this Earth, we should Live in the midst-of a Continual Tempest, and should be surrounded-by Enemies. The Temptations of the Devil, Persecutions of Men, the Adversity which we Suffer in this World, are not Evils; they are, on the contrary, 'Advantages', if we Know how-to make-of-them the Use, which God Wishes, Who Sends or Permits them for our Welfare. They Detach our Affections from this Earth, and Inspire a Disgust for this World, by making us feel Bitterness and Thorns, even in its Honors, its Riches, its Delights, and Amusements. The Lord Permits all these Apparent Evils, that we may take-away our Affections-from Fading Goods, in which we meet with so many Dangers of Perdition, and that we may seek to Unite ourselves with Him, Who alone can make us Happy.

Our Error and Mistake is, that we find ourselves Harassed by Infirmities, by Poverty, by Persecutions, and by such Tribulations, instead of having Recourse-to the Lord, we turn to Men, and place our Confidence in their Assistance, and thus draw-upon ourselves, the Malediction of God, Who says: "Cursed be the Man, that Trusteth in Man" - Jeremiah 17:5. The Lord does not Forbid us, in our Afflictions and Dangers, to have Recourse-to Human Means; but He Curses those who Place their Whole Trust in them. He Wishes us to have Recourse-to Himself, before all others, and to Place our only Hope in Him, that we may also Centre-in Him, all our Love.

As-long-as we Live on this Earth, we must, according to Saint Paul, Work-out our Salvation with Fear and Trembling, in the midst-of the Dangers by which we are Beset. "Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem operamini" - Philippians 2:12. Whilst a certain Vessel was in the Open Sea, a Great Tempest Arose, which made the Captain Tremble. In the 'Hold' of the Vessel, there was an Animal eating with as much Tranquility, as if the Sea were Perfectly Calm. The Captain, being asked why he was so-much Afraid, replied: If I had a Soul like the Soul of this Brute, I too would be Tranquil and without Fear; but because I have a Rational and an Immortal Soul, I am Afraid of Death, after which I must appear before the Judgment Seat of God; and therefore I Tremble through Fear. Let us, also Tremble, Beloved Brethren. The Salvation of our Immortal Souls is at-stake. They who do not Tremble are, as Saint Paul says, in Great Danger of being Lost; because they who Fear not, seldom Recommend themselves to God, and Labor-but-Little, to Adopt the Means-of Salvation. Let us Beware; we are, says Saint Cyprian, still in 'Battle Array', and still Combat-for Eternal Salvation. "Adhue in acie constituti de vita nostra dimicamus" - Saint Cyprian.

The First (1st) Means-of Salvation, then, is to Recommend ourselves continually-to God, that He may keep His Hands over us, and Preserve us from Offending Him. The Next, is to Cleanse the Soul from all past Sins by making a General Confession. A General Confession is a Powerful Help, to a Change-of Life. When the Tempest is Violent, the Burden-of the Vessel is Diminished, and each Person on-board throws his Goods into the Sea, in-order-to Save his Life. O Folly of Sinners, who, in the midst-of such Great Dangers of Eternal (∞) Perdition, instead of 'Diminishing' the Burden-of the Vessel - that is, instead-of 'Unburdening' the Soul of Her Sins - Load Her with a Greater-Weight. Instead of Flying-from the Dangers of Sin, they Fearlessly continue to put themselves Voluntarily into Dangerous Occasions; and, instead-of having Recourse-to God's Mercy for the Pardon-of their Offences, they Offend Him still more, and 'Compel' Him to Abandon them.

Another Means is to Labor Strenuously, not to allow ourselves to become the Slaves of Irregular Passions. "Give me not over to a Shameless and Foolish Mind" - Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:6. Do not, O Lord, deliver-me-up to a Mind, Blinded-by Passion. He who is Blind, sees not what he is doing, and therefore he is in Danger of Falling into every Crime. Thus, so-many are Lost by submitting-to the Tyranny of their Passions. Some are Slaves-to the Passion of Avarice. A Person, who is now in the 'Other World', said: Alas, I perceive that a Desire of Riches is beginning to Rule over me. So said, the Unhappy Man; but he applied no 'Remedy'. He did not Resist the Passion in the 'Beginning', but 'Fomented' it till Death, and thus at his Last Moments, left but little Reason to Hope-for his Salvation. Others are Slaves-to Sensual Pleasures. They are not Content-with Lawful Gratifications, and therefore they pass-to the Indulgence of those, that are Forbidden. Others are Subject-to Anger; and because they are not Careful to-'Check' the Fire at its 'Commencement', when it is Small, it Increases and Grows into a Spirit of Revenge.

"Hi hostes cavendi", says Saint Ambrose, "hi graviores tyranni. Multi in persecutione publica coronati, in hac persecutione ceciderunt" - Sermon. Disorderly Affections, if they are not 'Beaten-down' in the Beginning, become our Greatest Tyrants. Many, says Saint Ambrose, after having 'Victoriously Resisted' the Persecutions-of the Enemies of the Faith, were afterwards Lost, because they did not Resist the First (1st) Assaults of some Earthly Passion. Of this, Origen was a Miserable Example. He fought-for, and was prepared-to give his Life, in Defense-of the Faith; but, by afterwards, yielding-to Human Respect, he was led-to Deny it. We have still a more-Miserable Example in Solomon, who, after having Received so many Gifts from God, and after being Inspired-by the Holy Ghost, was, by Indulging a Passion for certain Pagan Women, induced to Offer Incense to Idols. The Unhappy Man who submits-to the Slavery of his Wicked Passions, resembles the Ox that is sent-to Slaughter, after a Life-of Constant Labor. During their Whole Lives, Worldlings Groan-under the Weight-of their Sins, and at the End-of their Days, Fall into Hell.

Let us conclude. When the Winds are 'Strong' and 'Violent', the Pilot 'Lowers-the-Sails' and 'Casts-Anchor'. So, when we find ourselves Assailed by a Bad Passion, we should always 'Lower-the-Sails'; that is, we should Avoid all the Occasions which may increase the Passion, and should 'Cast-Anchor' by Uniting ourselves to God, and by Begging-of Him to give us Strength, not to Offend Him.

But some of you will say, What am I to do? I Live in the Midst of the World, where my Passions continually Assail me, even against my Will. I will answer in the Words of Origen: "Donec quis in tenebris saecularibus manet et in negotiorum obscuritate versatur, non potest servire Domino. Exeundum est ergo de Egypto, relinquendus est mundus, non loco sed animo" - Homily. The Man who Lives-in the Darkness of the World, and in the Midst-of Secular Business, can with Difficulty, serve God. Whoever then, Wishes to Insure his Eternal (∞) Salvation, let him Retire-from the World and take Refuge-in one of those Exact-Religious Communities, which are the 'Secure Harbors', in the Sea-of this World. If he cannot actually Leave the World, let him Leave it at-least-in Affection, by Detaching his Heart from the Things-of the World, and from his own Evil Inclinations: "Go not after thy Lusts", says the Holy Ghost, "but Turn away from thy own Will" - Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 18:30. Follow not your own Concupiscence; and when your Will, Impels you to Evil, you must not Indulge, but must Resist its Inclinations.

"The Time is Short; it remaineth, that they also who have Wives, be as if they had None; and they that Weep, as though they Wept not; and they that Rejoice, as if they Rejoiced not; and they that Buy, as though they Possessed not; and they that Use this World, as if they Used it not: for the Fashion of this World, Passeth Away" - 1Corinthians 7:29-31. The Time-of-Life is Short; we should then Prepare-for Death, which is Rapidly Approaching; and to Prepare-for that Awful Moment, let us Reflect that everything in this World shall soon End. Hence the Apostle tells us, those who Suffer in this Life, to be as if they Suffered not, because the Miseries of this Life shall soon pass-away, and they who Save their Souls, shall be Happy for Eternity (∞); and he Exhorts those who Enjoy the Goods-of this Earth, to be as if they Enjoyed them Not, because they must One Day, leave all-things; and if they Lose their Souls, they shall be Miserable Forever (∞).

 

- 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