On the Unhappy Life of Sinners,
and on the Happy Life of Those Who Love God


The Sower - by Vincent Van Gogh

 

And that which Fell among Thorns, are they who have Heard, and going their Way, are Choked with the Cares and Riches and Pleasures of this Life, and yield no-Fruit - Luke 8:14

 

On the Unhappy Life of Sinners,
and on the Happy Life of Those Who Love God

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In the Parable of this Day's Gospel, we are told that Part-of the Seed which the Sower had Gone-out to Sow, fell-among the Thorns. The Savior has Declared that the Seed represents the Divine Word, and the Thorns the Attachment-of Men to Earthly Riches and Pleasures, which are the Thorns that 'Prevent' the Fruit of the Word of God, not only in the Future, but in the Present-Life. O Misery of Poor Sinners! By their Sins, they not only Condemn themselves to Eternal (∞) Torments in the Next, but to an Unhappy Life in this World. This is what I intend to Demonstrate, in the following Discourse.

First (1st) Point: The Unhappy Life of Sinners.
Second (2nd) Point: The Happy Life of those who Love God.

 

First Point -
Unhappy Life of Sinners

Supernatural Order
(Resides in the Essence of the Soul)

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural
Order

Supernatural
Order

Natural Body -
Imagination/
Sensual
Appetite

Natural Soul -
Intellect/Will/
Heart/Peace/
Conscience

Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Man is born a Rational Creature, with Body and Soul, into the Natural Order.
Satan can directly Attack the Faculties of the Body, already weakened by Original Sin. However, Satan can only indirectly Affect the Intellect and Will through Natural, Physical, and Psychological causes.

The Devil Deceives Sinners, and makes them Imagine, that by Indulging their Sensual Appetites, they shall Lead a Life-of Happiness, and shall enjoy Peace. But there is no Peace for those who Offend God. "There is no Peace to the Wicked, saith the Lord" - Isaiah 48:22. God declares that all His Enemies have led a Life-of Misery, and that they have not known the Way of Peace. "Destruction and Unhappiness in their Ways; and the Way of Peace, they have not known" - Psalm 13:3.

Brute Animals, that have been Created-for this World, enjoy Peace in Sensual Delights. Give a Dog a Bone, and he is Perfectly Content; give to an Ox a Bundle-of Hay, and he Desires nothing more. But Man, who has been Created-for God, to Love God, and to be United to Him, can be made Happy only by God, and not by the World, though it should Enrich him with all its Goods. What are Worldly Goods? They may be all Reduced-to Pleasures-of Sense, to Riches, and to Honors. "For all that is in the World", says Saint John, "is the Concupiscence of the Flesh" (Sensual Delights), "and the Concupiscence of the Eyes" (Riches), "and the Pride of Life" (Earthly Honors) - 1John 2:16. Saint Bernard says that a Man may be Puffed-up with Earthly Goods, but never be made Content or Happy by them. "Inflari potest, satiari non potest". And how can the 'Earth' and 'Wind' and 'Dung', Satisfy the Heart of Man? In his Comment-on these Words of Saint Peter, "behold, we have left all things", the same Saint says that he saw in the World, different Classes-of Fools. All had a Great Desire of Happiness. Some, such as the Avaricious, were Content-with Riches; others, Ambitious-of Honors and of Praise, were Satisfied-with 'Wind'; others, Seated-round a Furnace, Swallowed the Sparks that were Thrown-from it, - these were the Passionate and Vindictive; others, in 'Fine', drank Fetid Water from a Stagnant Pool, - these were the Voluptuous and Unchaste. O Fools! adds the Saint, do you not Perceive, that all these things from which you seek Content, do not Satisfy, but on the Contrary, Increase the Cravings of your Heart? "Haec potius famem provocant, quam extinguunt". Of this we have a Striking Example, in Alexander the Great, who, after having Conquered Half the World, Burst-into Tears, because he was not Master-of the Whole Earth.

Many expect to find Peace in accumulating Riches; but how can these Satisfy their Desires? "Major pecunia", says Saint Augustine, "avaritiae fauces non claudit, sed extendit". A Large Quantity of Money, does not 'Close', but rather 'Extends' the Jaws of Avarice; that is, the Enjoyment-of Riches 'Excites', rather than 'Satiates', the Desire-of Wealth. "Thou wast Debased, even to Hell. Thou hast been Wearied in the Multitude of thy Ways: yet thou saidst not: I will Rest" - Isaiah 57:9-10. Poor Worldlings! they Labor and Toil to Acquire an Increase-of Wealth and Property; but never Enjoy Repose; the more they Accumulate Riches, the Greater their Disquietude and Vexation. "The Rich have Wanted, and have Suffered Hunger: but they that Seek the Lord, shall not be Deprived of any Good" - Psalm 33:11. The Rich of this World are, of all Men, the most Miserable; because the more they Possess, the more they Desire-to Possess. They never Succeed-in Attaining all the Objects-of their Wishes, and therefore they are far Poorer than Men who have but a 'Competency', and seek God alone. These are Truly Rich; because they are Content with their Condition, and find in God every Good. "They that Seek the Lord, shall not be Deprived of any Good". To the Saints, because they Possess God, nothing is Wanting; to the Worldly Rich, who are Deprived-of God, all things are Wanting, because they want Peace. The Appellation-of Fool was therefore Justly given to the Rich Man in the Gospel (Luke 12:19), who because his Land brought-forth plenty-of Fruits, said to his Soul, "Soul, thou hast much Goods, Laid up for Many Years, take thy Rest; Eat, Drink, make Good Cheer" - (Luke 12:19). But, this Man was called a Fool. "Thou Fool, this Night do they Require thy Soul of thee: and whose shall those Things be, which thou hast Provided?" - (Luke 12:20). And why was he called a Fool? Because he Imagined, that by these Goods, by 'Eating' and 'Drinking', he should be Content, and should Enjoy Peace. Rest, he said, Eat, Drink. "Numquid", says Saint Basil of Seleucia, "animum porcinam habes?". Hast thou the Soul of a Brute, that thou expectest to make it Happy, by 'Eating' and 'Drinking'?

But perhaps Sinners, who Seek-after and Attain Worldly Honors are Content? All the Honors of this Earth, are but 'Smoke' and 'Wind' - "Ephraim feedeth on the Wind" - (Hosea 12:1); and how can these, Content the Heart of a Christian? "The Pride of them", says David, "ascendeth Continually" - Psalm 73:23. The Ambitious are not Satisfied by the Attainment-of Certain Honors; their Ambition and Pride, Continually Increase; and thus their Inquietude, their Envy, and their Fears are Multiplied.

They who Live-in the Habit of Sins of Impurity, feed, as the Prophet Jeremiah says, on 'Dung'. "Qui voluptuose vescebantur, amplexati sunt stercora". How can 'Dung' Content or give Peace to the Soul? Ah! what Peace, what Peace can Sinners at a Distance-from God, Enjoy? They may Posses the Riches, Honors, and Delights of this World; but they never shall have Peace. No, the Word of God cannot Fail; He has declared that there is no Peace for His Enemies, "There is no Peace to the Wicked, saith the Lord" - Isaiah 48:22. Poor Sinners! they, as Saint Chrysostom says, always carry-about with them, their own Executioner; that is, a Guilty Conscience, which continually Torments them. "Peccator conscientiam quasi carnificem circumgestat". Saint Isidore asserts, that there is no Pain more Excruciating, than that of a Guilty Conscience. Hence he adds, that he who Leads a Good Life is never Sad. "Nulla poena gravior poena conscientiae; vis nunquam esse tristis? bene vive".

In describing the Deplorable State of Sinners, the Holy Ghost compares them to a Sea, continually Tossed-by the Tempest. "The Wicked are like the Raging Sea, which cannot Rest" - Isaiah 57:20. Waves come-and-go, but they are all Waves-of Bitterness and Rancor; for every Cross and Contradiction, Disturbs and Agitates the Wicked. If a Person at a 'Ball' or 'Musical Exhibition', were Obliged-to remain Suspended-by a Chord, with his Head downwards, could he feel Happy at the Entertainment? Such is the State-of a Christian in Enmity with God; his Soul is, as-it-were, turned Upside-down; instead of being United with God, and Detached-from Creatures, it is United-with Creatures, and Separated-from God. But Creatures, says Saint Vincent Ferrer, are without, and do not enter, to Content the Heart, which God alone can make Happy. "Non intrant ibi est sitis". The Sinner is like a Man, Parched with Thirst, and standing-in the Middle-of a Fountain; because the Waters which surround him, do not Enter, to Satisfy his Thirst, he remains in the midst-of them, more Thirsty than before.

Speaking of the Unhappy Life which he led when he was in the State of Sin, David said: "My Tears have been my Bread, Day and Night, whilst it is said to me Daily: Where is thy God?" - Psalm 41:4. To Relieve himself, he went to his Villas, to his Gardens, to Musical Entertainments, and to various other Royal Amusements, but they all said to him: "David, if thou expectest Comfort from us, thou art Deceived. Where is thy God? Go and Seek thy God, Whom thou hast Lost; for He alone, can Restore thy Peace". Hence David Confessed, that in the Midst-of his Princely Wealth, he enjoyed no Repose, and that he Wept, Night and Day. Let us now Listen-to his Son, Solomon, who Acknowledged that he Indulged his Senses in whatever they Desired. "Whatsoever my Eyes Desired, I Refused them not" - Ecclesiastes 2:10. But after all his Sensual Enjoyments, he exclaimed: "Vanity of Vanities . . . I have seen all things that are done under the Sun, and Behold, all is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit" - Ecclesiastes 1:2,10. Mark! he declares that all the Pleasures of this Earth, are not only Vanity of Vanities, but also Affliction of Spirit. And this, Sinners well-know from Experience; for Sin brings with it, the Fear of Divine Vengeance. The Man who is Encompassed-by Powerful Enemies, never Sleeps-in Peace; and can the Sinner, who has God for an 'Enemy', enjoy Tranquility? "Fear to them that Work Evil" - Proverbs 10:29. The Christian who Commits a Mortal Sin, feels himself Oppressed-with Fear - every Leaf that moves, Excites Terror. "The Sound of Dread is always in his Ears" - Job 15:21. He appears to be always Flying-away, although no one Pursues him. "The Wicked Man Fleeth, when no Man Pursueth" - Proverbs 28:1. He shall be Persecuted, not by Men, but by his own Sin. It was thus with Cain, who after having Killed his Brother Abel, was seized-with Fear, and said: "Every one therefore that findeth me, shall Kill me" - Genesis 4:14. The Lord Assured him, that no one should Injure him: "And the Lord said to him: No, it shall not so be" - Genesis 4:15. But, notwithstanding this Assurance, Cain, Pursued-by his own Sin, was, as the Scripture attests, always Flying-from One Place, to another. "And Cain went out from the Face of the Lord, and dwelt as a Fugitive on the Earth" - Genesis 4:16.

Moreover, Sin brings with it, Remorse of Conscience; that Cruel Worm that 'Gnaws' Incessantly and never Dies. "Their Worm shall not Die" - Isaiah 66:24. If the Sinner goes to a Festival, to a Comedy, to a Banquet, his Conscience continually Reproaches him, saying: Unhappy Man! you have Lost God; if you were now to Die, what would become of you? The Torture, of Remorse of Conscience, even in the Present Life, is so Great, that to Free themselves from it, some Persons have put an End to their Lives. Judas, through Despair, Hanged himself. A certain Man who had Killed an Infant, was so much Tormented with Remorse, that he could not Rest. To Rid himself of it, he Entered-into a Monastery; but finding no Peace even there, he went before a Judge, Acknowledged his Crime, and got himself Condemned to Death.

God complains of the Injustice of Sinners in leaving Him, Who is the Fountain of all Consolation, to Plunge themselves into Fetid and Broken Cisterns, which can give no Peace. "For my People have done Two Evils. They have Forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Water, and have digged to themselves Cisterns, Broken Cisterns, that can hold no Water" - Jeremiah 2:13. You have, the Lord says to Sinners, Refused to Serve Me, your God, in Peace. Unhappy Creatures! you shall Serve your Enemies in Hunger, and Thirst, and Nakedness, and in Want of every kind. "Because thou didst not Serve the Lord thy God, with Joy and Gladness of Heart, for the Abundance of all things: Thou shalt Serve thy Enemy, whom the Lord will send upon thee, in Hunger, and Thirst, and Nakedness, and in Want of all things" - Deuteronomy 28:47-48. This is what Sinners experience every day. What do not the Vindictive endure after they have Satisfied their Revenge by the Murder of an Enemy? They Fly-continually from the 'Relations' of their Murdered Foe, and from the Minister of Justice. They Live as Fugitives, Poor, Afflicted, and Abandoned by all. What do not the Voluptuous and Unchaste Suffer, in order to Gratify their Wicked Desires? What do not the Avaricious Suffer, in order to Acquire the Possessions of Others? Ah! if they Suffered for God, what they Suffer for Sin, they would Lay-up Great Treasures for Eternity (∞), and would Lead a Life-of Peace and Happiness; but by Living-in Sin, they Lead a Life-of Misery here, to Lead a still more Miserable Life for Eternity (∞) hereafter. Hence they Weep continually in Hell saying: "We Wearied ourselves in the Way of Iniquity and Destruction, and have Walked through Hard Ways" - Wisdom 5:7. We have, they exclaim, Walked-through Hard Ways, through Paths covered-with Thorns. We Wearied ourselves in the Way of Iniquity; we have Labored Hard; we have Sweated Blood; we have led a Life Full-of Misery, of Gall, and of Poison. And why? To bring ourselves to a still more Wretched Life, in this Pit of Fire.

 

Second Point
The Happy Life of Those Who Love God

"Justice and Peace have Kissed" - Psalm 84:11. Peace resides in every Soul in which Justice dwells. Hence David said: "Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the Requests of thy Heart" - Psalm 36:4. To Understand this Text, we must consider that Worldlings seek to Satisfy the Desires of their Hearts, with Goods of this Earth; but, because these cannot make them Happy, their Hearts continually make Fresh Demands; and, how much soever they may Acquire-of these Goods, they are not Content. Hence the Prophet says: "Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the Requests of thy Heart" - Psalm 36:4. Give-up Creatures, seek your Delight in God, and He will Satisfy all the Cravings-of your Heart.

This is what happened to Saint Augustine, who, as-long-as he sought Happiness in Creatures, never Enjoyed Peace; but as-soon-as he Renounced them, and gave to God all the Affections of his Heart, he exclaimed: "All things are Hard, O Lord, and Thou alone art Repose". As if he said: Ah Lord, I now know my Folly. I expected to find Felicity in Earthly Pleasures; but now I know that they are only Vanity and Affliction of Spirit, and that Thou alone, art the Peace and Joy of our Hearts.

The Apostle says that the Peace which God gives to those who Love Him, surpasses all the Sensual Delights which a Man can Enjoy on this Earth. "And the Peace of God, which Surpasseth all Understanding" - Philippians 4:7. Saint Francis of Assisi, in saying: "My God and my All", experienced on this Earth an Anticipation-of Paradise. Saint Francis Xavier, in the Midst-of his Labors in India, for the Glory of Jesus Christ, was so Replenished-with Divine Consolations, that he exclaimed: "Enough, O Lord, enough". Where, I ask, has any Lover-of this World been found, so Satisfied-with the Possessions-of Worldly Goods, as to say: Enough, O World, enough; no-more Riches, no-more Honors, no-more Applause, no-more Pleasures? Ah no! Worldlings are constantly seeking after Higher Honors, Greater Riches, and New Delights; but the More they have them, the Less are their Desires Satisfied, and the Greater their Disquietude.

It is Necessary-to Persuade ourselves of this Truth, that God alone can give Content. Worldlings do not Wish to be Convinced-of it, through an Apprehension that, if they give themselves to God, they shall Lead a Life of Bitterness and Discontent. But, with the Royal Prophet, I say to them: "O Taste, and see that the Lord is Sweet" - Psalm 33:9. Why, O Sinners, will you Despise and regard as Miserable, that Life which you have not yet tried? "O Taste and see". Begin to make a Trial of it; hear Mass every Day; practice Mental Prayer and the Visitation-of the most Holy Sacrament; go to Communion at least once a Week; Fly-from Evil Conversations; Walk always with God; and you will see that by such a Life, you will Enjoy the Sweetness and Peace which the World, with all its Delights, has not hitherto been able to give you.

 

- End of Liguori Sermon -

 

Prayer

O Jesus, my Redeemer, I return Thee Thanks, for not having Taken me out of this Life whilst I was Thy Enemy. How many Years have Passed, since I Deserved to be in Hell! Had I Died on such a Day, or on such a Night, what would have become of me for all Eternity? My God, I return Thee Thanks. I Accept-of Death, as a Satisfaction-for my Sins, and I Accept-of it the Manner in which it may Please Thee, to send it to me; but since Thou hast Waited for me until now, Oh, Wait for me yet a little longer. Suffer me, therefore, that I may Lament my Sorrow a little. Give me Time to Weep over my Offences against Thee, before Thou Comest to Judge me.

I will no longer Resist Thy Calls. Who knows, but these Words, which I have just Read, are Thy Last Call to me? I Acknowledge that I do not Deserve Mercy: Thou hast Pardoned me so often, and I have again Ungratefully Offended Thee. A Contrite and Humble Heart, O God, Thou wilt not Despise. Ah, Lord, since Thou canst not Despise a Humble and Penitent Heart, Behold the Traitor who, Humbled and Repentant, has Recourse to Thee. Cast me not away from Thy Face. Thou hast said, Him that cometh to Me, I will not Cast-out. It is True that I have Offended Thee more than others, because I have been Favored, more than others, with Light and Grace; but the Blood Thou hast Shed for me, gives me Courage, and Proffers Pardon to me, if I Repent. Yes, O my Sovereign Good, I do Repent with my Whole Soul, for having Insulted Thee. Pardon me, and give me Grace to Love Thee for the Future. I have long enough Offended Thee. As for the Remainder of my Life, no, my Jesus, I will not Spend it in Offending Thee; I will Spend it Wholly, in Weeping over the Displeasure I have given Thee, and in Loving Thee with all my Heart, O God, Worthy of Infinite Love.

O Mary, my Hope, 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