On the Evil Effects of Bad Habits
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
(A Unity (1) of
Body and Soul)
resides in the Soul of a Person
Strength is Manifested in our 'Control' of the
Will of the Soul.
By the Power of the Soul's Intellect
we Know and Understand Truth
Wishing to enter Jerusalem, to be there Acknowledged-as the Promised Messiah, sent by
God for the Salvation of the World, the Savior
said to His Disciples: Go to a Certain Village, and you shall find an Ass 'Tied', and a Colt with her;
'Loose' them, and bring them to Me. "The Ass which was Tied",
says Saint Bonaventure, "Denotes a Sinner". This Exposition is Conformable-to the Doctrine of the Wise Man, who says
that the Wicked are Bound-by the Chains of their own
Sins. "His own Iniquities catch the Wicked, and he is Fast Bound with the Ropes of his own Sins" - Proverbs 5:22.
But, as Jesus Christ could not sit on the Ass, before she was 'Loosed', so
He cannot Dwell-in a Soul Bound-with
Her own Iniquities. If then, Brethren, there be among you a
Soul Bound-by any Bad Habit, let Her
attend-to the Admonition which the Lord addresses to Her
this Morning. "Loose the Bonds from off thy Neck, O Captive Daughter of Sion" - Isaiah 52:2. 'Loose'
the Bonds of your Sins, which make you the Slave of
Satan. 'Loose' the Bonds before the
Habit of Sin gains such Power over you, as to Render your Conversion, Morally-impossible, and thus to Bring-you to
Eternal (∞) Perdition. This Morning, I will show
you, in Three (3) Points, the Evil Effects of Bad Habits.
First Point: A Bad Habit,
Blinds the Understanding.
Second Point: A Bad Habit,
Hardens the Heart.
Third Point: A Bad Habit,
Diminishes our Strength.
A Bad Habit Blinds the Understanding
Of those who Live-in the Habit of Sin, Saint Augustine says: "Ipsa consuetude
non sinit videre malum, quod faciunt". The Habit of Sin, Blinds
Sinners, so that they no-longer see the Evil which they do, nor the
Ruin which they bring upon themselves; hence they Live-in Blindness, as if there
were neither God, nor Heaven, nor Hell, nor
Eternity (∞). "Sins", adds the Saint,
"however Enormous, when Habitual, appear to be Small, or not to be Sins at all". How then can the
Soul Guard-against them, when She is no-Longer Sensible of their
Deformity, or of the Evil which they bring-upon Her?
Saint Jerome says that Habitual Sinners "are not even Ashamed of their Crimes".
Bad Actions, Naturally-produce a certain Shame; but this
Feeling is Destroyed by the Habit of Sin. Saint Peter compares
Habitual Sinners to Swine, Wallowing-in Mire. "The Sow that was Washed, is returned to her
Wallowing in the Mire" - 2Peter 2:22. The very Mire of Sin,
Blinds them; and therefore, instead-of Feeling Sorrow
and Shame at their Uncleanness, they Revel and Exult in it. "A
Fool worketh Mischief, as it were for Sport" - Proverbs 10:23. "Who are Glad, when they have done Evil" -
Proverbs 2:14. Hence the Saints continually-seek Light from
God, for they know that, should He withdraw His Light, they may
become the Greatest-of Sinners. How, then, do so many Christians, who know by Faith that
there is a Hell, and a Just God, Who cannot but
Chastise the Wicked, how, I say, do they continue-to Live-in
Sin till Death, and thus bring themselves to Perdition? "Their
own Malice Blinded them" - Wisdom 2:21. Sin Blinds them, and thus they
Job says that Habitual Sinners are Full-of Iniquities. "His
Bones shall be filled-with the Vices of his Youth" - Job 20:11. Every Sin produces
Darkness in the Understanding. Hence, the more Sins are Multiplied-by a
Bad Habit, the Greater the Blindness they cause. The Light-of the
Sun cannot enter a Vessel, filled-with Clay; and a Heart full-of Vices,
cannot Admit the Light of God, which would make-Visible to the Soul, the
Abyss into which She is running. Bereft-of
Light, the Habitual Sinner goes-on, from Sin to
Sin, without ever thinking of Repentance. "The Wicked walk
Round-about" - Psalm 11:9. Fallen into the Dark Pit of Evil Habits, he 'Thinks'
only of Sinning, he 'Speaks' only of Sins, and no-longer 'Sees' the
Evil of Sin. In 'Fine', he becomes like a Brute, Devoid of
Reason, and Seeks and Desires, only what Pleases the Senses. "And Man, when he was
in Honor, did not Understand; he is compared to Senseless Beasts, and is become like to them" - Psalm 48:13. Hence the Words of the Wise Man are Fulfilled,
with regard-to Habitual Sinners. "The Wicked Man, when he is come into the Depths of Sins,
Contemneth" - Proverbs 18:3. This Passage, Saint Chrysostom applies to Habitual Sinners, who, shut-up in a
Pit of Darkness, Despise Sermons, Calls-of
God, Admonitions, Censures,
Hell, and God, and become like the Vulture that waits to be
Killed by the Fowler, rather than Abandon the Corrupt Carcass on which it Feeds.
Brethren, let us Tremble, as David did when he said: "Let not the Tempest of Water
Drown me, nor the Deep Water Swallow me up: and let not the Pit, shut her Mouth upon me" - Psalm 68:16. Should a Person
Fall into a Pit, there is a Hope of Deliverance as-long-as the Mouth-of
the Pit is not Closed; but as-soon-as it is Shut, he is Lost. When a
Sinner Falls into a Bad Habit, the Mouth-of the Pit
is gradually-closed, as his Sins are Multiplied; the Moment the Mouth-of the Pit is 'Shut',
he is Abandoned by God. Dearly Beloved Sinners, if you
have Contracted a Habit of any Sin, endeavor Instantly to go out of that Pit of Hell,
before God shall Deprive you entirely-of His Light,
and Abandon you; for as-soon-as He Abandons you, by
the Total Withdrawal of His Light, all is over, and you are Lost.
A Bad Habit Hardens the Heart
The Habit of Sin not only Blinds the
Understanding, but also Hardens the Heart of the
Sinner. "His Heart shall be as Hard as a Stone, and as Firm as a Smith's Anvil" - Job 41:15. By the
Habit of Sin the Heart becomes like a 'Stone'; and, as the Anvil is hardened-by
repeated-strokes of the Hammer, so, instead of being Softened-by Divine Inspirations, or by
Instructions, the Soul of the Habitual Sinner is Rendered more
Obdurate by Sermons on the Judgment-of God, on the
Torments of the Damned, and on the Passion of
Jesus Christ: His Heart shall be Firm as a Smith's Anvil. "Their Heart",
says Saint Augustine, "is Hardened against the Dew of Grace, so as to Produce no Fruit". Divine
Calls, Remorse of Conscience, Terrors of
Divine Justice, are Showers-of Divine Grace; but when, instead of drawing
Fruit from these Divine Blessings, the Habitual Sinner
continues to Commit Sin, he Hardens his Heart,
and thus, according to Saint Thomas of Villanova, he gives a Sign-of his certain Damnation -
Induratio damnationis indicium - for from the Loss of God's
Light, and the Hardness of his Heart, the
Sinner will, according to the Terrible Threat of the Holy Ghost, remain
Obstinate till Death. "A Hard Heart shall Fare Evil at the
Last" - Ecclesiasticus 3:27.
Of what use are Confessions, when in a Short Time after them, the
Sinner returns-to the same Vices? "He who Strikes his
Breast", says Saint Augustine, "and does not Amend, Confirms, but does not take away Sins". When you Strike
your Breast in the Tribunal of Penance, but do not Amend and Remove the Occasions
of Sin, you then, according to the Saint, do not take-away your Sins, but you make them more
Firm and Permanent; that is, you Render yourself more Obstinate in Sin.
"The Wicked walk, Round-about" - Psalm 11:9. Such is the Unhappy Life of
Habitual Sinners. They go Round-about from Sin to
Sin; and if they Abstain for a Little, they Immediately, at the First (1st) Occasion of
Temptation, Return-to their former Iniquities. Saint Bernard regards as certain,
the Damnation of such Sinners: "Vae homini, qui sequitur
But some Young Persons may say: I will hereafter Amend, and Sincerely Give myself to God. But if a
Habit of Sin takes Possession-of you, when will you Amend? The
Holy Ghost declares that a Young Man who Contracts an Evil Habit, will not Relinquish it, even in
his Old Age. "A Young Man according to his Way, even when he is Old, he will not Depart from it" - Proverbs 22:6.
Habitual Sinners have been known to Yield, even at Hour of
Death, to the Sins which they have been in the Habit-of Committing. Father Recupito relates that a Person
Condemned to Death, even while he was going to the Place-of Execution, Raised his Eyes,
saw a Young Female, and Consented-to a Bad Thought. We Read in the Work of Father Gisolfo, that a certain
Blasphemer, who had been likewise Condemned to Death, when thrown-off the
Scaffold, broke out into a Blasphemy, and Died in that
"He hath Mercy on whom He Will; and whom He Will, He Hardeneth" - Romans 9:18.
God shows Mercy for a certain Time, and then
He Hardens the Heart of the Sinner.
How does God Harden the Hearts of
Sinners? Saint Augustine answers: "Obduratio Dei est non misereri". The Lord
does not Directly Harden the Hearts of Habitual
Sinners, but in Punishment of their Ingratitude for
His Benefits, He Withdraws-from them, His Graces,
and thus their Hearts are Hardened, and become like Stone. "God
does not Harden the Heart by Imparting Malice, but by Withholding Mercy". God does not render
Sinners Obdurate by Infusing the
Malice of Obstinacy, but by not giving them the Efficacious Graces by which they would be
Converted. By the Withdrawal-of the Sun's Heat from Earth, Water is hardened-into Ice.
Saint Bernard teaches that Hardness or Obstinacy of
Heart, does not take-place Suddenly, but by-Degrees, the Soul becomes Insensible-to the
Divine Threats, and more Obstinate by
Divine Chastisements. "Paulatim in cordis duritiam itur;
cor durum non minus cedit, flagellis duratur". In Habitual Sinners, are Verified the Words-of David,
"At Thy Rebuke, O God of Jacob, they have all Slumbered" - Psalm 75:7. Even Earthquakes, Thunders, and Sudden
Deaths, do not Terrify a Habitual Sinner.
Instead of Awaking him to a Sense-of his Miserable State, they rather bring-on that Deadly
Sleep in which he Slumbers, and is Lost.
A Bad Habit Diminishes our Strength
"He hath Torn me with Wound upon Wound, he hath Rushed in upon me, like a Giant" - Job 16:15. On this
Text, Saint Gregory reasons thus: A Person Assailed-by an Enemy, is not
Rendered unable-to Defend himself by the First (1st) Wound which he
Receives; but should he Receive a Second (2nd) and a Third
(3rd), his Strength will be so much Exhausted, that Death
will be the Consequence. It is so with Sin; after the First (1st) and
Second (2nd) Wound, which it Inflicts
on the Soul, She shall have some Strength, but only through the
Divine Grace. But, if She continues-to Indulge
in Vice, Sin becoming Habitual, Rushes-upon Her
like a Giant, and leaves Her without any Power to Resist it. Saint Bernard compares the
Habitual Sinner to a Person who has Fallen-under a Large Stone, which he is unable to Remove. A Person in such a Case,
will Rise only with Difficulty. "The Man, on whom the Weight of a Bad Habit presses,
Rises with Difficulty". Saint Gregory says: "Lapis superpositus, cum consuetudine mens in peccato demoratur ut etsi velit
exsurgere, jam non possit quia moles desuper premit".
Saint Thomas of Villanova teaches that a Soul, which is Deprived of
the Grace of God, cannot long Abstain from New Sins. "Anima a
gratia destituta diu evadere ulteriora peccata non potest". In Expounding the Words of David, "O my God, make them like a
Wheel; and as Stubble before the Wind" - Psalm 82:14, Saint Gregory says that the Man who Struggled for a Time,
before he Fell into the Habit of Sin, as-soon-as he Contracts the
Habit, Yields, and Yields again, to every
Temptation, with as much Facility as a Straw is moved-by the Slightest-blast of the Wind. Habitual Sinners,
according to Saint Chrysostom, become so Weak in Resisting the Attacks of the
Devil, that, dragged to Sin by their Evil Habit,
they are sometimes Driven to Sin against their Inclination. "Dura res est consuetudo,
quae nonnunquam nolentes committere cogit illicita". Yes; because as Saint Augustine says, a Bad Habit, in the
Course-of Time, brings on a certain Necessity of Falling into
Sin. "Dum consuetudini non resistitur, facta est necessitas".
Saint Bernardine of Sienna says that Evil Habits are changed-into One's Nature. "Usus
veritur in natura". Hence, as it is Necessary for Men to Breathe, so it appears that it becomes Necessary for Habitual
Sinners to Commit Sins. They are thus made the Slaves of
Sin. I say, the Slaves. In Society, there are Servants who Serve-for Wages, and there are
Slaves who Serve-by Force, and without Remuneration. Having Sold themselves as Slaves to the
Devil, Habitual Sinners are Reduced-to such a Degree-of Slavery, that they
sometimes Sin without Pleasure, and sometimes even without being-in the Occasion of Sin.
Saint Bernadine compares them to the Wings-of a Windmill, which continue-to Turn the Mill even when there is no Corn to be Ground; that is, they continue-to Commit
Sin, at least by Indulging Bad Thoughts, even when there is no
Occasion of Sin presented-to them. The Unhappy Beings, as Saint Chrysostom says: having
Lost the Divine Aid, no longer do what they Wish themselves, but what the
Devil Wishes. "Homo perdito Dei auxilio, non quod vult agit, sed quod diabolus".
Listen to what happened in a City in Italy. A certain Young Man, who had contracted a Vicious Habit,
though frequently Called by God, and Admonished
by Friends to Amend his Life, continued-to Live in Sin. One day he saw his Sister,
suddenly Struck Dead. He was Terrified for a Short Time;
but she was scarcely Buried, when he Forgot her Death and Returned-to the
Vomit. In Two (2) Months after, he was confined-to Bed by a
Slow Fever. He then sent for a Confessor, and made his Confession. But
after all this, on a certain day, he exclaimed: Alas! how Late have I known the Rigor of Divine Justice! And turning to his
Physician, he said: Do not Torment me any longer by Medicines, for my Disease is Incurable. I know for certain it will bring me to the
Grave. And to his Friends, who stood around, he said: As for the Life of this Body of mine there is no Remedy, so for the
Life of my Poor Soul, there is no Hope. I expect Eternal Death. God has Abandoned me; this I see in the Hardness of my Heart. Friends and Religious
came to Encourage him to Hope in the Mercy of God; but his Answer to all their
Exhortations was, God has Abandoned me. The Writer, who relates this fact, says that being alone with the Young Man he said
to him: "Have Courage, Unite yourself with God, receive the Viaticum". Friend,
replied the Young Man, you speak to Stone. The Confession I made has been Null for Want of Sorrow. I do not Wish for a Confessor,
nor for the Sacraments. Do not bring me the Viaticum, for should you bring it, I will do that which must Excite Horror. He then went away, quite
Disconsolate, and returning to see the Young Man, learned from his Relatives that he Expired
during the Night, without the Aid of a Priest, and that near his Room, Frightful Howling was heard.
Behold the End of Habitual Sinners! Brethren, if you have the
Misfortune of having Contracted a Habit of Sin, make as-soon-as possible, a
General Confession; for your Past Confessions can scarcely have been Valid. Go
forth Instantly, from the Slavery of the Devil. Attend to the Advice-of the
Holy Ghost. "Give not thy Ears to the Cruel" - Proverbs 5:9. Why will you Serve
the Devil, your Enemy, who is so Cruel a
Master, who makes you Lead a Life of Misery here, to bring you to a Life of still
Greater Misery in Hell, for all Eternity
(∞)? "Lazarus come forth". Go out of the
Pit of Sin, give yourself Immediately-to God, Who Calls you, and is ready
to Receive you, if you Return-to Him. Tremble! this may be for you the Last Call to
which, if you do not Correspond, you shall be Lost.
- End of Liguori Sermon -
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.
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 . . .