On the Evil Effects of Bad Habits


The Ass in this Depiction, Represents the Sinner who has been Loosed of his Sins.

 

Go ye into the Village that is opposite you, and immediately you shall find an Ass Tied, and a Colt with her: Loose them and bring them to Me - Matthew 21:2

 

On the Evil Effects of Bad Habits


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Definition of Understanding/Heart/Strength

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

Body/Inferior Will/
Passions/Emotions/
Senses/ Feelings/
Memory/Imagination

Soul/Will/
Intellect/ Understanding/
Reason/Knowledge/
Heart/Conscience

The Heart 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.

 

First Point
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 are Lost.

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.

 

Second Point
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 hune circuitum".

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 Miserable State.

"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.

 

Third Point
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 -

 

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