On Avoiding Bad Company
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Jesus, Healing a Leper - by PIERO DI COSIMO -
from Cappella Sistina, Vatican
In this Day's Gospel, it is related that Ten (10) Lepers of a
Certain Town, met Jesus Christ, and Entreated Him to
Heal Leprosy, under which they Labored. The
Lord bid them Go and Present themselves to the Priests of the Temple; but, before they reached the Temple, they were
Cured. Now it may be Asked, why our Savior, Who could
Heal them in an Instant, Wished them to go to the Priests, and Healed them on the
Way. A Certain Author (Anthony of Lisbon) says, that Jesus Christ Foresaw that, had He
Cured them on-the-Spot, they, by Remaining-in the Place, and Conversing-with the other Lepers from whom they
'Took' the Leprosy, should easily Relapse-into the same Disease. Therefore
He First (1st), Wished them to Depart-from the Place, and then
Healed them. Whatever may be Thought-of this Reason, let us come-to the Moral Sense which may be Deduced-from it. The
Leprosy resembles Sin. As the Leprosy is a
Contagious Disease, so the Bad Habits of the Wicked,
Infect Others, who Associate-with them. Hence the Leper who Wishes to be
Cured, shall never be Healed unless he Separates-from the
Bad Companions. He that keeps Company-with Robbers, soon becomes a
Thief. In this Discourse, I shall show that to Lead a Good Life, it is necessary-to
avoid Bad Companions.
Habits (Good and Bad) are Infectious
"A Friend of Fools", says the Holy Ghost, "shall become like to them" - Proverbs 13:20
Those who Lie-down with Dogs, catch Fleas
Those who Associate with Sinners, commit Sins
He that hath Fellowship with the Proud, shall put on Pride
He that keeps Company-with Robbers, soon becomes a Thief
"With the Elect, thou wilt be Elect; and with the Perverse, thou wilt be Perverted" - Psalm 17:27
"A Friend of Fools", says the Holy Ghost, "shall
become like to them" - Proverbs 13:20. Christians who Live-in Enmity with God,
are as Father M. Avila used to say, all Fools who Deserve-to-be Shut-up in a Madhouse.
For what Greater Madness can be Conceived, than to Believe-in Hell, and to Live-in
Sin? But the Man who Contracts an Intimacy-with these Fools, shall soon become like them.
Although he should Hear all the Sermons of the Sacred Orators, he will Continue-in Vice,
according-to the Celebrated Maxim, "Examples make Greater Impressions than Words". Hence the Royal Prophet has said,
"And with the Elect, thou wilt be Elect; and with the Perverse, thou wilt be Perverted" - Psalm 17:27. Saint Augustine
says that Familiarity-with Sinners is, as it were, a Hook, which Draws us to
Communicate-in their Vices. Let us, said the Saint, avoid Wicked Friends,
"lest by their Company, we may be Drawn to a Communion of Vice". Saint Thomas teaches, that to know whom we should avoid,
is a Great Means of Saving our Souls. "Firma tutela salutis est,
scire quem fugiamus".
"Let their Way become Dark and Slippery; and let the Angel of the Lord pursue them" - Psalm 34:6. All
Men in this Life, Walk-in the Midst-of Darkness, and in a Slippery Way. If then, a Bad Angel - that is, a
Wicked Companion, who is Worse-than the Devil - Pursue them, and Endeavor-to Drive
them into an Abyss, who shall be able to escape Death? "Talis
eris", says Plato, "qualis conservatio quam sequeris?" And Saint John Chrysostom said, that if we Wish to
know a Man's Moral Habits, we have only to Observe the Character-of the Friends with-whom he Associates; because Friendship 'Finds' or 'Makes' him like
his Friends. "Vis nosse hominem, attende quorum familiaritate assuescat; amicitia aut pares invenit, aut pares facit".
First (1st), because to Please his Friends, a Man will Endeavor-to Imitate them;
Secondly (2nd), because as Seneca says, Nature inclines Men to do what they see others do. And the
Scripture says, "And they were Mingled among the Heathens, and Learned their Works" - Psalm 105:35. According to Saint
Basil, as Air, which comes from Pestilential Places causes Infection, so by
Conversation-with Bad Companions, we almost Imperceptibly Contract their Vices.
"Quemadmodum in pestilentibus locis sensim attractus aër latentem corporibus morbum injicit
sic itidem in prava conversatione maxima a nobis mala haurinutur. etiamsi statim incommodum non sentiatur" - Saint Basil homily. And Saint Bernard
says that Saint Peter, in Consequence-of Associating-with the Enemies of Jesus Christ,
Denied his Master. "Existens cum passionis dominicae
ministris, Dominum negavit".
But how, asks Saint Ambrose, can Bad Companions give you the Odor-of
Chastity, when they Exhale the Stench-of Impurity? How can they Infuse-into you, Sentiments-of
Devotion, when they themselves Fly-from it? How can they Impart to-you a Shame-of
Offending God, when they Cast it away? "Quid tibi demonstrant
castitatem, quem non habent? Devotionem quam non sequuntur? Verecundiam quam projiciunt?". Saint Augustine writes-of himself, that when he
Associated-with Bad Companions, who Boasted-of their Wickedness, he felt himself
Impelled-to Sin without Shame; and to Appear-like them, he Gloried-in his
Evil Actions. "Pudebat", he says, "me esse pudentem".
Hence, Isaiah admonishes you to, "Touch no Unclean thing" - Isaiah 52:11. Touch-not, what is
Unclean; if you do, you too shall be Polluted. He that handles Pitch,
says Ecclesiasticus, shall certainly be Defiled with it; and they who keep Company with the Proud, shall be Clothed with Pride.
The same holds for the other Vices, "He that Toucheth Pitch, shall be Defiled with it: and he
that hath Fellowship with the Proud, shall put on Pride" - Ecclesiasticus 13:1.
What then must we do? The Wise Man tells us, that we ought not only to Avoid the Vices of the
Wicked, but also Beware-of Treading-in the Ways, in-which they Walk. "Restrain thy Foot
from their Paths" - Proverbs 1:15. That is, we should Avoid their Conversations, their Discourses, their Feasts, and all the Allurements and
Presents, with-which they will Seek-to Entice us into their Net. "My Son", says
Solomon, "if Sinners shall Entice thee, Consent not to them" - Proverbs 1:10. Without the Decoy, Birds are not Enticed-into
the Fowler's Net. "Will the Bird fall-into the Snare upon the Earth, if there be no Fowler?" - Amos 3:5. The
Devil employs Vicious Friends as Decoys, to
Draw so many Souls into the Snare of Sin. "My Enemies",
says Jeremiah, "have Chased me and Caught me like a Bird, without Cause" - Lamentations 3:52. He says,
Without Cause. Ask the Wicked why they have made a certain Innocent Young Man,
Fall-into Sin, and they will answer: We have done it Without Cause; we
only Wish to see him do what we ourselves do. This, says Saint Ephrem, is one of the Artifices-of the Devil; when he has
Caught a Soul in his Net, he makes him a Snare,
or a Decoy, to Deceive others. "Cum primum capta fuerit
anima, ad alias decipiendas fit quasi laques".
Hence, it is Necessary-to Avoid, as you would the Plague, all Familiarity-with those
Scorpions of Hell. I have said that you must avoid Familiarity-with them - that is, all Fellowship-in their Banquets or Conversation; for, never
to meet them is, as the Apostle says, 'Impossible'. "Otherwise you must Needs, go-out-of this World" - 1Corinthians 5:10.
But, it is in our Power to Abstain-from Familiar Intercourse-with them. "But now I have written to you, not to keep company,
if any Man that is Named a Brother, be a Fornicator, or Covetous, or a Server of Idols, or a Railer, or a Drunkard, or an Extortioner: with such a One, not
so much as to Eat" - 1Corinthians 5:11. I have called them Scorpions; so, they have been called-by the Prophet
Ezechiel. "For thou art among Unbelievers and Destroyers, and thou Dwellest with Scorpions" - Ezechiel 2:6. Would you
Live-in the Midst-of Scorpions? You must then Fly-from Scandalous Friends, who by
their Bad Examples and Words, Poison your Soul.
"And as a Man's Enemies shall be they of his Own Household" - Matthew 10:36. Wicked
Friends that are very Familiar and Intimate-with us, become the most Pernicious Enemies of our
Souls. "Who will Pity an Enchanter, struck-by a Serpent, or any that come near Wild Beasts? So is it with him that
Keepeth Company with a Wicked Man" - Ecclesiasticus 12:13. If a Man that makes-free with Serpents, or with
Ferocious Wild Beasts, be Bitten or Devoured by them,
who will take Pity on him? And so it is with him who Associates-with Scandalous
Companions; if, by their Bad Example, he be Contaminated and
Lost, neither God nor Man will have Compassion-on him,
because he was Cautioned to Fly-from their Society.
One (1) Scandalous Companion is enough to
Corrupt All, who Treat him as a Friend. "Know you not", says Saint Paul, "that
a Little Leaven, Corrupteth the Whole Lump?" - 1Corinthians 5:6. One (1) of these
Scandalous Sinners is able, by a Perverse Maxim, to Infect All his Companions.
They are the False Prophets whom Jesus Christ Warns
us to Avoid. "Beware of False Prophets" - Matthew 7:15. False Prophets Deceive, not
only by False Maxims or Doctrines, which are Productive-of the Greatest Mischief. For as
Seneca says, they Leave-in the Soul, certain Seeds-of Iniquity, which Lead-to
Evil. "Semina in animo relinquunt, quae inducunt ad malum". It is too True,
that Scandalous Language, as Experience Proves, Corrupts the
Morals of those who Hear it. "Evil Communications", says the Apostle, "Corrupt Good
Manners" - 1Corinthians 15:33. A Young Man refuses, through the Fear-of God, to Commit a Certain
Sin; an Incarnate Devil, a
Bad Companion, Comes and Says to him, what the Serpent said to Eve - "No, you shall
not Die the Death" - Genesis 3:4. What are you Afraid of? How many others Commit this
Sin? You are Young; God will have Pity on your Youth. They will, as is
Written-in the Book-of-Wisdom, say: "Come, therefore, and let us Enjoy the Good Things that are Present . . . . let us everywhere,
leave Tokens of Joy" - Wisdom 2:6,9. Come-with us, let us Spend our Time in Amusements and in Joy. "O nimis iniqua
amicitia", says Saint Augustine, "cum dicitur eamus, faciamus; pudet non esse impudentem". O
Cruel Friendship of those who say: Let us Go and Do, etc.; it is a Shame not to be
Shameless. He who Hears such Language, is Ashamed not to Yield-to it, and not to be as
Shameless as they who Utter it.
When any Passion is Kindled-within us, we must be Particularly Careful in Selecting the Persons whom
we will Consult. For then the Passion itself will Incline us to Seek Counsel, from those who will Probably-give the
Advice which is most Agreeable-to the Passion. But from such Evil Counselors, who
do not Speak according-to God, we should Fly-with Greater Horror, than from
an Enemy; for their Evil Counsel, along with the
Passion which is Excited, may Precipitate us into Horrible Excesses. As-soon-as the
Passion shall Subside, we shall see the Error Committed, and the Delusion into which we will have been Led-by
False Friends. But the Good Advice of a Friend, who Speaks according-to
Christian Truth and Meekness, Preserves us from every
Disorder, and Restores Calm to the Soul.
"Depart from the Unjust", says the Lord, "and
Evils shall Depart from thee" - Ecclesiasticus 7:2. Fly, Separate-from Wicked Companions, and you shall Cease-to
commit Sin. "Be not Delighted in the Paths of the Wicked, neither let the Way of Evil Men please
thee. Flee from it, Pass not by it: go Aside, and Forsake it" - Proverbs 4:14,15. Avoid the Ways in which these
Vicious Friends Walk, that you may not even meet them. "Forsake not an Old Friend, for the New will not be like to
him" - Ecclesiasticus 9:14. Do not Leave your First (1st)
Friend, Who Loved you before you Came-into the World. "I have Loved thee with an
Everlasting Love" - Jeremiah 31:3. Your New Friends do not Love
you; they Hate You more-than your Greatest Enemy; they Seek not your
Welfare, as God does, but their own
Pleasures, and the Satisfaction-of having Companions-of their Wickedness and
Perdition. You will perhaps, say: I Feel a Repugnance to Separate-from such a Friend, who has been Solicitous for my
Welfare; to Break off from him would appear to be an Act of Ingratitude. What Welfare? what Ingratitude? God
alone Wishes your Welfare, because He Desires your
Eternal (∞) Salvation. Your Friend Wishes your
Eternal (∞) Ruin; he Wishes you to Follow him, but he Cares
not if you be Damned. It is not Ingratitude, to Abandon a Friend who Leads you to
Hell; but it is Ingratitude to Forsake
God, Who has Created you, Who has Died
for you on the Cross, and Who Desires your Salvation.
Fly then, from the Conversation-of these Wicked Friends. "Hedge in thy Ears with Thorns,
Hear not a Wicked Tongue" - Ecclesiasticus 28:28. Beware-of Listening-to the Language-of such Friends; their Words may bring you to
Perdition. And when you Hear them Speak Improperly, Arm yourself with Thorns, and
Reprove them, not only for the Purpose of Rebuking, but also of
Converting them. "Ut non solum", says Saint Augustine, "repellantur
sed etiam compungantur". Listen-to a Frightful Example, and Learn the Evil which
a Wicked Friend does. Father Sabatino relates, in his Evangelical-Light, that Two (2)
Friends of that kind were one day together. One of them, to Please the Other, committed a Sin;
but after they separated, he Died suddenly. The other, who knew Nothing-of his
Death, saw, in his Sleep, his Friend, and according to his Custom, ran to Embrace him. But the Deceased appeared
to be Surrounded with Fire, and began-to Blaspheme the Other, and to Upbraid him for being
the Cause-of his Damnation. The other Awoke, and Changed his Life. But his Unhappy
Friend was Damned; and for his Damnation there is not, and shall not be, any
Remedy for all Eternity (∞).
- 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 . . .