On the Love of the Three Divine Persons, for Man
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Saint Leo has said, that the Nature-of God is, by its 'Essence',
Goodness itself - "Deus eujus natura bonitas". Now, Goodness Naturally
Diffuses itself - "Bonum est sui diffusivum". And by Experience we know that Men-of a Good
Heart are Full-of Love for all, and Desire-to Share with all the Goods which they Enjoy.
God, being Infinite (∞)
Goodness, is all Love towards us, His Creatures. Hence Saint John
calls Him Pure-Love - Pure-Charity.
"God is Charity" - 1John 4:8. And therefore He Ardently Desires-to make us
Partakers-of His own Happiness. Faith teaches
us how much the Three (3) Divine Persons have done through
Love, for Man, and to Enrich him with Heavenly Gifts. In saying to His
Apostles, "Teach ye all Nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost",
Jesus Christ Wished that they should not only Instruct the Gentiles in the Mystery
of the Most Holy Trinity, but that they should also Teach them the Love which
the Adorable Trinity bears-to Man. I intend to Propose this day for your consideration, the
Love shown-to us by the Father in our Creation; Secondly, the
Love of the Son, in our Redemption; and
Thirdly, the Love of the Holy Ghost, in our
The Love shown to us by the Father in our Creation
"I have Loved thee with an Everlasting Love, therefore have I Drawn thee, taking Pity on
thee" - Jeremiah 31:3. My Son, says the Lord,
I have Loved you from Eternity,
and, through Love for you, I have shown
Mercy to you by Drawing you out of Nothing. Hence, Beloved Christians, of all those who
Love you, God has been your First
Lover. Your Parents have been the First to
Love you on this Earth; but they have Loved you only after they had Known you. But, before
you had a Being, God Loved you. Before your Father or Mother was born, God
Loved you: Yes; even before the Creation of the World, He Loved you. And how long before
Creation has God Loved you? Perhaps for a Thousand Years, or for
a Thousand Ages. It is Needless to count Years or Ages; God Loved
you from Eternity. "I have Loved thee with an Everlasting Love". As
long as He has been God, He
has Loved you: as long as He has Loved
Himself, He has Loved you. The Thought of this
Love made Saint Agnes the Virgin exclaim: "I
am prevented by another Lover". Men Creatures asked her Heart, she answered:
No; I cannot prefer you to my God. He has been the First to Love me; it is then but Just that He should hold
the First Place in my Affections.
Thus, Brethren, God has Loved you from
Eternity, and through Pure Love,
He has selected you from among so many Men whom He could have Created in-place-of you;
but He has left them in their Nothingness, and has Brought you into Existence, and placed you in the
World. For the Love of you, He has made so many other Beautiful
Creatures, that they might serve you, and that they might remind you of the Love which
He has Borne to you, and of the Gratitude which you Owe to
Him. "Heaven and Earth", says Saint Augustine,
"and all things tell me to Love Thee". When the Saint beheld the Sun, the Stars, the Mountains, the
Sea, the Rains, they all appeared to him to speak, and to say: Augustine, Love God; for
He has Created us that you might Love Him. When Abbe' De Rance',
the Founder of La Trappe, looked at the Hills, the Fountains, or Flowers, he said, that all these Creatures reminded him of the
Love which God had borne him. Saint Teresa used to say, that these
Creatures Reproached her with her Ingratitude to God. Whilst she held a Flower or Fruit in her hand,
Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her Heart Wounded with Divine
Love, and would say within herself: Then, my God has thought from
Eternity of Creating this Flower and this Fruit, that I might Love Him.
Moreover, seeing us Condemned to Hell, in
Punishment of our Sins, the Eternal
Father, through Love for us, has sent His Son on Earth
to Die on a Cross, in order to Redeem
us from Hell, and to bring us with Himself into
Paradise. "God so Loved the World, as to give His Only Begotten Son" - John 3:16: -
Love, which the Apostle calls an excess of Love.
"For His Exceeding Charity wherewith He Loved us, even when we were Dead in Sins, has quickened us together in
Christ" - Ephesians 2:4, 5.
See also the Special Love which God has shown you in
bringing you into Life in a Christian Country, and in the Bosom of the
Catholic or True Church. How many are born among the Pagans, among the Jews, among the Moslems
and Heretics, and all are Lost. Consider that, compared with these, only a few - not even the Tenth Part
of the Human Race - have the Happiness of being born in a Country where the True Faith Reigns: and, among that small number,
He has chosen you. Oh! what an Invaluable Benefit is the Gift of Faith!
How many Millions of Souls, among
Infidels and Heretics, are Deprived of the Sacraments, of
Sermons, of Good Example, and of the other Helps to
Salvation which we possess in the True Church. And the Lord
Resolved to Bestow on us all these Great Graces, without any Merit
on our part, and even with the Foreknowledge of our Demerits. For, when He
thought of Creating us and of Conferring these Favors upon us, He
Foresaw our Sins, and the Injuries which we would
Commit against Him.
The Love which the Son of God has shown to us in our Redemption
Adam, our First Father, Sins by eating the Forbidden Apple,
and is Condemned to Eternal Death, along with all his Posterity. Seeing
the Whole Human Race Doomed to Perdition,
God Resolved to send a Redeemer to Save Mankind. Who shall
come to accomplish their Redemption? Perhaps an Angel or a Seraph. No; the
Son of God, the Supreme and True God, equal to the
Father, offers Himself to come on Earth, and there to take Human
Flesh and to Die for the Salvation
of Men. O Prodigy of Divine Love! Man, says Saint Fulgentius, Despises
God, and separates himself from God, and through
Love for him, God comes on Earth to seek after Rebellious Man.
"Homo Deum contemnens, a Deo discessit: Deus hominem diligens, ad homines venit". Since, says Saint Augustine,
we could not go to the Redeemer, He has deigned to come to us.
"Quia ad mediatorem venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dignatus est". And why has
Jesus Christ Resolved to come to us? According to the same Holy Doctor, it is to convince us of His Great
Love for us. "Christ came, that Man might know how much God Loves him".
Hence the Apostle writes: "The Goodness and Kindness of God our Savior appeared" -
Titus 3:4. In the Greek Text, the words are: "Singularis Dei erga homines apparuit amor":
"The Singular Love of God towards Men appeared". In explaining this Passage, Saint Bernard says that
before God appeared on Earth in Human Flesh, Men could not arrive at a
Knowledge of the Divine Goodness; therefore, the Eternal Word took
Human Nature, that, appearing in the Form of Man, Men might know the Goodness of God.
"Priusquam apparet humanitas, latebat 'benignitas, sed unde tanta agnosci poterat? Venit in carne ut, apparente
humanitate, cognoseeretur benignitas". And what Greater Love and
Goodness could the Son of God show to us, than to become Man and to become a Worm like us, in
order to Save us from Perdition? What astonishment would we not
feel, if we saw a Prince become a Worm to Save the Worms of His Kingdom! And what shall we say at the
sight of a God made Man like us, to deliver us from Eternal Death?
"The Word was made Flesh" - John 1:14. A God made
Flesh! if Faith did not assure us of it, who could ever believe it?
Behold then, as Saint Paul says, a God, as it were, Annihilated.
"He Emptied Himself, taking the Form of a Servant and in Habit found as a Man" - Philippians 2:7.
By these words the Apostle gives us to understand, that the Son of God,
Who was filled with the Divine Majesty and Power,
Humbled Himself so as to assume the
Lowly and Impotent Condition of Human Nature, taking the Form or Nature of a
Servant, and becoming like Men in His External Appearance, although, as Saint Chrysostom
observes, He was not a mere Man, but Man and God. Hearing a
Deacon sing the words of Saint John, and the Word was made Flesh, Saint Peter of Alcantara fell into an Ecstasy,
and flew through the air to the Altar of the most Holy Sacrament.
But this God of Love, the Incarnate Word, was not
Content with becoming Flesh for the Love of Man; but, according to Isaiah,
He wished to live among us, as the Last and
Lowest, and most Afflicted of Men. "There is no Beauty in Him, nor
Comeliness: and we have seen him Despised ... and the most Abject of Men, a Man of Sorrows" - Isaiah 53:2, 3.
He was a Man of Sorrows. Yes; for the Life
Jesus Christ was Full of Sorrows. Virum dolorum.
He was a Man made on purpose to be Tormented with
Sorrows. From His Birth till His
Death, the Life of our Redeemer was all Full of Sorrows.
And because He came on Earth to gain our Love,
as He declared when He said: "I am come to cast
fire on the Earth; and what will I but that it be kindled"? - Luke 12:49, He wished at the
close of His Life to give us the Strongest Marks and Proofs of the Love
which He bears to us. "Having Loved His own who were in the World, He Loved them
unto the End" - John 13:1. Hence He not only Humbled
Himself to Death for us, but He also chose to
Die the Most Painful and Opprobrious
of all Deaths. "He Humbled Himself, becoming Obedient unto Death, even unto the Death
of the Cross" - Philippians 2:8. They who were Crucified among the Jews, were Objects of
Malediction and Reproach to all. "He is
Accursed of God that Hangeth on a Tree" - Deuteronomy 21:23. Our Redeemer wished to
Die the Shameful Death of the Cross, in the
Midst of a Tempest of Ignominies and Sorrows. "I
am come into the Depths of the Sea, and a Tempest hath Overwhelmed Me" - Psalm 68:3.
"In this" says Saint John, "we have known the Charity of God, because
He hath laid down His Life for us" - John 3:16. And how could God give us a Greater Proof of
His Love than by laying down His life for us? Or, how is it possible for us
to behold a God Dead on the Cross for our
sake, and not Love Him? "For the Charity of Christ presseth us" -
2Corinthians 5:14. By these words, Saint Paul tells us, that it is not so much what Jesus Christ has done
and Suffered for our Salvation, as the
Love which He has shown in Suffering and
Dying for us, that Obliges and Compels us to Love Him. He has, as
the same Apostle adds, Died for all, that each of us may live no longer for himself, but only for that
God Who has given His Life for the Love
of us. "Christ Died for all, that they also who Live, may not Live to themselves, but unto Him Who Died for them, and Rose
again" - 2Corinthians 5:15. And, to Captivate our Love, He
has, after having given His Life for us, left Himself for the
Food of our Souls. "Take ye and eat, this
is My Body" - Matthew 26:26. Had not Faith Taught that He
left Himself for our Food, who could ever Believe it? But of the Prodigy of
Divine Love Manifested in the Holy Sacrament, I shall speak on the
Second Sunday after Pentecost. Let us pass to a brief consideration
of the Third Point.
On the Love shown to us by the Holy Ghost in our Sanctification
The Eternal Father was not Content with giving us His Son Jesus Christ,
that He might Save us by His
Death; He has also given us the Holy Ghost,
that He may Dwell in our Souls, and that He
may keep them always Inflamed with Holy Love. In spite of all the Injuries
which He received on Earth from Men, Jesus Christ, forgetful of their
Ingratitude, after having Ascended into Heaven, sent us the
Holy Ghost, that, by His Holy Flames, this Divine
Spirit might Kindle in our Hearts the Fire of Divine Charity, and
Sanctify our Souls. Hence, when He
Descended on the Apostles, He appeared in the Form of Tongues of Fire.
"And there appeared to them Parted Tongues, as it were of Fire" - Acts 2:3. Hence the
Church prescribes the following Prayer: "We beseech thee, O Lord, that the
Spirit may Inflame us with that Fire which the Lord Jesus Christ sent on the Earth, and Vehemently Wished to be Enkindled". This is the
Holy Fire which Inflamed the Saints with the desire of doing Great Things for God,
which enabled them to Love their most Cruel Enemies, to seek after
Contempt, to Renounce all the Riches and Honors of the World, and even to Embrace with
Joy, Torments and Death.
The Holy Ghost is that Divine Bond which
Unites the Father with the Son; it is
He that Unites our Souls, through
Love, with God. For, as Saint Augustine says, an Union with God is
the Effect of Love. "Charity is a Virtue which Unites us with God. The
Chains of the World are Chains of Death, but the
Bonds of the Holy Ghost are Bonds of
Eternal Life, because they bind us to God, Who is
our True and only Life.
Let us also remember, that all the Lights, Inspirations,
Divine Calls; all the Good Acts which we have Performed during our Life;
all our Acts of Contrition, of Confidence in the Divine Mercy, of
Love, of Resignation, have been the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
"Likewise the Spirit also Helpeth our Infirmity; for we know not what we should Pray for as we ought; but the Spirit
Himself asketh for us with Unspeakable Groanings" - Romans 8:26. Thus, it is the Holy Ghost
that Prays for us; for we know not what we ought to ask, but the Holy Spirit
Teaches us what we should Pray for.
In a word, the Three (3) Persons of the Most Holy Trinity
have Endeavored to Show the Love which God has borne us, that we may
Love Him through Gratitude. "When", says Saint Bernard,
"God Loves, He wishes only to be Loved". It is, then, but Just that we
Love that God Who has been the First
to Love us, and to put us under so many Obligations by so many Proofs of Tender
Love. "Let us, therefore, Love God, because God First hath Loved us" - 1John 4:19. Oh! what
a Treasure is Charity! it is an Infinite
(∞) Treasure, because it makes us Partakers of the Friendship
of God. "She is an Infinite Treasure to Men, which they that use, become the Friends
of God" - Wisdom 7:14. But, to Acquire this Treasure, it is necessary to Detach the
Heart from Earthly Things. "Detach the Heart from Creatures" says Saint
Teresa, "and you shall find God". In a Heart filled with Earthly Affections,
there is no Room for Divine Love. Let us therefore Continually Implore the
Lord in our Prayers, Communions, and Visits to the
Blessed Sacrament, to give us His Holy Love; for this
Love will Expel from our Souls all Affections for the Things of this Earth.
"When", says Saint Francis de Sales, "a house is on fire, all that is within is thrown
out through the windows". By these words the Saint meant, that, when a Soul is Inflamed with
Divine Love, She easily detaches Herself
from Creatures; and Father Paul Segneri the Younger used to say that Divine Love is a Thief that Robs us of all
Earthly Affections, and makes us exclaim: What, O my Lord, but Thee alone, do I Desire?
"Love is Strong as Death" - Songs 8:6. As no Creature can resist
Death when the Hour of Dissolution arrives, so there is no Difficulty which
Love, in a Soul that Loves God, does not overcome. When there is
Question of Pleasing her Beloved, Love Conquers all things; it Conquers Pains,
Losses, Ignominies, "Nihil tam durum, quod non amoris
igne vincatur". This Love made the Martyrs, in the Midst-of
Torments, Racks, and Burning Gridirons,
Rejoice and Thank God for Enabling them to
Suffer-for Him. It made the other Saints, when there was no Tyrant
to Torment them, become as it were their own Executioners, by
Fasts, Disciplines, and Penitential Austerities.
Saint Augustine says, that in doing what one Loves there is no Labor, and if there be, the Labor itself is
Loved. "In eo quod amatur aut non laboratur, aut ipse labor amatur".
- 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.