Morning Meditation for the 7th Day of January ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

OUR ETERNAL SALVATION IS IN PRAYER.

Prayer is not only useful, but necessary for salvation; and therefore God, Who desires that we should be saved, has enjoined it as a precept: Ask, and it shall be given you (Matt. vii. 7). It was an error of Wickliff, condemned by the Council of Constance, to say that prayer was only a Divine counsel to us and not a command. It is necessary — not it is advisable or fitting — always to pray (Luke xviii. 1). Wherefore Doctors of the Church always maintain that he cannot be held guiltless of grievous sin who neglects to recommend himself to God, at least once in a month, and at all times when he finds himself assailed by severe temptation.

The reason of this necessity of recommending ourselves often to God arises from our inability to do any good work, or to entertain any good thoughts, of ourselves: Without me ye can do nothing (Jo. xv. 5). We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves (2 Cor. iii. 5). Therefore, St. Philip Neri says that he despaired of himself. On the other hand, St. Augustine writes that God desires to bestow His graces, but only on those who beg them. And especially, said the Saint, as God gives the grace of perseverance only to those who seek it.

It is a fact that the devil never ceases to go about seeking to devour us, and therefore we need ever to defend ourselves by prayer. “Continual prayer is necessary for man,” says St. Thomas. Jesus Christ first taught us: We must always pray, and not faint (Luke xviii. 1). Otherwise, how can we resist the constant temptations of the world and the devil? It was the error of Jansenius, condemned by the Church, that the observance of certain precepts was impossible, and that sometimes grace itself failed to render it possible to us. God is faithful, says St. Paul, Who does not suffer us to be tempted above our strength. Yet He desires that, when we are tried, we should have recourse to Him for help to resist. St. Augustine writes: “The law is given, that grace may be sought; grace is given that the law may be fulfilled.” Granting that the law cannot be fulfilled by us without grace, God has yet given us the law, in order that we may seek the grace to fulfil it; and, therefore, He gives grace that we may fulfil it. All this was well expressed by the Council of Trent in these words: “God does not command things that are impossible, but, in commanding, He counsels thee both to do what thou canst, and seek for aid for what thou canst not do, and He helps thee that thou mayst be able to do it.”

Thus the Lord is ever ready to give His help, in order that we may not be overcome by temptation; but He gives this help only to those who fly to Him in the time of trial, and especially in temptations against chastity, as the Wise Man wrote: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it, and this also was a point of wisdom to know whose gift it was, I went to the Lord and besought him (Wis. viii. 21). Let us rest assured that we can never overcome our carnal appetites if God does not give us help, and we cannot have this help without prayer; but if we pray we shall assuredly have power to overcome the devil in everything, through the grace with which God will strengthen us; as St. Paul says: I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me (Phil. iv. 13).

It is also most useful to us, in order to obtain divine grace, to have recourse to the intercession of the Saints, who have great power with God, especially for the benefit of those who have a particular devotion to them. This is not a mere devotion dependent upon our private fancy, but it is a duty; for St. Thomas says that the Divine law requires that we mortals should receive the aid which is necessary for our salvation, through the prayers of the Saints. This aid comes especially through the intercession of Mary, whose prayers are of more value than those of all the Saints. So true is this that St. Bernard says it is through her intercession that we have access to Jesus Christ our Mediator and Saviour. “Through thee we have access to the Son, O thou giver of grace, and Mother of our salvation, that through thee He may receive us, Who through thee was given to us.” This, indeed, I have sufficiently proved in my book called The Glories of Mary (Pt. I. Ch. 5), and also in my work On Prayer, in which I have brought forward the opinion of many Saints, especially St. Bernard, and of many Theologians, that through Mary we receive all the graces which we receive from God. Hence St. Bernard says: “Let us seek for grace, and let us seek it through Mary; for he that seeks finds, and cannot be disappointed.” The same was said by St. Peter Damian, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Sienna, St. Antoninus, and others.

Let us, then, pray, and pray with confidence, says the Apostle. Let us go confidently to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. Jesus Christ now sits on the throne of grace to comfort all who fly to Him, and says: Ask, and it shall be given to you. On the Day of Judgment He will also sit upon His throne, but it will be a throne of Judgment. What madness, then, it is in those who, having it in their power to be delivered from their miseries by going to Jesus, now that He sits on His throne of grace, wait till He becomes their Judge, and will not avail themselves of His mercy. He says to us that whatever we ask of Him, if we have confidence, He will give us. And what more can one friend do to another to show his love than say: “Ask what thou wilt, and I will give it thee.” St. James goes further and says: If any of you need wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men abundantly and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him (James i. 5). By “wisdom” is here meant the knowledge of the salvation of the soul. To have this “wisdom” we must seek of God the graces necessary to bring us to salvation. And will God give them? Most assuredly He will give them, and in still greater abundance than we ask them. Let us observe also the words: Upbraideth not. If the sinner repents of his sins, and asks salvation from God, God does not that which men do, that is, reproach the ungrateful with their ingratitude, and deny them what they ask; but He gives to them willingly, and even more than they beg for. If, then, we would be saved, we must have our lips ever open in prayer, and say: My God, help me! My God have mercy! Mary, have mercy! If we cease to pray, we are lost. Let us pray for ourselves: let us pray for sinners, for this is most pleasing to God. Let us also pray daily for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Those holy Prisoners are most grateful to all who pray for them.

Whenever we pray, let us seek the grace of God through the merits of Jesus Christ, for He Himself assures us that He will give whatever we ask in His Name.

O my God, this is the grace which, above all others, I ask through the merits of Jesus Christ: grant that throughout my life, and especially in time of temptation, I may recommend myself to Thee, and hope for Thy help through the love of Jesus and Mary. O holy Virgin, obtain for me this grace on which depends my salvation.

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