Spiritual Reading for the Septuagesima Sunday after Epiphany ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading


St. Philip Neri used to say that “Heaven is not for sluggards,” and that he who does not seek the salvation of his soul above all things is a fool. If on this earth there were two classes of people, one mortal, and the other immortal, and if the former saw the latter entirely devoted to the acquisition of earthly goods, would they not exclaim: O fools that you are! You have it in your power to secure the immense and eternal goods of Paradise, and you lose your time in procuring the miserable goods of this earth, which shall end at death. And for these you expose yourselves to the danger of the eternal torments of hell! Leave to us mortals, for whom all shall end at death, the care of these earthly things. But, we are all immortal, and each of us shall be eternally happy or eternally miserable in the next life.

But the misfortune is, the greater part of mankind is solicitous for the present and never thinks of the future. Oh, that they would be wise and would understand, and would provide for their last end! (Deut. xxxii. 29). Oh! that they knew how to detach themselves from present goods which last but a short time, and to provide for eternity — where there will be a never-ending reign in Heaven, or never-ending slavery in hell. St. Philip Neri, conversing one day with Francis Zazzera, a young man of talent who expected to make a fortune in the world, said to him: “You will realize a great fortune; you will be a prelate, afterwards a Cardinal, and in the end, perhaps, Pope! But what must follow? What must follow? Go, my son, think on these words.” The young man departed, and after meditating on the words: What must follow? What must follow? he renounced his prospects in this world, and gave himself entirely to God. He entered the Congregation of St. Philip, and died a holy death.

The fashion of this world passeth away (1 Cor. vii. 31). On this passage, Cornelius a Lapide says that “the world is as it were a stage.” Happy the man who acts his part well by saving his soul. But if he shall have spent his life in the acquisition of riches and worldly honours, he shall justly be called a fool; and at the hour of death he shall earn the reproach addressed to the rich man in the Gospel: Fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee; and whose shall these things be which thou hast provided? (Luke xii. 20). In explaining the words, they require, Toletus says, that the Lord has given us our souls that we may guard them against the assaults of our enemies; and that at death the Angel will come to demand them of us, and present them at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. But if we shall have lost our souls by attending only to the acquisition of earthly possessions, these shall belong to us no longer; they shall pass to other hands: and what shall then become of our souls?

Poor worldlings! Of all the riches they have acquired, of all the pomps they displayed in this life, what shall they find at death? They have slept their sleep: and all the men of riches have found nothing in their hands (Ps. lxxv. 6). The dream of this present life shall be over at death, and they shall have acquired nothing for eternity. Ask the many great men of this earth — the princes and emperors who during life abounded in riches, honours, and pleasures, and are at this moment in hell — ask them what now remains of all the riches they possessed in this world! They answer with tears: “Nothing! Nothing!” And of so many honours enjoyed — of so many past pleasures — of so many pomps and triumphs, ask them what now remains! They answer with howlings: “Nothing! Nothing!”

Justly, then, has St. Francis Xavier said, that in the world there is but one good and one evil. The one good is the salvation of our souls; the one evil is losing them. Hence David said: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I will seek after — that I may dwell in the house of the Lord (Ps. xxvi. 4). One thing only have I sought, and will forever seek, from God — that He may grant me the grace to save my soul; for, if I save my soul, all is safe; if I lose it, all is lost for ever!

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