by St. Alphonsus Di Liguori

The Will of God to Save All

The Apostle St. Paul teaches us that God willeth the salvation of all: He will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4); and St. Peter saith: the Lord, dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance (2 Peter, iii. 9). For this end the Son of God came down from heaven, and was made man, and spent thirty-three years in labors and sufferings, and finally shed His blood and laid down his life for our salvation; and shall we forfeit our salvation?

Thou, my Saviour, didst spend Thy whole life in securing my salvation, and in what have I spent so many years of my life? What fruit hast Thou hitherto reaped from me? I have deserved to be cut off and cast into hell. But Thou desirest not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live (Ezek. Xxxiii. II.). Yes, O God! I leave all and turn myself to Thee. I love Thee, and because I love Thee I am sorry for having offended Thee. Accept of me, and suffer me not to forsake Thee any more.

How much did the saints do to secure their eternal salvation! How many nobles and kings have forsaken their kingdoms and estates, and shut themselves up in cloisters! How many young persons have forsaken their country and friends, and have dwelt in caves and deserts! And how many martyrs have laid down their lives under the most cruel tortures! And why? to save their souls. And what have we done?

Woe to me, who, although I know that death is near at hand, yet think not of it! No, my God, I will no longer live at a distance from Thee. Why do I delay? Is it that death may overtake me in the miserable state in which I now am? No, my God, do Thou assist me to prepare for death.

O God, how many graces has my Saviour bestowed on me to enable me to save my soul! He has caused me to be born in the bosom of the true Church; He has many times pardoned me my transgressions; He has favored me with many lights in sermons, in prayers, in meditations, in Communions, and spiritual exercises; and often has He called me to his love. In a word, how many means of salvation has He granted me which He has not granted others!

And yet, O God! when shall I detach myself from the world and give myself entirely to Thee? Behold me, O Jesus! I will no longer resist. Thou hast obliged me to love Thee. I desire to be wholly Thine: do Thou accept of me, and disdain not the love of a sinner who has hitherto so much despised Thee. I love Thee, my God, my love, and my all; have pity on me, O Mary! thou art my hope.

The Near Approach of Death

Every one knows that he must certainly die; yet many delude themselves by imagining that death is at so immense a distance from them that it will scarcely ever reach them. No; our life is indeed short, and death is very near us. The days of our sojourning here are few, and perhaps much fewer than we imagine. What else is our life but a light vapor, which is driven away and disappears with the wind? a blade of grass which is dried up in the heat of the sun?

O God! Thou wouldst not suffer death to overtake me when I was under Thy displeasure, because Thou didst love me and didst desire my salvation; wherefore I will also love Thee.

My days, said holy Job, have been swifter than a post (Job, ix. 25). Death is hasting towards us more rapidly than a post, and we at every step, and every breath and moment, are drawing nearer and nearer to death. At the time of our death how shall we wish for one day or one hour of the many we now squander away to no purpose!

Ah! Lord, if death were now announced to me, what should I find that I have done for Thee? Alas! come to my assistance; let me not die ungrateful to Thee as I hitherto have been. Grant me true sorrow for my sins, the gift of Thy love, and holy perseverance.

Death hastens towards us; wherefore we must also hasten to do that which is good, and to put our accounts in order against the day of its arrival. When death comes it precludes all remedies for what has been done amiss. How many are now in hell who thought of amending their lives at some future period, but were prevented by death and consigned to eternal torments!

My dear Redeemer, I will no longer resist Thy calls. Thou offerest me pardon, and I am desirous of obtaining it; I pray for it, and hope for it, through that death which Thou, my Jesus, hast suffered that Thou mayest be able to impart it to me. I am sorry, O infinite good ness, for having offended Thee. Thou, my Jesus, hast died for me, and I have postponed Thy friendship to my own wretched inclinations. For the future I hope with Thy assistance always to love Thee. I love Thee, O God ! I love Thee. Thou art now and shalt be forever my only good, my only love. Mary, mother of God, watch over me and take pity on me.

God Abandons the Sinner in his Sins

It is a grievous chastisement of God, when He cuts the sinner off in his sins; but still worse is that whereby He abandons him and suffers him to add sin upon sin. "No punishment is so great," says Bellarmin, "as when sin is made the punishment of sin."

I give Thee thanks, therefore, O Jesus! for not having suffered me to die in my sins; and I give Thee still greater thanks for not having abandoned me in my sins. And oh! into how much deeper an abyss of sin should I have fallen if Thou hadst not supported me. Continue, O Lord! to keep me from sin and do not forsake me.

I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted (Isa. v. 5). When the master cuts down the fence of his vineyard, and leaves it open for any one to enter there in, it is a sign that he considers it not worth cultivating, and abandons it. In like manner does God proceed when He forsakes a sinful soul: He takes away from it the hedge of His holy fear, of His light, and of His voice; and hence the soul being blinded and enslaved by its vices, which overpower it, despises everything, the grace of God, heaven, admonitions, and censures; it thinks lightly even of its own damnation, and thus enveloped in darkness is certain to be lost forever. The wicked man, when He is come into the depths of sins, contemneth (Prov. Xviii. 3.).

This have I deserved, O God! for having so often despised Thy light and Thy calls. But I see that Thou hast not yet abandoned me. I love Thee, O my God! and in Thee do I place all my hopes.

We would have cured Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake her (Jer. li. 9). The physician visits the sick man, prescribes remedies for him, and makes him sensible of his maladies; but when he sees that his patient does not obey him, and on this account grows worse and worse, he takes leave of him and forsakes him. It is thus that God deals with obstinate sinners: after a certain time He speaks but little to them; and only assists them with grace just sufficient to enable them to save their souls; but they will not save them. The darkness of their minds, the hardness of their hearts, and the inveteracy of their wicked habits, render it morally impossible for them to gain salvation.

But, O God! since Thou still callest me to repentance, Thou hast not yet abandoned me; I desire never more to forsake Thee. I love Thee, O infinite goodness! and because I love Thee I am exceedingly sorry for having offended Thee. I love Thee, and I hope through Thy blood to love Thee forever. Suffer me not to be any more separated from Thee. Holy Mary, Virgin of virgins, become my advocate.

The Examination at the Particular Judgment

In the same moment and in the same place in which the soul departs from the body, the divine tribunal is erected, the indictment read, and the sentence pronounced by the sovereign judge. Whom he foreknew, says St. Paul, He also predestinated to be made conformable to His Son . . . them He also justified (Rom. Viii. 29). In order, therefore, to be made worthy of glory, our lives must be made conformable to the life of Jesus Christ. Hence it is that St. Peter says that, in the day of judgment, the just man shall scarcely be saved (1 Peter, iv. 18).

Jesus, my Saviour and my judge! what will become of me, since my whole life has hitherto been the reverse of Thine? But Thy Passion is my hope. I am a sinner, but Thou canst make me a saint, and this I hope for from Thy bounty.

The Venerable Father Louis da Ponte, reflecting on the account which he should have to give of his whole life at the time of his death, trembled to such a degree as to make the whole room shake. And how ought we to tremble at the thought of this account! and how diligent ought we to be in seeking the Lord whilst we may find Him! At the time of death it will be difficult to find Him, if we are overtaken in our sins ; but now we may easily find Him by repentance and love (Isa. lv. 6).

Yes, my God, I am sorry above every evil for having despised Thee; and I now esteem and love Thee above every good.

What shall I do, said holy Job, when God shall rise to judge? and when He shall examine, what shall I answer Him (Job, xxxi. 14)? And what shall I answer Him, if, after so many mercies, so many calls, still I resist him?

No, Lord, I will no longer resist Thee, I will no longer be ungrateful to Thee. I have committed many offences and disloyalties against Thee, but Thou hast shed Thy blood to save me from my sins. "Help Thy servant whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood." I am sorry, my sovereign good, for having offended Thee, and I love Thee with my whole heart; have pity on me. And O Mary, my Mother, do not abandon me!

The Journey to Eternity

Man shall go into the house of his eternity? This earth is not our true country; we are only passing through it on our way to eternity. The land in which I dwell, the house which I inhabit, are not mine. In a short time, and when I least expect it, I must leave them. The house which will contain my body until the day of general judgment will be the grave, and the house of my soul will be eternity, in heaven if I be saved, in hell if I be lost. Foolish indeed, then, should I be were I to place my affections on things which I must soon leave. I will endeavor to procure for myself a happy mansion in which I may dwell forever.

Man shall go into the house of his eternity. It is said "he shall go," to give us to understand that each one shall go, in another life, into that house which he himself has chosen: "he shall go," he shall not be conducted, but shall go thither of his own free will. Faith teaches us that, in the next life, there are two habitations: one is a palace of delights, where all are happy forever, and this is paradise; the other is a prison of excruciating torments, where all are forever miserable, and this is hell. Choose, my soul, to which of the two thou wilt go. If thou desirest heaven, thou must walk in the way which leads to heaven; if thou shouldst walk in the way which leads to hell, thou wilt one day unhappily find thyself there.

Jesus, enlighten me; Jesus, strengthen me. Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.

Man shall go into the house of his eternity. If then I be saved and enter into the house of bliss, I shall there be happy forever; but if I be lost and enter into the house of woe, I shall be miserable forever. If, therefore, I would be saved, I must keep eternity always before my eyes. He who frequently meditates upon eternity does not become attached to the goods of this world, and thus secures his salvation. I will endeavor, therefore, so to regulate all my actions that they may be so many steps towards a happy eternity.

O God! I believe in life eternal. Henceforth I will live only for Thee; hitherto I have lived for myself and have lost Thee, my sovereign good. I will never more lose Thee; but will forever serve and love Thee. Assist me, O Jesus ! and do not abandon me. Mary, my Mother, protect me.