Considerations on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ - 46
From book "Evening Meditations for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... I. To obtain perseverance in well-doing we must n...
I. To obtain perseverance in well-doing we must not trust in our resolutions and in the promises we have made to God; if we trust in our own strength we are lost. All our hope of preserving the grace of God must be placed in the merits of Jesus Christ, and thus, trusting in His help, we shall persevere till death, though we be attacked by all our enemies in earth and in hell. Sometimes we find ourselves so cast down in mind and so assaulted by temptations, that we seem to be almost lost; let us not then lose courage, nor abandon ourselves to despair; let us go to the Crucified, and He will sustain us.
The Lord permits His Saints sometimes to find themselves in tempests and fears. St. Paul says that the afflictions and terrors he suffered in Asia were so overpowering that he became weary of life; meaning that he was so, as far as he depended on his own strength. This is to teach us that God, from time to time, leaves us in desolations, in order that we may know our misery, and, distrusting ourselves, may humbly have recourse to His goodness, and obtain from Him strength not to fall. More clearly he expresses the same in another place: We are cast down, but we perish not (2 Cor. iv. 9). We find ourselves oppressed with sadness and passions, but do not abandon ourselves to despair; we are tossed about on the water, but do not sink, because the Lord, by His grace, gives us strength against our enemies. But the Apostle exhorts us ever to keep before our eyes that we are weak, and prone to lose the treasure of Divine grace, and that all our strength for preserving it comes not from ourselves but from God: We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us (2 Cor. iv.
II. Let us be firmly persuaded that in this life we must ever beware of placing any confidence in our own works. Our strongest armour with which we shall ever win the victory over the assaults of hell is prayer. This is the armour of God of which St. Paul speaks: Put on the armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one; and take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit (which is the word of God), by all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the Spirit (Eph. vi. 11-18).
Wherefore the Apostle continues: By all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints (Eph. vi. 18). Thus, prayer is the most powerful of all the arms with which God gives us victory over our evil passions and the temptations of hell; but this prayer must be made in the spirit; that is, not with the lips only, but with the heart. Moreover, it must last through our life — at all times; for as the struggle is constant, so must our prayer be. It must be urgent and repeated; if the temptation does not yield at the first prayer, we must repeat it a second, third, or fourth time; and if it still continues, we must add sighs, tears, importunity, vehemence, as if we would do violence to God, that He may give us the grace of victory. This is what the Apostle's words, with all instance and supplication, mean. The Apostle adds, for all the saints, which means that we are not to pray for ourselves alone, but for the perseverance of all the faithful who are in the grace of God, and especially of priests, that they may labour for the conversion of unbelievers and all sinners, repeating in our prayers the words of Zachary: To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death (Luke i. 79).
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