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Wednesday - Third Week after Epiphany

Sentiments of a lively faith

From book "Spiritual Readings for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... O ye atheists who believe not in God, fools that ...

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Spiritual Readings

Saint Alphonsus

O ye atheists who believe not in God, fools that you are! If you do not believe that there is a God, tell me who created you? How can you imagine that there are creatures existing, without a previous Power having created them? This world which you admire, governed as it is in so beautiful and constant an order, — could chance, which has neither order nor mind, ever have made it?

Poor wretches! you try to persuade yourselves that the soul dies like the body; but, O God, what will you say, when in the next world you find that your souls are immortal, and that throughout eternity you will be unable to repair the ruin you have brought upon yourselves?

But if you believe that there is a God, you must also believe that there is a True Religion. And if you do not believe that the Religion of the Roman Catholic Church is the true one, tell me which is the true one? Perhaps that of the Pagans who admit many gods, and so destroy and deny all of them? Perhaps that of the Mahometans, which is a mixture of fables and follies and contradictions — a religion invented by an infamous impostor, and framed rather for beasts than for men? Perhaps that of the Jews? They, indeed, had at one time the true Faith, but because they rejected their Redeemer Who taught the New Law of grace, they lost their Faith, their country, and all. Perhaps of those heretics who, separating themselves from our Church (which was founded by Jesus Christ, and to which He promised that it should never fail) have confused all revealed dogmas in such a way that the belief of each contradicts that of his neighbour.

Ah! it is most evident that our Faith is the only true one. Either there is Faith, and, then, there can be no other true Religion but ours; or, there is no true Faith, and then all religions are false. But this cannot be; for as there is a God, there must be a true Faith and a true Religion.

But what much greater fools are those Christians who hold the true Faith and live as if they did not believe it! They believe that there is a God, a just Judge, that there is a Paradise and an eternal hell; and yet they live as if there were no Judgment, no Heaven, no hell, no Eternity, no God!

O God, how can Christians believe in Jesus Christ, believe in a God born in a stable; a God living in obscurity in a shop for thirty years and working for His livelihood every day as a simple servant; in fine, how can they believe in a God nailed on a Cross, and dying, consumed with grief; and not only not love Him, but even make a mockery of Him by their sins!

O holy Faith, enlighten all those poor blind creatures who run to eternal perdition! But this light does ever shine forth and enlighten all men, both the faithful and unbelievers: True light, which enlighteneth every man (Jo. i. 9). How is it, then, that so many are lost? O cursed sin, thou dost blind the minds of so many poor souls, who open their eyes only when they enter eternity! But then they can no more remedy their error!

How is it, my Jesus, that so many of Thy servants have shut themselves up in caves and deserts, to attend only to their salvation; so many nobles and even princes have retired to the cloister, in order to live in poverty and unknown to the world, to make sure of their eternal salvation; so many Martyrs have left all; so many tender virgins have renounced marriage with the highest nobles of the earth, and have embraced such torments as the rack; have braved the axe, the coat of fiery mail, the red-hot gridirons, and the most cruel deaths, rather than lose Thy grace, while so many others live in sin and far from Thee for months and years!

I thank Thee, my Jesus, for the light Thou givest me, by which Thou makest me know that the goods of this world are but smoke, filth, vanity and deceit, and that Thou art the true and only Good.

My God, I thank Thee that Thou hast given me this Faith, and that Thou hast made it so clear to us by the fulfilment of Prophecies, by the truth of miracles, by the constancy of Martyrs, by the sanctity of the doctrine, and by the wonderful propagation of the same throughout the world; so that if it were not true, it would be impossible not to say that Thou hast deceived us, in proving it to us by the numerous testimonies that Thou hast given us of it.

I believe all that the Church teaches me to believe, because Thou hast revealed it. Nor do I pretend to comprehend intellectually those Mysteries which are above my mind; it is enough that Thou hast said so. I pray Thee to increase Thy Faith in me. Adauge nobis fidem! (Luke xvii. 5).

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Tuesday - Third Week after Epiphany -- ST. FRANCIS DE SALES (January 29th)