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Bishop of Saint Agatha^ and Founder of the Congregation of the Most 
Holy Redeemer. 



:R:E"V"_ E TJ a- E isr E GRIMM., 

Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

Volume III. 











18 vols., Price, per vol., net, $1.2B. 

Each booh is complete iti itself, atid any volume will be 
sold separately. 

Volume I. 


PREPARATION FOR DEATH ; or, Considerations on the Eter 
nal Truths. Maxims of Eternity Rule of Life. Ready 


Pious Reflections. Spiritual Treatises. Ready. 

Prayer. Mental Prayer. The Exercises of a Retreat. 
Choice of a State of Life, and the Vocation to the 
Religious State and to the Priesthood. Heady. 

" IV., V., VI. THE MYSTERIES OF THE FAITH : i. Incarnation, 
Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ. 2. The Redemption, 
Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. 3. The Holy 
Eucharist, Sacrifice, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. 
Practice of Love of Jesus Christ. Novena to the Holy Ghost. 
" VII., VIII. GLORIES OF MARY : i. Explanation of the Salve 
Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen. Discourses on the Feasts 
of Mary. 2. Her Dolors. Her Virtues. Practices. 
Examples. Answers to Critics. Devotion to the Holy 
Angels. Devotion to St. Joseph. Novena to St. Teresa. 
Novena for the Repose of the Souls in Purgatory. 
" IX. VICTORIES OF THE MARTYRS ; or, the Lives of the Most 

Celebrated Martyrs of the Church. 

sixteen Chapters. 2. The last eight Chapters. Append/ 
and various small Works. Spiritual Letters. 
Instructions about the Religious State. Letters and 
Circulars. Lives of two Fathers and of a Lay-brother. 
Material for Ecclesiastical Retreats. Rule of Life and 
Spiritual Rules. 

" XIV. THE HOLY MASS : Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ceremonies 
of the Mass. Preparation and Thanksgiving. The Mass 
and the Office that are hurriedly said. 
" XV. THE DIVINE OFFICE: Translation of the Psalms and 


" XVI. PREACHING: The Exercises of the Missions. Various 
Counsels. Instructions on the Commandments and 


"XVIII. VARIOUS SMALL WORKS: Discourses on Calamities. Reflec 
tions useful for Bishops. Seminaries. Ordinances. 
Letters. General alphabetical index. 

Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. 









Doctor of the Church. 



Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 


Printers to the Holy Apostolic See. 





By virtue of the authority granted me by the Most Rev. Nicholas 
Mauron, Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer, I hereby sanction the publication of the work entitled 
" The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection," which is Vol. III. 
of the new and complete edition in English of the works of Saint 
Alphonsus de Liguori, called "The Centenary Edition." 


Sup. Prov. Baltimorensis. 
BALTIMORE, MD., April 26, 1886. 

Copyright, 1886, by ELIAS FREDERICK SCHAUER. 



21 toork of Ascetic 






















to Icsus anfc iflarg. 

INCARNATE WORD, Thou hast given Thy Blood and Thy Life to 
confer on our prayers that power by which, according to Thy promise, 
they obtain for us all that we ask. And we, O God, are so careless of 
our salvation, that we will not even ask Thee for the graces that we 
must have if we should be saved ! In prayer Thou hast given us the 
key of all Thy divine treasures ; and we, rather than pray, choose to 
remain in our misery. Alas ! O Lord, enlighten us, and make us know 
the value of prayers, offered in Thy name and by Thy merits, in the 
eyes of Thy Eternal Father. I consecrate to Thee this my book ; bless 
it, and grant that all those into whose hands it falls may have the will 
to pray always, and may exert themselves to stir up others also to avail 
themselves of this great means of salvation. 

To thee also do I recommend my little work, O Mary, great Mother 
of God: patronize it, and obtain for all who read it the spirit of prayer, 
and of continual recourse in all their necessities to thy Son, and to 
thee, who art the Dispenser of graces, the Mother of mercy, and who 
never leavest unsatisfied him who recommends himself to thee, O 
mighty Virgin, but obtainest from God for thy servants whatever thou 

THIS book, which was published in 1759, is one of the 
most important works of Saint Alphonsus. He himself 
explains, in the Introduction and the Conclusion, what it 
has cost him, and the value that he sets upon it. In his 
preface to the "Preparation for Death," he speaks thus: 
"This book, though small, has cost me a great deal of 
labor. I regard it as of extreme utility to all sorts of 
persons; and I unhesitatingly assert that among all 
spiritual treatises, there is none, and there can be none, 
more necessary than that which treats on prayer as a 
means of obtaining eternal salvation." ED. 





The great means of obtaining Salvation and all the graces 
which we desire of God. 










I. Prayer is a means necessary to salvation, 23. 
II. Without prayer it is impossible to resist temptations 
and to keep the Commandments, 28. 

III. Invocation of the saints, 34. 

i. Is it good and useful to have recourse to the 
intercession of the saints ? 34. 2. Is it good to 
invoke also the souls in Purgatory? 36. 3. It is 
our duty to pray for the souls in Purgatory, 37. 
Is it necessary to invoke the saints ? 41. 

IV. The intercession of the Blessed Virgin, 44. Conclu 

sion of the chapter, 49. 

14 Contents. 


I. Excellence of prayer and its power with God, 50. 
II. Power of prayer against temptation, 52. 

III. God is always ready to hear us, 56. 

IV. We should not limit ourselves to asking for little 

things. To pray is better than to meditate, 58. 
Conclusion of the chapter, 63. 


I. Which are the requisite conditions ? Object of 

prayer, 65. 

Can we pray efficaciously for others? 66. We 
ought to pray for sinners, 67. We must ask for 
graces necessary to salvation, 69. Other conditions 
of prayer, 71. 

II. The humility with which we should pray, 72. 

III. The confidence with which we ought to pray, 78. 

Excellence and necessity of this virtue, 78. Foun 
dation of our confidence, 83. The prayer of 
sinners, 87. 

IV. The perseverance required in prayer. 94. Final per 

severance, 94. Why God delays granting us 
final perseverance, 99. Conclusion, 103. 






I. God wishes all men to be saved, 106. 

i. Decision of the Church, 107. 2. The celebrated 
text of St. Paul, 109. 3. Other texts of Scripture, 
117. 4. General consent of the Fathers, 119. 

II. Jesus Christ died to save all men, 121. 

I. The testimony of Holy Scripture, 123. 2. The 
teaching of the Holy Fathers, 125. 

III. Children who die without baptism, 129. 

Contents. 1 5 


I. Proofs, 133. 

Teaching of the Fathers of the Greek Church, 134. 
Teaching of the Fathers of the Latin Church, 136. 
Testimony of Holy Scripture, 139. 
II. Obstinate or hardened sinners, and the abandon 
ment of them by God, 142. 



I. The system of Jansenius, 161. 

Refutation of the first proposition, 164. Refuta 
tion of the third proposition, 172. 
II. The doctrine of St. Augustine on the "Victorious 

Delectation," and on the Free Will, 176. 
III. Continuation of the refutation of Jansenius and of 
his adherents, 184. 



PRAYER , 201 

I. The principal theologians who teach this doctrine, 

II. Authority upon which this doctrine is based, 212. 

I. Holy Scripture, 212. 2. The Council of Trent, 
214. 3. The Holy Fathers, 219. 

III. Reasons that justify this doctrine, 227. Conclusion, 


I. Prayer to obtain final perseverance, 241. 
II. Prayer to Jesus Christ to obtain his holy love, 242. 

III. Prayer to obtain confidence in the merits of Jesus 

Christ and in the intercession of Mary, 243. 

IV. Prayer to obtain the grace of being constant in 

prayer, 244. 

1 6 Contents. 


V. Prayer to be said every day to obtain the graces nec 
essary for salvation, 245. 
VI. Thoughts and ejaculations, 248. 
HYMN Invocation of the Blessed Virgin in time of temptation, 251 



I. Mental prayer is morally necessary for salvation, 252. 
i. It enlightens the mind, 252. 2. It disposes the 
heart to the practice of virtues, 254. 3. It helps us 
to pray as we should, 256. 

II. Mental prayer is indispensable in order to attain 
perfection, 258. 

III. The ends of mental prayer, 263. 

To unite ourselves to God, 268. To obtain grace 
from God, 264. We ought not to seek in mental 
prayer spiritual consolations, 266. 

IV. Principal subjects of meditation, 267. 

V. The place and the time suitable for meditations, 268. 
VI. Manner of making mental prayer, 273. Prepara 
tion, 273. The meditation, 275. The Conclu 
sion, 280. 
VII. Distractions and aridities, 281. 


Advantages of the spiritual exercises made in retreat. 
Letter to a young man who is deliberating on the 
choice of a state of life, 285. 

HYMN Invitation to Solitude, 302. 

Meditations for a private retreat of eight days, 303. In 
troduction, 303. The importance of salvation, 305. 
The vanity of the world, 311. Our journey to eter 
nity, 317. Sin, 324. Death, 333. Judgment, 340. 
Remorse of the Christians in hell, 345. Love for 
Jesus crucified, 349. 

HYMN To God the Creator, 354. 

Various Practices, 355. 

Rules for leading a good life, 355. Devout acts to be 
made every day, 356. Spiritual maxims for a Chris 
tian, 358. An epitome of the virtues in which a 

Contents. \ 7 


Christian soul that desires to lead a perfect life and 
become a saint should exercise itself, 360. 
APPENDIX. The manner of making a retreat, 375. 



I. We ought to conform to the designs of God in the choice 

of a state of life, whatever it may be, 381. 
II. The vocation to the religious state: how important it is 
to follow it promptly, 383. Misery to which one 
exposes one s self by not corresponding to it, 383. 
We must obey the voice of God without delay, 386. 

III. Means to be employed for preserving a religious voca 

tion in the world, 391. Secrecy, 391. Prayer, 397. 
Recollection, 398. 

IV. Disposition required for entering religion, 399. De 

tachment from comforts, 402; from parents, 403; 
from self-esteem, 406; from one s own will, 409. 
V. Trials which we must expect to have in the religious 
life, 412. Conclusion, 416. 


I. How the salvation of the soul is secured by entering the 

religious state, 418. 

II. The happy death of the religious, 420. 
III. The account which he will have to render to Jesus Christ 
on the day of judgment who does not follow his 
vocation, 424. 
IV. The torment which in hell will be the lot of him who is 

damned for having lost his vocation, 426. 
V. The immense glory which religious enjoy in heaven, 428. 
VI. The interior peace that God gives good religious to en 
joy, 431- 

VII. The damage done to religious by tepidity, 434. 
VIII. How dear to God is a soul that gives itself entirely to 

him, 437. 

IX. How necessary it is, in order to become a saint, to have 
a great desire for such a thing, 440. 

1 8 Contents. 


X. The love we owe to Jesus Christ in consideration of the 

love he has shown to us, 443. 

XL The great happiness which religious enjoy in dwelling 
in the same house with Jesus Christ in the Blessed 
Sacrament, 446. 
XII. The life of religious resembles mostly the life of Jesus 

Christ, 448. 
XIII. The zeal which religious ought to have for the salvation 

of souls, 451. 
XIV. How necessary to religious are the virtues of meekness 

and humility, 454. 

XV. How much religious ought to confide in the patronage 
of Mary, 457. Prayer taken from St. Thomas 
Aquinas, 459. 






Excellence of Virginity, 474. Means to preserve virginal 
purity, 481. Mental prayer, 481. The frequenta- 
tion of the sacraments, 482. Retirement and cau 
tion, 482. Mortification of the senses, 484. Demo 
tion to the Blessed Virgin, 485. Conclusion, 486. 


I. Necessity of a divine vocation to take Holy Orders, 488. 
II. Marks of a divine vocation to the sacerdotal state, 491. 
Purity of intention, 492. Science and talents, 493. 
Positive goodness of character, 494. 
III. To what dangers one exposes one s self by entering Holy 

Orders without a vocation, 498. 
APPENDIX. Means to be adopted in order to know one s 

vocation, 507. 
HYMN Sighs of a soul that gives itself all to Jesus, 510. 




I HAVE published several spiritual works, on visiting 
the Blessed Sacrament, on the Passion of Jesus Christ, 
on the Glories of Mary, and, besides, a work against the 
Materialists and Deists, with other devout little treatises. 
Lately I brought out a work on the Infancy of our 
Saviour, entitled Novena for Christmas; and another en 
titled Preparation for Death, besides the one on the Eter 
nal Maxims, most useful for meditation and for sermons, 
to which are added nine discourses suitable during 
seasons of divine chastisements. But I do not think 
that I have written a more useful work than the present, 
in which I speak of prayer as a necessary and certain 
means of obtaining salvation, and all the graces that we 
require for that object. If it were in my power, I would 
distribute a copy of it to every Catholic in the world, in 
order to show him the absolute necessity of prayer for 

I say this, because, on the one hand, I see that the ab 
solute necessity of prayer is taught throughout the Holy 
Scriptures, and by all the holy Fathers; while, on the 
other hand, I see that Christians are very careless in 
their practice of this great means of salvation. And, 
sadder still, I see that preachers take very little care to 
speak of it to their flocks, and confessors to their peni 
tents ; I see, moreover, that even the spiritual books now 
popular do not speak sufficiently of it; for there is not a 
thing preachers, and confessors, and spiritual books 

2 2 Introduction. 

favors. Prayer, in a strict sense, says the holy Doctor, 
means recourse to God; but in its general signification 
it includes all the kinds just enumerated. It is in this 
latter sense that the word is used in this book. 


In order, then, to attach ourselves to this great means 
of salvation, we must first of all consider how necessary 
it is to us, and how powerful it is to obtain for us all the 
graces that we can desire from God, if we know how to 
ask for them as we ought. Hence, in the first part, we 
will speak first of the necessity and power of prayer; and 
next, of the conditions necessary to make it efficacious 
with God. Then, in the second part, we will show that 
the grace of prayer is given to all; and there we will 
treat of the manner in which grace ordinarily operates. 

Necessitg, florosr, anfo Conbitions of 




Prayer is a Means Necessary to Salvation. 

ONE of the errors of Pelagianism was the assertion 
that prayer is not necessary for salvation. Pelagius, the 
impious author of that heresy, said that man will only 
be damned for neglecting to know the truths necessary 
to be learned. How astonishing ! St. Augustine said: 
" Pelagius discussed everything except how to pray," 
though, as the saint held and taught, prayer is the only 
means of acquiring the science of the saints; according 
to the text of St. James: If any man ivant wisdom, let him 
ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly, and upbraideth not? 
The Scriptures are clear enough in pointing out how 
necessary it is to pray, if we would be saved. We ought 
always to pray, and not to faint* Watch and pray, that ye 
enter not into temptation? Ask, and it shall be given you? 

1 "Omnia potius disputat (Pelagius), quam ut oret." De Nat. et 
Grat. c. 17. 

" Si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientia, postulet a Deo, qui dat 
omnibus affluenter, et non improperat." James, i. 5. 

3 " Oportet semper orare." Luke, xviii. i. 

4 "Vigilate et orate, ut non intretis in tentationem." Matt. xxvi. 

5 " Petite et dabitur vobis." Matt. vii. 7. 

24 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

The words " we ought," "pray," "ask," according to the 
general consent of theologians, impose the precept, and 
denote the necessity of prayer. Wickliffe said, that 
these texts are to be understood, not precisely of prayer, 
but only of the necessity of good works, for in his system 
prayer was only well-doing; but this was his error, and 
was expressly condemned by the Church." Hence Lessius 
wrote that it is heresy to deny that prayer is necessary 
for salvation in adults; as it evidently appears from 
Scripture that prayer is the means, without which we 
cannot obtain the help necessary for salvation. 1 

The reason of this is evident. Without the assistance of 
God s grace we can do no good thing: Without Me, ye 
can do nothing? St. Augustine remarks on this passage, 
that our Lord did not say, "Without Me, ye can com 
plete nothing," but "without Me, ye can do nothing; 3 
giving us to understand, that without grace we cannot 
even begin to do a good thing. Nay more, St. Paul 
writes, that of ourselves we cannot even have the wish 
to do good. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of 
ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.* If we cannot 
even think a good thing, much less can we wish it. The 
same thing is taught in many other passages of Scrip 
ture: God worketh all in all. I will cause you to walk in My 
commandments, and to keep My judgments, and do them? So 
that, as St. Leo I. says, " Man does no good thing, except 

1 " Fide tenendum est, orationem adultis ad salutem esse necessar 
iam, utcolligitur ex Scripturis; quia oratio est medium sine quo auxil 
ium ad salutem necessarium obtineri nequit." De just. lib. 2. c. 37 
d. 3- 

2 " Sine me nihil potestis facere." John, xv. 5. 

3 " Non ait: Perficere; sed: Facere." Contra ep. pel. \. 2. c. 8. 

4 " Non quod sufficientes simus cogitare aliquid a nobis, quasi ex 
nobis; sed sufficientia nostra ex Deo est." 2 Cor. iii. 5. 

6 " Deus qui operatur omnia in omnibus." I Cor. xii. 6. " Faciam 
ut in praeceptis meis ambuletis, et judicia mea custodiatis et opere- 
mini." Extk. xxxvi. 27. 

Prayer is a Means Necessary to Salvation. 25 

that which God, by his grace, enables him to do," 1 and 
hence the Council of Trent says: "If any one shall 
assert, that without the previous inspiration of the Holy 
Ghost, and his assistance, man can believe, hope, love, 
or repent, as he ought, in order to obtain the grace of 
justification, let him be anathema." 2 

The author of the Opus Imperfectum says, that God has 
given to some animals swiftness, to others claws, to 
others wings, for the preservation of their life; but he 
has so formed man, that God himself is his only strength. 8 
So that man is completely unabl,e to provide for his own 
safety, since God has willed that whatever he has, or 
can have, should come entirely from the assistance of his 

But this grace is not given in God s ordinary Provi 
dence, except to those who pray for it; according to the 
celebrated saying of Gennadius. " We believe that no one 
approaches to be saved, except at the invitation of God; 
that no one who is invited works out his salvation, except 
by the help of God; that no one merits this help, unless 
he prays." 4 From these two premises, on the one hand, 
that we can do nothing without the assistance of grace; 
and on the other, that this assistance is only given or 
dinarily by God to the man that prays, who does not see 
that the consequence follows, that prayer is absolutely 
necessary to us for salvation ? And although the first 

1 " Nulla facit homo bona, quae non Deus praestat ut facial homo." 
Cone. Araus. ii. cap. 20. 

^ "Si quis dixerit sine praeveniente Spiritus Sancti inspiratione, at- 
que ejus adjutorio, hominem credere, sperare, diligere, aut pcenitere 
posse, sicut oportet ut ei justifications gratia conferatur, anathama 
sit." Sess. 6, Can. 3. 

8 " Alios munivit cursu, alios unguibus, alios pennis; hominem 
autem sic disposuit, ut virtus illius ipse sit." Horn. 18. 

4 "Nullum credimus ad salutem, nisi Deo invitante, venire; nul- 
lum invitatum salutem suam, nisi Deo auxiliante, operari; nullum, 
nisi orantem, auxilium promereri." DC Eccl. Dogm. c. 26. 

26 The Necessity of Prayer. [PARTI. 

graces that come to us without any co-operation on our 
part, such as the call to faith or to penance, are, as St. 
Augustine says, granted by God even to those who do not 
pray; yet the saint considers it certain that the other 
graces, and specially the grace of perseverance, are not 
granted except in answer to prayer : " God gives us 
some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do 
not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has 
only provided for those who pray." 

Hence it is that the generality of theologians, follow 
ing St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, St. 
Augustine, and other Fathers, teach that prayer is neces 
sary to adults, not only because of the obligation of the 
precept (as they say), but because it is necessary as a means 
of salvation. That is to say, in the ordinary course of 
Providence, it is impossible that a Christian should be 
saved without recommending himself to God, and asking 
for the graces necessary to salvation. St. Thomas teaches 
the same: "After baptism, continual prayer is necessary 
to man, in order that he may enter heaven; for though 
by baptism our sins are remitted, there still remain con 
cupiscence to assail us from within, and the world and 
the devil to assail us from without." 5 The reason then 
which makes us -certain of the necessity of prayer is 
shortly this, in order to be saved we must contend and 
conquer : He that striveth for the mastery is not crowned ex 
cept he strive lawfully? But without the divine assistance 
we cannot resist the might of so many and so powerful 

1 " Constat Deum alia dare etiam non orantibus, sicut initium fidei; 
alia non nisi orantibus praeparasse, sicut usque in finem perseveran- 
tiam." De dono pers. c. 16. 

8 " Post baptismum autem, necessaria est homini jugis oratio, ad 
hoc quod ccelum introeat; licet enim per baptismum remittantur 
peccata, remanet tamen fomes peccati nos impugnans interius, et 
mundus et daemones qui impugnant exterius." P. 3, q. 39, a. 5. 

* "Qui certat in agone, non coronatur, nisi legitime certaverit." 
2 Tim. ii. 5. 

Prayer is a Means Necessary to Salvation. 2 7 

enemies : now this assistance is only granted to prayer; 
therefore without prayer there is no salvation. 

Moreover, that prayer is the only ordinary means of 
receiving the divine gifts is more distinctly proved by 
St. Thomas in another place, where he says, that what 
ever graces God has from all eternity determined to give 
us, he will only give them if we pray for them. St. 
Gregory says the same thing: " Man by prayer merits to 
receive that which God had from all eternity determined 
to give him," 1 Not, says St. Thomas, that prayer is 
necessary in order that God may know our necessities, 
but in order that we may knbw the necessity of hav 
ing recourse to God to obtain the help necessary for our 
salvation, and may thus acknowledge him to be the 
author of all our good. 2 As, therefore, it is God s law 
that we should provide ourselves with bread by sowing 
corn, and with wine by planting vines; so has he 
ordained that we should receive the graces necessary to 
salvation by means of prayer: Ask, and it shall be given 
you; seek, and ye shall find* 

We, in a word, are merely beggars, who have nothing 
but what God bestows on us as alms: But I am a beggar 
and poor? The Lord, says St. Augustine, desires and 
wills to pour forth his graces upon us, but will not give 
them except to him who prays. " God wishes to give, 
but only gives to him who asks." 5 This is declared in 
the words, Seek, and it shall be given to you. Whence it fol 
lows, says St. Teresa, that he who seeks not, does not re 
ceive. As moisture is necessary for the life of plants, to 

1 "Homines postulando merentur accipere quod eis Deus ante 
saecula disposuit donare." Dial. I. I, c, 8. 

2 " Sed ut nos consideremus in his ad divinum auxilium esse recur- 
rendum, . . . et recognoscamus eum esse bonorum nostrorum auc- 
torem." Lococit. ad i. et 2. 

3 "Petite, et dabitur vobis; quserite et invenietis." Matt. vii. 7. 

4 " Ego autem mendicus sum et pauper." Ps. xxxix. 18. 

5 " Deus dare vult, sed non dat nisi petenti." /;/ Ps. 102. 

28 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

prevent them from drying up, so, says St. Chrysostom, 
is prayer necessary for our salvation. Or, as he says in 
another place, prayer vivifies the soul, as the soul vivi 
fies the body: "As the body without the soul cannot 
live, so the soul without prayer is dead and emits an 
offensive odor." 1 He uses these words, because the man 
who omits to recommend himself to God, at once begins 
to be defiled with sins. Prayer is also called the food 
of the soul, because the body cannot be supported with 
out food; nor can the soul, says St. Augustine, be kept 
alive without prayer: "As the flesh is nourished by food, 
so is man supported by prayers." 2 All these compari 
sons used by the holy Fathers are intended by them to 
teach the absolute necessity of prayer for the salvation 
of every one. 


Without Prayer it is Impossible to Resist Temptations and 
to Keep the Commandments. 

Moreover, prayer is the most necessary weapon of de 
fence against ourenemies; he who does not avail himself 
of it, says St. Thomas, is lost. He does not doubt that 
the reason of Adam s fall was, because he did not recom 
mend himself to God when he was tempted : " He sinned 
because he had not recourse to the divine assistance." 
St. Gelasius says the same of the rebel angels: " Receiv 
ing the grace of God in vain, they could not persevere, 
because they did not pray. M St. Charles Borromeo, in 

1 " Sicut corpus sine anima non potest vivere, sic anima sine 
oratione mortua est et graviter olens." DC or. D. 1. i. 

2 " Sicut escis alitur caro, itaorationibus homo interior nutritur." 
Dt sal. Doc. c. 28. 

3 "(Peccavit) quia ad divinum auxilium recursum non habuit."- 
P. i, q. 94, a. 4. 

4 " Dei gratiam in vacuum recipientes, non orando constare ne- 
quiverunt." Tr. adv.pelag. hccr. 

Temptations Resisted only by Prayer. 29 

a pastoral letter, observes, that among all the means of 
salvation recommended by Jesus Christ in the Gospel, 
the first place is given to prayer; and he has determined 
that this should distinguish his Church from all false 
religions, when he calls her "the house of prayer:" My 
house is a house of prayer? St. Charles concludes that 
prayer is "the beginning and progress, and the com 
pletion of all virtues." 2 So that in darkness, distress, 
and danger, we have no other hope than to raise our eyes 
to God, and with fervent prayers to beseech his mercy 
to save us: As we know not, said king Josaphat, what to do, 
we can only turn our eyes to Thee* This also was David s 
practice, who could find no other means of safety from 
his enemies, than continual prayer to God to deliver him 
from their snares: My eyes are ever towards the Lord; for 
He shall pluck my feet out of the snare? So he did nothing 
but pray: Look Thou upon me, and have mercy on me; for I 
am alone and poor. I cried unto Thee, O Lord; save me that 
I may keep Thy commandments? Lord, turn Thine eyes to 
me, have pity on me, and save me ; for I can do nothing, 
and beside Thee there is none that can help me. 

And, indeed how could we ever resist our enemies 
and observe God s precepts, especially since Adam s sin, 
which has rendered us so weak and infirm, unless we 
had prayer as a means whereby we can obtain from God 
sufficient light and strength to enable us to observe them ? 
It was a blasphemy of Luther s to say, that after the sin 

1 " Domus mea, Domus orationis vocabitur." Matt. xxi. 13. 

2 " Principium, progressus, et complementum est omnium virtu- 
turn." Lift. past, de or. in covim. 

8 " Sed cum ignoremus quid agere debeamus, hoc solum habemus 
residui, ut oculos nostros dirigamus ad te." 2 Par. xx. 12. 

4 " Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quoniam ipse evellet de laqueo 
pedes meos." Ps. xxiv. 16. 

6 " Respice in me et miserere mei; quia unicus et pauper sum 
ego." Ibid. 15. "Clamavi ad te, salvum me fac, ut custodiam 
mandata tua." Ps. cxviii. 146. 

30 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

of Adam the observance of God s law has become abso 
lutely impossible to man. Jansenius also said that there 
are some precepts which are impossible even to the just, 
with the power which they actually have, and so far his 
proposition bears a good sense; but it was justly con 
demned by the Church for the addition he made to it, 
when he said that they have not the grace to make the 
precepts possible. 1 It is true, says St. Augustine, that 
man, in consequence of his weakness, is unable to fulfil 
some of God s commands with his present strength and 
the ordinary grace given to all men; but he can easily, 
by prayer, obtain such further aid as he requires for his 
salvation : " God commands not impossibilities, but by 
commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to 
ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, 
that you may be able." 2 This is a celebrated text, 
which was afterwards adopted and made a doctrine of 
faith by the Council of Trent. 3 The holy Doctor im 
mediately adds, " Let us see whence ?" (i. e., how man is 
enabled to do that which he cannot). " By medicine he 
can do that which his natural weakness renders impos 
sible to him." 4 That is, by prayer we may obtain a 
remedy for our weakness; for when we pray, God gives 
us strength to do that which we cannot do of ourselves. 
We cannot believe, continues St. Augustine, that God 
would have imposed on us the observance of a law, and 
then made the law impossible. When, therefore, God 
shows us that of ourselves we are unable to observe all 
his commands it is simply to admonish us to do the 
easier things by means of the ordinary grace which he 

1 Deest quoque gratia, qua possibilia fiant. 

2 Deus impossibilia non jubet; sed jubendo monet, et facere quod 
possis, et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis. 

3 Sess. 6, c. ii. 

4 " Videamus unde possit, unde non possit . . . medicina poteiit, 
quod vitio non potest" DC. Natiira et gr. c. 43. 

Temptations Resisted only by Prayer. 3 1 

bestows on us, and then to do the more difficult things 
by means of the greater help which we can obtain by 
prayer. " By the very fact that it is absurd to suppose 
that God could have commanded us to do impossible 
things, we are admonished what to do in easy matters, 
and what to ask for in difficulties." But why, it will be 
asked, has God commanded us to do things impossible 
to our natural strength ? Precisely for this, says St. Au 
gustine, that we may be incited to pray for help to do 
that which of ourselves we cannot do. " He commands 
some things which we cannot- t do, that we may know 
what we ought to ask of him." 2 And in another place: 
" The law was given, that grace might be sought for ; 
grace was given that the law might be fulfilled." 3 The 
law cannot be kept without grace, and God has given 
the law with this object, that we may always ask him 
for grace to observe it. In another place he says : " The 
law is good, if it be used lawfully ; what then, is the law 
ful use of the law?" He answers : "When by the law 
we perceive our own weakness, and ask of God the grace 
to heal us." St. Augustine then says: We ought to use 
the law; but for what purpose ? to learn by means of the 
law, which we find to be above our strength, our own 
inability to observe it, in order that we may then obtain 
by prayer the divine aid to cure our weakness. 

St. Bernard s teaching is the same: "What are we, or 
what is our strength, that we should be able to resist so 

1 " Eo ipso quo firmissime creditur Deum justum et bonum impos- 
sibilia non potuisse praecipere, hinc admonemur, et in facihbus quid 
agamus, et in difficilibus quid petamus." De Nat. et Gr. c. 69. 

2 " Ideo jubet aliqua quae non possumus, ut noverimus quid ab illo 
petere debeamus." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 16. 

3 " Lex data est ut gratia qusereretur ; gratia data est ut lex im- 
pleretur." De Spir. et Lift. c. 19. 

4 " Bona est lex, si quis ea legitime utatur; quid est ergo legitimeuti 
lege ? per legem agnoscere morbum suum, et quaerere ad sanitatem 
divinmn adjutorium." Serm. 156, Ed. B<,n. 

3 2 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

many temptations ? This certainly it was that God in 
tended; that we, seeing our deficiencies, and that we have 
no other help, should with all humility have recourse to 
his mercy." 1 God knows how useful it is to us to be 
obliged to pray, in order to keep us humble, and to ex 
ercise our confidence; and he therefore permits us to be 
assaulted by enemies too mighty to be overcome by our 
own strength, that by prayer we may obtain from his 
mercy aid to resist them; and it is especially to be re 
marked, that no one can resist the impure temptations 
of the flesh, without recommendinghimself to God when 
he is tempted. This foe is so terrible that, when he 
fights with us, he, as it were, takes away all light ; he 
makes us forget all our meditations, all our good resolu 
tions ; he makes us also disregard the truths of faith, 
and even almost lose the fear of the divine punishments. 
For he conspires with our natural inclinations, which 
drive us with the greatest violence to the indulgence of 
sensual pleasures. He who in such a moment does not 
have recourse to God is lost. The only defence against 
this temptation is prayer, as St. Gregory of Nyssa says : 
"Prayer is the bulwark of chastity;" 2 and before him 
Solomon: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be con 
tinent except God gave it, I went to the Lord and besought 
Him? Chastity is a virtue which we have not strength 
to practise, unless God gives it us ; and God does not 
give this strength except to him who asks for it. But 
whoever prays for it will certainly obtain it. 

Hence St. Thomas observes (in contradiction to Jan- 

1 " Qui sumus nos, aut quse fortitude nostra, ut tarn rr.ultis tenta- 
tionibus resistere valeamus ? Hoc erat certe quod quaerebat Deus, 
ut, videntes defectum nostrum, et quod non est nobis auxilium aliud, 
ad ejus misericordiam tola humilitate curramus." In Quad. s. 5. 

2 " Oratio pudicitiae presidium est." De Or. Dom. i. 

3 " Et ut scivi quoniam aliter non possem esse continens, nisi Deus 
del, . . . adii Dominum, et deprecatus sum ilium." Wisd. viii. 21. 

Temptations Resisted only by Prayer. 33 

senius), that we ought not to say that the precept of chas 
tity, or any other, is impossible to us ; for though we can 
not observe it by our own strength, we can by God s as 
sistance. " We must say, that what we can do with the 
divine assistance is not altogether impossible to us." 1 
Nor let it be said that it appears an injustice to order a 
cripple to walk straight. No, says St. Augustine, it is 
not an injustice, provided always means are given him to 
find the remedy for his lameness ; for after this, if he 
continues to go crooked, the fault is his own. " It is 
most wisely commanded that man should walk uprightly, 
so that when he sees that he cannot do so of himself, he 
may seek a remedy to heal the lameness of sin." 2 
Finally, the same holy Doctor says, that he will never 
know how to live well who does not know how to pray 
well. "He knows how to live aright who knows how to 
pray aright;" 3 and, on the other hand, St. Francis of 
Assisi says, that without prayer you can never hope to 
find good fruit in a soul. 

Wrongly, therefore, do those sinners excuse themselves 
who say that they have no strength to resist tempta 
tion. But if you have not this strength, why do you not 
ask for it? is the reproof which St. James gives them: 
You have it not, because you ask it not." There is no doubt 
that we are too weak to resist the attacks of our enemies. 
But, on the other hand, it is certain that God is faithful, 
as the Apostle says, and will not permit us to be tempted 
beyond our strength: God is faithful, who will not suffer 
you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make 

1 " Dicendum quod illud quod possumus cum auxilio divino, non 
est nobis omnino impossible." I. 2. q. 109, a. 4. 

2 " Consultissime homim prsecipi, ut rectis passibus ambulet, ut, 
cum se non posse perspexerit, medicinam requirat ad sanandam pec- 
cati claudicationem." De Perf. Just. horn. c. 3. 

3 " Novit recte vivere, qui recte novit orare." Serm. 55, E. B. app. 

4 " Non habetis, propter quod non postulatis." James, iv. 2. 

34 The Necessity of Prayer. [PARTI. 

also with the temptation issue, that ye may be able to bear if. 1 
" He will provide an issue for it," says Primasius, " by 
the protection of his grace, that you may be able to with 
stand the temptation." 2 We are weak, but God is strong; 
when we ask him for aid, he communicates his strength 
to us; and we shall be able to do all things, as the Apos 
tle reasonably assured himself: I can do all things in Him 
who strengtheneth me. 3 He, therefore, who falls has no ex 
cuse (says St. Chry sos torn), because he has neglected to 
pray; for if he had prayed, he would not have been over 
come by his enemies. " Nor can any one be excused 
who, by ceasing to pray, has shown that he did not wish 
to overcome his enemy." 4 

Invocation of the Saints. 


Here a question arises, whether it is necessary to have 
recourse also to the intercession of the saints to obtain 
the grace of God. 

That it is a lawful and useful thing to invoke the 
saints, as intercessors, to obtain for us, by the merits of 
Jesus Christ, that which we, by our demerits, are not 
worthy to receive, is a doctrine of the Church, declared 
by the Council of Trent. " It is good and useful to in 
voke them by supplication, and to fly to their aid and as- 

" Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id 
quod potestis, sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum ut possitis 
sustinere." I Cor. x. 13. 

2 Illud faciet provenire (gratiae praesidio), quo possitis (tenta- 
tionem) sustinere. 

" Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat." Phil. iv. 13. 
4 " Nee quisquam poterit excusari, qui hostem vincere noluit, dum 
ab orando cessavit." Seitn. de Moyse. 

Invocation of the Saints. 35 

sistance to obtain benefits from God through his Son 
Jesus Christ." 1 

Such invocation was condemned by the impious Cal 
vin, but most illogically. For if it is lawful and profit 
able to invoke living saints to aid us, and to beseech 
them to assist us in prayers, as the Prophet Baruch did: 
And pray ye for us to the Lord our God* and St. Paul: 
Brethren, pray for us? and as God himself commanded 
the friends of Job to recommend themselves to his pray 
ers, that by the merits of Job he might look favorably on 
them: Goto my servant Job, . . . \ and my servant fob shall 
pray for you; his face I will accept? if, then, itis lawful to 
recommend ourselves to the living, how can it be unlaw 
ful to invoke the saints who in heaven enjoy God face to 
face? This is not derogatory to the honor due to God, 
but it is doubling it; for it is honoring the king not only 
in his person but in his servants. Therefore, says St. 
Thomas, it is good to have recourse to many saints, " be 
cause by the prayers of many we can sometimes obtain 
that which we cannot by the prayers of one." 5 And if 
any one object. But why have recourse to the saints to 
pray for us, when they are already praying for all who 
are worthy of it ? The same Doctor answers, that no one 
can be said to be worthy that the saints should pray for 
him ; but that "he becomes worthy by having recourse 
to the saint with devotion." 

1 " Bonum atque utile est suppliciter eos invocare, et ob beneficia 
impetranda a Deo per Filium ejus Jesum Christum ad eorum ora- 
tiones, opem, auxiliumque, confugere." Sess. 25, De inv. Sanct. 

2 "Et pro nobis ipsis orate ad Dominum Deum nostrum." Bar. 
i. 13- 

3 " Fratres, orate pro nobis." I Thess. v. 25. 

4 " Ite ad servum meum Job; . . . Job autem servus meus orabit 
pro vobis; faciem ejus suscipiam." Job, xlii. 8, 

6 Quia plurium orationibus quandoque impetratur, quod unius ora- 
tione non impetraretur. 

6 " Ex hoc fit dignus, quod ad ipsum (sanctum) cum devotione re- 
currit." In 4, Sent. dist. 45, q. 3, a. 2 

36 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 


Again, it is disputed whether there is any use in re 
commending one s self to the souls in purgatory. Some 
say that the souls in that state cannot pray for us; and 
these rely on the authority of St. Thomas, who says that 
those souls, while they are being purified by pain, are in 
ferior to us, and therefore " are not in a state to pray for 
us, but rather require our prayers." But many other 
Doctors, as Bellarmine, 2 Sylvius, 3 Cardinal Gotti, 4 Les- 
sius, 6 Medina and others, affirm with great probability, 
that we should piously believe that God manifests our 
prayer to those holy souls, in order that they may pray 
for us; and that so the charitable interchange of mutual 
prayer may be kept up between them and us. Nor do 
St. Thomas s words present much difficulty; for, as Syl 
vius and Gotti say, it is one thing not to be in a state to 
pray, another not to be able to pray. It is true that those 
souls are not in a state to pray, because, as St. Thomas 
says, while suffering they are inferior to us, and rather 
require our prayers; nevertheless, in this state they are 
well able to pray, as they are friends of God. If a father 
keeps a son whom he tenderly loves in confinement for 
some fault ; if the son then is not in a state to pray for 
himself, is that any reason why he cannot pray for others ? 
and may he not expect to obtain what he asks, knowing, 
as he does, his father s affection for him ? So the souls 
in purgatory, being beloved by God, and confirmed in 
grace, have absolutely no impediment to prevent them 

1 " Non sunt in statu orandi, sed magis ut oreturpro eis." 2. 2. q. 
83, a. ii. 

5 De Purg. 1. 2, c. 15. 
3 In Suppl. q. 71, a. 6. 
*De St. an. p. vit. q. 4, d. 2. 
5 De Just. 1. 2, c. 37, d. 5. 

Invocation of the Saints. 37 

from praying for us. Still the Church does not invoke 
them, or implore their intercession, because ordinarily 
they have no cognisance of our prayers. But we may 
piously believe that God makes our prayers known to 
them ; and then they, full of charity as they are, most 
assuredly do not omit to pray for us. St. Catharine of 
Bologna, whenever she desired any favor, had recourse 
to the souls in purgatory, and was immediately heard. 
She even testified that by the intercession of the souls in 
purgatory she had obtained many graces which she had 
not been able to obtain by the intercession of the saints. 


But here let me make a digression in favor of those 
holy souls. If we desire the aid of their prayers, it is 
but fair that we should mind to aid them with our 
prayers and good works. I said it is fair, but I should 
have said it is a Christian duty; for charity obliges us to 
succor our neighbor when he requires our aid, and we 
can help him without grievous inconvenience. Now it 
is certain that amongst our neighbors are to be reckoned 
the souls in purgatory, who, although no longer living in 
this world, yet have not left the communion of saints. 
"The souls of the pious dead," says St. Augustine, are 
not separated from the Church," 1 and St. Thomas says 
more to our purpose, that the charity which is due to 
the dead who died in the grace of God is only an exten 
sion of the same charity which we owe to our neighbor 
while living: "Charity, which is the bond which unites 
the members of the Church, extends not only to the 
living, but also to the dead who die in charity." 2 There- 

1 "Piorum animae mortuorum non separantur ab Ecclesia." De 
Cimtate Dei, 1. 20, c. 9. 

2 " Charitas quse est vinculum uniens membra Ecclesiae, non solum 
ad vivos se extendit, sed etiam ad mortuos qui in charitate decedunt. 
In 4. Sent. d. 45. q. 2. s. 2. 

38 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

fore, we ought to succor, according to our ability, those 
holy souls as our neighbors; and as their necessities are 
greater than those of our other neighbors, for this reason 
our duty to succor them seems also to be greater. 

But now, what are the necessities of those holy pris 
oners ? It is certain that their pains are immense. The 
fire that tortures them, says St. Augustine, is more 
excruciating than any pain that man can endure in this 
life: "That fire will be more painful than anything that 
man can suffer in this life." St. Thomas thinks the 
same, and supposes it to be identical with the fire of hell: 
"The damned are tormented and the elect purified in 
the same fire." 2 And this only relates to the pains of 
sense. But the pain of loss (that is, the privation of the 
sight of God), which those holy souls suffer, is much 
greater; because not only {.heir natural affection, but also 
the supernatural love of God, wherewith they burn, draws 
them with such violence to be united with their Sovereign 
Good, that when they see the barrier which their sins 
have put in the way, they feel a pain so acute, that if 
they were capable of death, they could not live a mo 
ment. So that, as St. Chrysostom says, this pain of the 
deprivation of God tortures them incomparably more 
than the pain of sense: "The flames of a thousand hells 
together could not inflict such torments as the pain 
of loss by itself." : So that those holy souls would 
rather suffer every other possible torture than be de 
prived for a single instant of the union with God for 
which they long. So St. Thomas says, that the pain of 
purgatory exceeds anything that can be endured in this 

1 " Gravior erit ille ignis, quam quidquid potest homo pati in hac 
vita." hi Ps. 37. 

2 " Sub eodem igne, peccator crematur, et electus purgatur." In 
4. Sent. d. 21. q. I. a. I. 

3 Mille inferni ignes simul uniti non darent tantam poenam, quanta 
cst sola poena damni. 

Invocation of the Saints. 39 

life: " The pain of purgatory must exceed all pain of 
this life." 1 And Dionysius the Carthusian relates, that 
a dead person, who had been raised to life by the inter 
cession of St. Jerome, told St. Cyril of Jerusalem that all 
the torments of this earth are refreshing and delightful 
when compared with the very least pain of purgatory: 
" If all the torments of the world were compared with 
the least that can be had in purgatory they would appear. 
comfortable." 2 And he adds, that if a man had once 
tried those torments, he wou|,d rather suffer all the 
earthly sorrows that man can endure till the Day of 
Judgment, than suffer for one day the least pain of pur 
gatory. Hence St. Cyril wrote to St. Augustine: "That 
as far as regards the infliction of suffering, these pains 
are the same as those of hell their only difference being 
that they are not eternal." : Hence we see that the 
pains of these holy souls are excessive, while, on the 
other hand, they cannot help themselves; because as Job 
says: they are in chains, and are bound with the cords of 
poverty? They are destined to reign with Christ; but 
they are withheld from taking possession of their king 
dom till the time of their purgation is accomplished. 
And they cannot help themselves (at least not sufficiently, 
even according to those theologians who assert that they 
can by their prayers gain some relief,) to throw off their 
chains, until they have entirely satisfied the justice of 
God. This is precisely what a Cistercian monk said to 
the sacristan of his monastery: " Help me, I beseech you, 
with your prayers; for of myself I can obtain nothing." 

" Oportet quod poena purgatorii, quantum ad poenam damni ex- 
cedat omnem poenam istius vitse." Loco cit. 

"Si omnia tormenta mundi minori, quse in purgatorio habetur, 
poenae comparentur, solatia erunt." De Quat. Nov. a. 53. 

3 Int. Op. Aug. Ep. 19. E. B. app. 

4 "Si fuerint in catenis, et vinciantur funibus paupertatis." Job, 
xxxvi. 8. 

4O The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

And this is consistent with the saying of St. Bonaventure: 
" Destitution prevents solvency." 1 That is, those souls are 
so poor, that they have no means of making satisfaction. 
On the other hand, since it is certain, and even of 
faith, that by our suffrages, and chiefly by our prayers, 
as particularly recommended and practised by the 
Church, we can relieve those holy souls, I do not know 
how to excuse that man from sin who neglects to give 
them some assistance, at least by his prayers. If a sense 
of duty will not persuade us to succor them, let us think 
of the pleasure it will give Jesus Christ to see us endeav 
oring to deliver his beloved spouses from prison, in 
order that he may have them with him in paradise. Let 
us think of the store of merit which we can lay up by 
practising this great act of charity; let us think, too, 
that those souls are not ungrateful, and will never forget 
the great benefit we do them in relieving them of their 
pains, and in obtaining for them, by our prayers, antici 
pation of their entrance into glory; so that when they 
are there they will never neglect to pray for us. And if 
God promises mercy to him who practises mercy towards 
his neighbor Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain 
mercy 1 he may reasonably expect to be saved who re 
members to assist those souls so afflicted, and yet so 
dear to God. Jonathan, after having saved the Hebrews 
from ruin by a victory over their enemies, was con 
demned to death by his father Saul for having tasted 
some honey against his express commands; but the peo 
ple came before the king, and said, Shall Jonathan then 
die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel ? 3 So 
may we expect, that if any of us ever obtains, by his 


Mendicitas impedit solutionem." Serni. de mort. 
iati misericordes, quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur." 


* " Er^gone Jonathas morietur, qui fecit salutem hanc magnam in 
i Kings, xiv. 45. 

Invocation of the Saints. 41 

prayers, the liberation of a soul from purgatory, that 
soul will say to God: "Lord, suffer not him who has 
delivered me from my torments to be lost." And if Saul 
spared Jonathan s life at the request of his people, God 
will not refuse the salvation of a Christian to the prayers 
of a soul which is his own spouse. Moreover, St. Au 
gustine says that God will cause those who in this life 
have most succored those holy souls, when they come to 
purgatory themselves, to be most succored by others. 
I may here observe that, in practice, one of the best 
suffrages is to hear Mass for them, and during the Holy 
Sacrifice to recommend them to God by the merits and 
Passion of Jesus Christ. The following form may be 
used: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee this Sacrifice of the 
Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, with all the pains which 
he suffered in his life and death; and by his Passion I 
recommend to Thee the souls in Purgatory, and especially 
that of," etc. And it is a very charitable act to recom 
mend, at the same time, the souls of all those who are at 
the point of death. 


Whatever doubt there may be whether or not the 
souls in purgatory can pray for us, and therefore 
whether or not it is of any use to recommend ourselves 
to their prayers, there can be no doubt whatever with 
regard to the saints. For it is certain that it is most 
useful to have recourse to the intercession of the saints 
canonized by the Church, who are already enjoying the 
vision of God. To suppose that the Church can err 
in canonizing, is a sin, or is heresy, according to St. 
Bonaventure, Bellarmine, and others; or at least next 
door to heresy, according to Sua.rez, Azorius, Gotti, etc.; 
because the Sovereign Pontiff, according to St. Thomas* 

42 The Necessity of Prayer. [PARTI. 

is guided by the infallible influence of the Holy Ghost in 
an especial way when canonizing the saints. 1 

But to return to the question just proposed: are we 
obliged to have recourse to the intercession of the saints? 
I do not wish to meddle with the decision of this ques 
tion; but I cannot omit the exposition of a doctrine of 
St. Thomas. In several places above quoted, and es 
pecially in his book of Sentences, he expressly lays it 
down as certain that every one is bound to pray; because 
(as he asserts) in no other way can the graces necessary 
for salvation be obtained from God, except by prayer: 
"Every man is bound to pray, from the fact that he is 
bound to procure spiritual good for himself, which can 
only be got from God; so it can only be obtained by 
asking it of God." 5 Then, in another place of the same 
book, he proposes the exact question, "Whether we are 
bound to pray to the saints to intercede for us ?" s And 
he answers as follows in order to catch his real meaning, 
we will quote the entire passage: "According to Diony- 
sius, the order which God has instituted for his creatures 
requires that things which are remote may be brought to 
God by means of things which are nearer to him. Hence, 
as the saints in heaven are nearest of all to him, the order 
of his law requires that we who remaining in the body 
are absent from the Lord, should be brought to him by 
means of the saints; and this is effected by the divine 
goodness pouring forth his gifts through them. And as 
the path of our return to God should correspond to the 
path of the good things which proceed from him to us, it 

1 Quodl. g. a. 16. ad I. 

2 " Ad orationem quilibet tenetur, ex hoc ipso quod tenetur ad bona 
spiritualia sibi procuranda, quoe nonnisi divinitus dantur; unde alio 
modo procurari non possunt, nisi ut a Deo petantur." In 4, Sent. d. 
15. q. 4. a. i. 

3 " Utrum debeamus Sanctos orare ad interpellandum pro nobis." 
Dist. 45, q. 3, a. 2. 

Invocation of the Saints. 43 

follows that, as the benefits of God come down to us by 
means of the suffrages of the saints, we ought to be 
brought to God by the same way, so that a second time 
we may receive his benefits by the mediation of the 
saints. Hence it is that we make them our intercessors 
with God, and as it were our mediators, when we ask 
them to pray for us." Note well the words "The order 
of God s law requires;" and especially note the last words 
u As the benefits of God come down to us by means of 
the suffrages of the saints, in the same way we must be 
brought back to God so that a second time we may 
receive his benefits by the mediation of the saints." ! So 
that, according to St. Thomas, th,e order of the divine law 
requires that we mortals should be saved by means of 
the saints, in that we receive by their intercession the 
help necessary for our salvation. He then puts the 
objection, that it appears superfluous to have recourse to 
the saints, since God is infinitely more merciful than 
they, and more ready to hear us. This he answers by 
saying: "God lias so ordered, not on account of any 
want of mej cy on his part, but to keep the right order 
which he has universally established, of working by 
means of second causes. It is not for want of his mercy, 
but to preserve the aforesaid order in the creation. 2 

Inconformity with this doctrineof St. Thomas, the Con- 
tinuator of Tourneley and Sylvius writes, that although 
God only is to be prayed to as the Author of grace, yet 
we are bound to have recourse also to the intercession of 
the saints, so as to observe the order which God has 
established with regard to our salvation, which is, that 
the inferior should be saved by imploring the aid of the 

1 Hoc divinae legis ordo requirit . . . sicut mediantibus Sanctorum 
suffragiis Dei beneficia in nos deveniunt, ita oportet nos in Deum 
reduci, ut iterate beneficia ejus sumamus mediantibus Sanctis. 

2 Non est propter defectum misericordiae ipsius, sed ut ordo prae- 
dictus conservetur in rebus. 

44 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

superior. " By the law of nature we are bound to observe 
the order which God has appointed; but God has ap 
pointed that the inferior should obtain salvation by im 
ploring the assistance of his superior." 


The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin. 

And if this is true of the saints, much more is it true 
of the intercession of the Mother of God, whose prayers 
are certainly of more value in his sight than those of all 
the rest of the inhabitants of heaven together. For St. 
Thomas says, that the saints, in proportion to the merits 
by which they have obtained grace for themselves, are 
able also to save others; but that Jesus Christ, and so 
also his Mother, have merited so much grace, that 
they can save all men. " It is a great thing in any saint 
that he should have grace enough for the salvation of 
many beside himself; but if he had enough for the sal 
vation of all men, this would be the greatest of all; and 
this is the case with Christ, and with the Blessed 
Virgin," And St. Bernard speaks thus to Mary : 
" Through thee we have access to thy Son, O discoverer 
of grace and Mother of salvation, that through thee he 
may receive us, who through thee was given to us." 3 
These words signify, that as we only have access to the 
Father by means of the Son, who is the Mediator of 

1 " Quia lege naturali tenemur eum ordinem observare, quem Deus 
instituit; at constituit Deus ut inferiores ad salutem perveniant, 
implorato superiorum subsidio." De Relig. p. 2, c. 2, a. 5. 

2 " Magnum est enim in quolibet sancto, quando habet tantum de 
gratia quod sufficit ad salutem multorum; sed, quando haberet tan 
tum quod sufficeret ad salutem omnium, hoc esset maximum, et hoc 
est in Christo et in Beata Virgine." Expos, in Sal. Aug. 

" Per te accessum habeamus ad Filium, o Inventrix gratiae, 
Mater salutis, ut per te nos suscipiat, qui per te datus est nobis !" 
In Adv. Dom. s. 2, 

The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin. 45 

justice, so we only have access to the Son by means of 
the Mother, who is mediator of grace, and who obtains 
for us, by her intercession, the gifts which Jesus Christ 
has merited for us. And therefore St. Bernard says, in 
another place, that Mary has received a twofold fulness 
of grace. The first was the Incarnation of the Word, 
who was made Man in her most holy womb; the second 
is that fulness of grace which we receive from God by 
means of her prayers. Hence the saint adds: " God has 
placed the fulness of all good in Mary, that if we have 
any hope, any grace, any salvation, we may know that it 
overflows from her who ascendeth abounding with de 
lights. " 1 She is a garden of, delights, whose odors 
spread abroad and abound; that is, the gifts of graces. 
So that whatever good we have from God, we receive all 
by the intercession of Mary. And why so? Because, 
says St. Bernard, it is God s will: " Such is his will, who 
would have us receive everything through Mary." 2 But 
the more precise reason is deduced from the expression 
of St. Augustine, that Mary is justly called our Mother, 
because she co-operated by her charity in the birth of 
the faithful to the life of grace, by which we become 
members of Jesus Christ, our head: " But clearly she is 
the mother of his members (which we are); because she 
co-operated by her charity in the birth of the faithful in 
the Church, and they are members of that Head." a 
Therefore, as Mary co-operated by her charity in the 
spiritual birth of the faithful, so also God willed that she 

1 " Totius boni plenitudinem posuit (Deus) in Maria, ut proinde, si 
quid spei in nobis est, si quid gratise, si quid salutis, ab ea noverimus 
redundare, quae ascendit deliciis affluens: hortus deliciarum, ut un- 
dique fluant et effluant aromata ejus, charismata scilicet gratiarum." 
De Aquccd. 

" Sic est voluntas ejus, qui totum nos habere voluit per Mariam." 

3 " Sed plane Mater membrorum ejus, quod nos sumus; quia co- 
operata est charitate, ut fideles in Ecclesia nascerentur, qui illius 
capitis membra sunt." De S. Virginit. c. 6. 

46 The Necessity of Prayer. [PART i. 

should co-operate by her intercession to make them en 
joy the life of grace in this world, and the life of glory 
in the next; and therefore the Church makes us call her 
and salute her, without any circumlocution, by the names, 
" our life, our sweetness, and our hope." 

Hence St. Bernard exhorts us to have continual re 
course to the Mother of God ; because her prayers are cer 
tain to be heard by her Son: " Go to Mary, I say, without 
hesitation; the Son will hear the Mother." And then he 
says: "My children, she is the ladder of sinners, she is 
my chief confidence, she is the whole ground of my 
hope." 2 He calls her " ladder," because, as you cannot 
mount the third step except you first put your foot on the 
second, nor can you arrive at the second except by the 
first, so you cannot come to God except by means of 
Jesus Christ, nor can you come to Christ except by means 
of his Mother. Then he calls her " his greatest security, 
and the whole ground of his hope;" because, as he 
affirms, God wills that all the graces which he gives us 
should pass through the hands of Mary. And he con 
cludes by saying, that we ought to ask all the graces 
which we desire through Mary; because she obtains what 
ever she seeks, and her prayers cannot be rejected. " Let 
us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary; because 
what she seeks she finds, and she cannot be disap 
pointed." 1 The following saints teach the same as St. 
Bernard: St. Ephrem, "We have no other confidence 
than from thee, O purest Virgin!" 4 St. Ildephonsus, 
" All the good things that the divine Majesty has de- 

1 "Vita, Dulcedo, et Spes nostra ! salve." 

2 " Ad Mariam recurre; non dubius dixerim, exaudiet utique 
Matrem Filius. Filioli, haec peccatorum scala, haec mea maxima 
fiducia est, hsec tota ratio spei mese." De Aqitccd. 

3 "Quseramus gratiam, et per Mariam quaeramus; quia, quod 
quserit, invenit, et frustrari non potest." 

4 " Nobis non est alia quam a te fiducia, o Virgo sincerissima !" 
De Laud. B. M. V. 

77/6- Intercession of the Blessed Virgin. 4^ 

termined to give them, he has determined to commit to 
thy hands; for to thee are intrusted the treasures and the 
wardrobes of grace." 1 St Germanus, " If thou desertest 
us, what will become of us, O life of Christians?" 3 St. 
Peter Damian, " In thy hands are all the treasures of the 
mercies of God." 3 St. Antoninus, " Who seeks without 
her aid, attempts to fly without wings." St. Bernard- 
ine of Sienna, "Thou art the dispenser of all graces; our 
salvation is in thy hands." ! In another place, he not 
only says that all graces are transmitted to us by means 
of Mary, but he also asserts that the Blessed Virgin, 
from the time she became Mother of God, acquired a 
certain jurisdiction over all the graces that are given to 
us. " Through the Virgin the vital graces are transfused 
from Christ, the Head, into his mystical body." * From 
the time when the Virgin Mother conceived in her 
womb the Word of God, she obtained a certain jurisdic 
tion (if I may so speak) over every temporal procession 
of the Holy Ghost ; so that no creature could obtain any 
grace from God, except by the dispensation of his sweet 
Mother." And he concludes, "Therefore all gifts, vir- 

1 " Omnia bona quae illic summa Majestas decrevit facere, tuis 
manibus voluit commendare; commissi quippe sunt tibi thesauri . . . 
et ornamenta gratiarum." De Cor. Virg. c. 15. 

2 "Si nos deserueris, quid de nobis fiet, O Vita christianorum !"- 
De zona Deip. 

3 " In manibus tuis sunt thesauri miserationum Domini." De 
Nativ. s. i. 

4 " Qui petit sine ipsa duce, sine alis tentat volare." P. 4, tit. 15, 
c. 22. 

5 " Tu dispensatrix omnium gratiarum; salus nostra in manu tua 

6 " Per Virginem a Capite Christo vitales gratiae in ejus corpus mys- 
ticum transfunduntur." 

7 "A tempore quo Virgo Mater concepit in utero Verbum Dei, 
quamdam, ut sic dicam, jurisdictionem obtinuit in omni Spiritus 
Sancti processione temporali; ita quod nulla creatura a Deo obtinuit 
gratiam, nisi secundum ipsius pise Matris dispensationem." 

48 The Necessity of Prayer. [PARTI. 

tues, and graces are dispensed through her hands to 
whom she wills, and as she wills." : St. Bonaventure 
says the same: Since the whole divine nature was in 
the womb of the Virgin, I do not fear to teach that she 
has a certain jurisdiction over all the streams of grace; 
as her womb was, as it were, an ocean of the divine 
nature, whence all the streams of grace must emanate," 2 
On the authority of these saints, many theologians have 
piously and reasonably defended the opinion, that there 
is no grace given to us except by means of the interces 
sion of Mary; so Mendoza, Vega, Paciucchelli, Segneri, 
Poire, Crasset, and others, as also the learned Alexander 
Natalis who says: "It is God s will that we should look 
to him for all good things, to be procured by the most 
powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin, when we in 
voke her, as it is fit." ; And he quotes in confirmation 
the passage of St. Bernard: "Such is his will, who has 
determined that we should receive all through Mary." * 
Contenson says the same, in a comment on the words 
addressed by Jesus on the cross to St. John, "Behold thy 
Mother:" As though he had said, "No one shall be par 
taker of my blood except by the intercession of my 
Mother. 5 My wounds are fountains of grace; but their 
streams shall flow to no one, except through the canal of 
Mary. O my disciple J r hn, I will love you as you love 

1 " Ideo omniadona, virtutes et gratiae, quibus vult, per ipsius manus 
dispensantur." S. d. Nat. M. V. c. 8. 

2 "Cum tola natura divina intra Virginis uterum extiterit, non 
timeo dicere quod in omnes gratiarum effluxus quandam jurisdicti- 
onem habuerit haec Virgo, de cujus utero, quasi de quodam divinitatis 
oceano, flumina emanant omnium gratiarum." 

3 " Deus vult ut omnia bona ab ipso expectemus, potentissima 
Virginis Matris intercessione, cum earn, ut par est, invocamus, im- 
petranda." Ep.$o, in calce Theol. 

4 "Sic est voluntas ejus, qui totum noshabere voluit per Mariam."- 
De A quad. 

5 " Ecce Mater tua." John. xix. 27. 

The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin. 49 

her I" 1 For the rest, it is certain, that if God is pleased 
when we have recourse to the saints, he will be much 
more pleased when we avail ourselves of the intercession 
of Mary, that she, by her merits, may compensate for our 
un worthiness, according to the words of St. Anselm: 
" That the dignity of the intercessor may supply for our 
poverty. So that, to invoke the Virgin, is not to distrust 
God s mercy, but to fear our own unworthiness." 2 St. 
Thomas, speaking of her dignity, calls it, as it were, in 
finite: "From the fact that she is the Mother of God, 
she has a certain infinite dignity." 3 So that it may be 
said with reason, that the prayers of Mary have more 
power with God than those of all heaven together. 


Let us conclude this first point by giving the gist of 
all that has been said hitherto. He who prays is cer 
tainly saved. He who prays not is certainly damned. 
All the blessed (except infants) have been saved by 
prayer. All the damned have been lost through not 
praying; if they had prayed, they would not have been 
lost. And this is, and will be, their greatest torment in 
hell, to think how easily they might have been saved, 
only by asking God for his grace; but that now it is too 
late, the time of prayer is over. 

1 "Quasi diceret: Nullus sanguinis illius particeps erit, nisi inter- 
cessione Matris mese. Vulnera gratiarum fontes sunt; sed ad nullos 
derivabuntur rivi, nisi per Marianum canalem. Joannes discipule, 
tantum a me amaberis, quantum earn amaveris." Theol. ment. et 
cord. t. 2, 1. 10, d. 4, c. I. 

2 " Ut dignitas intercessoris suppleat inopiam nostram. Unde, 
Virginem interpellate non est de divina misericordia diffidere, sed de 
propria indignitate ttmere." De incarn. q. 37, a. 4, d. 23, s. 3. 

3 " Ex hoc quod est Mater Dei, habet quandam dignitatem infi- 
nitam." P. I, q. 25, a. 6. ad 4. 

50 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 


Excellence of Prayer and its Power with God. 

OUR prayers are so dear to God, that he has appointed 
the angels to present them to him as soon as they come 
forth from our mouths. "The angels," says St. Hilary, 
" preside over the prayers of the faithful, and offer them 
daily to God." This is that smoke of the incense, which 
are the prayers of saints, which St. John saw ascending 
to God from the hands of the angels; 2 and which he saw 
in another place represented by golden phials full of 
sweet odors, very acceptable to God. But in order to 
understand better the value of prayers in God s sight, it 
is sufficient to read both in the Old and New Testaments 
the innumerable promises which God makes to the man 
that prays. Cry to Me, and I will hear thee? Call tip on 
Me, and I will deliver thee* Ask, and it shall be given you; 
seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 
He shall give good things to them th-at ask Him? Everyone 
that asketh receive th, and he that seeketh findeth? Whatso- 

1 " Angeli praesunt fidelium orationibus, et eas quotidie Deo offe- 
runt." In Matt. Can. 18. 

2 Apoc. viii. 3. 

a " Invoca me in die tribulationis; eruam te." Ps. xlix. 15. 

4 " Clama ad me, et exaudiam te."Jer. xxxiii. 3. 

6 "Petite, et dabitur vobis; quaerite, et invenietis; pulsate, et aperi 
ctur vobis . . . Pater vester, qui in coelis est, dabit bona petentibus 
se." Matt. vii. 7. 

6 " Omnis qui petit, accipit." Luke, xi. 10. 

Excellence of Prayer and its Power with God. 5 1 

ever they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father? 
All things whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you 
shall receive them, and they shall come unto you? If you ask 
Me anything in My name, that will I do? You shall ask 
whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. Amen, amen, 
I say unto you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, 
He will give it you.* There are a thousand similar texts; 
but it would take too long to quote them. 

God wills us to be saved; but for our greater good, he 
wills us to be saved as conquerors. While, therefore, we 
remain here, we have to live in a continual warfare; and 
if we should be saved, we have to fight and conquer. 
" No can be crowned without victor) ," says St. 
Chrysostom. 5 We are very feeble, and our enemies are 
many and mighty; how shall we be able to stand against 
them, or to defeat them ? Let us take courage, and say 
with the Apostle, I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth 
me. 6 By prayer we can do all things; for by this means 
God will give us that strength which we want. Theo- 
doret says, that prayer is omnipotent; it is but one, yet 
it can do all things: "Though prayer is one, it can do all 
things." And St. Bonaventure asserts that by prayer 
we obtain every good, and escape every evil: " By it is 
obtained the gain of every good, and liberation from every 
evil." St. Laurence Justinian says, that by means of 

1 " Quodcumque volueritis, petetis, et fiet vobis." John, xv. 7. 

2 " De omni re, quamcumque petierint, fiet illis a Patre meo." 
Matt, xviii. 19. 

3 " Omnia qusecumque orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et 
evenient vobis." Mark xi. 24. 

4 "Si quid petierhis me in nomine meo, hoc faciam. Amen, amen, 
dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis." 
John, xiv. 14. xvi. 23. 

5 " Nullus sine victoria poterit coronari." De Marl, s. i. 

6 "Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat." Phil. iv. 13. 

7 " Oratio, cum sit una, omnia potest." Ap. Rodrig. p. i, tr. 5, c. 14. 

8 " Per ipsam impetratur obtentio omnis boni et amotio omnis 
mail." In Luc. II. 

5 2 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 

prayer we build for ourselves a strong tower, where we 
shall be secure from all the snares and assaults of our 
enemies: " By the exercise of prayer man is able to erect 
a citadel for himself." * u The powers of hell are mighty," 
says St. Bernard; " but prayer is stronger than all the 
devils. " * Yes; for by prayer the soul obtains God s help, 
which is stronger than any created power. Thus David 
encouraged himself in his alarms: Praising I will call 
upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies? For, 
as St. Chrysostom says, "prayer is a strong weapon, a 
defence, a port, and a treasure." 4 It is a weapon suffi 
cient to overcome every assault of the devil; it is a 
defence to preserve us in every danger; it is a port 
where we may be safe in every tempest; and it is at the 
same time a treasure which provides us with every good. 

Power of Prayer against Temptation. 

God knows the great good which it does us to be 
obliged to pray, and therefore permits us (as we have 
already shown in the previous chapter) to be assaulted 
by our enemies, in order that we may ask him for the 
help which he offers and promises to us. But as he is 
pleased when we run to him in our dangers, so is he dis 
pleased when he sees us neglectful of prayer. "As the 
king," says St. Bonaventure, " would think it faithlessness 
in an officer, when his post was attacked, not to ask him 
for reinforcements, he would be reputed a traitor if he 

1 "Per orationis exercitium, secum habitare arcemque erigere valet 
homo." De Cast. Conn. c. 22. 

2 "Oratio daemoniis omnibus malis praevalet." De Modo bene viv. 
s. 49. 

3 " Invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis salvus ero." Ps. xvii. 4. 

4 "Magna armatura precatio, tutela, portus, et thesaurus." Horn, 
in Ps. 145. 

Power of Prayer against Temptation. 53 

did not request help from the king;" 1 so God thinks 
himself betrayed by the man who, when he finds himself 
surrounded by temptations, does not run to him for as 
sistance. For he desires to help us; and only waits to be 
asked, and then gives abundant succor. This is strik 
ingly shown by Isaias, when, on God s part, he told the 
king Achaz to ask some sign to assure himself of God s 
readiness to help him: Ask thee a sign of the Lord Thy 
God? 1 The faithless king answered: I will not ask, and 1 
will not tempt the Lord; 3 for he trusted in his own power 
to overcome his enemies without God s aid. And for 
this the Prophet reproved him: Hear, therefore, O house 
of David; is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, 
that you are grievous to my God also?* because that man is 
grievous and offensive to God who will not ask him for 
the graces which he offers. 

Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and 2 
will refresh you? "My poor children," says our Saviour, 
"though you find yourselves assailed by enemi s, and 
oppressed with the weight of your sins, do not lose heart 
but have recourse to me in prayer, and I will give you 
strength to resist, and I will give you a remedy for all 
your disasters." In another place he says, by the mouth 
of Isaias, Come and accuse Me, saith the Lord; if your sins 
be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow.* O men, 
come to me; though your consciences are horribly 
defiled, yet come; I even give you leave to reproach me 

1 " Reputaretur infidelis, nisi expectaret a rege auxilium." Diata 
sal. t. 2. c. 5. 

2 " Pete tibi signum a Domino Deo tuo." Is. vii. n. 

3 " Non petam, et non tentabo Dominum." 

4 " Audite ergo, Domus David: Numquid parum vobis est molestos 
esse hominibus, quia molesti estis et Deo meo ?" 

5 " Venite ad me omnes, qui laborati et onerati estis, et ego reficiara 
vos." Matt. xi. 28. 

6 " Venite, et arguite me, dicit Dominus: si fuerint peccata vestra 
Ut coccinum, quasi nix dealbabuntur." Is. i. 18. 

54 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 

(so to speak), if after you have had recourse to me, I 
do not give you grace to become white as snow. 

What is prayer ? It is, as St. Chrysostom says, " the 
anchor of those tossed on the sea, the treasure of the 
poor, the cure of diseases, the safeguard of health." 1 It 
is a secure anchor for him who is in peril of shipwreck; 
it is a treasury of immense wealth for him who is poor; 
it is a most efficacious medicine for him who is sick; and 
it is a certain preservative for him who would keep him 
self well. What does prayer effect?. Let us hear St. 
Laurence Justinian: "It pleases God, it gets what it 
asks, it overcomes enemies, it changes men." 2 It ap 
peases the wrath of God, who pardons all who pray with 
humility. It obtains every grace that is asked for; it 
vanquishes all the strength of the tempter, and it changes 
men from blind into seeing, from weak into strong, from 
sinners into saints. Let him who wants light ask it of 
God, and it shall be given. As soon as I had recourse to 
God, says Solomon, he granted me wisdom: I called 
upon God, and the Spirit of wisdom came to me. 3 Let him 
who wants fortitude ask it of God, and it shall be given. 
As soon as I opened my mouth to pray, says David, I 
received help from God: I opened my month, and drew in 
the Spirit* And how in the \vorld did the martyrs ob 
tain strength to resist tyrants, except by prayer, which 
gave them force to overcome dangers and death ? 

" He who uses this great weapon," says St. Chrysos 
tom, "knows not death, leaves the earth, enters heaven, 
lives with God." He falls not into sin; he loses affec- 

1 " Oratioest fluctuantibusanchora, pauperum thesaurus, morborum 
curatio, custodia sanitatis." Horn, de Consubst. cont. Anotn. 

* " Placat Deum, postulata reportat, adversaries superat, immutat 
homines." De Pcrf. c. 12. 

3 " Invocavi, et venit in me spiritus sapientiae." Wis. vii. 7. 

4 " Os meum aperui, et attraxi spiritum." Ps. cxviii. 131. 

5 " Nescit mortem, relinquit terras, coelos intrat, convivit Deo." 
Scrm. 45. 

Power of Prayer against Temptation. 55 

tion for the earth; he makes his abode in heaven; and 
begins, even in this life, to enjoy the conversation of God. 
How then can you disquiet such a man by saying: " How 
do you know that you are \uritten in the book of life?" 
How do you know whether God will give you efficacious 
grace and the gift of perseverance ? Be nothing solicitous, 
says St. Paul, but in everything by prayer and supplication, 
with thanksgiving, let your petitions be known unto God. 1 What 
is the use, says the Apostle, of agitating yourselves with 
these miseries and fears ? Drive from you all these cares, 
which are of no use but to lessen your confidence, and to 
make you more tepid and slothful in walking along the 
way of salvation. Pray and seek always, and make your 
prayers sound in God s ears, and thank him for having 
promised to give you the gifts which you desire when 
ever you ask for them, namely efficacious grace, perse 
verance, salvation, and everything that you desire. The 
Lord has given us our post in the battle against power 
ful foes; but he is faithful in his promises, and will never 
allow us to be assaulted more violently than we can 
resist: God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted 
above that which ye are able? He is faithful, since he in 
stantly succors the man who invokes him. The learned 
Cardinal Gotti writes, that God has bound himself not 
only to give us grace precisely balancing the temptation 
that assails us, but that he is obliged, when we are 
tempted, and have recourse to him, to afford us, by 
means of that grace which is kept ready for and offered 
to all, sufficient strength for us actually to resist the 
temptation. "God is bound, when we are tempted, and 
fly to his protection, to give us by the grace prepared 

1 " Nihil solliciti sitis; sed in omni oratlone et obsecratione, cum 
gratiarum actione, petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum." 
Phil. iv. 6. 

8 " Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id 
quod potestis." I Cor. x. 13. 

56 TJie Power of Prayer. [PARTI. 

and offered to all such strength as will not only put us 
in the way of being able to resist, but will also make us 
resist; < for we can do all things in him who strengthens 
us by his grace, if we humbly ask for it." 1 We can do 
all things with God s help, which is granted to every 
one who humbly seeks it; so that we have no excuse 
when we allow ourselves to be overcome by a tempta 
tion. We are conquered solely by our own fault, be 
cause we would not pray. By prayer all the snares and 
power of the devil are easily overcome. " By prayer all 
hurtful things are chased away," says St. Augustine. 2 

God is always ready to hear us. 

St. Bernard ine of Sienna says that prayer is a faithful 
ambassador, well known to the King of Heaven, and 
having access to his private chamber, and able by his 
importunity to induce the merciful heart of the King to 
grant every aid to us his wretched creatures, groaning 
in the midst of our conflicts and miseries in this valley 
of tears. " Prayer is a most faithful messenger, known 
to the King, who is used to enter his chamber, and by 
his importunity to influence the merciful mind of the 
King, and to obtain us assistance in our toils." : Isaias 
also assures us, that as soon as the Lord hears our 
prayers, he is moved with compassion towards us; and 

1 " Respondeo . . . , cum tentamur, nobis ad Deum confugientibus, 
per gratiam a Deo paratam et oblatam, vires adfuturas, qua et pos- 
simus resistere et actu resistamus ; omnia enim possumus in eo qui 
nos confortat per gratiam, si humiliter petamus." De Grat. q. 2,. d. 

5- 3- 

2 " Per orationes cuncta noxia effugantur." De Sal. Doc. c. 28. 

3 " Est oratio nuncius fidelissimus, notus Regi, qui cubiculum 
Regis adire, et sua importunitate pium Regis animum flectere, et la- 
borantibus opem impetrare solitus est." 7\ 4. s. in Dom. 5. p. Pasc. 

God is always ready to hear us. 5 7 

does not leave us to cry long to him, but instantly re 
plies, and grants us what we ask: Weeping, thou shalt not 
weep; He will surely have pity upon thee: the voice of thy cry 
as soon as He shall hear, He will answer thee. 1 In another 
place he complains of us by the mouth of Jeremias: Am 
I become a wilderness to Israel, or a lateward springing lattd? 
Why then have My people said, we are revolted, and will come 
to Thee no more! 2 Why do you say that you will no 
more have recourse to me ? Has my mercy become to 
you a barren land, which can yield you no fruits of 
grace ? or a cold soil, which yields its fruit too late ! So 
has our loving Lord assured us that he never neglects to 
hear us, and to hear us instantly when we pray; and so 
does he reproach those who neglect to pray through dis 
trust of being heard. 

If God were to allow us to present our petitions to 
him once a month, even this would be a great favor. 
The kings of the earth give audiences a few times in the 
year, but God gives a continual andience. St. Chrysos- 
tom writes, that God is always waiting to hear our 
prayers, and that a case never occurred when he neg 
lected to hear a petition offered to him properly : 4 God 
is always prepared for the voice of his servants, nor did 
he ever, when called upon as he ought to be, neglect to 
hear." And in another place he says, that when we 
pray to God, before we have finished recounting to him 
our supplications, he has already heard us: " It is always 
obtained, even while we are yet praying." 4 We even 

1 " Plorans nequaquam plorabis, miserans miserebiturtui; advocem 
clamoris tui, statim ut audierit, respondebit tibi." Is. xxx. 19. 

2 " Numquid solitudo factus sum Israeli, aut terra serotina? quare 
ergo dixit populus meus: Recessimus, non veniemus ultra ad te ?" 
Jer. ii. 31. 

3 " Deus paratus continue ad vocem servorum suorum est, nee 
unquam, ut oportet vocatus, non obaudivit." /;/ Matt. horn. 55, 

4 " Semper obtinetur, etiam dum adhuc oramus." 

58 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 

have the promise of God to do this: As they are yet speak 
ing I will hear. 1 The Lord, says David, stands near to 
every one who prays, to console, to hear, and to save him: 
The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon Him ; to all that 
call upon Him in truth (that is, as they ought to call). 
He will do the will of them that fear Him ; and He will hear 
their prayer and will save them? 1 This it was in which 
Moses gloried, when he said: There is not another nation 
so great, that has gods so nigh them, as our God is present to 
all our petitions. The gods of the Gentiles were deaf to 
those who invoked them, for they were wretched fabri 
cations, which could do nothing. But our God, who is 
Almighty, is not deaf to our prayers, but always stands 
near the man who prays, ready to grant him all the 
graces which he asks: /;/ what day soever I shall call upon 
Thee, behold I shall know that Thou art my God.* Lord, 
says the Psalmist, hereby do I know that Thou, my God, 
art all goodness and mercy, in that, whenever I have 
recourse to Thee, Thou dost instantly help me. 


We should not limit ourselves to asking for little things. 
To pray is better than to meditate. 

We are so poor that we have nothing; but if we pray 
we are no longer poor. If we are poor, God is rich; and 
God, as the Apostle says, is all liberality to him that 

1 " Adhuc illis loquentibus, ego audiam." Is. Ixv. 24. 

* " Prope est Dominus omnibus invocantibus eum, omnibus invo- 
cantibus eum in veritate; voluntatem timentium se faciet, et depreca- 
tionem eorum exaudiet, et salvos faciet eos." Ps. cxliv. 18. 

3 " Nee est alia natio tarn grandis, quae habeat deos appropin- 
quantes sibi, sicut Deus noster adest cunctis obsecrationibus nostris." 
Deut. iv. 7. 

4 " In quacumque die invocavero te, ecce cognovi quoniam Deus 
meus es." Ps. Iv. 10. 

In Prayer we should ask for Great Things. 59 

calls for his aid: Rich unto all who call upon Htm. 1 Since, 
therefore (as St. Augustine exhorts us), we have to do 
with a Lord of infinite power and infinite riches, let us 
not go to him for little and valueless things, but let us 
ask some great thing of him: "You seek from the 
Almighty, seek something great." If a man went to 
a king to ask some trumpery coin, like a farthing, me- 
thinks that man would but insult his king. On the 
other hand, we honor God, we honor his mercy, and his 
liberality, when, though we see how miserable we are, 
and how unworthy of any kindness, we yet ask for great 
graces, trusting in the goodness of God, and in his faith 
fulness to his promises of granting to the man who 
prays whatever grace he asks: WJiatsoever you will, ask, 
and it shall be done unto you? St. Mary Magdalene of 
Pazzi said, " that God feels himself so honored and is so 
delighted when we ask for his grace, that he is, in a cer 
tain sense, grateful to us; because when we do this we 
seem to open to him a way to do us a kindness, and to 
satisfy his nature, which is to do good to all." And let 
us be sure that, when we seek God s grace, he always 
gives us more than we ask: If any of you want wisdom, let 
him ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly, and upbraideth 
not.* Thus speaks St. James, to show us that God is not 
like men, parsimonious of his goods; men, though rich 
and liberal, when they give alms, are always somewhat 
close-handed, and generally give less than is asked of 
them, because their wealth, however great it be, is always 
finite; so that the more they give the less they have. But 
God, when he is asked, gives his good things "abun 
dantly," that is, with a generous hand, always giving 

1 " Dives in omnes qui invocant ilium." Rom. x. 12. 

2 " Ab Omnipotente petitis ; aliquid magnum petite." In Ps. 62. 

3 " Quodcumque volueritis, petetis et net vobis." John, xv. 7. 

4 " Si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientia, postulet a Deo, qui 
dat omnibus affluenter, et non improperat." James, i. 5. 

60 The Poiuer of Prayer. [PART i. 

more than is asked, because his wealth is infinite, and 
the more he gives the more he has to give: For Thou, O 
Lord, art sweet and mild ; and plenteous in mercy to all that 
call upon Thee? Thou, O my God, said David, art but 
too liberal and kind to him that invokes Thee; the 
mercies which thou pourest upon him are super-abun 
dant, above all he asks. 

On this point, then, we have to fix all our attention, 
namely, to pray with confidence, feeling sure that by 
prayer all the treasures of heaven are thrown open to us. 
"Let us attend to this," says St. Chrysostom, "and we 
shall open heaven to ourselves." 2 Prayer is a treasure; 
he who prays most receives most. St. Bonaventure says 
that every time a man has recourse to God by fervent 
prayer, he gains good things that are of more value than 
the whole world: " Any day a man gains more by devout 
prayer than the whole world is worth." 1 Some devout 
souls spend a great deal of time in reading and in medi 
tating, but pay but little attention to prayer. There is 
no doubt that spiritual reading, and meditation on the 
eternal truths, are very useful things; " but," says St. 
Augustine, "it is of much more use to pray." By read 
ing and meditating we learn our duty; but by prayer we 
obtain the grace to do it. " It is better to pray than to 
read: by reading we know what we ought to do; by 
prayer we receive what we ask." What is the use of 
knowing our duty, and then not doing it, but to make 
us more guilty in God s sight? Read and meditate as 
we like, we shall never satisfy our obligations, unless we 
ask of God the grace to fulfil them. 

" Quoniam tu, Domine, suavis et mitis et multae misericordiae 
omnibus invocantibus te." Ps. Ixxxv. 5. 

"Hoc studeamus, et aperiemus nobis coelum." In Act. horn. 36. 

" In quacunque die, lucratur homo oratione devota plus quam 
valeat totus mundus." De Perf. vitce, c. 5. 

4 " Melius est orare quam legere : in lectione cognoscimus quse 
facere debemus, in oratione accipimus quoe postulamus." 

To Pray is better than to Meditate. 61 

And, therefore, as St. Isidore observes, the devil is 
never more busy to distract us with the thoughts of 
worldly cares than when he perceives us praying and 
asking God for grace: "Then mostly does the devil in 
sinuate thoughts, when he sees a man praying." 1 And 
why? Because the enemy sees that at no other time do 
we gain so many treasures of heavenly goods as when 
we pray. This is the chief fruit of mental prayer, to ask 
God for the graces which we need for perseverance and 
for eternal salvation; and chiefly for this reason it is 
that mental prayer is morally necessary for the soul, to 
enable it to preserve itself in the grace of God. For if 
a person does not remember in tjie time of meditation to 
ask for the help necessary for perseverance, he will not 
do so at any other time; for without meditation he will 
not think of asking for it, and will not even think of the 
necessity for asking it. On the other hand, he who 
makes his meditation every day will easily see the needs 
of his soul, its dangers, and the necessity of his prayer; 
and so he will pray, and will obtain the graces which 
will enable him to persevere and save his soul. Father 
Segneri said of himself, that when he began to meditate, 
he aimed rather at exciting affections than at making 
prayers. But when he came to know the necessity and 
the immense utility of prayer, he more and more applied 
himself, in his long mental prayer, to making petitions. 

As a young swallow, so will I cry, said the devout king 
Hezekias. 2 The young of the swallow does nothing but 
cry to its mother for help and for food; so shoul-d we all 
do, if we would preserve our life of grace. We should 
be always crying to God for aid to avoid the death of 
sin, and to advance in his holy love. Father Rodriguez 
relates, that the ancient Fathers, who were our first in- 

1 "Tune magis diabolus cogitationes curarum saecularium ingerit, 
quando orantem aspexerit." Sent. 1. 3, c. 7. 

2 " Sicut pullus hirundinis, sic clamabo. " Is. xxxviii. 14. 

62 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 

structors in the spiritual life, held a conference to deter 
mine which was the exercise most useful and most 
necessary for eternal salvation; and that they deter 
mined it was to repeat over and over again the short 
prayer of David, Incline unto my aid , O God! 1 "This," 
says Cassian, " is what every one ought to do who wishes 
to be saved: he ought to be always saying, My God, help 
me ! my God, help me !" We ought to do this the first 
thing when we awake in the morning; and then to con 
tinue doing it in all our needs, and when attending to our 
business, whether spiritual or temporal; and most es 
pecially when we find ourselves troubled by any tempta 
tion or passion. St. Bonaventure says, that at times we 
obtain a grace by a short prayer sooner than by many 
other good works: " Sometimes a man can sooner obtain 
by a short prayer what he would be a long time obtain 
ing by pious works." 2 St. Ambrose says, that he who 
prays, while he is praying obtains what he asks, because 
the very act of prayer is the same as receiving: " He who 
asks of God, while he asks receives; for to ask is to re 
ceive." : Hence St. Chrysostom wrote, that " there is 
nothing more powerful than a man who prays," 4 be 
cause such a one is made partaker of the power of God. 
To arrive at perfection, says St. Bernard, we must medi 
tate and pray: by meditation we see what we want; by 
prayer we receive what we want. " Let us mount by medi 
tation and prayer: the one teaches what is deficient, the 
other obtains that there should be nothing deficient." 3 

1 " Deus, in adjutorium meum intende." Ps. Ixix. 2. 

" Quandoque citius brevi oratione aliquis obtinet, quod piis operi- 
bus vix obtineret." De Prof. rel. 1. 2, c. 65. 

- Qui petit a Deo, dum petit, accipit; ipsum namque petere est 

" Nihil potentius homine probo orante." In Matt. horn. 58. 

" Ascendamus meditatione et oratione; ilia docet quid desk, hsec 
ne desit obtinet." De S. And. s. i. 

Conclusion on the Power of Prayer. 63 


In conclusion, to save one s soul without prayer is 
most difficult, and even (as we have seen) impossible, 
according to the ordinary course of God s Providence. 
But by praying our salvation is made secure, and very 
easy. It is not necessary in order to save our souls to 
go among the heathen, and give up our life. It is not 
necessary to retire into the desert, and eat nothing but 
herbs. What does it cost us to say, My God, help me ! 
Lord, assist me ! have mercy on me ! Is there anything 
more easy than this ? and this little will suffice to save 
us, if we will be diligent in doing it. St. Laurence Jus 
tinian specially exhorts us to oblige ourselves to say a 
prayer at least when we begin any action: " We must 
endeavor to offer a prayer at least in the beginning of 
every work." 1 Cassian attests that the principal advice 
of the ancient Fathers was to have recourse to God with 
short but frequent prayers. Let no one, says St. Bernard, 
think lightly of prayer, because God values it, and then 
gives us either what we ask, or what is still more useful 
to us: " Let no one undervalue his prayer, for God does 
not undervalue it .... he will give either what we ask, 
or what he knows to be better." ; And let us understand, 
that if we do not pray, we have no excuse, because the 
grace of prayer is given to every one. It is in our power 
to pray whenever we will, as David says of himself: With 
me is prayer to the God of my life; I will say to God, Thou 
art my support? On this point I shall speak at length in 

1 " Innitendum est ut in primordio saltern cujusque operis dirigatur 
oratio." Lign. vita de or. c. 6. 

2 " Nemo parvipendat orationem suam quia Deus non parvipendit 
earn . . . aut dabit quod petimus, aut quod noverit esse utilius." De 
Quad. s. 5. 

3 " Apud me oraiio Deo vitae meae; dicam Deo: susceptor meus es." 
Ps. xli. 9. 

64 The Power of Prayer. [PART i. 

the second part, where I will make it quite clear that 
God gives to all the grace of prayer, in order that there 
by they may obtain every help, and even more than they 
need, for keeping the divine law, and for persevering till 
death. At present, I will only say, that if we are not 
saved, the whole fault will be ours; and we shall have 
our own failure to answer for, because we did not pray. 

Which are the Requisite Conditions. 65 



Which are the Requisite Conditions. 


Amen, amen, I say to you, if you* ask the Father anything in 
My name, He will give it you. 1 Jesus Christ then has 
promised, that whatever we ask his Father in his 
name, his Father will give us. But always with the un 
derstanding that we ask under the proper conditions. 
Many seek, says St. James, and obtain not, because they 
seek improperly: Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask 
amiss* So St. Basil, following out the argument of the 
Apostle, says, " You sometimes ask and receive not, be 
cause you have asked badly; either without faith, or 
you have requested things not fit for you, or you have 
not persevered;" 3 "faithlessly," that is, with little faith, 
or little confidence; "lightly," with little desire of the 
grace you ask; "things not fit for you," when you seek 
good things that will not be conducive to your salva 
tion; or you have left off praying, without perseverance. 
Hence St. Thomas reduces to four the conditions re 
quired in prayer, in order that it may produce its effect: 

1 "Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine 
meo, dabit vobis." John, xvi. 23. 

* " Petitis, et non accipitis, eo quod male petatis." James, iv. 3. 

" Ideo, quandoque petis, et non accipis, quia perperam postulasti, 
vel infideliter, vel leviter, vel non conferentia tibi, vel destitisti." 
Const. Mon. c. i. 

66 7^ he Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

these are, that a man asks (\) for himself; (2) things neces 
sary for salvation; (^piously; and (4) with perseverance. 1 


The first condition then of prayer is, that you make it 
for yourself; because St. Thomas holds, that one man 
cannot ex condigno (i. e. in the fitness of things) obtain for 
another eternal life; nor, consequently, even those graces 
which are requisite for his salvation. Since, as he says, 
the promise is made not to others, but only to those that 
pray: u He shall give to you." Nevertheless, there are 
many theologians, Cornelius a Lapide, Sylvester, Tolet, 
Habert, and others, who hold the opposite doctrine, on 
the authority of St. Basil, who teaches that prayer, by 
virtue of God s promise, is infallibly efficacious, even for 
those for whom we pray, provided they put no positive 
impediment in the way. And they support their doc 
trine by Scripture: Pray one for another, that you may be 
saved; for the continual prayer of the just man availeth much? 
Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you? And bet 
ter still, on the text of St. John: He that knoweth his 
brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life 
shall be given to him who sinneth not unto death. There is a 
sin unto death; for that I say not that any man ask.* St. Am 
brose, St. Augustine, the Ven. Bede, and others, 5 explain 
the words "who sinneth not unto death " to mean, pro 
vided the sinner is not one who intends to remain ob 
stinate till death; since for such a one a very extraordin- 

1 " Pro se, necessaria ad salutem, pie, et perseveranter." 2. 2. q. 83, 
a. 15. 

2 " Et orate pro invicem, ut salvemini; multum enim valet depre- 
catio justi assidua." James, v. 16. 

"Orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos." Luke, vi. 28. 
4 " Qui scit fratrem suum peccare peccatum non ad mortem, petal, 
et dabitur ei vita peccanti non ad mortem." \ John, v. 16. 
6 Apud Calm, in loc. cit. 

We ougJit to Pray for Sinners. 67 

ary grace would be required. But for other sinners, who 
are not guilty of such malice, the Apostle promises their 
conversion to him who prays for them: Let him ask, and 
life shall be given him for him that sinneth. 


Besides, it is quite certain that the prayers of others 
are of great use to sinners, and are very pleasing to God; 
and God complains of his servants who do not recom 
mend sinners to him, as he once complained to St. Mary 
Magdalene of Pazzi, to whom he said one day: " See, my 
daughter, how the Christians are f in the devil s hands; 
if my elect did not deliver them by their prayers they 
would be devoured." But God especially requires this 
of priests and religious. The same saint used to say to 
her nuns: " My sisters, God has not separated us from the 
world, that we should only do good for ourselves, but 
also that we should appease him in behalf of sinners;" 
and God one day said to her, "I have given to you my 
chosen spouses the City of Refuge (i.e., the Passion of 
Jesus Christ), that you may have a place where you may 
obtain help for my creatures. Therefore have recourse 
to it, and thence stretch forth a helping hand to my crea 
tures who are perishing, and lay down your lives for 
them." For this reason the saint, inflamed with holy 
zeal, used to offer God the blood of the Redeemer fifty 
times a day in behalf of sinners, and was quite wasted 
away for the desire she had for their conversion. Oh, 
she used to say, what pain is it, O Lord, to see how one 
could help Thy creatures by giving one s life for them, 
and not be able to do so! For the rest, in every exercise 
she recommended sinners to God; and it is written in her 
life, that she scarcely passed an hour in the day without 
praying for them. Frequently, too, she arose in the 
middle of the night, and went to the Blessed Sacrament 

68 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

to pray for them; and yet for all this, when she was once 
found bathed in tears, on being asked the cause, she* 
answered, "Because I seem to myself to do nothing for 
the salvation of sinners." She went so far as to offer to 
endure even the pains of hell for their conversion, pro 
vided that in that place she might still love God; and 
often God gratified her by inflicting on her grievous pains 
and infirmities for the salvation of sinners. She prayed 
especially for priests, seeing that their good life was the 
occasion of salvation to others, while their bad life was 
the cause of ruin to many; and therefore she prayed 
God to visit their faults upon her, saying, " Lord, make 
me die and return to life again as many times as is neces 
sary to satisfy Thy justice for them! " And it is related 
in her life, that the saint, by her prayers, did indeed re 
lease many souls from the hands of Lucifer. 

I wished to speak rather particularly of the zeal of this 
saint; but, indeed, no souls that really love God neglect 
to pray for poor sinners. For how is it possible for a 
person who loves God, and knows what love he has for 
our souls, and what Jesus Christ has done and suffered 
for their salvation, and how our Saviour desires us to 
pray for sinners, how is it possible, I say, that he should 
be able to look with indifference on the numbers of poor 
souls who are living without God, and are slaves of hell, 
without being moved to importune God with frequent 
prayers to give light and strength to these wretched be 
ings, so that they may come out from the miserable state 
of living death in which they are slumbering? True it is 
that God has not promised to grant our requests, when 
those for whom we pray put a positive impediment in the 
way of their conversion; but still, God of his goodness 
has often deigned, at the prayer of his servants, to bring 
back the most blinded and obstinate sinners to a state of 
salvation, by means of extraordinary graces. Therefore 
let us never omit, when we say or hear Mass, when we 

Ask for Graces Necessary to Salvation. 69 

receive Holy Communion, when we make our meditation 
or our visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to recommend poor 
sinners to God. And a learned author says, that he who 
prays for others will find that his prayers for himself are 
heard much sooner. But this is a digression. Let us 
now return to the examination of the other conditions 
that St. Thomas lays down as necessary to the efficacy 
of prayer. 


The second condition assigned by the saint is, that we 
ask those favors which are necessary to salvation ; be 
cause the promise annexed to prayer was not made with 
reference to temporal favors, which are not necessary for 
the salvation of the soul. St. Augustine, explaining the 
words of the Gospel, " whatever ye shall ask in my 
name," says, that "nothing which is asked in a way de 
trimental to salvation is asked in the name of the Sav 
iour." 1 Sometimes, says the same Father, we seek some 
temporal favors, and God does not hear us ; but he does 
not hear us because he loves us, and wishes to be merci 
ful to us. " A man may pray faithfully for the necessi 
ties of this life, and God may mercifully refuse to hear 
him ; because the physician knows better than the pati 
ent what is good for the sick man." : The physician who 
loves his patient will not allow him to have those things 
that he sees would do him harm. Oh, how many, if they 
had been sick or poor, would have escaped those sins 
which they commit in health and in affluence! And, 
therefore, when men ask God for health or riches, he of- 

1 " Non petitur in nomine Salvatoris, quidquid petitur contra ra- 
lionem salutis." In Jo. tr. 102. 

3 " Fideliter supplicans Deo pro necessitatibus hujus vitae, et miseri- 
corditer auditur, et misericorditer non auditur; quid enim infirmo sit 
utile, magis novit medicus quam aegrotus." Ap. s. Prosp. Sent, 212. 

70 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

ten denies them because he loves them, knowing that 
these things would be to them an occasion of losing his 
grace, or at any rate of growing tepid in the spiritual 
life. Not that we mean to say that it is any defect to 
pray to God for the necessaries of this present life, so 
far as they are not inconsistent with our eternal salva 
tion, as the Wise man said: Give me only the necessaries of 
life. 1 Nor is it a defect, says St. Thomas, 2 to have anx 
iety about such goods, if it is not inordinate. The defect 
consists in desiring and seeking these temporal goods, 
and in having an inordinate anxiety about them, as 
if they were our highest good. Therefore, when we ask 
of God these temporal favors, we ought always to ask 
them with resignation, and with the condition, if they 
will be useful to our souls; and when we see that God 
does not grant them, let us be certain that he then de- 
n ; es them to us for the love he bears us, and because he 
sees that they would be injurious to the salvation of our 

It often happens that we pray God to deliver us from 
some dangerous temptation, and yet that God does not 
hear us, but permits the temptation to continue troubling 
us. In such a case, let us understand that God permits 
even this for our greater good. It is not temptation or 
bad thoughts that separate us from God, but our con 
sent to the evil. When a soul in temptation recommends 
itself to God, and by his aid resists, oh, how it then ad 
vances in perfection, and unites itself more closely to 
God! and this is the reason why God does not hear it. 
St. Paul prayed instantly to be delivered from the temp 
tation of impurity: There was given me a sting of my flesh 
an angel of Satan to buffet me; for which thing thrice I be- 

1 "Tribue tantum victui meo necessaria." Prov. xxx. 8. 

2 2. 2. q. 83, a. 6. 

Other Conditions of Prayer. 71 

sought the Lord, that it might depart from me. 1 But God 
answered him, that it was enough to have his grace: 
My grace is sufficient for thee* So that even in tempta 
tions we ought to pray with resignation, saying, Lord, 
deliver me from this trouble, if it is expedient to deliver 
me; and if not, at least give me help to resist. And here 
comes in what St. Bernard says, that when we beg any 
grace of God, he gives us either that which we ask, or 
some other thing more useful to us. He often leaves us 
to be buffeted by the waves, in order to try our faithful 
ness, and for our greater profit. It seems then that he is 
deaf to our prayers. But no; let us be sure that God 
then really hears us, and secretly aids us, and strength 
ens us by his grace to resist all the assaults of our ene 
mies. See how he himself assures us of this by the mouth 
of the Psalmist: Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I de 
livered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest; 1 
proved thee at the waters of contradiction? 


The other conditions assigned by St. Thomas to prayer 
are, that it is to be made piously and perseveringly; by 
piously, he means with humility and confidence by per 
severingly, continuing to pray until death. We must 
now speak distinctly of each of these three conditions, 
which are the most necessary for prayer, namely of hu 
mility, confidence, and perseverance. 

1 " Datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae, angelus satanse, qui me 
colaphizet; propter quod ter Dominum rogavi ut discederet a me." 2 
Cor. xii. 7. 

2 Sufficit tibi gratia mea." 

"In tribulatione invocasti me, et liberavi te; exaudivi te in ab- 
scondito tempestatis; probavi te apud aquam contradictionis." Ps. 
Ixxx. 8. 

72 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

The Humility with which we should Pray. 

The Lord does indeed regard the prayers of his ser 
vants, but only of his servants who are humble. He hath 
had regard to the prayer of the humble? Others he does not 
regard, but rejects them: God resisteth the proud, and giveth 
grace to the humble? He does not hear the prayers of the 
proud who trust in their own strength; but for that rea 
son leaves them to their own feebleness; and in this state, 
deprived of God s aid, they must certainly perish. David 
had to bewail this case: Before I was humbled I offended? 
I sinned because I was not humble. The same thing 
happened to St. Peter, who, though he was warned by 
our Lord that all the disciples would abandon Him on 
that night All you shall be scandalised in Me this night* 
nevertheless, instead of acknowledging his own weak, 
ness, and begging our Lord s aid against his unfaithful 
ness, was too confident in his own strength, and said, 
that though all should abandon him he would never 
leave him: Although all shall be scandalised in Thee, I will 
never be scandalised? And although our Saviour again 
foretold to him, in a special manner, that in that very 
night, before the cock-crow, he should deny him three 
times; yet, trusting in his own courage, he boasted, say 
ing, Yea, though I should die with Thee, I will not deny 
Thee? But what came of it ? Scarcely had the unhappy 
man entered the house of the high priest, when he was 
accused of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and three 

1 " Respexit in orationem humilium." Ps. ci. 18. 
" Deus superbis resistit." James iv. 6. 

3 " Priusquam humiliarer, ego deliqui." Ps. cxviii. 67. 

4 Omnes vos scandalum patiemini in me in ista nocte." Matt. 
xxvi. 31. 

5 " Etsi omnes scandalizati fuerint in te, ego nunquam scandali- 

6 " Etiamsi oportuerit me mori tecum, non te negabo." 

The Humility with which we shoiild Pray. 73 

times did he deny with an oath that he had ever known 
him: And again he denied with an oath, that I know not the 
Man. 1 If Peter had humbled himself, and had asked 
our Lord for the grace of constancy, he would not have 
denied him. 

We ought all to feel that we are standing on the edge 
of a precipice, suspended over the abyss of all sins, and 
supported only by the thread of God s grace. If this 
thread fails us, we shall certainly fall into the gulf, and 
shall commit the most horrible wickedness. Unless the 
Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell? 
If God had not succored me, I should have fallen into a 
thousand sins, and now I should be in hell. So said the 
Psalmist, and so ought each of us to say. This is what 
St. Francis of Assisi meant, when he said that he was the 
worst sinner in the world. But, my Father, said his com 
panion, what you say is not true; there are many in the 
world who are certainly worse than you are. Yes, what 
I say is but too true, answered St. Francis; because if 
God did not keep his hand over me, I should commit 
every possible sin. 

It is of faith, that without the aid of grace we cannot 
do any good work, nor even think a good thought. 
"Without grace men do no good whatever, either in 
thought or in deed," says St. Augustine. 3 As the eye 
cannot see without light, so, say the holy Father, man 
can do no good without grace. The Apostle had said 
the same thing before him: Not that we are sufficient to 
think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves ; but our sufficiency 
is of God? And David had said it before St. Paul: Un- 

1 " Et iterum negavit cum juramento: Quia non novi hominem." 
* " Nisi quia Dominus adjuvit <ne, paulo minus habitasset in in 
ferno anima mea." Ps. xciii. 17. 

3 " Sine gratia, nullum prorsus, sive cogitando, sive agendo, faciunt 
homines bonum." De Con: et Gr. c. 2. 

4 "Non quod sufficientes simus cogitare aliquid a nobis, quasi ex 
nobis; sed sufficientia nostra ex Deo est." 2 Cor. iii. 5. 

74 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

less the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. 1 
In vain does man weary himself to become a saint, unless 
God lends a helping hand: Unless the Lord keep the city, he 
watcheth in vain that keepeth it? If God did not preserve 
the soul from sins, in vain will it try to preserve itself by 
its own strength: and therefore did the holy prophet pro 
test, I will not trust in my bow? I will not hope in my 
arms; but only in God, who alone can save me. 

Hence, whoever finds that he has done any good, and 
does not find that he has fallen into greater sins than 
those which are commonly committed, let him say with 
St. Paul, By the, grace of God I am what I am ;* and for 
the same reason, he ought never to cease to be afraid of 
falling on ever} r occasion of sin: Wherefore, lie that thinketh 
himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall? St. Paul 
wishes to warn us that he who feels secure of not falling, 
is in great danger of falling; and he assigns the reason 
in another place, where he says, If any man think himself 
to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself? 
So that St. Augustine wrote wisely, " the presumption of 
stability renders many unstable; no one will be so firm 
as he who feels himself infirm." 7 If a man says he has 
no fear, it is a sign that he trusts in himself, and in his 
good resolutions; but such a man, with his mischievous 
confidence, deceives himself, because, through trust in 
his own strength, he neglects to fear; and through not 

1 " Nisi Dominus sedificaverit domum, in vanum laboraverunt qui 
aedificant earn." Ps. cxxvi. i. 

2 " Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilat qui custodit 
earn." Ibid. 

3 " Non enim in arcu meo sperabo." Ps. xliii. 7. 

4 "Gratia autem Dei sum id quod sum." i Cor. xv. 10. 

5 " Itaque, qui se existimat stare, videat ne cadat." i Cor. x. 12. 

6 " Nam, si quis existimat se aliquid esse, cum nihil sit, ipse se 
seducit. " Gal. vi. 3. 

1 " Multos impedit a firmitate praesumptio firmitatis; nemo erit a 
Deo firmus, nisi qui se a seipso sentit infirmum." Serm. 76 E. B. 

The Humility with which we should Pray. 75 

fearing he neglects to recommend himself to God, and 
then he will certainly fall. And so, for like reasons, we 
should all abstain from noticing with any vain-glory the 
sins of other people; but rather we should then esteem 
ourselves as worse in ourselves than they are, and should 
say, Lord, if thou hadst not helped me, I should have 
done worse. Otherwise, to punish us for our pride, God 
will permit us to fall into worse and more shameful sins. 
For this cause St. Paul instructs ui to labor for our sal 
vation; but how? always in fear and trembling: With 
fear and trembling work out your salvation. Yes; for he 
who has a great fear of falling, distrusts his own strength, 
and therefore places his confidence in God, and will have 
recourse to him in dangers; and God will aid him, and 
so he will vanquish his temptations, and will be saved. 
St. Philip Neri, walking one day through Rome, kept 
saying, "I am in despair!" A certain religious rebuked 
him, and the saint thereupon said, " My father, I am in 
despair for myself ; but I trust in God." So must we do, 
if we would be saved; w r e must always live in despair of 
doing anything by our own strength; and in so doing we 
shall imitate St. Philip, who used to say to God the first 
moment he woke in the morning, " Lord, keep Thy hands 
over Philip this day; for if not, Philip will betray Thee." 
This, then, we may conclude with St. Augustine, is all 
the grand science of a Christian, to know that he is 
nothing, and can do nothing. " This is the whole of the 
great science, to know that man is nothing." 2 For then 
he will never neglect to furnish himself, by prayer to 
God, with that strength which he has not of himself, and 
which he needs in order to resist temptation, and to do 
good; and so, with the help of God, who never refuses 
anything to the man who prays to him in humility, he 

1 "Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem operamini." Phil. ii. 12. 
* " Hsec est tota scientia magna, scire quia homo nihil est." In Ps. 
Ixx. s. i. 

7 6 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

will be able to do all things: The prayer of him that hum- 
bleth himself shall pierce tJie clouds, and he will not depart 
until the Most High behold. 1 The prayer of an humble 
soul penetrates the heavens, and presents itself before 
the throne of God; and departs not without God s look 
ing on it and hearing it. And though the soul be guilty 
of any amount of sin, God never despises a heart that 
humbles itself: A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou 
wilt not despise ; 2 God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to 
the humble? As the Lord is severe with the proud, and 
resists their prayers, so is he kind and liberal to the 
humble. This is precisely what Jesus Christ said one 
day to St. Catharine of Sienna: "Know, my daughter, 
that a soul that perseveres in humble prayer gains every 

It will be of use to introduce here the advice which the 
learned and pious Palafox, Bishop of Osma, gives to 
spiritual persons who desire to become saints. It occurs 
in a note to the i8th letter of St. Teresa, which she 
wrote to her confessor, to give him an account of all the 
grades of supernatural prayer with which God had fa 
vored her. On this the bishop writes, that these super 
natural graces which God designed to grant to St. 
Teresa, as he has also done to other saints, are not 
necessary in order to arrive at sanctity, since many souls 
have become saints without them; and, on the other 
hand, many have arrived at sanctity, and yet have, after 
all, been damned. Therefore he says it is superfluous, 
and even presumptuous, to desire and to ask for these 

1 " Oratio humiliantis se nubes penetrabit, . . . et non discedet 
donee Altissimus aspiciat." Ecclus. xxxv. 21. 

2 "Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies." Ps. 1. 19. 

3 " Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam." James 
iv. 6. 

4 " Scito, filia. quod aniraa perseverans in humili oratione adipisci- 
tur omnem virtutem." Ap. Bios, in Concl. p. 2, c. 3. 

The Humility with which we should Pray. 77 

supernatural gifts, when the true and only way to be 
come a saint is, to exercise ourselves in virtue and in the 
iove of God; and this is done by means of prayer, and 
by corresponding to the inspirations and assistance of 
God, who wishes nothing so much as to see us saints, 
For this is the will of God, your sanctification} 

Hence Bishop Palafox, speaking of the grades of super 
natural prayer mentioned in St. Teresa s letter, namely, 
the prayer of quiet, the sleep or suspension of the facul 
ties, the prayer of union, ecstasy or rapture, flight and 
impulse of the spirit, and the wound of love, says, very 
wisely, that as regards \htprayer of quiet, what we ought 
to ask of God is that he would free* us from attachment to 
worldly goods, and the desire of them, which give no 
peace, but bring disquiet and affliction to the soul: 
Vanity of vanities, as Solomon well called them, and vexa 
tion of spirit? The heart of man will never find true 
peace, if it does not empty itself of all that is not God, 
so as to leave itself all free for his love, that he alone 
may possess the whole of it. But this the soul cannot 
do of itself; it must obtain it of God by repeated prayers. 
As regards the sleep and suspension of the faculties, we 
ought to ask God for grace to keep them asleep for all 
that is temporal, and only awake them to consider God s 
goodness, and to set our hearts upon his love and eter 
nal happiness. As regards the union of the faculties, let 
us pray him to give us grace not to think, nor to seek, 
nor to wish anything but what God wills; since all 
sanctity and the perfection of love consists in uniting 
our will to the will of God. As regards ecstasy and rap 
ture, let us pray God to draw us away from the inordi 
nate love of ourselves and of creatures, and to draw us 
entirely to himself. As regards the flight of the spirit, let 
us pray him to give us grace to live altogether detached 

1 " Haecest enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra." I Thess. iv. 3. 

8 " Universa vanitas et afflictio spiritus." Eccles. i. 14; 

78 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

from this world, and to do as the swallows, that do not 
settle on the ground even to feed, but take their food 
flying; so should we use our temporal goods for all that 
is necessary for the support of life, but always flying, 
without settling on the ground to look for earthly pleas 
ures, As regards impulse of spirit, let us pray him to 
give us courage and strength to do violence to ourselves, 
whenever it is necessary, for resisting the assaults of our 
enemies, for conquering our passions, and for accepting 
sufferings even in the midst of desolation and dryness of 
spirit. Finally, as regards the wound of love , as a wound 
by its pain perpetually renews the remembrance of what 
we suffer, so ought we to pray God to wound our 
hearts with his holy love in such a way that we shall 
always be reminded of his goodness and the love which 
he has borne us; and thus we should live in continual 
love of him, and should be always pleasing him with our 
works and our affections. But none of these graces can 
be obtained without prayer; and with prayer, provided it 
be humble, confident, and persevering, everything is 

The Confidence with which we ought to pray. 


The principal instruction that St. James gives us, if 
we wish by prayer to obtain grace from God, is, that we 
pray with a confidence that feels sure of being heard, 
and without hesitating: Let him ask in faith^ nothing waver 
ing. 1 St. Thomas teaches that as prayer receives its 
power of meriting from charity, so, on the other hand, it 
receives from faith and confidence its power of being 
efficacious to obtain: " Prayer has its power of meriting 
from charity, but its efficacity of obtaining from faith 

1 " Postulet autem in fide, nihil haesitans." James, i. 6. 

The Confidence ivith which we ought to Pray. 79 

and confidence." 1 St. Bernard teaches the same, saying 
that it is our confidence alone which obtains for us the 
divine mercies: " Hope alone obtains a place of mercy 
with Thee, O Lord." 2 *God is much pleased with our 
confidence in his mercy, because we then honor and 
exalt that infinite goodness which it was his object in 
creating us to manifest to the world: Let all those, O my 
God, says the royal prophet, who hope in Thee be glad, for 
they shall be eternally happy, and Thou shalt dwell in them? 
God protects and saves all those who confide in him: 
He is the Protector of all that hope in Him? Thou who savest 
them that trust in Thee? Oh, the great promises that are 
recorded in the Scriptures to all those who hope in God! 
He who hopes in God will not fall into sin: None of them 
that trust in Him shall offend? Yes, says David, because 
God has his eyes turned to all those who confide in his 
goodness to deliver them by his aid from the death of 
sin. BeJiold, tJte eyes of the Lord are on them that fear Him, 
and on them that hope for His mercy to deliver their souls from 
death. 1 And in another place God himself says: Because 
he hoped in me I will deliver him ; I will protect him ; I will 
deliver him and I will glorify him? Mark the word " be- 

1 " Quantum ad efficaciam merendi, oratio innititur principaliter 
charitati ; quantum ad efficaciam impetrandi, innititur principaliter 
fidei." 2. 2. q. 83, a. 15. 

2 "Sola spes apud te (Domine) miserationis obtinet locum." De 
Annunt. s. 3. 

3 " Laetentur omnes qui sperant in te ; in aeternum exsultabunt, et 
habitabis in eis." Ps. v. 12. 

4 " Protector est omnium sperantium in se." Ps. xvii. 31. 

5 " Qui salvos facis sperantes in te." Ps. xvi. 7. 

6 " Non delinquent omnes qui sperant in eo." Ps. xxxiii. 23. 

7 " Ecce oculi Domini super metuentes eum, et in eis qui sperant 
super misericordia ejus, ut eruat a morteanimas eorum." Ps. xxxii. 

8 " Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum, protegam eum, .... 
eripiam eum, et glorificabo eum." Ps. xc. 14. 

8o The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

cause." Because he confided in Me, I will protect, I will 
deliver him from his enemies, and from the danger of 
falling; and finally I will give him eternal glory. Isaias 
says of those who place their hope in God: They that 
hope in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall take 
wings as the eagles ; they shall run and not be weary : they 
shall walk and not faint. 1 They shall cease to be weak 
as they are now, and shall gain in God a great strength; 
they shall not faint; they shall not even feel weary in 
walking the way of salvation, but they shall run and 
fly as eagles; in silence and in hope shall your strength be? 
All our strength, the prophet tells us, consists in placing 
all our confidence in God, and in being silent; that is, 
in reposing in the arms of his mercy, without trusting 
to our own efforts, or to human means. 

And when did it ever happen that a man had confi 
dence in God and was lost? No one hath hoped in the 
Lord and hath been confounded* It was this confidence 
that assured David that he should not perish: In Thee, 
O Lord, have I trusted ; I shall not be confounded forever.* 
Perhaps, then, says St. Augustine, God could be a de 
ceiver, who offers to support us in dangers if we lean 
upon him, and would then withdraw himself if we had 
recourse to him ? " God is not a deceiver, that he should 
offer to support us, and then when we lean upon him 
should slip away from us." 1 David calls the man happy 
who trusts in God: Blessed is the man that trusteth in 

1 " Qui autem sperant in Domino, mutabunt forthudinem, assu- 
ment pennas sicut aquilae, current et non laborabunt, ambulabunt et 
non deficient." Is. xl. 31. 

2 " In silentio et in spe erit fortitude vestra." Is. xxx. 15. 

3 " Nullus speravit in Domino, et confusus est." Eeelus. ii. u. 

4 " In te, Domine, speravi ; non confundar in aeternum." Ps. 
xxx. 2.. 

5 "Non est illusor Deus, ut se ad supportandum nos offerat, et 
nobis innitentibus ei se subtrahat." S. Thomas. Erud. Ptinc. 1. 2, c. 5 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 8 1 

Thee. 1 And why ? because, says he, he who trusts in 
God will always find himself surrounded by God s 
mercy. Mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord? 
So that he shall be surrounded and guarded by God on 
every side in such away that he shall be prevented from 
losing his soul. 

It is for this cause that the Apostle recommends us so 
earnestly to preserve our confidence in God; for (he 
tells us) it will certainly obtain from him a great remu 
neration: Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a 
great reward? As is our confidence, so shall be the graces 
we receive from God: if our confidence is great, great 
too will be the graces: "Great faith merits great 
things." 4 St. Bernard writes that the divine mercy is 
an inexhaustible fountain, and that he who brings to it 
the largest vessel of confidence shall take from it the 
largest measure of gifts: "Neither, O Lord, dost Thou 
put the oil of thy mercy into any other vessel than that 
of confidence." 5 The Prophet had long before ex 
pressed the same thought: Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon 
us (i.e., in proportion) as we have hoped in Thee? This 
was well exemplified in the centurion to whom our 
Saviour said, in praise of his confidence, Go, and as thou 
hast believed, so be it done unto theeJ 1 And our Lord re 
vealed to St. Gertrude that he who prays with confi 
dence does him in a manner such violence that he cannot 

1 " Beatus homo qui sperat in te." Ps. Ixxxiii. 13. 

2 " Sperantem autem in Domino misericordia circumdabit." Ps. 
xxxi. 10. 

3 " Nolite itaque amittere confidentiam vestram, quae magnam 
habet remunerationem." Hebr. x. 35. 

4 " Magna fides, magna meretur. " In Cant. s. 32. 

5 " Nee oleum misericordiae nisi in vasa fiduciae (Domine) ponis." 
De Annunt. s. 3. 

" Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum 
speravimus in te." Ps. xxxii. 22. 

7 " Vade. et sicut credidisti, fiat tibi." Matt. viii. 13. 

82 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

but hear him in everything he asks: " Prayer," says St. 
John Climacus, "does a pious violence to God." It does 
him a violence, but a violence which he likes, and which 
pleases him. 

Let us go, therefore, according to the admonition of St. 
Paul, with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may ob 
tain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid" The throne 
of grace is Jesus Christ, who is now sitting on the right 
hand of the Father; not on the throne of justice, but of 
grace, to obtain pardon for us if we fall into sin, and 
help to enable us to persevere if we are enjoying his 
friendship. To this throne we must always have recourse 
with confidence; that is to say, with that trust which 
springs from faith in the goodness and truth of God, who 
has promised to hear him who prays to him with confi 
dence, but with a confidence that is both sure and stable. 
On the other hand, says St. James, let not the man who 
prays with hesitation think that he will receive anything: 
" For Jie who wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved 
and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think 
to receive anything of the Lord? He will receive nothing, 
because the diffidence which agitates him is unjust tow 
ards God, and will hinder his mercy from listening to 
his prayers: " Thou hast not asked rightly, because thou 
hast asked doubtingly," says St. Basil; "thou hast not 
received grace, because thou hast asked it without confi 
dence." 3 David says that our confidence in God ought 
to be as firm as a mountain, which is not moved by each 
gust of wind. They who trust in the Lord are as Mount 

1 " Adeamus ergo cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae, ut misericordiam 
consequamur, et gratiam inveniamus in auxilio opportune." Hebr. 
iv. 16. 

2 " Qui enim dubitat, similis est fluctui maris, qui a ventomovetur 
et circumfertur; non ergo aestimet homo ille quod accipiat aliquid a 
Domino." James, i. 6. 

3 " Non recte petisti, quia dubitabundus petisti." Const, mon. c. 2. 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 83 

*Sion ; he shall not be moved forever. 1 And it is this that our 
Lord recommends to us, if we wish to obtain the graces 
which we ask: Whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe 
that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you* What 
ever grace you require, be sure of having it, and so you 
shall obtain it. 


But on what, a man will say, am I, a miserable sinner, 
to found this certain confidence of obtaining what I ask ? 
On what? On the promise made by Jesus Christ: Ask, 
and you shall receive? "Who will fear to be deceived, 
when the truth promises ?" says .St. Augustine. 4 How 
can we doubt that we shall be heard, when God, who is 
truth itself, promises to give us that which we ask of 
him in prayer ? " We should not be exhorted to ask," 
says the same Father, " unless he meant to give." 5 Cer 
tainly God would not have exhorted us to ask him for 
favors, if he had not determined to grant them; but this 
is the very thing to which he exhorts us so strongly, and 
which is repeated so often in the Scriptures pray, ask, 
seek, and you shall obtain what you desire: Whatever 
you will, seek and it shall be done to you.* And in order that 
we may pray to him with due confidence, our Saviour 
has taught us, in the " Our Father," that when we have 
recourse to him for the graces necessary to salvation 
(all of which are included in the petitions of the Lord s 
Prayer) we should call him, not Lord, but Father " Our 

1 " Qui confidunt in Domino, sicut mons Sion." Ps. cxxiv. I. 

2 " Qusecumque orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et evenient 
vobis." Mark, xi. 24. 

"Petite, et accipietis." -John, xvi. 24. 

4 "Quis falli timeat, cum promittit Veritas?" Conf. 1. 12, c. I. 

5 " Non nos tantum hortaretur ut peteremus, nisi dare vellet." 
Serm. 105, E. B. 

6 "Quodcumque volueritis, petetis, et fiet vobis." fohn, xv. 7. 

84 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

Father" because it is his will that we should ask God 
for grace with the same confidence with which a son, 
when in want or sick, asks food or medicine from his 
own father. If a son is dying of hunger, he has only to 
make his case known to his father, and his father will 
forthwith provide him with food; and if he has received 
a bite from a venomous serpent, he has only to show his 
father the wound, and the father will immediately apply 
whatever remedy he has. 

Trusting, therefore, in God s promises, let us always 
pray with confidence; not vacillating, but stable and firm, 
as the Apostle says: Let us hold fast the confession of our 
hope without wavering; for He is faithful that hath promised} 
As it is perfectly certain that God is faithful in his 
promises, so ought our faith also to be perfectly certain 
that he will hear us when we pray. And although some 
times, when we are in a state of aridity, or disturbed by 
some fault we have committed, we perhaps do not feel 
while praying that sensible confidence which we would 
wish to experience, yet, for all this, let us force our 
selves to pray, and to pray without ceasing; for God 
will not neglect to hear us. Nay, rather he will hear us 
more readily; because we shall then pray with more dis 
trust of ourselves; and confiding only in the goodness 
and faithfulness of God, who has promised to hear the 
man who prays to him. Oh, how God is pleased in the 
time of our tribulations, of our fears, and of our tempta 
tions, to see us hope against hope; that is, in spite of the 
feeling of diffidence which we then experience because 
of our desolation! This is that for which the Apostle 
praises the patriarch Abraham, who against hope, believed 
in hop el 1 

St. John says that he who reposes a sure trust in God 

1 " Teneamus spei nostraeconfessionem indeclinabilem; fidelis enim 
est qui repromisit." Hebr. x. 23. 

2 " Qui contra spem in spem credidit." Rom. iy. 18. 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 85 

certainly will become a saint: And every one that hath this 
hope in Him sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy. 1 For God 
gives abundant graces to them that trust in him. By 
this confidence the host of martyrs, of virgins, even of 
children, in spite of the dread of the torments which 
their persecutors prepared for them, overcame both their 
tortures and their persecutors. Sometimes, I say, we pray, 
but it seems to us that God will not hear us. Alas! let us 
not then neglect to persevere in prayer and in hope; let 
us then say, with Job, Although He should kill me, I will 
trust in Him? O my God! though Thou hast driven me 
from Thy presence, I will not cease to pray, and to hope 
in Thy mercy. Let us do so, and we shall obtain what 
we want from God. So did the Canaanitish woman, and 
she obtained all that she wished from Jesus Christ. This 
woman had a daughter possessed by a devil, and prayed 
our Saviour to deliver her: Have mercy on me, my daughter 
is grievously tormented by a devil? Our Lord answered 
her, that he was not sent for the Gentiles, of whom she 
was one, but for the Jews. She, however, did not lose 
heart, but renewed her prayer with confidence: Lord, 
Thou canst console me! Thou must console me: Lord, 
help me ! 4 Jesus answered, But as to the bread of the 
children, it is not good to give it to the dogs: // is not 
good to take the children s bread, and to cast it to the dogs? 
But, my Lord, she answered, even the dogs are allowed 
to have the fragments of bread which fall from the table: 
Yea, Lord; for the whelps eat of the crumbs that fall from 
the tables of their masters? Then our Saviour, seeing the 

1 " Et omnis qui habet hanc spem in eo, sanctificat se, sicut et ille 
sanctus est." r John, iiu 3. 

2 " Etiam si occiderit me, in ipso sperabo." Job, xiii. 15. 

3 "Miserere mei, Domine, Fili David: filia mea male a daemonic 
vexatur." Matt. xv. 2.2. 

4 " Domine, adjuva me." 

5 " Non est bonum sumere panem filiorum, et mittere canibus." 

6 " Et catelli edunt de micis." 

86 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

great confidence of this woman, praised her, and did 
what she asked, saying: O woman, great is thy faith; be it 
done to thee as thou wilt. 1 For who, says Ecclesiasticus, 
has ever called on God for aid, and has been neglected 
and left unaided by him? Or who hath called upon Him, 
and He hath despised him ? 2 

St. Augustine says that prayer is a key which opens 
heaven to us; the same moment in which our prayer as 
cends to God, the grace which we ask for descends to 
us: "The prayer of the just is the key of heaven; the 
petition ascends, and the mercy of God descends." 3 The 
royal prophet writes that our supplications and God s 
mercy are united together: Blessed is God, who has not 
turned away my prayer, nor His mercy for me* And hence 
the same St. Augustine says that when we are praying 
to God, we ought to be certain that God is hearing us: 
" When you see that your prayer is not removed from 
you, be sure that his mercy is not removed from 
you." And for myself, I speak the truth, I never feel 
greater consolation, nor a greater confidence of my salva 
tion, than when I am praying to God, and recommend 
ing myself to him. And I think that the same thing 
happens to all other believers; for the other signs of our 
salvation are uncertain and unstable; but that God hears 
the man who prays to him with confidence is an infal 
lible truth, as it is infallible that God cannot fail in his 

When we find ourselves weak, and unable to overcome 
any passion, or any great difficulty, so as to fulfil that 

1 "O mulier! magna est fides tua; fiat tibi sicut vis." 

8 " Quis invocavit eum, et despexit ilium?" Ecclus. ii. 12. 

3 " Oratio justi clavis est coeli: ascendit precatio, et descendit Dei 
mise ratio." Serin. 47, E. B. app. 

4 " Benedictus Deus, qui non amovit orationem meam et misericor- 
diam suam a me." Ps. Ixv. 20. 

5 " Cum videris non a te amotam deprecationem tuam, securusesto 
quia non e_st a te amota mise.riqordia ejus." In Ps. Ixv, 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 87 

which God requires of us, let us take courage and say, 
with the Apostle, I can do all things in Him, who strength- 
eneth me. 1 Let us not say, as some do, I cannot; I dis 
trust myself. With our own strength certainly we can 
do nothing; but with God s help we can do everything. 
If God said to any one, Take this mountain on your back, 
and carry it, for I am helping you, would not the man be 
a mistrustful fool if he answered, I will not take it; for 
I have not strength to carry it ? And thus, when we 
know how miserable and weak we are, and when we find 
ourselves most encompassed with temptations, let us not 
lose heart; but let us lift up our eyes to God, and say, 
with David, The Lord is my helper ; and I will despise my 
enemies? With the help of my Lord, I shall overcome 
and laugh to scorn all the assaults of my foes. And 
when we find ourselves in danger of offending God, or in 
any other critical position, and are too confused to know 
what is best to be done, let us recommend ourselves to 
God, saying, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom 
shall I fear ^ And let us be sure that God will then 
certainly give us light, and will save us from every evil. 


But I am a sinner, you will say; and in the Scriptures 
I read, God heareth not sinners? St. Thomas answers 
(with St. Augustine) that this was said by the blind man, 
who, when he spoke, had not as yet been enlightened: 
" That is the word of a blind man not yet perfectly 
enlightened, and therefore it is not authoritative." 6 

1 " Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat." Phil. iv. 13. 

* Dominus mihi adjutor, et ego despiciam inimicos meos." Ps. 
cxvii. 7. 

3 " Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea, quern timebo ?" Ps. 
xxvi. i. 

4 " Peccatores Deus non audit." -John, ix. 31. 

5 " Illud verbum est coeci nondum perfecte illuminati, et ideo non 
est ratum." 2. 2. q. 83, a. 16. 

88 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

Though, adds St. Thomas, it is true of the petition which 
the sinner makes, " so far forth as he is a sinner;" that 
is, when he asks from a desire of continuing to sin; as, 
for instance, if he were to ask assistance to enable him to 
take revenge on his enemy, or to execute any other bad 
intention. The same holds good for the sinner who prays 
God to save him, but has no desire to quit the state of 
sin. There are some unhappy persons who love the 
chains with which the devil keeps them bound like 
slaves. The prayers of such men are not heard by God; 
because they are rash, presumptuous, and abominable. 
For what greater presumption can there be than for a 
man to ask favors of a prince whom he not only has of 
ten offended, but whom he intends to offend still more ? 
And this is the meaning of the Holy Spirit, when he 
says that the prayer of him who turns away his ears so 
as not to hear what God commands is detestable and 
odious to God: He who turneth away his ears from learning 
the law, his prayer shall be an abomination. 1 To these peo 
ple God says, It is of no use your praying to me, for I 
will turn My eyes from you, and will not hear you: 
When you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes 
from you; and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear? 
Such, precisely, was the prayer of the impious King An- 
tiochus, who prayed to God, and made great promises, 
but insincerely, and with a heart obstinate in sin; the 
sole object of his prayer being to escape the punishment 
that impended over him; therefore God did not hear his 
prayer, but caused him to die devoured by worms: Then 
this wicked man prayed to the Lord, of whom he was not to ob 
tain mercy? 

1 " Qui declinat aures suas ne audiat legem, oratio ejus erit execra- 
bilis." Prov. xxviii. 9. 

2 " Cum extenderitis manus vestras, avertam oculos meos a vobis; 
et cum multiplicaveritis orationem, non exaudiam." Is. \. 15. 

3 "Orabathic scelestus Dominum, a quo misericordiam non esset 
consecuturus." 2 Much. ix. 13. 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 89 

But others, who sin through frailty, or by the violence 
of some great passion, and who groan under the yoke of 
the enemy, and desire to break these chains of death, 
and to escape from their miserable slavery, and therefore 
ask the assistance of God; the prayer of these, if it is 
persevering, will certainly be heard by him, who says 
that every one that asks receives; and he who seeks 
grace finds it: For every one that asketh receiveth, and he 
that seeketh findeth? " Every one, whether he be a just 
man or a sinner," says the author of the Opus Imperfec- 
tum? And in St. Luke, our Lord, when speaking of the 
man who gave all the loaves he had to his friend, not so 
much on account of his friendship as because of the 
other s importunity, says, If he shall continue knocking, 1 
say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is 
his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give 
him as many as he needeth? And so I say unto you, Ask, and 
it shall be given you. So that persevering prayer obtains 
mercy from God, even for those who are not his friends. 
That which is not obtained through friendship, says St. 
Chrysostom, is obtained by prayer: "That which was 
not effected by friendship was effected by prayer." He 
even says that prayer is valued more by God than friend 
ship: "Friendship is not of such avail with God as 
prayer; that which is not effected by friendship is 
effected by prayer. 5 And St. Basil doubts not that even 
sinners obtain what they ask if they persevere in pray- 

1 "Omnis enim qui petit, accipit, et qui quaerit, invenit." Matt. 
vii. 8. 

2 "Omnis, sive Justus, sive peccator sit." Horn. 18. 

3 " Dico vobis, et si non dabit illi surgens eo quod amicus ejus sit, 
propter improbitatem tamen ejus surget, et dabit illi quotquot habet 
necessaries." Luke, xi. 8. 

4 " Et ego dico vobis: Petite, et dabitur vobis." 

6 " Non tarn valet amicitia apud Deum, quam oratio; et quod 
amicitia non perfecit, perfectum est ab oratione." Horn. Non esse 

90 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

ing: " Sinners obtain what they seek, if they seek per- 
severingly." St. Gregory says the same: "The sinner 
also shall cry, and his prayer shall reach to God." 2 So 
St. Jerome, 3 who says that even the sinner can call God 
his Father, if he prays to him to receive him anew as a 
son; after the example of the Prodigal Son, who called 
him Father, Father, I have sinned? even though he had 
not as yet been pardoned. If God did not hear sinners, 
says St. Augustine, in vain would the Publican have 
asked for forgiveness: " If God does not hear sinners, in 
vain would that Publican have said, God be merciful to 
me a sinner." 5 But the Gospel assures us that the Pub 
lican did by his prayer obtain forgiveness: This man went 
down to his house justified? 

But further still, St. Thomas examines this point more 
minutely, and does not hesitate to affirm that even the 
sinner is heard if he prays; for though his prayer is not 
meritorious, yet it has the power of impetration, that is, 
of obtaining what we ask; because impetration is not 
founded on God s justice, but on his goodness. " Merit," 
he says, "depends on justice; impetration, on grace." 
Thus did Daniel pray, Incline, O my God, Thine ear and 
hear. . . . For not in our justifications do we present our 
prayers before Thy face, but in the multitude of Thy mercies. 9 

1 "Peccatores impetrant quod petunt, si perseveranter petunt." 
Const. Man. c. I. 

* "Clamet et peccator, ut ad Deum sua perveniat oratio." In Ps. 
vi. pan. 

3 Ep. ad Dam. de Fit. prod. 

4 " Pater, peccavi." Luke, xv. 21. 

5 " Si enim peccatores Deus non exaudiret, frustra ille Publicanus 
diceret: Deus, propitius esto mihi peccatori." In Jo. tr. 44. 

6 " Descendit hie justificatus in domum suam." Luke, xviii. 14. 

1 " Meritum innititur justitiae, sed impetratio innititur gratiae." 2. 
2. q. 83, a. 16. 

8 " Inclina, Deus meus, aurem tuam, et audi . . . ; neque enim in 
justificationibus nostris prosternimus preces ante faciem tuam, sed in 
miserationibus tuis multis." Dan. ix. 18. 

The Confidence with which we ought to Pray. 91 

Therefore, when we pray, says St. Thomas, it is not nec 
essary to be friends of God, in order to obtain the grace 
we ask; for prayer itself renders us his friends: " Prayer 
itself makes us of the family of God." 1 Moreover, St. 
Bernard uses a beautiful explanation of this, saying that 
the prayer of a sinner to escape from sin arises from the 
desire to return to the grace of God. Now this desire 
is a gift, which is certainly given by no other than God 
himself; to what end, therefore, says St. Bernard, would 
God give to a sinner this holy desire, unless he meant to 
hear him ? " For what would he give the desire, unless 
he willed to hear?" 2 And, indeed, in the Holy Scrip 
tures themselves there are multitudes of instances of sin 
ners who have been delivered from sin by prayer. Thus 
was King Achab 3 delivered; thus King Manasses; 4 thus 
King Nabuchodonosor; 5 and thus the good thief. 6 Oh, 
the wonderful! oh, the mighty power of prayer ! Two 
sinners are dying on Calvary by the side of Jesus Christ: 
one, because he prays, "Remember me," is saved; the 
other, because he prays not, is damned. 

And, in fine, St. Chrysostom says, " No man has with 
sorrow asked favors from him, without obtaining what 
he wished." 7 No sinner has ever with penitence prayed 
to God, without having his desires granted. But why 
should we cite more authorities, and give more reasons, 
to demonstrate this point, when our Lord himself says, 
Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will 
refresh you.* The "burdened," according to Saints 

1 " Ipsa oratio familiares nos Deo facit." Comp. Theol. p. 2, c. 2. 

2 " Desiderium ad quid daret, nisi vellet exaudire?" 

3 3 Kings, xxi. 27. 

4 2 Par. xxxiii. 12. 

5 Dan. iv. 31. 

6 Luke, xxiii. 42. 

7 " Nullus ab eo beneficia dolenter postulavit, qui non impetravit 
quod voluit." Horn, de Mays. 

" Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego refici- 
am vos." Matt. xi. 28. 

92 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

Augustine, Jerome, and others, are sinners in general, 
who groan under the load of their sins; and who, if they 
have recourse to God, will surely, according to his 
promise, be refreshed and saved by his grace. Ah, we 
cannot desire to be pardoned so much as he longs to 
pardon us. "Thou dost not," says St. Chrysostom, "so 
much desire thy sins to be forgiven, as he desires to 
forgive thy sins." There is no grace, he goes on to say, 
that is not obtained by prayer, though it be the prayer 
of the most abandoned sinner, provided only it be per 
severing: " There is nothing which prayer cannot obtain, 
though a man be guilty of a thousand sins, provided it 
be fervent and unremitting." ; And let us mark well the 
words of St. James: If any man wanteth wisdom, let him 
ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly, and upbraideth not* 
All those, therefore, who pray to God, are infallibly 
heard by him, and receive grace in abundance: He giveth 
to all abundantly. But you should particularly remark 
the words which follow, and upbraideth not. This means 
that God does not do as men, who, when a person who 
has formerly done them an injury comes to ask a favor, 
immediately upbraid him with his offence. God does 
not do so to the man who prays, even though he were 
the greatest sinner in the world, when he asks for some 
grace conducive to his eternal salvation. Then he does 
not upbraid him with the offences he has committed; 
but, as though he had never displeased him, he in 
stantly receives him, he consoles him, he hears him, 
and enriches him with an abundance of his gifts. To 
crown all, our Saviour, in order to encourage us to 

1 " Non adeo cupis dimitti peccata tua, sicut ille cupit peccata di- 
mittere." In Act. horn. 36. 

2 " Nihil est quod non obtineat oratio, etiamsi mille peccatis ob- 
noxius sis, sed vehemeris. sed assidua." 

3 " Si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientia, postulet a Deo, qui dat 
omnibus affluenter, et non improperat." James, i. 5. 

The Confidence with which zue oiight to Pray. 93 

pray, says, Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father 
anything in My name, He will give it you. 1 As though he 
had said, Courage, O sinners; do not despair: do not let 
your sins turn you away from having recourse to My 
Father, and from hoping to be saved by him, if you de 
sire it. You have not now any merits to obtain the 
graces which you ask for, for you only deserve to be 
punished; still do this: go to My Father in My name, 
through My merits ask the favors which you want, and I 
promise and swear to you (" Amen, amen, I say to you," 
which, according to St. Augustine, is a species of oath) 
that whatever you ask, My Father will grant. O God, 
what greater comfort can a sinner have after his fall 
than to know for certain that all that he asks from God 
in the name of Jesus Christ will be given to him ! 

I say "all;" but I mean only that which has reference 
to his eternal salvation; for with respect to temporal 
goods, we have already shown that God, even when 
asked, sometimes does not give them; because he sees 
that they would injure our soul. Bat so far as relates 
to spiritual goods, his promise to hear us is not condi 
tional, but absolute; and therefore St. Augustine tells 
us, that those things which God promises absolutely, 
we should demand with absolute certainty of receiving: 
" Those things which God promises, seek with certainty." 2 
And how, says the saint, can God ever deny us anything, 
when we ask him for it with confidence ? how much 
more does he desire to dispense to us his graces, than 
we to receive them ! " He is more willing to be munifi 
cent of his benefits to thee than thou art desirous to 
receive them." ; 

St. Chrysostom says that the only time when God is 

1 "Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine 
meo, dabit vobis." John, xvi. 23. 

2 " Quse Deus promittit, securi petite." Serm. 354. E. B. 

3 " Plus vult ille dare, quam nos accipere." Serm. 105, E. B. 

94 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

angry with us is when we neglect to ask him for his 
gifts: " He is only angry when we do not pray." 1 And 
how can it ever happen that God will not hear a soul who 
asks him for favors all according to his pleasure ? When 
the soul says to him, Lord, I ask Thee not for goods of 
this world, riches, pleasures, honors; I ask Thee only 
for Thy grace: deliver me from sin, grant me a good 
death, give me Paradise, give me Thy holy love (which 
is that grace which St. Francis de Sales says we should 
seek more than all others), give me resignation to Thy 
will ; how is it possible that God should not hear! What 
petitions wilt Thou, O my God, ever hear (says St. Au 
gustine), if Thou dost not hear those which are made 
after Thy own heart? "What prayers dost Thou hear, 
if Thou hearest not these ?" 2 But, above all, our confi 
dence ought to revive, when we pray to God for spiritual 
graces, as Jesus Christ says: If you, being evil, know how 
to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your 
Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask 
Him ! 3 If you, who are so attached to your own inter 
ests, so full of self-love, cannot refuse your children that 
which they ask, how much more will your heavenly 
Father, who loves you better than any earthly father, 
grant you his spiritual goods when you pray for them ! 

The Perseverance Required in Prayer. 

Our prayers, then, must be humble and confident ; but 
this is not enough to obtain final perseverance, and there 
by eternal life. Individual prayers will obtain the indi- 

1 " Nonnisi quando non postulamus, irascitur." In Matt. horn. 23. 

2 " Quas preces exaudis, si has non exaildis?" De Civ. Dei, 1. 22, 
c. 8. 

3 " Si ergo vos, cum sitis mali, nostis bona data dare filiis vestris; 
quanto magis Pater vester de coelo dabit spiritum bonum petentibus 
se ! " Luke, xi. 15. 

Perseverance Required in Prayer. 95 

vidual graces which they ask of God ; but unless they are 
persevering, they will not obtain final perseverance : 
which, as it is the accumulation of many graces, requires 
many prayers, that are not to cease till death. The grace 
of salvation is not a single grace, but a chain of graces, 
all of which are at last linked with the grace of final per 
severance. Now, to this chain of graces there ought to 
correspond another chain (as it were) of our prayers; if 
we, by neglecting to pray, break the chain of our pray 
ers, the chain of graces will be broken too ; and as it is 
by this that we have to obtain salvation, we shall not be 

It is true that we cannot merit final perseverance, as 
the Council of Trent teaches: "It cannot be had from 
any other source but from him who is able to confirm the 
man who is standing, that he may stand with persever 
ance." Nevertheless, says St. Augustine, this great gift 
of perseverance can in a manner be merited by our pray 
ers; that is, can be obtained by praying: This gift, 
therefore, can be suppliantly merited; that is, can be ob 
tained by supplication." And F. Suarez adds, that the 
man who prays, infallibly obtains it. But to obtain it, 
and to save ourselves, says St. Thomas, a persevering and 
continual prayer is necessary : " After baptism continual 
prayer is necessary to a man in order that he may enter 
heaven." : And before this, our Saviour himself had 
said it over and over again : We ought always to pray, and 
not to faint? Watch ye therefore, praying at all times, that 
you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are 

1 " Aliunde haberi non potest, nisi ab eo qui potens est, eum qui 
stat, statuere ut perseveranter stet." Sess. 6, c. 13. 

2 " Hoc Dei donum suppliciter emereri potest." De Dono pers, c. 6. 

3 " Post baptismum autem, necessaria est homini jugis oratio, ad 
hoc quod coelum introeat." P. 3, q. 39, a. 5. 

4 "Oportet semper orare, et non deficere." Ltike, xviii. I. 

96 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

to come, and to stand before the Son of man. 1 The same had 
been previously said in the Old Testament : Let nothing 
hinder thee from praying always? Bless God at all times, 
and desire Him to direct thy ways. 3 Hence the Apostle in 
culcated on his disciples never to neglect prayer : Pray 
without intermission* Be instant in prayer, watching in it 
with thanksgiving? I will therefore that men pray in every 
place? God does indeed wish to give us perseverance, 
says St. Nilus, but he will only give it to him who prays 
for it perseveringly : " He willeth to confer benefits on 
him who perseveres in prayer. : Many sinners by the 
help of God s grace come to be converted, and to receive 
pardon. But then, because they neglect to ask for per 
severance, they fall again, and lose all. 

Nor is it enough, says Bellarmine, to ask the grace of 
perseverance once, or a few times ; we ought always to 
ask it, every day till our death, if we wish to obtain it : 
" It must be asked day by day, that it may be obtained 
day by day." He who asks it one day, obtains it for 
that one day ; but if he does not ask it the next day, the 
next day he will fall. 

And this is the lesson which our Lord wished to teach 
us in the parable of the man who would not give his 
loaves to his friend who asked him for them until he had 
become importunate in his demand : Although he will not 

1 " Vigilate itaque omni tempore orantes, ut digni habeamini fugere 
ista omnia quae futura sunt, et stare ante Filium hominis." Luke. xxi. 

2 " Non impediaris orare semper." Ecclus. xviii. 22. 

3 "Omni tempore benedic Deum, et pete ab eo ut vias tuas diri- 
gat." Job, iv. 20. 

4 "Sine intermissione orate." i Thess. v. 17. 

5 "Oration! instate, vigilantes in ea." Col. iv. 2. 

6 " Volo ergo viros orare in omni loco." i Tim. ii. 8. 

7 " Vult beneficio afficere in oratione perseverantem. " De Orat. c. 


8 " Quotidie petenda est, ut quotidie obtineatur." 

The Perseverance Required in Prayer. 97 

rise and give because he is his friend, yet because of his impor 
tunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 1 Now 
if this man, solely to deliver himself from the trouble 
some importunity of his friend, gave him even against 
his own will the loaves for which he asked, " how much 
more," says St. Augustine, " will the good God give, who 
both commands us to ask, and is angry if we ask not ! " 
How much more will God, who, as he is infinite good 
ness, has a commensurate desire to communicate to us 
his good things, how much more will he give his graces 
when we ask him for them ! And the more, as he him 
self tells us to ask for them, and as he is displeased when 
we do not demand them. God, then, does indeed wish to 
give us eternal life, and therein aU graces; but he wishes 
also that we should never omit to ask him for them, even 
to the extent of being troublesome. Cornelius a Lapide 
says on the text just quoted, " God wishes us to be per 
severing in prayer to the extent of importunity." : Men 
of the world cannot bear the importunate; but God not 
only bears with them, but wishes us to be importunate in 
praying to him for graces, and especially for persever 
ance. St. Gregory says that God wishes us to do him 
violence by our prayers; for such violence does not annoy, 
but pleases him: " God wills to be called upon, he wills 
to be forced, he wills to be conquered by importunity. 
. . . Happy violence, by which God is not offended, but 
appeased !" 4 

"Si non dabit ille surgens eo quod amicus ejus sit, propter im- 
probitatem tamen ejus surget, et dabit illi quotquot habet necessa 
ries. " Luke, xi. 8. 

2 " Quanto magis dabit (Deus) bonus, qui nos hortatur ut petamus, 
cui displicet, si non petamus! " Semi. 61, E. B. 

3 "Vult Deus nos in oratione esse perseverantes usque ad impor- 
tunitatem." In Luc. xi. 8. 

"Vult Deus rogari, vult cogi, vult quadam importunitate vinci. 
. . . Bona violentia, qua Deus non offenditur, sed placatur." In Ps. 
pa > lit. vi. 

98 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI. 

So that to obtain perseverance we must always recom 
mend ourselves to God, morning and night, at medita 
tion, at Mass, at Communion, and always; especially in 
time of temptation, when we must keep repeating, Lord, 
help me; Lord, assist me; keep Thy hand upon me; 
leave me not; have pity upon me ! Is there anything 
easier than to say, Lord, help me, assist me! The Psalm 
ist says, With me is prayer to the God of my life. 1 On 
which the gloss is as follows: " A man may say, I cannot 
fast, I cannot give alms; but if he is told to pray, he can 
not say this/ Because there is nothing easier than to 
pray. But we must never cease praying; we must (so 
to speak) continually do violence to God, that he may 
assist us always a violence which is delightful and dear 
to him." "This violence is grateful to God," says Ter- 
tullian; 3 and St. Jerome says that the more persevering 
and importunate our prayers are, so much the more are 
they acceptable to God: " Prayer, as long as it is impor 
tunate, is more acceptable." 

Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily 
at my gates? Happy is that man, says God, who listens 
to Me, and watches continually with holy prayers at the 
gates of My mercy And Isaias says, Blessed are all they 
that wait for Him? Blessed are they who till the end 
wait (in prayer) for their salvation from God. There 
fore in the Gospel Jesus Christ exhorts us to pray; but 
how ? Ask) and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; 

1 " Apud me oratio Deo vitae meae." Ps. xli. 9. 

2 %< Dicetquis: Non possum jejunare, dare eleemosynas; si dicitur 
ei: Ora; non potest hoc dicere." 

3 " Haec vis Deo grata est." Apolog. c. 39. 

4 " Oratio, quamvis importuna, plus arnica est." Horn, in Matt. 

5 " Beatus homo qui audit me, et qui vigilat ad fores meas quoti- 
die." Prov. viii. 34. 

6 " Petite, et dabitur vobis; quserite, et invenietis; pulsate, et 
aperietur vobis." Luke, xi. 9. 

The Perseverance Required in Prayer. 99 

knock, and it shall be opened to you. 1 Would it not have 
been enough to have said, " ask ? " why add " seek" and 
"knock?" No, it was not superfluous to add them; for 
thereby our Saviour wished us to understand that we 
ought to do as the poor who go begging. If they do not 
receive the alms they ask (I speak of licensed beggars), 
they do not cease asking; they return to ask again; and 
if the master of the house does not show himself any 
more, they set to work to knock at the door, till they be 
come very importunate and troublesome. That is what 
God wishes us to do: to pray, and to pray again, and 
never leave oft praying, that he would assist us and suc 
cor us, that he would enlighten us and strengthen us, 
and never allow us to forfeit his grace. The learned 
Lessius says 2 that the man cannot be excused from 
mortal sin who does not pray when he is in sin, or in 
danger of death; or, again, if he neglects to pray for any 
notable time, as (he says) for one or two months. But 
this does not include the time of temptations; because 
whoever finds himself assailed by any grievous tempta 
tion, without doubt sins mortally if he does not have re 
course to God in prayer, to ask for assistance to resist 
it; seeing that otherwise he places himself in a proxi 
mate, nay, in a certain, occasion of sin. 



But, some one will say, since God can give and wishes 
to give me the grace of perseverance, why does he not 
give it me all at once, when I ask him ? 

The holy Fathers assign many reasons: 

i. God does not grant it at once, but delays it, first, 
that he may better prove our confidence. 

" Beati oranes qui exspectant eum." Is. xxx. 18. 
De Just, et Jure, 1. 2, c. 37. d. 3. 

I oo The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

2. And, further, says St. Augustine, that we may long 
for it more vehemently. Great gifts, he says, should be 
greatly desired; for good things soon obtained are not 
held in the same estimation as those which have been 
long looked for: " God wills not to give quickly, that 
you may learn to have great desire for great things; 
things long desired are pleasanter to obtain, but things 
soon given are cheapened." 1 

3. Again, the Lord does so that we may not forget 
him; if we were already secure of persevering and of 
being saved, and if we had not continual need of God s 
help to preserve us in his grace and to save us, we should 
soon forget God. Want makes the poor keep resorting 
to the houses of the rich; so God, to draw us to himself, 
as St. Clirysos^tom says, and to see us often at his feet, 
in order that he may thus be able to do us greater good, 
delays giving us the complete grace of salvation till the 
hour of our death: "It is not because he rejects our 
prayers that he delays, but by this contrivance he wishes 
to make us careful, and to draw us to himself," 3 Again, 
he does so in order that we, by persevering in prayer, 
may unite ourselves closer to him with the sweet bonds 
of love: u Pi aver," says the same St. Chrysostom, 
"which is accustomed to converse with God, is no slight 
bond of love to him." : This continual recurrence to 
God in prayer, and this confident expectation of the 
graces which we desire from him, oh, what a great spur 
and chain is it of love to inflame us, and to bind us more 
closely to God ! 

1 " Non vult (Deus) cito dare, ut discas magna magne desiderare: 
diu desiderata dulcius obtinentur; cito autem data vilescunt." Serm. 
61, E. B. 

a " Neque renuens nostras preces differt; sed hac arte, sedulos nos 
efficiens, ad semetipsum attrahere vult." In Gen. horn. 30. 

3 " Oratio non parvum vinculum est dilectionis in Deum, quae cum 
eo colloqui assuefacit." In Ps. iv. 

TJie Perseverance Required in Prayer. 101 

But, till what time have we to pray? Always, says 
the same saint, till we receive favorable sentence of eter 
nal life; that is to say, till our death: "Do not leave off 
till you receive."" And he goes on to say that the man 
who resolves, I will never leave off praying till I am 
saved, will most certainly be saved: "If you say, I will 
not give in till I have received, you will assuredly re 
ceive." 2 The Apostle writes that many run for the prize, 
but that he only receives it who runs till he wins: Know 
you not that they who run in the race, all run indeed, but one 
receive th the prize ? So run that you may obtain. 3 It is 
not, then, enough for salvation simply to pray; but we 
must pray always, that we may come to receive the 
crown which God promises, but promises only to those 
who are constant in prayer till the end. 

So that if we wish to be saved, we must do as David 
did, who always kept his eyes turned to God, to implore 
his aid against being overcome by his enemies: My eyes 
are ever towards the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of 
the snared As the devil does not cease continually 
spreading snares to swallow us up, as St. Peter writes: 
Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seek 
ing whom he may devour? so ought we ever to stand with 
our arms in our hands to defend ourselves from such a 
foe, and to say, with the royal prophet, / will pursue after 
my enemies; and I will not turn again till they are consumed? 

1 " Non desistas, donee accipias." In Matt. horn. 24. 

- " Si dixeris: Nisi accepero, non recedam; prorsus accipies." 

3 " Nescitis quod, ii qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, 
sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite ut comprehendatis." I Cor, 
ix. 24. 

4 " Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes 
meos." Ps. xxiv. 15. 

6 " Adversarius vester diabolus, tamquam leo rugiens, circuit quse- 
rens quern devoret." I Pet. v. 8. 

6<l Persequar inimicos meos, . . . et non convertar, donee de- 
ficiant." Ps. xvii. 38. 

io2 The Conditions of Prayer. [PARTI 

I will never cease fighting till I see my enemies con 
quered. But how can we obtain this victory, so impor 
tant for us, and so difficult ? " By most persevering 
prayers," 1 says St. Augustine, only by prayers, and 
those most persevering; and till when ? As long as the 
fight shall last. "As the battle is never over," says St. 
Bonaventure, " so let us never give over asking for 
mercy." 2 As we must be always in the combat, so 
should we be always asking God for aid not to be overcome. 
Woe, says the Wise Man, to him who in this battle leaves 
off praying: Woe to them that have lost patience? We may 
be saved, the Apostle tells us, but on this condition, if 
we retain a firm confidence and the glory of hope until the endj* 
if we are constant in praying with confidence until 

Let us, then, take courage from the mercy of God, and 
his promises, and say with the same Apostle, Who then shall 
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or 
distress, or danger, or persecution, or the sword?* Who shall 
succeed in estranging us from the love of Jesus Christ? 
Tribulation, perhaps, or the danger of losing the goods 
of this world ? The persecutions of devils or men ? The 
torments inflicted by tyrants? /// all these we overcome 
(it is St. Paul who encourages us), because of Him that 
hath loved us.* No, he says, no tribulation, no misery, 
danger, persecution, or torture, shall ever be able to sep 
arate us from the love of Jesus Christ; because with God s 

1 " Perseverantissimis precibus." 

2 " Sicut nunquam deficit pugna, sic nunquam cessemus petere mi- 
sericordiam." De uno Conf. s. 5. 

3 "Vse his qui perdiderunt sustinentiam." Ecclus. ii. 16. 

4 "Si fiduciamet gloriam spei, usque ad finem, firmam retineamus." 
Heb. iii. 6. 

5 " Quis ergo nos separabit a charitate Christ! ? tribulatio, an an- 
gustia. an periculum, an persecutio, an gladius?" Rom. viii. 35,37- 

6 " Sed in his omnibus superamus, propter eum qui dilexit nos." 

The Perseverance Required in Prayer. 103 

help we shall overcome all, if we fight for love of him 
who gave his life for us.- 

F. Hippolitus Durazzo, the day when he resolved to 
relinquish his dignity of prelate at Rome, and to give 
himself entirely to God by entering the Society of Jesus 
(which he afterwards did), was so afraid of being faith 
less by reason of his weakness that he said to God, 
" Forsake me not, Lord, now that I have given myself 
wholly to Thee; for pity s sake, do not forsake me !" But 
he heard the whisper of God in his heart, "Do not thou 
forsake Me; rather," said God, "do I say tothee, Forsake 
Me not." And so at last the servant of God, trusting in 
his goodness and help, concluded, Then, O my God, 
Thou wilt not leave me, : and I will not leave Thee." 2 

Finally, if we wish not to be forsaken by God, we 
ought never to forsake praying to him not to leave us. 
If we do thus, he will certainly always assist us, and will 
never allow us to perish, and to be separated from his 
love. And to this end let us not only take care always 
to ask for final perseverance, and the graces necessary to 
obtain it, but let us, at the same time, always by anticipa 
tion ask God for grace to go on praying; for this is pre 
cisely that great gift which he promised to his elect by 
the mouth of the prophet: And I will pour out upon the 
house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the 
spirit of grace and prayers? Oh, what a great grace is the 
spirit of prayer; that is, the grace which God confers on 
a soul to enable it to pray always ! Let us, then, never 
neglect to beg God to give us this grace, and this spirit 
of continual prayer; because if we pray always, we shall 
certainly obtain from God perseverance and every other 
gift which we desire, since his promise of hearing who- 

1 " Non me deseras." 

2 " Tu non me deseras." 

3 " Et effundam super domum David et super habitatores Jerusa 
lem spiritum gratiae et precum." Zach. xii. 10. 

1 04 The Conditions of Prayer. [PART i. 

ever prays to him cannot fail. For we are saved by hope." ] 
With this hope of ahvays praying, we may reckon our 
selves saved. " Confidence will give us a broad entrance 
into this city." 2 This hope, said Venerable Bede, will 
give us a safe passage into the city of Paradise. 

1 " Spe enim salvi facti sumus." Rom. viii. 24. 
8 " Hujus nobisurbisfiducialatumprsebebitingressum." Insolemn. 
omn. SS. horn. 2. 


) proves iljat tlje State of Drawer is gincn to ail, 
ana toljicl) treats of tl)e (Drbinarji ittobe in rotyicl) tl)is 
(Snrace operates. 


TAKING, then, for granted that prayer is necessary for 
the attainment of eternal life, as we have proved in Part 
I., chap, i., we should consequently, also, take for granted 
that every one has sufficient aid from God to enable him 
actually to pray, without need of any further special 
grace; and that by prayer he may obtain all other graces 
necessary to enable him to persevere in keeping the 
commandments, and so gain eternal life; so that no one 
who is lost can ever excuse himself by saying that it was 
through want of the aid necessary for his salvation. For 
as God, in the natural order, has ordained that man 
should be born naked, and in want of several things 
necessary for life, but then has given him hands and in 
telligence to clothe himself and provide for his other 
needs; so, in the supernatural order, man is born unable 
to obtain salvation by his own strength; but God in his 
goodness grants to every one the grace of prayer, by 
which he is able to obtain all other graces which he needs 
in order to keep the commandments and to be saved. 

But before I explain this point, I must prove two pre 
liminary propositions. First, that God wills all men to 
be saved; and therefore that Jesus Christ has died for 
all. Secondly, that God, on his part, gives to all men 
the graces necessary for salvation; whereby every one 
may be saved if he corresponds to them. 

io6 God wishes all Men to be saved. LPARTII. 




God wishes All Men to be saved. 

GOD loves all things that he has created: For Thou 
lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things that 
Thou hast made. 1 Now love cannot be idle: "All love 
has a force of its own, and cannot be idle," 2 says St. 
Augustine. Hence love necessarily implies benevolence, 
so that the person who loves cannot help doing good to 
the person beloved whenever there is an opportunity: 
" Love persuades a man to do those things which he 
believes to be good for him whom he loves," 3 says 
Aristotle. If, then, God loves all men, he must in con 
sequence will that all should obtain eternal salvation, 
which is the one and sovereign good of man, seeing that 
it is the one end for which he was created: You have 
your fruit unto sanctification ; but your end eternal life* 

This doctrine, that God wishes all men to be saved, 
and that Jesus Christ died for the salvation of all, is now 
a certain doctrine taught by the Catholic Church, as 
theologians in common teach, namely, Petavius, Gonet, 

1 " Diligis enim omnia quae sunt, et nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti." 
Wis. xi. 25. 

2 " Habet omnis amor vim suam, nee potest vacare." In Ps. cxxi. 

3 "Amor, quae bona illi esse credit quern amat, ea studet efficere." 
Rhetor. 1. 2, c. 4. 

4 " Habetis fructum vestrum in sanctificationem, finem vero vitam 
aeternam." Rom. vi. 22. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 107 

Gotti, and others, besides Tourneley, who adds, that it 
is a doctrine all but of faith. 1 


With reason, therefore, were the predestinarians con 
demned, who, among their errors, taught (as may be 
seen in Noris, Petavius, and more especially in Tour 
neley) that God does not will all men to be saved; as 
Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, testifies of them in his 
first letter, where he says, " The ancient predestinarians 
asserted that God does not will all men to be saved, but 
only those who are saved." These persons were con 
demned, first in the Council of Arjes, A.D. 475, which pro 
nounced * anathema to him that said that Christ did not 
die for all men, and that he does not will all to be 
saved." 3 They were next condemned in the Council of 
Lyons, A.D. 490, where Lucidus was forced to retract and 
confess, " I condemn the man who says that Christ did 
not suffer death for the salvation of all men." 4 So also 
in the ninth century, Gotheschalcus, who renewed the 
same error, was condemned by the Council of Quercy, 
A.D. 853, in the third article of which it was decided 
" God wills all men, without exception, to be saved, 
although all men be not saved;" and in the fourth article: 
"There is no man for whom Christ did not suffer, 
although all men be not redeemed by the mystery of his 
Passion." 5 The same error was finally condemned in 

1 Proxima fidei. 

2 " Veteres praedestinatiani dixerunt, quoniam non vult Deus omnes 
salvos fieri, sed tantum eos qui salvantur." 

"Anathema illi qui dixerit quod Christus non pro omnibus mor- 
tuus sit, nee omnes homines salvos esse velit." Analh. 6. 

4 " Damno eum qui dicit quod Christus mortem non pro omnium 
salute susceperit." 

5 " Deus omnes homines sine exceptione vult salvos fieri, licet non 
omnes salventur. Nullus est pro quo (Christus) passus non fuerit, licet 
non omnes passionis ejus mysterio redimantur." Art. 3, 4. 

io8 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

the 1 2th and i3th Propositions of Quesnel. In the 
former it was said: "When God wills to save a soul, the 
will of God is undoubtedly effectual;" in the latter: " All 
whom God wills to save through Christ are infallibly 
saved." These propositions were justly condemned, 
precisely because they meant that God does not will all 
men to be saved; since from the proposition that those 
whom God wills to be saved are infallibly saved, it logi 
cally follows that God does not will even all the faithful 
to be saved, let alone all men. 

This was also clearly expressed by the Council of 
Trent, in which it was said that Jesus Christ died, "that 
all might receive the adoption of sons," and in chapter 
iii.: "But though he died for all, yet all do not receive 
the benefits of his death." The Council then takes for 
granted that the Redeemer died not only for the elect, 
but also for those who, through their own fault, do not 
receive the benefit of Redemption. Nor is it of any use 
to affirm that the Council only meant to say that Jesus 
Christ has given to the world a ransom sufficient to save 
all men; for in this sense we might say that he died also 
for the devils. Moreover, the Council of Trent intended 
here to reprove the errors of those innovators, who, not 
denying that the blood of Christ was sufficient to save 
all, yet asserted that in fact it was not shed and given 
for all; this is the error which the Council intended to 
condemn when it said that our Saviour died for all. 
Further, in chapter vi. it says that sinners are put in a 
fit state to receive justification by hope in God through 
the merits of Jesus Christ: " They are raised to hope, 

1 "Quando Deus vult salvare animam, effectus indubitabilis sequi- 
tur voluntatem Dei. Omnes quos vult Deus salvare per Christum, 
salvantur infallibiliter." 

2 " Ut omnes adoptionem filiorum reciperent. Verum, etsi ille pro 
omnibus mortuus est, non omnes tamen mortis ejus beneficium reci- 
piunt." Sess. 6. c. 2-3. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 109 

trusting that God will be merciful to them through 
Christ." 1 Now, if Jesus Christ had not applied to all 
the merits of his Passion, then, since no one (without a 
special revelation) could be certain of being among the 
number of those to whom the Redeemer had willed to 
apply the fruit of his merits, no sinner could entertain 
such hope, not having the certain and secure foundation 
which is necessary for hope; namely, that God wills all 
men to be saved, and will pardon all sinners prepared 
for it by the merits of Jesus Christ. And this, besides 
being the error formerly condemned in Baius, who said 
that Christ had only died for the elect, is also condemned 
in the fifth proposition of Jansenius: "It is Semi-Pela- 
gianism to say that Christ died or shed his blood for all 
men." 2 And Innocent X., in his Constitution of A.D. 
1653, expressly declared that to say Christ died for the 
salvation of the elect only is an impious and heretical 


On the other hand, both the Scriptures and all the 
Fathers assure us that God sincerely and really wishes 
the salvation of all men and the conversion of all sinners, 
as long as they are in this world. For this we have, first 
of all, the express text of St. Paul: Who will have all men 
to be saved, ana to come to the knowledge of the truth? The 
sentence of the Apostle is absolute and indicative God 
wills all men to be saved. These words in their natural 
sense declare that God truly wills all men to be saved; 
and it is a certain rule, received in common by all, that 

1 " In spem eriguntur, fidentes Deum sibi propter Christum propi- 
tium fore." Sess. 6, c. 6. 

2 " Semipelagianum est dicere Christum pro omnibus omnino ho- 
minibus mortuum esse, aut sanguinem suum fudisse." 

3 " Omnes homines vult salvos fieri, et ad agnitionem veritatis ve 
nire." i 7Y;;z. ii. 4. 

1 10 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART IT 

the words in Scripture are not to be distorted to an un 
natural sense, except in the sole case when the literal 
meaning is repugnant to faith or morals. St. Bonaven- 
ture writes precisely to our purpose when he says, " We 
must hold that when the Apostle says, God wills all men 
to be saved, it is necessary to grant that he does will it." 

It is true that St. Augustine and St. Thomas mention 
different interpretations which have been given to this 
text; but both these Doctors understand it to mean a 
real will of God to save all, without exception. 

And concerning St. Augustine, we shall see just now 
that this was his true opinion; so that St. Prosper pro 
tests against attributing to him the supposition that God 
did not sincerely wish the salvation of all men, and of 
each individual, as an aspersion on the holy Doctor. 
Hence the same St. Prosper, who was a most faithful 
disciple of his, says, " It is most sincerely to be believed 
and confessed that God wills all men to be saved; since 
the Apostle (whose very words these are) is particular 
in commanding that prayers should be made to God for 
all." 1 

The argument of the saint is clear, founded on St. 
Paul s words in the above-cited passage / beseech there 
fore, first of all, that prayers should be made for all men; 3 
and then he adds, For this is good and acceptable before God 
our Saviour, who wills all men to be saved? So the Apostle 

" Dicendum quod, cum Apostolus dicat quod Deus Omnes ho 
mines vult salvos fieri, necesse habemus concedere quod Deus velit." 
In i Sent. d. 46, a. I, q. i. 

"Sincerissime credendum atque profitendum est Deum velle ut 
omnes homines salvi fiant; siquidem Apostolus, cujus ista sententia 
est, sollicitissime praecipit ut Deo pro omnibus supplicetur." Resp. 
ad 2 obj. Vincent." 

" Obsecro igitur primum omnium fieri obsecrationes . . . pro om 
nibus hominibus." 

" Hoc enim bonum est et accceptum coram Salvatore nostro Deo, 
qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri." 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 1 1 1 

wishes us to pray for all, exactly in the same sense that 
God wishes the salvation of all. St. Chrysostom uses 
the same argument: " If he wills all to be saved, surely 
we ought to pray for all. If he desires all to be saved, 
do you also be of one mind with him." And if in some 
passages in his controversy with the Semi-Pelagians, St. 
Augustine seems to have held a different interpretation 
of this text, saying that God does not will the salvation 
of each individual, but only of some, Petavius well ob 
serves that here the holy Father speaks only inciden 
tally, not with direct intention; or, at any rate, that he 
speaks of the grace of that abs olute and victorious will 
(voluntas absoluta et victrix] with which God absolutely 
wills the salvation of some persons, and of which the 
saint elsewhere says, " The will of the Almighty is always 
invincible." " 

Let us hear how St. Thomas uses another method of 
reconciling the opinion of St. Augustine with that of St. 
John Damascene, who holds that antecedently God wills 
all and each individual to be saved: "God s first inten 
tion is to will all men to be saved, that as good he may 
make us partakers of his goodness; but after we have 
sinned, he wills to punish us as just." On the other 
hand, St. Augustine (as we have seen) seems in a few 
passages to think differently. But St. Thomas recon 
ciles these opinions, and says that St. Damascene spoke 
of the antecedent will of God, by which he really wills 
all men to be saved, while St. Augustine spoke of the 
consequent will. He then goes on to explain the mean- 

1 "Si omnes ille vult salvos fieri, merito pro omnibus oportet orare; 
si omnes ipse salvos fieri cupit, illius et tu concorda voluntati." In 
I Tim. horn. 7. 

2 " Omnipotentis voluntas semper invicta est." Enchir. c. 102. 

3 Deus praecedenter vult omnes salvari. Efficit nos bonitatis suae 
participes, ut bonus; peccantes autem punire vult, ut Justus." De 
Fid. orth. 1. 2, c. 29. 

1 1 2 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

ing of antecedent and consequent will: " Antecedent will 
is that by which God wills all to be saved; but when all 
the circumstances of this or that individual are consid 
ered, it is found to be good that all men should be saved; 
for it is good that he who prepares himself, and consents 
to it, should be saved; but not he who is unwilling and 
resists, etc. And this is called the consequent will, be 
cause it presupposes a foreknowledge of a man s deeds, 
not as a cause of the act of will, but as a reason for the 
thing willed and determined." ] 

So that St. Thomas was also of opinion that God truly 
wills all men and each individual to be saved. This 
opinion he reasserts in several other places. On the 
text Him that cometh to Me I will not cast out" 2 he quotes 
St. Chrysostom, who makes our Lord say, " If then I was 
incarnate for the salvation of men, how can I cast them 
out ?" And this is what He means when He says, "There* 
fore I cast them not out, because 1 came down from 
heaven to do My Father s will, who wills all men to be 
saved." ; And again, "God, by his most liberal will, 
gives (grace) to every one that prepares himself," who 
wills all men to be saved- and therefore the grace of God 
is wanting to no man, but as far as He is concerned He 
communicates it to everyone." Again, he declares the 

1 " Voluntas antecedens est qua (Deus) omnes homines salvos fieri 
vult. Consideratis autem omnibus circumstantiis personae, sicnon in- 
venitur de omnibus bonum esse quod salventur; bonum est enim eum, 
qni se prseparat et consentit, salvari, non vero nolentem et resistentem. 
Et haec est voluntas consequens, eo quod praesupponit praescientiam 
operum, non tamquam causam voluntatis, sed quasi rationem voliti." 

" Eum qui venit ad me, non ejiciam foras." John, vi. 37. 

" Secundum Chrysostomum: Si ergo pro salute hominum incar- 
natus sum, quomodo debeo eos ejicere ? et hoc est quod dicit: Ideo 
non ejicio, quia descendi de coelo ut faciam voluntatem Patris, qua 
vult omnes salvos fieri." In Joan. vi. lect. 4. 

4 " Deus voluntate sua liberalissima dat (gratiam) omni praepa- 
ranti se, Qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri; et ideo gratia Dei 
nulli deest, sed omnibus, quantum in se est, se communicat." In 
Ileb. xii. lect. 3. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. \ 1 3 

same thing more expressly in his explanation of the text 
of St. Paul God wills all men to be saved. " In God," he 
says, " the salvation of all men, considered in itself, 
belongs to that class of things which he wishes, and this 
is his antecedent will; but when the good of justice is 
taken into consideration, and the rightness of punishing 
sin, in this sense he does not will the salvation of all, 
and this is his consequent will." 1 Here we may see how 
consistent St. Thomas was in his explanation of ante 
cedent and consequent will; for he here repeats what he 
had said in the passage quoted a little before. In this 
place he only adds the comparison of a merchant, who 
antecedently wills to save all his merchandise; but if a 
tempest comes on, he willingly throws it overboard, in 
order to preserve his own life. In like manner, he says, 
God, considering the iniquity of some persons, wills them 
to be punished in satisfaction of his justice, and conse 
quently does not will them to be saved; but antecedently, 
and considered in itself, he wills with a true desire the 
salvation of all men. So that, as he says in the former 
passage, God s will to save all men is on his part abso 
lute; it is only conditional on the part of the object 
willed, that is, if man will correspond to what the right 
order demands, in order to be saved. " Nor yet," he 
says, "is there imperfection on the part of God s will, 
but on the part of the thing willed; because it is not ac 
cepted with all the circumstances which are required, in 
order to be saved in the proper manner. " 2 And he again 
and more distinctly declares what he means by ante- 

1 " In Deo salus omnium hominum secundum se considerata habet 
rationem ut sit volibilis, et sic ejus voluntas est antecedens; sed, si 
consideretur bonum justitise, et quod peccata puniantur, sic non vult; 
et haec est voluntas consequens." In 1 Tim. ii. Lect. i. 

2 " Nee tamen est imperfectio ex parte voluntatis divinse, sed ex 
parte voliti, quod non accipitur cum omnibus circumstantiis quse 
exiguntur ad rectum ordinem in salutem." In I Sent. d. 46, q. i, 
a. i. 

1 1 4 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

cedent and consequent will: "A judge antecedently 
wishes every man to live, but he consequently wishes a 
murderer to be hanged; so God antecedently wills every 
man to be saved, but he consequently wills some to be 
damned; in consequence, that is, of the exigencies of his 

I have no intention here of blaming the opinion that 
men are predestined to glory previously to the prevision 
of their merits; I only say that I cannot understand how 
those who think that God, without any regard to their 
merits, has elected some to eternal life, and excluded 
others, can therefore persuade themselves that he wills all 
to be saved; unless, indeed, they mean that this will of 
God is not true and sincere, but rather a hypothetical or 
metaphorical will. I cannot understand, I say, how it can 
be maintained that God wills all men to be saved, and to 
partake of his glory, when the greater part of them have 
been already excluded from this glory antecedently to any 
demerit on their part. Petavius says, in defence of his 
contrary opinion, What was the use of God s giving to 
all men the desire of eternal happiness, when he had ex 
cluded the majority of them from it antecedently to any 
demerits of theirs ? What was the use of Jesus Christ s 
coming to save all men by his death, when so many poor 
creatures had been already deprived by God of all benefit 
therefrom ? What was the use of giving them so many 
means of salvation, when they had been already excluded 
from the attainment of the end ? Therefore, adds Peta 
vius (and this is a most weighty reflection), if this ever 
was the case, we must say that God, who loves all things 
that he has created, yet in creating mankind did not love 
them all, but rather utterly detested the greater part of 

" Justus judex antecedenter vult omnem hominem vivere, sed 
consequenter vult homicidam suspend!; similiter Deus antecedenter 
vult omnem hominem salvari, sed consequenter vult quosdam 
damnari, secundum exigentiam suae justitiae." P. i. q. 19, a. 6. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 115 

them, in excluding them from the glory for which he had 
created them. It is certain that the happiness of a crea 
ture consists in the attainment of the end for which it was 
created. On the other hand, it is certain that God creates 
all men for eternal life. If, therefore, God, having created 
some men for eternal life, had thereupon, without regard 
to their sins, excluded them from it, he would in creating 
them have utterly hated them without cause, and would 
have done them the greatest injury they could possibly 
suffer in excluding them from the attainment of their 
end, that is, of the glory for which they had been 
created " For," says Petavius in a passage which we 
abridge, "God cannot feel indifferent between love and 
hatred towards his creatures, especially towards men, 
whom he either loves to eternal life, or hates to damna 
tion; but it is the greatest evil of man to be alienated 
from God and to be reprobate ; wherefore, if God wills 
the everlasting destruction of any man s soul, he does 
not love him, but hates him with the greatest hatred 
possible, in that kind which transcends the natural 
order." : And by this eternal ruin or " everlasting de 
struction," he does not mean the positive damnation 
which God destines for certain individuals, but simply 
the exclusion from glory; since in fact, as Tertullian 
says, of what use would it ever be to us that God had not 
created us for hell, if in creating us he had separated us 
from the number of his elect ? since the separation from 
the elect necessarily implies the loss of salvation, and 
therefore damnation; since there is no mean between 
them. " For what," says Tertullian, " will be the end of 

1 "Non enim medio quodam modo amorem inter et odium circa 
creaturas potest affici Deus, maxima erga homines, quos vel amat ad 
vitam perpetuam vel odit ad damnationem. Est autem summum hom- 
inis malum alienari a Deo ac reprobari. Quare, si cui Deus sempiter- 
num vult exitium animae, hunc non amat, sed odit odio illo quod esse 
maximum potest in eo genere quod naturalem ordinem excedit." 

1 1 6 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

the separated ? Will it not be the loss of salvation ?" 
Whence Petavius concludes "Wherefore, if God loves 
every man with a love which is antecedent to their merits, 
lie does not hate his soul, and therefore he does not de 
sire the greatest evil to him." 2 If, therefore, God loves 
all men, as is certain, we ought to hold that he wills all 
to be saved, and that he has never hated any one to such 
a degree, that he has willed to do him the greatest evils, 
by excluding him from glory previously to the prevision 
of his demerits. 

I say notwithstanding, and repeat again and again, 
that I cannot understand it; for this matter of predesti 
nation is so profound a mystery, that it made the Apostle 
exclaim: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdor t and the 
knowledge of God ! How incomprehensible are His judg 
ments, and how unsearchable His- ways ! For who hath known 
the mind of the Lord?* We ought to submit ourselves to 
the will of God, who has chosen to leave this mystery in 
obscurity to his Church, that we all might humble our 
selves under the deep judgments of his divine Provi 
dence. And the more, because divine grace, by which 
alone men can gain eternal life, is dispensed more or less 
abundantly by God entirely gratuitously, and without 
any regard to our merits. So that to save ourselves it 
will always be necessary for us to throw ourselves into 
the arms of the divine mercy, in order that he may 
assist us with his grace to obtain salvation, trusting 
always in his infallible promises to hear and save the man 
who prays to him. 

1 " Quis erit enim exitus segregatorum ? nonne amissio salutis ? 
Adv. Marc. /. 4. 

" Quamobrem, si omnes Deus amat homines eo affectu, qui 
merita illorum antecedit, non eorum odit animas, ac proinde non 
summum vult illis malum." De Deo. I. 10, c. 3, n. 5. 

"O altitude divitiarum sapientiae et scientiae Dei ! quam incom- 
prehensibilia sunt judicia ejus, et investigabiles vise ejus ! Quis enim 
cognovit sensum Domini ?" Rom xi. 44. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 1 1 7 


But let us return to our point, that God sincerely wills 
all men to be saved. There are other texts which prove 
the same thing, as when God says: As I live, saith the 
Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked 
man turn from his way and live. 1 He not only says that 
he wills not the death, but that he wills the life of a 
sinner; and he swears, as Tertullian observes, in order 
that he maybe more readily be^eved in this: "When 
moreover he swears, saying, as I live, he desires to be 
believed." 2 

Further, David says: For wrath is in His indignation, and 
life in His will* If he chastises us, he does it because 
our sins provoke him to indignation; but as to his will, 
he wills not our death, but our life: Life in His will. St. 
Basil says about this text, that God wills all to be made 
partakers of life. 4 David says elsewhere: Our God is the 
God of salvation; and of the Lord of the Lord are the issues 
from death? On this Bellarmine says: "This is proper 
to him, this is his nature, our God is a saving God, and 
his are the issues from death that is, liberation from 
it;" 6 so that it is God s proper nature to save all, and 
to deliver all from eternal death. 

Again, our Lord says: Come to Me, all ye that labor and 

1 "Vivo ego, dicit Dominus Deus: nolo mortem impii, sed ut con- 
vertatur impius a via sua, et vivat." Ezek. xxxiii. n. 

2 " Jurans etiam, Vivo ! dicens, cupit credi sibi." De Poenit. 

3 " Quoniam ira in indignatione ejus, et vita in voluntate ejus." 
Ps. xxix. 6. 

4 "Quid ergo dicit? nimirum quod vult Deus omnes vitae fieri par- 

6 "Deus noster, Deus salvos faciendi; et Domini Domini exitus 
mortis." Ps. Ixvii. 21. 

6 " Hoc est illi proprium, haec est ejus natura, Deus noster est Deus 
salvans, et Dei nostri sunt exitus mortis, id est, liberatio a morte." 

1 1 8 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

are burdened, and I will refresh you. If he calls all to sal 
vation, then lie truly wills all to be saved. Again, St. 
Peter says: He willeth not that any should perish, but that 
all should return to penance? He does not will the dam 
nation of any one, but he wills that all should do penance, 
and so should be saved. 

Again, our Lord says: I stand at the gate and knock; if 
any one will open, I will enter. 3 Why will you die, O house 
of Israel 1 } return and live.* What is there that I ought to do 
more to My vineyard, that I have not done to it ? 5 How often 
would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen gather- 
eth her chickens under her wings, and thou wonldst not!* 
How could our Lord have said that he stands knocking 
at the heart of us sinners ? How exhort us so strongly 
to return to his arms ? How reproach us by asking what 
more he conld have done for our salvation ? How say 
that he has willed to receive us as children, if he had not 
a true will to save all men ? Again, St. Luke relates 
that our Lord, looking over Jerusalem from a distance, 
and contemplating the destruction of its people because 
of their sin: Seeing the city, He wept over it} Why did he 
weep then, says Theophylact (after St. Chrysostom), see 
ing the ruin of the Jews, unless it was because he really 
desired their salvation ? Now then, after so many attes- 

" Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego re- 
ficiam vos." Matt. xi. 28. 

41 Nolens aliquos perire, sed omnes ad poenitentiam reverti." 2 
Pet. iii. 9. 

" Ecce sto ad ostium et pulso; si quis audierit vocem meam, et 
aperuerit mihi januam, intrabo ad ilium et coenabo cum illo, et ipse 
mecum." Apoc. iii. 20. 

4 "Etquare moriemini, Domus Israel? Quia nolo mortem mori- 
entis, dicit Dominus Deus, revertimini et vivite." Ezek. xviii. 31. 

" Quid debui ultra facere vineae meae, et non feci ei ?" Is. v. 4. 

" Quoties volui congregare filios tuos, quemadmodum gallina con 
gregat pullos suos sub alas, et noluisti !" Matt, xxiii. 37. 
7 " Videns civitatem, flevit super illam." Ltike, xix. 41. 

God wishes all Men to be saved. 1 1 9 

tations of our Lord, in which he makes known to us that 
he wills to see all men saved, how can it ever be said that 
God does not will the salvation of all ? " But if these texts 
of Scripture," says Petavius, " in which God has testi 
fied his will in such clear and often-repeated expressions, 
nay even with tears and with an oath, may be abused 
and distorted to the very opposite sense, namely, that 
God determined to send all mankind (except a few) to 
perdition, and never had a will to save them, what dogma 
of faith is so clear as to be safe from similar injury and 
cavil ?" 1 This great writer says, that to deny that God 
really wills the salvation of all men is an insult and cavil 
against the plainest doctrines of the faith. And Cardinal 
Sfonclrati adds: " Those who think otherwise, seem to 
me to make God a mere stage-god; like those people 
who pretend to be kings in a play, when indeed they are 
anything but kings." 2 


Moreover, this truth, that God wills all men to be 
saved, is confirmed by the general consent of the Fathers. 
There can be no doubt that all the Greek Fathers have 
been uniform in saying that God wills all and each indi 
vidual to be saved. So St. Justin, St. Basil, St. Gregory, 
St. Cyril, St. Methodius, and St. Chrysostom, all adduced 
by Petavius. But let us see what the Latin Fathers 

1 " Quod si ista Scripturse loca, quibus hanc suam voluntatem et af- 
fectum tarn illustribus ac tam saepe repetitis sententiis, imo lacrymis 
ac jurejurando, testatus est Deus, calumniari licet et in contrarium 
detorquere sensum, ut, praeter paucos, genus hominum omne perdere 
statueiit, nee eorum servandorum voluntatem habuerit, quid est adeo 
dissertum in fidei decretis, quod simili ab injuria et cavillatione tutum 
esse possit ?" De Deo. lib. 10, c. 15, n. 5. 

2 " Plane qui aliter sentiunt, nescio an ex Deo vero deum scenicum 
faciant, quales sunt qui reges in theatro se fingunt, cum tamen nihil 
minus quam reges sint." Nodus prad. p. i, i. 

1 20 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

St. Jerome: (God) " wills to save all; but since no man 
is saved without his own will, he wills us to will what is 
good, that when we have willed, he may also will to fulfil 
his designs in us;" 1 and in another place, "God therefore 
willed to save those who desire (to be saved); and he in 
vited them to salvation, that their will might have its 
reward; but they would not believe in him." 5 

St. Hilary: " God would that all men were saved, and 
not those alone who are to belong to the number of the 
elect, but all absolutely, so as to make no exception." : 

St. Paulinus: " Christ says to all, Come to Me, etc.; for 
he, the Creator of all men, so far as he is concerned, 
wills every man to be saved." 

St. Ambrose: " Even with respect to the wicked he had 
to manifest his will (to save them), and therefore he 
could not pass over his betrayer, that all might see that 
in the election even of the traitor he exhibits (his desire) 
of saving all ... and, so far as God is concerned, he 
shows to all that he was willing to deliver all." 6 

The author of the work known as the Commentaries of 
St. Ambrose (supposed by Petavius to be Hilary the 
Deacon) in speaking of the text of St. Paul ( Who wills 

" Vult (Deus) salvari omnes; sed quianullus absque propria volun- 
tate salvatur, vult nos bonum velle, ut, cum voluerimus, velit in nobis 
et ipse suum implere consilium." In Eph. \. 

" Voluit itaque Deus salvare cupientes, et provocavit ad salutem, 
ut voluntas haberet praemium; sed illi credere noluerunt." In Is. Ixiii. 

" Ut omnes homines Deus salvos fieri velit, et non eos tantum 
qui ad sanctorum numerum pertinebunt, sed omnes omnino, ut nullus 
habeatur exceptus." Ep. ad Aug. 

4 " Omnibus dicit Christus: Venite ad me, etc.; omnem enim, 
quantum in ipso est, hominem salvum fieri vult qui fecit omnes." Ep. 
24. ad Sever. 

5 " Etiam circa impios ostendere suam debuit voluntatem; et ideo 
nee proditurum debuit prseterire, ut adverterent omnes quod in elec- 
tione etiam proditoris sui servandorum omnium insigne praetendit 
. . . Et quod in Deo fuit, ostendit omnibus quod omnes voluit liber- 
are." De Farad, c. 8. 

Jesus Christ Died to Save All Men. 1 2 1 

all men* etc.), asks this question: "But since God wills 
that all should be saved, as he is Almighty, why are there 
so many who are not saved?" And he answers: "He 
wills them to be saved, if they also are willing; for he 
who gave the law excluded no one from salvation .... 
this medicine is of no use to the unwilling." 1 He says 
that God has excluded no one from glory, and that he 
gives grace to all to be saved, but on condition that they 
are willing to correspond to it; because his grace is of 
no use to the man who rejects it. St. Chrysostom in like 
manner asks, "Why then are not all men saved, if God 
wills all to be saved ?" and he answers, " Because every 
man s will does not coincide with his will, and he forces 
no man." ; St. Augustine: "God wills all men to be 
saved, but not so as to destroy their free will." He 
says the same thing in several other places, which we 
shall shortly have to produce. 

Jesus Christ Died to Save All Men. 

That Jesus Christ, therefore, died for all and each of 
mankind, is clear, not only from the Scriptures, but from 
the writings of the Fathers. Great certainly was the 
ruin which the sin of Adam occasioned to the whole 
human race ; but Jesus Christ, by the grace of Redemp 
tion, repaired all the evils which Adam introduced. 
Hence the Council of Trent has declared that baptism 

1 " Qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri." 

* "Vult illos salvari, si et ipsi velint; nam utique qui legem dedit, 
nullum excipit a salute . . Haec medicina non profuit invitis." 

3 " Cur igitur non omnes salvi fiunt, si vult Deus omnes salvos 
esse ? Quoniam non omnium voluntas illius voluntatem sequitur; 
porro ipse neminem cogit. " De Mut. notn. horn. 3, E. B. 

4 "Vult Deus omnes homines salvos fieri, non sic tamen ut eis 
adimat liberum arbitrium." De Spir. et Lift. c. 33. 

122 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

renders the soul pure and immaculate ; and that the sin 
which remains in it is not for its harm, but to enable it 
to gain a higher crown, if it resists so as not to consent to 
it : " For in the regenerate God hates nothing . . . they 
are made innocent, immaculate, pure, and beloved of God. 
. . . But this holy synod confesses and feels that con 
cupiscence or the fuel (of sin) remains in baptized per 
sons ; but as it was left for our probation, it cannot in 
jure those who do not consent to it ; nay rather, he who 
contends lawfully (against it) shall be crowned." 1 Thus, 
as St. Leo says, " we have gained greater things by the 
grace of Christ than we had lost through the envy of the 
devil." The gain which we have made by the redemp 
tion of Jesus Christ is greater than the loss which we 
suffered by the sin of Adam. The Apostle plainly de 
clared this when he said, Not as the offence, so also tJie gift. 
For where the offence abounded, there did grace more abound? 
Our Lord says the same : / am come that they may have 
life, and have it more abundantly* David and Isaias had 
predicted it : With Him is plentiful redemption. She hath 
received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. 6 . 
About which words the interpreter says: "God has so 
forgiven iniquities through Christ, that men have re- 

" In renatis enim nihil odit Deus . . . : innocentes, immaculati, 
puri, innoxii ac Deo dilecti effect! sunt, etc. Manere autem in bap- 
tizatis concupiscentiam vel fomitem, haec sancta Synodus fatetur et 
sentit: quae cum ad agonem relicta sit, nocere non consentientibus 
. . . non valet; quinimo, qui legitime certaverit, coronabitur." Sess. 
5, De pecc. or. n. 5. 

" Ampliora adepti (sumus) per Christi gratiam, quam per diaboli 
amiseramus invidiam." De Asc. s. i. 

" Non sicut delictum, ita et donum. . . Ubi autem abundavit de- 
lictum, superabundavit gratia." Rom. v. 15, 20. 

4 "Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant " John, 
x. 10. 

" Et copiosa apud eum redemptio." Ps. cxxix. 7. " Suscepit 
(Jerusalem) de manu Domini duplicia pro omnibus peccatis suis." 
Isa. xl. 2. 

Jesus Christ Died to Save All Men. 123 

ceived double that is, very much greater good, instead 
of the punishment of sin which they deserved." 

Now that our Saviour, as I said, died for all, and that 
he offered the work of his redemption to the Eternal 
Father for the salvation of each one, the holy Scriptures 
assure us of the following : 


The Son of Man came to save that which was lost? Who 
gave Himself a redemption for all.* Christ died for all, 
that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but to 
Him who died for them." For hereunto we labor and are re 
viled, because we hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of 
all men, especially of the faithful? And he is the propitiation 
for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the 
whole world? For the charity of Christ presseth us, judging 
this that, if one died for all, then all were dead? And to 
speak only of this last text, I ask, how could the Apostle 
ever have concluded that all were dead, because Christ 
died for all, unless he had been certain that Christ had 
really died for all ? And the more, because St. Paul uses 

1 " Deus ita dimisit Ecclesiae iniquitates per Christum, ut duplicia, id 
est, multiplicia bona susceperit pro poenis peccatorum quas mereba- 

- " Venit Filius hominis salvare quod perierat." Matt, xviii. u. 

3 " Qui dedit redemptionem semetipsum pro omnibus." I Tim. 
ii. 6. 

4 " Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus, ut et qui vivunt, non jam 
sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro ipsis mortuus est." 2 Cor. v. 15. 

5 " In hoc enim laboramus et maledicimur, quia speramus in Deum 
vivum, qui est Salvator omnium hominum, maxime fidelium." I 
Tim iv. 10. 

" Et ipse est propitiatio pro peccatis nostris; non pro nostris 
autem tantum, sed etiam pro totius mundi." I John, ii. 2. 

7 " Charitas enim Christi urget nos: sestimantes hoc, quoniam si 
unus pro omnibus mortuus est, ergo omnes rnortui sunt." 2 Cor, 
v. 14. 

1 24 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

this truth as an argument for the love which it should 
kindle in us towards our Saviour. But by far the best 
passage to exhibit the desire and wisli which God has to 
save all men, is another text of St. Paul: He that spared 
not His own son, but delivered Him for us all. 1 The force 
of this passage is increased by what follows: How hath 
He not also with Him given us all things? If God has given 
us all things, how can we henceforth fear that he has 
denied us the election to glory, always on condition 
that we correspond (to his grace)? And if he has given 
us his Son, says Cardinal Sfondrati, how will he deny us 
the grace to be saved ? " Here he clearly instructs us" 
(he is speaking of St. Paul) " that God assures us that 
he will not refuse us the less after he has given the 
greater; that he will not deny us grace to save ourselves, 
after giving his Son that we might be saved." And in 
truth, how could St. Paul have said that God, in giving 
us his Son, has given us all things, if the Apostle had be 
lieved that God had excluded many from the glory which 
is the one good and the one end for which they were 
created? Has then God given "all things" to these 
" many," and yet denied them the best thing namely, 
eternal happiness, without which (as there is no middle 
way) they cannot but be eternally miserable ? Unless 
we would say another thing still more unseemly, as an 
other learned author well observes namely, that God 
gives to all the grace to attain glory, but then refuses to 
allow many to enter on its enjoyment; that he gives the 
means, and refuses the end. 

" Qui etiam proprio Filio suo non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus 
Lradidit ilium." Rom. viii. 32. 

" Quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit ?" Rom. 
viii. 32. 

"Quid enim potuit negare, quibus Filium dedit ? Absurdissimum 
est dicere Deum, qui dedit quod majus, noluisse dare quod est minus, 
hoc est, omnia ad salutem consequendam necessaria. " Nod. pr<zd. p. 

Jesus Christ Died to Save All Men. 125 


For the rest, all the holy Fathers agree in saying that 
Jesus Christ died to obtain eternal salvation for all men. 

St. Jerome: "Christ died for all; he was the only one 
who could be offered for all, because all were dead in 

St. Ambrose: "Christ came to cure our wounds; but 
since all do not search for the remedy . . , therefore he 
cures those who are willing; he does not force the un 
willing." In another place: "He has provided for all 
men the means of cure, that whoever perishes may lay 
the blame of his death on himself, because he would not 
be cured when he had a remedy; and that, on the other 
hand, the mercy of Christ to all may be openly pro 
claimed, who wills that all men should be saved." And 
more clearly still in another place: "Jesus did not write 
his will for the benefit of one, or of few, but of all; we 
are all inscribed therein as his heirs; the legacy is in 
common, and belongs by right to all; the universal herit 
age, belonging wholly to each." 4 Mark the words, "We 
are all inscribed as heirs; the Redeemer has written us 
all down as heirs of heaven." 

1 " Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus; solus inventus est qui, pro 
omnibus qui erant in peccatis mortui. offerretur." /// 2 Cor. v. 

2 " Venit ut vulnera nostra curaret; sed, quia non omnes medicinam 
expetunt . . . ideo volentes curat, non adstringit invitos." /// Ps. 

3 "Omnibus opem sanitatis detulit, ut quicumqtie perierit, mortis 
suffi causas sibi adscribat, qui curari noluit, cum remedium haberet. 
Christi autem manifesta in omnes prsedicetur misericordia, Qui 
omnes vult salvos fieri. " De Abel. 1. 2, c. 3. 

4 " Non ad unum quidem, non ad paucos, sed ad omnes testamentum 
suum scripsit Jesus; omnes scripti heredes sumus; testamentum 
commune est et jus omnium; hereditas universorum et soliditas singu- 
lorum." In Ps. cxviii. s. 14. 

5 " Omnes scripti heredes sumus." 

126 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

St. Leo: "As Christ found no one free from guilt, so 
lie came to deliver all." 

St. Augustine, on the words of St. John, For God did 
not send His Son to judge the world, but that the world might 
be saved through Zf/;;/, 2 says: " So, as far as it lies with the 
physician, he came to heal the sick man." 3 Mark the 
words, "as far as it lies with the physician." For God, 
as far as he is concerned, effectually wills the salvation 
of all, but (as St. Augustine goes on to say) cannot heal 
the man who will not be healed: " He heals universally, 
but he heals not the unwilling. 4 For what can be hap 
pier for thee, than, as tliou hast thy life in thy hands, so 
to have thy health depend on thy will ?" 5 When he says 
"He heals," he speaks of sinners who are sick, and un 
able to get well by their own strength; when he says 
" universally" (omnino)^ he declares that nothing is want 
ing on God s part for sinners to be healed and saved. 
Then when he says, " as thou hast thy life in thy hands, 
so thy health depends on thy will," he shows that God 
for his part really wills us all to be saved; otherwise, it 
would not be in our power to obtain health and eternal 
life. In another place, " He .who redeemed us at such a 
cost, wills not that we perish; for he does not purchase 
in order to destroy, but he redeems in order to give life." 6 
Fie has redeemed us all, in order to save us all. And 

" Sicut Christus nullum a reatu liberum reperit, ita liberandis 
omnibus venit." In Nat. Dom. s. I 

" Non enim misit Deus Filium suum in mundum, ut judicet mun- 
dum, sed ut salvetur mundus per ipsum." John, iii. 17. 

3 " Ergo, quantum in medico est, sanare venit segrotum." In Jo. 
tr. 12. 

" Sanat omnino ille quemlibet languidum, sed non sanat invi- 
tum." In Ps. cii. 

" Quid autem te beatius, quam ut, tamquam in manu tua vitam, sic 
habeas in voluntate sanitatem tuam ?" 

" Qui nos tanto pretio redemit, non vult perire quos emit; non 
emit quos perdat, sed emit quos vivificet." Serm. 22, E. B, 

Jesus Christ Died to Save All Men. 127 

hence he encourages all to hope for eternal bliss in that 
celebrated sentence: " Let human frailty raise itself; let 
it not say, I shall never be happy. ... It is a greater 
thing that Christ has done, than that which he has 
promised. What has he done ? He has died for thee. 
What has he promised ? That thou shalt live with 
him." 1 

Some have pretended to say that Jesus Christ, offered 
his blood for all, in order to obtain grace for them, but 

not salvation. But Petrocorensis will not hear of this 


opinion, of which he says: " O disputatious frivolity ! 
How could the wisdom of God will the means of salva 
tion, without willing its end." 2 St. Augustine, more 
over, speaking against the Jews, says: " Ye acknowledge 
the side which ye pierced, that it was opened both by 
you and for you." If Jesus Christ had not really given 
his blood for all, the Jews might have answered St. Au 
gustine, that it was quite true they had opened the side 
of our Saviour, but not that it was opened for them. 

In like manner. St. Thomas has no doubt that Jesus 
Christ died for all; whence he deduces that he wills all 
to be saved: " Christ Jesus is mediator between God and 
men; not between God and some men, but between him 
and all men; and this would not be, unless he willed all 
to be saved." This is confirmed, as we have already 
said, by the condemnation of the fifth proposition of 
Jansenius, who said, ".It is semi-Pelagianism to assert 

1 " Erigat se humana fragilitas; non dicat: Non ero (beatus). . . . 
Plus est quod (Christus) fecit, quam quod promisit; quid fecit? 
mortuus est prote; quid promisit? ut vivas cum illo." In Ps. cxlviii. 

2 " O contentiosam nugacitatem ! Quomodo Dei sapientia medium 
voluit et non finem salutis ?" Lib. iii. c. 3, q. 4. 

3 " Agnoscitis latus quod pupugistis, quoniam et per vos et propter 
vos apertum est?" De Symb. ad cat. 1. 2, c. 8. 

4 " Christus Jesus est Mediator Dei et hominum. non quorumdam, 
sed inter Deum et omnes homines; et hoc non fuisset, nisi vellet 
omnes salvare. In I Tim. ii. led. i. 

128 God wishes all Men to be saved. [PART n. 

that Christ died or shed his blood for all men." The 
sense of this, according to the context of the other con 
demned propositions, and according to the principles of 
Jansenius, is as follows: Jesus Christ did not die to merit 
for all men the graces sufficient for salvation, but only for 1 
the predestined; or, in Jansenius s own expressed words, 
"It is in no way consonant to the principles of Augus 
tine, to think that Christ our Lord died or shed his blood 
for the eternal salvation either of unbelievers, who die in 
their unbelief, or of the just, who do not persevere." 3 
Therefore the contrary and Catholic belief is as follows: 
It is not semi-Pelagianism, but it is right to say that 
Jesus Christ died to merit not only for the predestinate, 
but for all, even for the reprobate, grace sufficient to ob 
tain eternal salvation in the ordinary course of Provi 

Further, that God truly, on his part, wills all men to 
be saved, and that Jesus Christ died for the salvation of 
all, is certified to us by the fact that God imposes on us 
all the precept of hope. The reason is clear. St. Paul 
calls Christian hope the anchor of the soul, secure and 
firm : Who have fled for refuge to hold fast the hope set before 
us which we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm? 
Now in what could we fix this sure and firm anchor of 
our hope, except in the truth that God wills all to be 
saved? "With what confidence," says Petrocorensis, 
"will men be able to hope for God s mercy, if it is not 
certain that God wills the salvation of all of them ? 
With what confidence will they offer the death of Christ 

" Semipelagianum est dicere Christum pro omnibus mortuum esse 
et sanguinem fudisse." 

" Nullo modo principiis ejns (Augustini) consentaneum est, ut 
Christus Dominus, vel pro infidelium in infidelitate morientium, vel 
pro justorum non perseverantium seterna salute, mortuus esse et 
sanguinem fudisse sentiatur. " De Graf. Chr. c. 20. 

"Confugimus ad tenendam propositam spem, quam sicut an- 
choram habemus animae tutam ac firmam." Heb. vi. 18. 

Children who Die without Baptism. 129 

to God, in order to obtain pardon, if it is uncertain 
whether he was offered up for them?" 1 And Cardinal 
Sfondrati says, that if God had elected some to eternal 
life, and excluded others, we should have a greater mo 
tive to despair than to hope; seeing that, in fact, the 
elect are much fewer than the damned: " No one could 
have a firm hope, since he would have more grounds of 
despair than of hope; for the reprobate are much more 
numerous than the elect." 2 And if Jesus Christ had 
not died for the salvation of all, how could we have a 
sure ground to hope for salvation through the merits of 
Jesus Christ, without a special revelation ? But St. 
Augustine had no doubt when he said, " All my hope, 
and the certainty of my faith, is in the precious blood 
of Christ, which was shed for us and for our salvation." 1 
Thus the saint placed all his hope in the blood of Jesus 
Christ; because the faith assured him that Christ died 
for all. But we shall have a better opportunity of ex 
amining this question of hope in chapter iii., where we 
shall establish the principal point namely, that the 
grace of prayer is given to all. 

Children who Die without Baptism. 

Here it only remains for us to answer the objection 
which is drawn from children being lost when they die 

1 " Qua fiducia divinam misericordiam sperare poterunt scelerati 
homines, si certum non sit quod Deus salutem eorum velit ? Qua 
fiducia Christi mortem Deo offerre poterunt, ut indulgentiam conse- 
quantur, si incertum est an pro ipsis oblata sit?" Lib. 3, c. 3, q. 4. 

2 "Nemo firmiter sperare posset, dum ei plura desperandi quam 
sperandi fundamenta suppetunt; nam plures sunt relicti quam electi." 
Nod. prad. p. i. i. 

3 " Omnis namque spes et totius fidei certitude mihi est in pretioso 
sanguine Christi, qui effusus est propter nos et propter nostram 
salutem." Medit. c. 14. 


130 God wishes all Men to be Saved. [PART n. 

before baptism, and before they come to the use of rea 
son. If God wills all to be saved, it is objected, how is 
it that these children perish without any fault of their 
own, since God gives them no assistance to attain eter 
nal salvation ? There are two answers to this objection, 
the latter more correct than the former. I will state 
them briefly. 

First, it is answered that God, by antecedent will, 
wishes all to be saved, and therefore has granted uni 
versal means for the salvation of all; but these means at 
times fail of their effect, either by reason of the unwill 
ingness of some persons to avail themselves of them, or 
because others are unable to make use of them, on ac 
count of secondary causes (such as the death of children), 
whose course God is not bound to change, after having 
disposed the whole according to the just judgment of 
his general Providence; all this is collected from what 
St, Thomas says. Jesus Christ offered his merits for all 
men, and instituted baptism for all; but the application 
of this means of salvation, so far as relates to children 
who die before the use of reason, is not prevented by 
the direct will of God, but by a merely permissive will; 
because as he is the general provider of all things, he is 
not bound to disturb the general order, to provide for 
the particular order. 

The second answer is, that to perish is not the same 
as not to be blessed: since eternal happiness is a gift en 
tirely gratuitous; and therefore the want of it is not a 
punishment. The opinion, therefore, of St. Thomas is 
very just, that children who die in infancy have neither 
the pain of sense nor the pain of loss; not the pain of 
sense, he says, " because pain of sense corresponds to 
conversion to creatures; and in original sin there is not 
conversion to creatures" (as the fault is not our own), 
"and therefore pain of sense is not due to original 

Children who Die without Baptism. \ 3 1 

sin;" because original sin does not imply an act. 1 Ob 
jectors oppose to this the teaching of St. Augustine, 
who in some places shows that his opinion was that chil 
dren are condemned even to the pain of sense. But in 
another place he declares that he was very much con 
fused about this point. These are his words: "When I 
come to the punishment of infants, I find myself (believe 
me) in great straits; nor can I at all find anything to 
say." 2 And in another place he writes, that it may be 
said that such children receive neither reward nor pun 
ishment: " Nor need we fear ttiat it is impossible there 
should be a middle sentence between reward and pun 
ishment; since their life was midway between sin and 
good works." 1 This was directly affirmed by St. Greg 
ory Nazianzen: "Children will be sentenced by the 
just judge neither to the glory of heaven nor to punish 
ment." St. Gregory of Nyssa was of the same opin 
ion: "The premature death of children shows that they 
who have thus ceased to live will not be in pain and un- 
happiness." 6 

And as far as relates to the pain of loss, although 
these children are excluded from glory, nevertheless St. 
Thomas, 6 who had reflected most deeply on this point, 

1 " Poena sensus respondet conversion! ad creaturam, et in peccato 
originali non est conversio ad creaturam; et ideo peccato originali non 
debetur pcena sensus." De Mai. q. 5, a. 2. 

2 "Cum ad pcenas ventum est parvulorum, magnis, mihl crede, 
coarctor angustiis, ne quid respondeam prorsus invenio." Epist. 
166, E. B. 

3 "Non enim metuendum est ne vita esse potuerit media quaedam 
inter recte factum atque peccatum, et sententia judicis media esse non 
possit inter prsemium et supplicium." De Lib. Arb. I. 3, c. 23. 

4 " Parvuli nee coelesti gloria nee suppliciis a Justo Judice afficien- 
tur." Serm. in S. Lav. 

5 " Immatura mors infantium demonstrat neque in doloribus et 
moestitia futures eos qui sic vivere desierunt." De Infant, etc. 

6 In 2 Sent. d. 33, q. 2, a. 2. 

1 3 2 God wishes all Men to be Saved. [PART n. 

teaches that no one feels pain for the want of that good 
of which he is not capable; so that as no man grieves 
that he cannot fly, or no private person that he is not 
emperor, so these children feel no pain at being deprived 
of the glory of which they were never capable; since 
they could never pretend to it either by the principles of 
nature, or by their own merits. St. Thomas adds, in 
another place, 1 a further reason, which is, that the super 
natural knowledge of glory comes only by means of ac 
tual faith, which transcends all natural knowledge; so 
that children can never feel pain for the privation of that 
glory, of which they never had a supernatural knowl 
edge. He further says, in the former passage, that such 
children will not only not grieve for the loss of eternal 
happiness, but will, moreover, have pleasure in their 
natural gifts; and will even in some way enjoy God, so 
far as is implied in natural knowledge, and in natural 
love: " Rather will they rejoice in this, that they will 
participate much in the divine goodness, and in natural 
perfections." 2 And he immediately adds, that although 
they will be separated from God, as regards the union 
of glory, nevertheless "they will be united with him by 
participation of natural gifts; and so will even be able 
to rejoice in him with a natural knowledge and love." 3 

1 De Mai. q. 5, a. 3. 

"Imo magis gaudebunt de hoc quod participabunt multum de 
divina bonitate et perfectionibus naturalibus." 

" Deo conjunguntur per participationem naturalium bonorum, et 
ita etiam de ipso gaudere poterunt natural! cognitione et dilectione." 
In 2. Sent. d. 33, q. 2, a. 2. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 133 




IF then God wills all to be saved, it follows that lie 
gives to all that grace and those aids which are neces 
sary for the attainment of salvation, otherwise it could 
never be said that he has a true will to save all. "The 
effect of the antecedent will," says St. Thomas, " by 
which God wills the salvation of all men, is that order 
of nature the purpose of which is our salvation, and 
likewise those things which conduce to that end, and 
which are offered to all in common, whether by nature 
or by grace." ] It is certain, in contradiction to the blas 
phemies of Luther and Calvin, that God does not impose 
a law that is impossible to be observed. On the other 
hand, it is certain, that without the assistance of grace the 
observance of the law is impossible; as Innocent I. de 
clared against the Pelagians when he said, u It is certain, 
that as we overcome by the aid of God, so without his 
aid we must be overcome." 2 Pope Celestine declared 

1 " Antecedentis voluntatis, qua Deus vult omnium salutem, effectus 
est ipse ordo naturae in finem salutis, et promoventia in finem omni 
bus communiter proposita, tarn naturalia quam gratuita." In i 
Sent. d. 46. q. I. a. I. 

2 " Necesse est ut, quo (Deo) auxiliante vincimus, eo nonadjuvante 
vincamur." Rescr. ad Cone. Carthag. 

134 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PARTII. 

the same thing. Therefore, if God gives to all men a 
possible law, it follows that he also gives to all men the 
grace necessary to observe it, whether immediately, o, 
mediately, by means of prayer, as the Council of Trent 
has most clearly defined: "God does not command im 
possibilities; but by commanding he admonishes you 
both to do what you can, and to ask for that which is 
beyond your power, and by his help enables you to do 
it." Otherwise, if God refused us both the proximate 
and remote grace to enable us to fulfil the law, either 
the law would have been given in vain, or sin would be 
necessary, and if necessary would be no longer sin, as 
we shall shortly prove at some length. 


And this is the general opinion of the Greek Fathers: 
St. Cyril of Alexandria says: "But if a man endowed 
as others, and equally with them, with the gifts of divine 
grace, has fallen by his own free will, how shall Christ 
be said not to have saved even him, since he delivered 
the man, since he gave him the necessary aid to avoid 
sin." : How, says the saint, can that sinner, who has re 
ceived the assistance of grace equally with those who 
remained faithful, and has of his own accord chosen to 
sin, how can lie blame Jesus Christ, who has, as far as 
he is concerned, delivered him by means of the assistance 
granted to him ? St. John Chrysostom asks: " How is it 
that some are vessels of wrath, others vessels of mercy ?" 

44 Deus impossiblia non jubet, sed jubendo monet, et facere quod 
possis et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis." Sess. 6, 
cap. ii. 

2 "Quod si (quis), perinde atque alii, et ex aequo cum ipsis divinse 
gratise opibus praeditus, propria voluntate delapsus est, quomodo 
non eum servasse dicitur Christus. qui, quantum ad cavendi peccati 
auxilia concessa pertinet, hominem liberavit? " In Jo, I. ir. c. 21. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 135 

And he answers, " Because of each person s free will; 
for, since God is very good, he manifests equal kindness 
to all." Then, speaking of Pharaoh, whose heart is said 
in Scripture to have been hardened, he adds, " If Pha 
raoh was not saved, it must all be attributed to his will, 
since no less was given to him than to those who were 
saved." 2 And in another place, speaking of the petition 
of the mother of Zebedee s sons, on the words, "// is 
not mine to give , etc."* he observes: " By this Christ wished 
to show that it was not simply his to give, but that it 
also belonged to the combatants to take; for if it de 
pended only on himself, all men would be saved." 4 

St. Isidore of Pelusium: "For God wills seriously, and 
in all ways, to assist those who are wallowing, in vice, 
that he may deprive them of all excuse." 5 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "God has opened the gate of 
eternal life, so that, as far as he is concerned, all may 
gain it without anything to hinder them." 

But the doctrine of these Greek Fathers does not suit 
Jansenius, who has the temerity to say that they have 
spoken most imperfectly on grace: " None have spoken 
in grace more imperfectly than the Greeks." T In matters 

1 " Ex libera suauttque voluntate; nam Deus, cum sit valde bonus, 
in utrisque parem benignitatem ostendit." 

2 "Si salutem Pharao non est adeptus, totum id illius voluntati 
tribuendum est, cum nihil minus, quam qui salutem asseciiti sunt, 
concessum illi fuerit." In Rom. horn. 16. 

3 " Non est meum dare vobis, etc." Matt. xx. 23. 

4 " Hoc ilium (Christum) significare voluisse, non suum esse tan- 
tummodo dare, sed et certantium esse capere; nam, si istud ex se 
uno penderet, omnes utique salyi essent homines." Horn, in loco cit. 
cont. Anom. 

5 " Etenim serio et modis omnibus (Deus) vult eos adjuvare qui in 
vitio volutantur, ut omnem eis excusationem eripiat." Lib. 2. cp. 

6 " Multas aeternae vitas januas (Dominus) aperuit, ut omnes, quan 
tum in ipso est, absque impedimento ilia potiri possint." Catech. 18. 

7 " Nulli imperfectius de gratia quam Grseci locuti sunt." 

136 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

of grace, then, are we not to follow the teaching of the 
Greek Fathers, who were the first masters and columns 
of the Church ? Perhaps the doctrine of the Greeks, 
especially in this important matter, was different from 
that of the Latin Church ? On the contrary, it is cer 
tain that the true doctrine of faith came from the Greek 
to the Latin Church; so that, as St. Augustine wrote 
against Julian, who opposed to him the authority of the 
Greek Fathers, there can be no doubt that the faith of the 
Latins is the same as that of the Greeks. Whom, then, 
are we to follow ? Shall we follow Jansenius, whose errors 
have already been condemned as heretical by the Church; 
who had the audacity to say that even the just have not 
the grace requisite to enable them to keep certain pre 
cepts; and that man merits an_d demerits, even though he 
acts through necessity, provided he is not forced by vio 
lence; these and all his other errors springing from his 
most false system of the delectation relatively victorious, of 
which we shall speak at length when we confute him in 
chapter iii. 


But since the Greek Fathers do not satisfy Jansenius, 
let us see what the Latins say on this subject. But they 
in no wise differ from the Greeks. 

St. Jerome says, " Man can do no good work without 
God, who, in giving free will, did not refuse his grace to 
aid every single work." 1 Mark the words "did not re 
fuse his grace for every single work." St. Ambrose: 
"He would, never come and knock at the door, unless he 
wished to enter; it is our fault that he does not alw r ays 
enter." 5 St. Leo: "Justly does he insist on the com- 

1 " Nihil boni operis (homo) agere potest absque eo, qui ita con- 
cessit liberum arbitrium, ut suam per singula opera gratiam non 
negaret." Ep. ad Cyprian, presb. 

2 " Qui enim venit et januam pulsat, vult semper intrare; sed in no- 
bis est quod non semper ingreditur." In Ps. cxviii. s. 12. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 137 

mand, since he furnishes beforehand aid to keep it." * 
St. Hilary: " Now the grace of justification has abounded 
through one gift to all men." 2 Innocent I.: " He gives 
to man daily remedies; and unless we put confidence in 
them and depend upon them, we shall never be able to 
overcome human errors." 

St. Augustine: "It is not imputed to you as a sin if 
you are ignorant against your will, but if you neglect to 
learn that of which you are ignorant. Nor is it imputed 
as a sin that you do not bind up your wounded limbs, 
but (mark this) that you despise him who is willing to 
cure you. These are your own sins; for no man is de 
prived of the knowledge of how to seek with benefit to 
himself." In another place: "Therefore if the soul is 
ignorant what it is to do, it proceeds from this, that it has 
not yet learned; but it will receive this knowledge if it 
has made a good use of what it has already received; for 
it has received in this that it can piously and diligently 
seek, if it will;" (mark the words) " it has received power 
to seek piously and diligently." So that every one re 
ceives at least the remote grace to seek; and if he makes 
good use of this, he will receive the proximate grace to 
perform that which at first he could not do. St. Augus 
tine founds all this on the principle, that no man sins in 

1 "Juste instat praecepto, qui prsecurrit auxilio." De Pass. s. 16. 

2 " Nunc per unum in omnes donum vitae justificationis gratia abun- 
davit." In Ps. lix. 

8 " Quotidiana praestat (homini) remedia, quibus nisi freti nitamur, 
nullatenus humanos vincere poterimus errores." Rescr. ad Cone. 

4 " Non tibi deputatur ad culpam quod invitus ignoras, sed quod 
negligis qtiaerere quod ignoras; neque illud quod vulnerata membra 
non colligis, sed quod volentem sanare contemnis. Ista tua propria 
peccata sunt: nulli enim homini ablatum est scire utiliter quserere. 
Quod ergo ignorat (anima) quid sibi agendum sit, ex eo est quod non- 
dum accepit; sed hoc quoque accipiet, si hoc quod accepit bene usa 
fuerit: accepit autem ut pie ac diligenter quaerat, si volet." De Lib. 
Arb. 1. 3, c. 19, 22. 

1 38 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

doing that which he cannot help; therefore, if a man 
sins in anything, he sins in that he might have avoided 
it by the grace of God, which is wanting to no man: 
"Who sins in that which cannot in any way be helped ? 
but a man does sin, therefore it might have been 
helped." 1 "But only by his aid, \vho cannot be de 
ceived." a An evident reason, by which it becomes quite 
clear (as we shall have to show further on, when we 
speak of the sin of the obstinate), that if the grace 
necessary to observe the commandments were wanting, 
there would be no sin. 

St. Thomas teaches the same in several places. In 
one place, in explaining the text, Who wills all men to be 
saved, 3 he says, "and therefore grace is wanting to no 
man, but (as far as God is concerned) is communicated 
to all; as the sun is present even to the blind." So that 
as the sun sheds its light upon all, and only those are 
deprived of it who voluntarily blind themselves to its 
rays, so God communicates to all men grace to observe 
the law; and men are lost simply because they will 
not avail themselves of it. In another place: " It belongs 
to divine Providence to provide all men with what is 
necessary to salvation, if only there be no impediment on 
man s part." If, then, God gives all men the graces 
necessary for salvation, and if actual grace is necessary 
to overcome temptations, and to observe the command 
ments, w r e must necessarily conclude that he gives all 
men either immediately or mediately actual grace to do 

1 " Quis peccat in eo quod nullo modo caveri potest ? peccatur au- 
tem ; caveri igitur potest." De Lib. Arb. 1. 3, c. 18. 

2 " Sed opitulante illo qui non potest falli." De Nat. et Gr. c. 67. 

3 " Qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri." i Tim. ii. 4. 

4 " Et ideo gratia nulli deest, sed omnibus, quantum in se est, se 
communicat, sicut nee sol deest oculis coecis." In Heb. 12, lect. 3. 

6 "Hoc ad divinam Providentiam pertinet, ut cuilibet provideat de 
necessariis ad salutem, dummodo ex parte ejus (hominis) non impe- 
diatur." De Ver. q. 14, a. n. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 139 

good; and when mediately, no further grace is neces 
sary to enable them to put in practice the means (such 
as prayer) of obtaining actual proximate grace. In an 
other place, on the words of St. John s Gospel, No man 
cometh to Me, etc., 1 he says, " If the heart of man be not 
lifted up, it is from no defect on the part of Him who 
draws it, who as far as He is concerned, never fails; but 
from an impediment caused by him who is being 
drawn." 2 

Scotus says the same: "God wills to save all men, so 
far as rests with him, and witfi his antecedent will, by 
which he has given them the ordinary gifts necessary to 
salvation." 3 The Council of Cologne in 1536: "Al 
though no one is converted except he is drawn by the 
Father, yet let no one pretend to excuse himself on the 
plea of not being drawn. He stands at the gate, and 
knocks by the internal and the external Word." 4 


Nor did the Fathers speak without warrant of the 
Holy Scriptures; for God in several places most clearly 
assures us that he does not neglect to assist us with his 
grace, if we are willing to avail ourselves of it either for 
perseverance, if we are in a state of justification, or for 
conversion, if we are in sin. 

/ stand at the gate and knock; if any man shall hear My 

1 " Nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Pater, qui misit me, traxerit 

2 " Si non elevatur (cor humanum), non est defectus ex parte tra- 
hentis, qui, quantum in se est, nulli deficit; sed est propter impedi- 
mentum ejus qui trahitur." In Jo. 6, lect. 5. 

3 " Vult (Deus) omnes homines salvare, quantum est ex parte sui et 
voluntate sua antecedente, pro quanto dedit eis dona communia suffi- 
cientia ad salatem." In I Sent. d. 46, q. un. 

4 "Quanquam nemo convertatur nisi tractus per Patrem, attamen 
nemo excusationem praetexat quod non trahatur; ille semper stat ante 
ostium pulsans per internum et externum verbum." P. 7, c. 32. 

140 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PARTII. 

voice and open to Me the gate, I will come in to him} Bellar- 
inine reasons well on this text, that our Lord who knows 
that man cannot open without his grace, would knock in 
vain at the door of his heart, unless he had first con 
ferred on him the grace to open when he will. This is 
exactly what St. Thomas teaches in explaining the text; 
he says that God gives every one the grace necessary for 
salvation, that he may correspond to it if he will: "God 
by his most liberal will gives grace to every one that 
prepares himself: Behold I stand at the door and knock? 
And therefore the grace of God is wanting to no one, 
but communicates itself to all men, as far as it is con 
cerned." 5 In another place he says, " It is the business 
of God s Providence to provide every one with what is 
necessary to salvation." So that as St. Ambrose says: 
The Lord knocks at the gate, because he truly wishes to 
enter; if he does not enter, or if after entering he does 
not remain in our souls, it is because we prevent him 
from entering, or drive him out when he has entered: 
" Because he comes and knocks at the door, he always 
wishes to enter; but it is through us that he does not 
always go in, nor always remain." 4 

What is there that I ought to do more to My vineyard that 
I have not done to it ? Was it that I expected that it should 
bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes ? 5 
Bellarmine says on these words, " If he had not given the 

1 " Ecce sto adostium, etpulso; si quis . . . aperuerit mihi januam, 
intrabo." Apoc. iii. 20. 

2 " Deus voluntate sua liberalissima dat earn (gratiam) omni prae- 
paranti se." In Heb, 12, lect. 3. 

3 " Et ideo gratia Dei nulli deest, etc. Hoc ad divinam Providen- 
tiam pertinet, etc." Page 138. 

4 " Qui enim venitet januam pulsat, vult semper intrare; sed in nobis 
est quod non semper ingreditur, non semper manet." In Ps. cxviii. 
s. 12. 

5 " Quid est quod debui ultra facere vineae meae, et non feci ei ? an 
quod exspectavi ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas ?" Is. v. 4. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 141 

power to bring forth grapes, how could God say, / ex 
pected ? 1 And if God had not given to all men the grace 
necessary for salvation, he could not have said to the 
Jews, What is there that I ought to have done more ? for they 
could have answered, that if they had not yielded fruit, 
it was for lack of necessary assistance. Bellarmine says 
the same on the words of our Lord: Hoiu often would I 
have gathered together thy children, and thou wouldst not ? 2 
" How did he wish to be sought for by the unwilling 
unless he helps them that they may be able to be 
willing?" 2 , 

We have received Thy mercy, O God, in the midst of Thy 
temple? On this St. Bernard observes: " Mercy is in the 
midst of the temple, not in any hole and corner, because 
there is no acceptance of persons with God; 5 it is placed 
in public, it is offered to all, and no one is without it, ex 
cept he who refuses it." 

Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness? Know est 
thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance ? 7 
You see that it is through his own malice that the sinner 
is not converted, because lie despises the riches of the 
divine goodness which calls him, and never ceases to 

1 " Si non dedisset facultatem ad faciendas uvas, quorsum diceret 
Dominus: Exspectavi ? " 

2 " Quoties volui congregare filios tuos . . . . et noluisti?" Matt. 
xxiii. 37. 

3 " Quomodo voluit, ita ut queratur de nolentibus, si eos non juvit 
ut possent velle ?" 

4 "Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui."- 
Ps. xlvii. 10. 

5 " Jn medio enigi templi misericordia est, non in angulo aut di- 
versorio, quia Non est acceptio personarum apud Deum (Rom. ii. 

6 " In communi posita est, offertur omnibus, et nemo illius expers, 
nisi qui renuit." In Purif. B. V. s. I. 

7 "An divitias bonitatis ejus . . . contemnis ? ignoras quoniam 
benignitas Dei ad poenitentiam te adducit?" Rom. ii. 4. 

142 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

move him to conversion by his grace. God hates sin; 
but at the same time never ceases to love the sinful soul 
while it remains on earth, and always gives it the assist 
ance it requires for salvation: But Thou sparest all, be 
cause they are Thine, O Lord, who lovest souls. 1 Hence we 
see, says Bellarmine, that God does not refuse grace to 
resist temptations to any sinner, however obstinate and 
blinded he may be: "Assistance to avoid new sin is 
always at hand for all men, either immediately or medi 
ately (i.e., by means of prayer), so that they may ask 
further aid from God, by the help of which they will 
avoid sin." 2 Here we may quote what God says by 
Ezechiel: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the 
death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and 
live? St. Peter says the same: He beareth patiently for your 
sakes, not willing that any should perish, but that all should 
return to penance." If, therefore, God wishes that all 
should actually be converted, it must necessarily be held 
that he gives to all the grace which they need for actual 


Obstinate or Hardened Sinners, and the Abandonment of 
Them by God. 

I know well that there are theologians who maintain 
that God refuses to certain obstinate sinners even suf- 

1 " Parcis autem omnibus, quoniam tua smnt, Domine, qui amas 
animas." Wisd.yC\. 27. 

" Auxilium ad novum peccatum vitandum semper omnibus adest, 
vel immediate vel mediate, quo possint a Deo majora prsesidia im- 
petrare, quibus adjuti peccata vitabunt." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 1. 2, 
c. 7. 

"Vivo ego, dicit Dominus Deus: nolo mortem impii, sed ut con- 
vertatur impius a via sua, et vivat." Ezech. xxxiii. n. 

4 " Patienter agit propter vos, nolens aliquos perire, sed omnes ad 
poenitentiam reverti." 2 Peter, Hi. 9. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 143 

ficient grace. And, among others, they avail themselves 
of a position of St. Thomas, who says: " But although 
they who are in sin cannot through their own power 
avoid putting or interposing an obstacle to grace, unless 
they are prevented by grace, as we have shown; never 
theless, this also is imputed to them as a sin, because 
this defect is left in them from previous sin as a 
drunken man is not excused from murder committed in 
that drunkenness which was incurred by his own fault. 
Besides, although he who is in sin has not this in his own 
power that he altogether avoid sin, yet he has power at 
this present moment to avoid this or that sin, as has been 
said; so that whatever he commits, he commits volun 
tarily; and therefore it is properly imputed to him as 
sin." From this they gather that St. Thomas intends 
to say that sinners can indeed avoid particular sins, but 
not all sins; because in punishment for sins previously 
committed they are deprived of all actual grace. 

But we answer that here St. Thomas is not speaking 
of actual, but of habitual or sanctifying, grace, without 
which the sinner cannot keep himself long from falling 
into new sins, as he teaches in several places. 2 And that 
he means the same in the passage just quoted is clear 
from the context, which we must here transcribe, in order 
to understand the true meaning of the saint. 

1 " Quamvis autem illi qui in peccato sunt, vitare non possint, per 
propriam potestatem, quin impedimentum gratiae prsestent vel ponant, 
ut ostensum est, nisi auxilio gratiae praeveniantur; nihilominus tamen 
hoc eis imputatur ad culpam, quia hie defectus ex culpa praccedente in 
eis relinquitur: sicut ebrius ab homicidio non excusatur, quod per 
ebrietatem committit quam sua culpa incurrit. Praeterea, licet ille 
qui est in peccato, non habeat hoc in propria potestate, quod omnino 
vitet peccatum, habet tamen potestatem nunc vitare hoc vel illud 
peccatum, ut dictum est; unde, quodcumque committit, voluntarie 
committit, et ita non immerito sibi imputatur ad culpam." Contra 
Gent. 1. 3, c. 160. 

2 " Quod homo, in peccato existens, sine gratia peccatum vitare non 

144 God vivcs Grace for Salvation. LPARTII. 

In the first place, the title of chapter clx., wliere the 
quotation occurs, is as follows: "That man, when he is 
in sin, cannot avoid sin without grace." The very title 
shows that St. Thomas intended no more than he has 
said in the other places which we have referred to. 

Moreover, in the course of the chapter he says: " For 
when the mind of man has declined from the state of 
uprightness, it is manifest that it has fallen from its re 
lation, order (ordo)^ to its true end. . . . Whensoever, 
therefore, anything shall have occurred to the mind con 
ducive to the inordinate end, but improper for the true 
end, it will be chosen, unless the mind be brought back 
to its due relation, so as to prefer its true end to all 
others; and this is the effect of grace. But while any 
thing repugnant to our last end is the object of our 
choice, it puts a hindrance in the way of the grace which 
conducts us to that end; whence it is manifest that, after 
sinning, man cannot altogether abstain from sin, before 
he is brought back by grace to the due order. And 
hence the opinion of the Pelagians is shown to be 
absurd, that man, being in sin, can without grace avoid 
(fresh) sin." 1 And then he goes on with the sentence 
quoted above: "But although they," 2 etc., of which our 
opponents make use. 

So that, in the first place, the intention of St. Thomas is 

" Cum enim mens hominis a statu rectitudinis declinaverit, mani- 
festum est quod recessit ab ordine debiti finis. . . . Quandocumque 
igitur occurrerit aliquid conveniens inordinate fini, repugnans fini 
debito, eligetur, nisi reducatur ad debitum ordinem. ut finem debitum 
omnibus praeferat, quod est gratia? effectus; dum autem eligitur 
aliquid quod repugnat ultimo fini, impedimentum praestat gratiae, quas 
dirigit in finem. Unde manifestum est quod, post peccatum, non 
potest homo abstinere ab omni peccato, antequam per gratiam ad 
debitum ordinem reducatur. . . . Unde apparet stulta Pelagianorum 
opinio, qui dicebant hominem, in peccato existentem, sine gratia 
posse vitare peccata." 
2 Quamvis autem illi, etc. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 145 

not to prove that some sinners are deprived of all actual 
grace, and therefore, being unable to avoid all sin, they 
do commit sin, and are worthy of punishment; but his 
intention is to prove against the Pelagians that a man 
who remains without sanctifying grace cannot abstain 
from sinning. And we see that he is here certainly 
speaking of sanctifying grace, for this is that which alone 
brings the soul back to the right order. It is of this 
same sanctifying grace that he intends to speak, when 
he says immediately after, " Except he be prevented by 
the assistance of grace;" 1 by which he means that if 
the sinner is not prevented that is, is not previously in 
formed (informato) by grace, and brought back to the 
right order of holding God to be his last end, he cannot 
avoid committing fresh sins. And this is the meaning 
of the Thomists for instance, of Ferrariensis (Silvestre) 
and Father Gonet in their comments on this passage. 
But, without having recourse toother authors, it is quite 
clear from what St. Thomas himself says in his Summa, 
where he discusses the same point, and brings forward 
the identical reasons in the same words as in the i6oth 
chapter of his book Contra Gentes; and there he expressly 
says that he is only speaking of habitual or sanctifying 

And it is impossible that the holy Doctor could have 
meant otherwise, since he elsew r here teaches that, on the 
one hand, God s grace is never wanting to any one, as he 
says in his commentary on St. John: "But lest you might 
suppose that this effect was consequent on the removal of 
the true light, the Evangelist, to obviate this opposition, 
adds, that was the true light which enlightens every man. 
For the Word enlightens, so far as he is concerned, be 
cause on his part he is wanting to no one, but wishes all 
men to be saved. But if any one is not enlightened, this 

1 " Nisi auxilio gratise prseveniantur." 

146 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

is the fault of the man who turns himself away from the 
light that would enlighten him." 1 And, on the other 
hand, he teaches that there is no sinner so lost and 
abandoned by grace as not to be able to lay aside his 
obstinacy, and to unite himself to the will of God, which 
he certainly cannot do without the assistance of grace: 
" During this life there is no man who cannot lay aside 
obstinacy of mind, and so conform to the divine will." 2 
In another place he says, " So long as the use of free will 
remains to a man in this life ... he can prepare himself 
for grace by being sorry for his sins." But no one can 
make an act of sorrow for sin without grace. In another 
place he says, " No man in this life can be so obstinate 
in evil but that it is possible for him to co-operate to his 
own deliverance." 4 "To co-operate" necessarily implies 
grace to co-operate with. 

In another place he observes, on the text of St. Paul, 
He wills all to be saved? " Therefore the grace of God is 
wanting to no man; but, as far as it is concerned, it com 
municates itself to all." Again, on the same words, 

1 " Ne credas effectum ipsum esse ex remotione verae lucis: hoc ex- 
cludens, Evangelista subdit: Erat lux vera quse illuminat omnem 
hominem. Illuminat scilicet Verbum, quantum de se est, quia ex 
parte sua nulli deest, immo, Omnes homines vult salvos fieri. Quod 
si aliquis non illuminatur, ex parte hominis est avertentis se a lumine 
illuminante." /;/ Jo. i. lect. 5. 

2 " In statu vise, nullus est qui mentis obstinationem non possit 
deponere, et sic divinae voluntati conformari." In I Sent. d. 48, q. I, 
a.. 3- 

" Quamdiu manet homint usus liberi arbitrii in hac vita, . . . 
potest se prseparare ad gratiam, de peccatis dolendo." In 4 Sent. 
d. 20, q. i, a. i. 

"Aliquis homo in statu vise non potest esse ita obstinatus in 
malo, quin ad suam liberationem cooperari possit." De Ver. q. 24, 
a. ii. 

" Omnes homines vult (Deus) salvos fieri." 

" Ideo gratia Dei nulli deest, sed omnibus, quantum in se est, se 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 147 

" God, so far as he is concerned, is prepared to give 
grace to all men. . . . Those, therefore, only are de 
prived of grace who permit a hindrance to grace to ex 
ist in themselves; and, therefore, they cannot be excused 
if they sin." And when St. Thomas says, "God is pre 
pared to give grace to all," 2 he does not mean actual 
grace, but only sanctifying grace. 

Cardinal Gotti justly contradicts those who say that 
God keeps ready at hand the aids necessary for salva 
tion, but in matter of fact does not give them to all. Of 
what use would it be to a sick man (says this learned 
author) if the physician only kept the remedies ready, and 
then would not apply them? Then he concludes (quite 
to the point of our argument) that we must necessarily 
say, " God not only offers, but also confers on every in 
dividual, even on infidels and hardened sinners, help suf 
ficient to observe the commandments, whether it be 
proximate or remote." : 

For the rest, St. Thomas says that it is only the sins 
of the devils and the damned that cannot be wiped out 
by penance; but, on the other hand, "to say that there 
is any sin in this life of which a man cannot repent is 
erroneous . . . because this doctrine would derogate 
from the power of grace." If grace were wanting to 
any one, certainly he could not repent. Moreover, as we 
have already seen, St. Thomas expressly teaches in 
several places, and especially in his comment on Heb. 

1 " Deus, quantum in se est, paratus est omnibus gratiam dare. 
. . . Illi (ergo) soli gratia privantur, qui in seipsis gratiae impedi- 
mentum praestant." Contra Gent. 1.3, c. 159. 

2 " Paratus est omnibus gratiam dare." 

3 " Deum, nedum offerre, sed etiam conferre singulis hominibus, et 
infidelibus et induratis, auxilia sufficientia, vel proxima. vel saltern 
remota, ad observanda praecepta." De Div. Vol. q. 2, d. 3, 2. 

4 " Dicere quod aliquod peccatum sit in hac vita de quo quis 
poenitere non possit, erroneum est; . . . quia per hoc derogaretur 
virtuti gratiae." P. 3, q. 86, a. i. 

148 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

xii., that God, as far as he is concerned, refuses to no 
man the grace necessary for conversion: "The grace of 
God is wanting to no man; but, as far as it is concerned, 
communicates itself to all." So that the learned author 
of the Theology for the use of the seminary of Peterkau 
says, " It is a calumny to impute to St. Thomas that he 
taught that any sinners were totally deserted by God." 2 

Bellarmine makes a sound distinction on this point, 
and says that for avoiding fresh sins every sinner has at 
all times sufficient assistance, at least mediately: "The 
necessary and sufficient assistance for the avoidance of 
sin is given by God s goodness to all men at all times, 
either immediately or mediately. . . . We say or mediately 
because it is certain that some men have not that help 
by which they can immediately avoid sin, but yet have the 
help which enables them to obtain from God greater 
safeguards, by the assistance of which they will avoid 
sins." : But for the grace of conversion, he says that 
this is not given at all times to the sinner; but that 
no one will be ever so far left to himself "as to be 
surely and absolutely deprived of God s help through 
all this life, so as to have cause to despair of salvation." * 

And so say the theologians who follow St. Thomas 
thus Soto: "I am absolutely certain, and I believe that 

1 Gratia Dei nulli deest, sed omnibus, quantum in se est, se com- 

2 " Non nisi calumniose Sancto Thomae imputari potest, quod pec- 
catores aliquos a Deo totaliter deseri docnerit." Lib. 3, c. 3, q. 4. 

3 " Auxilium sufficiens ac necessarium ad vitanda peccata omnibus 
hominibus et omni tempore, vel immediate, vel mediate, a divina 
benignitate praestatur. . . . Dicimus, Vel mediate; quoniam cer- 
tum est aliquos non habere auxilium quo possint immediate vitare 
peccatum, tamen habere auxilium quo possint a Deo majora praesidia 
impetrare, quibus adjuti peccata vitabunt." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 1. 2, 
c. 7. 

4 " Ut certo et absolute per omnem vitam destituatur auxilio Dei, 
ut de salute desperare possit." Ibid. c. 6. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 149 

all the holy Doctors who are worthy of the name were 
always most positive, that no one was ever deserted by 
God in this mortal life." 1 And the reason is evident; 
for if the sinner was quite abandoned by grace, either 
his sins afterwards committed could no longer be im 
puted to him, or he would be under an obligation to do 
that which he had no power to fulfil; but it is a positive 
rule of St. Augustine that there is never a sin in that 
which cannot be avoided: "No one sins in that which 
can by no means be avoided." 2 And this is agreeable to 
the teaching of the Apostle: But^ God is faithful* who will 
not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but 
will also make with the temptation issue, that you may be able 
to bear it? The word " issue" means the divine assist 
ance, which God always gives to the tempted to enable 
them to resist, as St. Cyprian explains it: " He will make 
with the temptation a way of escape." 4 And Primasiiis 
more clearly: "He will so order the issue that we shall 
be able to endure; that is, in temptation he will strength 
en you with the help of his grace, so that ye may be able 
to bear it." 1 St. Augustine and St. Thomas go so far 
as to say that God would be unjust and cruel if he 
obliged any one to a command which he could not keep. 
St. Augustine says, " It is the deepest injustice to reckon 
any one guilty of sin for not doing that which he could 

"Certo certior sum, quin vero et certissimos credo semper fuisse 
sanctos doctores qui fuerint hoc nomine digni, neminem unquam a 
Deo fuisse derelictum in hac mortali vita." De Nat. et Gr. 1. i, c. 18. 

2 -" Quis peccat in eo quod nullo modo caveri potest? De Lib. Arb. 
1. 3, c. 18. 

3 " Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id 
quod potestis, sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum, ut possitis 
sustinere." i Cor. x. 13. * 

4 " Faciet cum tentatione evadendi facultatem. Testim. 1. 3, n. 91. 

5 " Illud faciet provenire (gratiae praesidio), quo possitis (tenta- 
tionem) sustinere." 

1 50 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PAPT n. 

not do. And St. Thomas: " God is not more cruel 
than man; but it is reckoned cruelty in a man to oblige 
a person by law to do that which he cannot fulfil; there 
fore we must by no means imagine this of God." : "It 
is, however, different," he says, " when it is through his 
own neglect that he has not the grace to be able to keep 
the commandments," 3 which properly means, when man 
neglects to avail himself of the remote grace of prayer, 
in order to obtain the proximate grace to enable him to 
keep the law, as the Council of Trent teaches: " God 
does not command impossibilities; but by commanding 
admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask for that 
which is beyond your power; and by his help enables 
you to do it." 

St. Augustine repeats his decision in many other places 
that there is no sin in what cannot be avoided. In one 
he says, " Whether there be iniquity or whether there be 
justice, if it was not in the man s power, there can be no 
just reward, no just punishment." Elsewhere he says, 
" Finally, if no power is given them to abstain from their 
works, we cannot hold that they sin." 6 Again, "The 
devil, indeed, suggests; but with the help of God it is in 
our power to choose or to refuse his suggestions. And 
so. when by God s help it is in your power, why do you 

1 " Peccati reum tenere quemquam, quia non fecit quod facere non 
potuit, summse iniquitatis est." De Duab. An. c. 12. 

2 " Deus non est magis crudelis quam homo; sed homini imputatur 
in crudelitatem, si obliget aliquem per praeceptum ad id quod implere 
non possit; ergo hoc de Deo nullo modo est aestimandum." In 2 Sent. 
d. 28, q. i, a. 3. 

"Quando ex ejus negligentia est quod gratiam non habet, per 
quam potest servare mandata." De Ver, q. 24, a. 14. 

4 " Deus impossibilia non jubet; sed jubendo monet, et facere quod 
possis, et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis." Sess. 6, cap. 

5 " Sive autem iniquitas sive justitia, si in potestate non esset, nul- 
lum praemium, nulla poena justa esset." Cont. Faiist. 1. 22, c. 78. 

" Si denique his abstinendi abopere suo potestas nulla conceditur, 
peccatum eorum tenere non possumus." De Duab. An. c. 12. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 1 5 1 

not rather determine to obey God than him ?" ! Again, 
" No one, therefore, is answerable for what he has not re 
ceived." 2 Again, "No one is worthy of blame for not 
doing that which he cannot do." 5 

Other Fathers have taught the same doctrine. So 
St. Jerome, " We are not forced by necessity to be 
either virtuous or vicious; for where there is necessity, 
there is neither condemnation nor crown." 4 Tertullian: 
" For a law would not be given to him who had it not in 
his power to observe it duly." Marcus the Hermit: 
" Hidden grace assists us; but it depends on us to do or 
not to do good according to our strength." So also St. 
Irenaeus, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Chrysostom, and 

Nor is there any difficulty in what St. Thomas says, 
that grace is denied to some persons, in punishment of 
original sin: " To whomsoever the assistance of grace is 
given, it is given through simple mercy; but from those 
to whom it is not given, it is withheld justly in punishment 
of previous sin, or at least of original sin, as Augustine 
says." For, as Cardinal Gotti well observes, St. Augus- 

1 " Datquidem ille (daemon) consilium; sed, Deo auxiliante, nostrum 
est eligere vel repudiate quod suggerit; et ideo, cum per Dei adju- 
torium in potestate tua sit, quare non magis Deo quam ipsi obtem- 
perare deliberas ?" Serm. 253, E. B. App. 

2 " Ex eo igitur quod non accepit, nullus reus est." De Lib. Arb. 1. 
3, c. 16. 

3 " Nemo vituperatione dignus, qui id non facit quod facere non 
potest." De Duab. An. c. n. 

4 " Nee ad virtutes nee ad vitia necessitate trahimur; alioquin, ubi 
necessitas est, nee damnatio nee corona est." Cont. J-ov. 1. 2. 

5 " Non enim poneretur lex ei qui non haberet obsequium debitum 
legi in sua potestate." Cont. Marcion. 1. 2. 

6 "Occulta nobis opitulatur gratia; verum in nobis situm est agere 
vel non agere bonum pro potestate." De Just, ex op. c. 56. 

7 "Auxilium (gratiae) quibuscumque datur, misericorditer datur; 
quibus autem non datur, ex justitia non datur, in poenam prse- 
cedentis, aut saltern originalis peccati; ut Augustinus dicit." 2. 2. q. 
2, a. 5. August. De Corr. et Grat c. n. 

152 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

tine and St. Thomas are speaking of actual proximate 
grace to satisfy the precepts of faith and charity, of 
which, indeed, St. Thomas is speaking in this place; but, 
for all this, they do not intend to deny that God gives 
every man interior grace, by means of which he may at 
any rate obtain by prayer the grace of faith and of sal 
vation; since, as we have already seen, these holy Doc 
tors do not doubt that God grants to every man at least 
remote grace to satisfy the precepts. Here we may add 
the authority of St. Prosper, who says, " All men enjoy 
some measure of heavenly teaching; and though the 
measure of grace be small, it is sufficient to be a remedy 
for some, and to be a testimony for all." 1 

Nor could it be understood otherwise; for if it were 
true that any had sinned for want of even remote sufficient 
grace, withheld through original sin being imputed to 
them as a fault, it would follow that the liberty of will, 
which by a figure of speech we are said to have had in 
the sin of Adam, would be sufficient to make us actual 
sinners. But this cannot be said, as it is expressly con 
demned in the first proposition of Michael Baius, who 
said, " That liberty which caused sin to be voluntary 
and free in its cause namely, in original sin, and in the 
liberty of Adam when sinning is sufficient to (cause) 
formal sin (in us), and to make us deserve punishment." 3 
Against this proposition we may make use of what Bel- 
larmine said, 3 that to commit a personal sin distinct from 
the sin of Adam a new exertion of free will is requisite, 
and a free will distinct from that of Adam, otherwise 

" Adhibita semper est universis hominibus quaedam supernae 
mensura doctrinae, quae, etsi parcioris gratiae fuit, sufficit tamen qui- 
busdam ad rernedium, omnibus ad testimonium." De Voc. Gent. \. 
2, c. 15. 

2 "Adpeccatum formale et ad demerendum, sufficit ilia libertas 
qua voluntarium ac liberum fuit in causa sua, peccato original! et 
hbertate Adami peccantis." 

3 De Gr. et Lib. Arb. \. 2, c. 7. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 153 

there is no distinct sin; according to the doctrine of St. 
Thomas, who teaches, " For a personal sin, absolute per 
sonal liberty is requisite." Further, with respect to 
the baptized, the Council of Trent has declared that in 
them there remains nothing to condemn: " God hates 
nothing in the regenerate; for there is no condemnation 
to them who are truly buried with Christ by baptism 
unto death. " a And it is added that concupiscence is 
not left in us as a punishment, "but for our trial; and it 
cannot harm those who do not consent to it." 5 On the 
contrary, the concupiscence left in us would do exceed 
ingly great harm to man, if, ion account of it, God 
denied him even the remote grace necessary to obtain 

From all this, several theologians conclude that to say 
that God refuses to any one sufficient help to enable 
him to keep the commandments would be contrary to 
the faith, because in that case God would oblige us to 
impossibilities. So says F. Nunez: "God never refused 
aid sufficient to keep the commandments, otherwise they 
could not be in any way fulfilled; and thus we should 
have the heresy of Luther back again, that God has ob 
liged men to impossibilities." 4 And in another place, 
"It is of faith, so that the opposite doctrine is a mani 
fest heresy, that every man, while he is alive, can do 
penance for his sins." And Father Ledesma, "It is a 

1 " Ad peccatum personale requirit potentia absoluta personalis." 

2 " In renatis nihil odit Deus, quia nihil est damnationis iis qui vere 
consepulti sunt cum Christo per baptisma in mortem." 

3 "Quae, cum ad agonem relicta sit, nocere non consentienti- 
bus . . . non valet." Sess. 5. De Pecc. or. n. 5. 

4 " Deus nunquam denegat auxilium sufficiens ad implenda prae- 
cepta; alias nullo pacto possent impleri; etsicrediret Lutheri haeresis, 
quod Deus obligavit hominem ad impossibile." In i. 2. q. 109, a. 8. 

5 " Fides est, ita ut oppositum sit haeresis manifesta, quod omnis 
homo, dum est in via, potest pcenitentiam agere de peccatis." In P. 
3, q. 86, a. i, d. i. 

1 54 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART u. 

certain truth of faith, that that is not sin which is not 
in the free power of man." ! 

Giovenino says that the sinner becomes guilty through 
the exercise of free will, in choosing voluntarily this or 
that sin; though at the time he is necessitated to sin, 
because he is without actual grace sufficient to deliver 
him from all sin. But this doctrine, that a man when 
fallen sins, not having liberty to do otherwise than to 
choose what sin he will commit, and is necessitated to 
commit some sin, justly offends Monseigneur de Saleon, 
Archbishop of Vienne, who, in his book Jansenismus Re- 
divivus, writes as follows: "Who will endure to hear that 
a man once fallen, being deprived of grace, can enjoy no 
other liberty than that of choosing one sin rather than 
another, being necessitated to sin in some way." 2 So 
that a criminal condemned to death, who has no other 
liberty allowed him than to choose whether he will die 
by the sword, by poison, or by fire, may be said, when 
he has made his choice, to die a voluntary and free death. 
And how can sin be imputed to a man who must sin in 
some way or another ? The 6yth of the condemned Prop 
ositions of Baius is as follows: "Man sins damnably 
even in that which he does through necessity." ; How 
can there be liberty, where there is necessity to sin ? 
Jansenius answers, that the liberty of will, which by a 
figure of speech we are said to have had in Adam s sin, 
is sufficient to make us sinners. But this too was con 
demned in Baius first proposition, "That liberty;" etc., 
as we have seen above. 

1 " Certum est secundum fidem, quod non est peccatum illud quod 
non est in hominis libera potestate." De Aux. q. un. a. 18. 

" Quis patienter audire potest hominem lapsum, absente gratia 
gradibus superior!, non alia gaudere libertate praeteream, qua neces- 
sitatus ad peccandum in genere, potest unum prae alio eligere pec 
catum." P. 2, a. 6. 

" Homo peccat etiam damnabiliter in eo quod necessario facit." 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 1 5 5 

Our opponents go on to say that though the sinner 
abandoned by grace cannot avoid all mortal sins collec 
tively, yet he can avoid each sin distributively, or individ 
ually, "by a simple suspension or negation of activity," 1 
as they say. But this cannot be admitted, for several 
reasons. First, because when a vehement temptation is 
assailing us, which it requires much strength to resist, 
it cannot morally be overcome (as all theologians agree) 
except by the assistance of grace, or else by yielding to 
another, but opposite, vicious passion; so that a sinner 
deprived of grace would be irremediably necessitated to 
sin in one or the other way; which it is horrible to affirm, 
as we have already shown. Secondly, when we are 
urged by a great concupiscence to sin in a particular 
way, there is not always nay, it seldom happens that 
there is another improper motive urging us to the con 
trary course, of sufficient force to hinder us from com 
mitting the first sin; so that, when this second motive 
is absent or weak, then it would be necessary for the 
sinner to commit that particular sin to which he feels 
inclined. Thirdly, this abstaining from sin " by a sim 
ple negation of activity," 2 as they say, can hardly be 
imagined in sins against the negative precepts; but, as 
Tourneley and Gotti w r ell observe, is altogether impossi 
ble in cases where a positive precept obliges us to do 
some supernatural act; as, for instance, to make an act 
of faith, hope, love, and contrition: for as these acts are 
supernatural, they necessarily require the supernatural 
assistance of God to enable us to perform them. So 
that, at any rate in this case, if grace were wanting, man 
would be necessitated to sin, by not satisfying the posi 
tive precept, although he was unable to avoid the sin. 
But to assert this is, as F. Bannez observes, contrary to 

1 " Per simplicem suspensionem seu negationem actus." 

2 "Simplex negatio actus." 

156 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

faith: "A man cannot sin without having first actually 
received an inspiration of divine grace. We assert 
this conclusion to be certainly of faith; because no 
one sins in not doing that which he cannot do, as it is 
certain de fide; but a man to whom nothing more is given 
than the bare faculties of human nature has no power 
to act above nature, and therefore does not sin in omit 
ting to perform a supernatural act." 1 

Nor will it do to say that if the sinner is deprived of 
grace, he is deprived of it by his own fault; and there 
fore, though he is deprived of grace, yet he sins. For 
Cardinal Gotti well replies to this, that God can justly 
punisli the sinner for his previous faults, but not for his 
future transgressions of precepts which he is no longer 
able to fulfil. If a servant, he says, were sent to a place, 
and if he, through his own fault, fell into a pit, his mas 
ter might punish him for his carelessness in falling, and 
even for his subsequent disobedience, if means (such as 
a rope or ladder) were given him to get out of the pit, 
and he would not avail himself of them; but supposing 
that his master did not help him to get out, he would be 
a tyrant if lie ordered him to proceed and punished him 
for not proceeding. Hence he concludes, " When, there 
fore, a man has by sin fallen into the ditch, and become 
unable to proceed on his way to eternal life, though God 
may punish him for this fault, and also if he refuses the 
offer of grace to enable him to proceed; yet if God chose 
to leave him to his own weakness, he cannot without 

" Quotiescumque aliquis peccat, necesse est ut ille de facto re- 
ceperit aliquam divinam inspirationem. . . . Hsec conclusio asseritur 
a nobis certa secundum fidem ; quia nemo peccat propter quod non facit 
quod facere non potest, utcertum est secundum fidem; sed homo, cui 
nihil aliud datum est quam quod ad naturam humanam pertinet, non 
habet unde possit operari supra naturam; ergo non peccat non ope- 
rando aliquid supernaturale." In P. i, q. 23, a. 3, concl. 3. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 1 5 7 

injustice oblige him to proceed on the way, nor punish 
him if he does not proceed." 

Moreover, our opponents adduce many texts of Scrip- 
ture where this abandonment is apparently expressed: 
Blind the heart of this people . . . lest they see with their 
eyes . . . and be converted, and I heal them? We would 
have cured Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake /ier. 3 
Add thou iniquity upon their iniquity, and let them not come 
into Thy justice? For this cause God delivered them up to 
shameful affections. He hath mercy on whom He will; and 
whom He will He hardencth; and others similar. But it 
is usually and easily answered to all these in general, 
that in the Holy Scriptures God is often said to do what 
he only permits; so that if we would not blaspheme with 
Calvin, and say that God positively destines and deter 
mines some persons to sin, we must say that God per 
mits some sinners, in penalty of their faults, to be on the 
one hand assailed by vehement temptations (which is 
the evil from which we pray God to deliver us when we 
say, Lead us not into temptation}-, 6 and, on the other hand, 
that they remain morally abandoned in their sin; so that 
their conversion, and the resistance they should make to 
temptation, although neither impossible nor desperate, 

1 "Cum ergo homo, peccando in foveam lapsus, impotens factus 
sit prosequendi iter ad aeternam salutem, esto ipsum possit ob talem 
culpam punire; et similiter, si gratiam, qua fiat potens, oblatam re- 
spuat ; sed si Deus ipsum in sua impotentia relinquere velit, non 
poterit nisi injuste obligare ut viam percurrat, et, nisi percurrat, 
punire." De Div. Vol. q. 2, d. 3, 3. 

2 " Excaeca cor populi hujus . . . , ne forte videat . . . et converta- 
tur, et sanem eum." Is. vi. 10. 

3 " Curavimus Babylonem, et non est sanata; derelinquamus earn." 
Jer. li. 9. 

4 " Appone iniquitatem super iniquitatem eorum, et non intrent in 
justitiam tuam." Ps. Ixviii. 28. 

5 " Propterea tradidit illos Deus in passiones ignomiae. Ergo cujus 
vult miseretur, et quern vult indurat." Rom. i. 26; ix. 18. 

6 " Et ne nos inducas in tentationem." 

158 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

is yet, through their faults and their bad habits, very 
difficult; since, in their laxity of life, they have only very 
rare and weak desires and motions to resist their bad 
habits, and to regain the way of salvation. And this is 
the imperfect obstinacy of the hardened sinner which 
St. Thomas describes: " He is hardened who cannot 
easily co-operate in his escape from sin; and this is im 
perfect obstinacy, because a man may be obstinate in 
this life, if he has a will so fixed upon sin, that no mo 
tions towards good arise, except very weak ones." On 
one side, the mind is obscured, the will is hardened 
against God s inspirations, and attached to the pleasures 
of sense, so as to despise and feel disgust for spiritual 
blessings; the sensual passions and appetites reign in 
the soul through the bad habits that have been acquired; 
on the other side, the illuminations and the callings of 
God are, by its own fault, rendered scarcely efficacious 
to move the soul, which has so despised them, and 
made so bad a use of them, that it even feels a certain 
aversion towards them, because it does not want to be 
disturbed in its sensual gratifications. All these things 
constitute moral abandonment; and when a sinner has 
once fallen into it, it is only with the utmost difficulty 
that he can escape from his miserable state, and bring 
himself to live a well-regulated life. 

In order to escape, and pass at once from such dis 
order to a state of salvation, a great and extraordinary 
grace would be requisite; but God seldom confers such 
a grace on these obstinate sinners. Sometimes he gives 
it, says St. Thomas, and chooses them for vessels of mercy, 
as the Apostle calls them, in order to make known his 

" (Obstinatum esse eum) qui non de facili possit cooperari ad hoc 
quod exeat de peccato; et haec est obstinatio imperfecta, qua aliquis 
potest esse obstinatus in statu vise, dum scilicet habet ita firmatam 
voluntatem in peccato, quod non surgunt motus ad bonum nisi de- 
biles." De Ver. q. 24, a. n. 

God gives Grace for Salvation. 159 

goodness; but to the rest he justly refuses it, and leaves 
them in their unhappy state, in order to show forth his 
justice and power: " Sometimes," says the Angel of the 
Schools, "out of the abundance of his goodness he pre 
vents with his assistance even those who put a hindrance 
in the way of his grace, and converts them, etc. And as 
he does not enlighten all the blind, nor cure all the sick, 
so neither does he assist all who place an impediment to 
his grace, so as to convert them. . . . This is what 
the Apostle means when he says that God, to show forth 
His anger, and to make His powei\ known, endured with much 
patience the vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, tliat He 
might show the riches of His glory upon the vessels of mercy, 
which He hath prepared unto glory." Then he adds, "But 
since out of the number of those who are involved in the 
same sins, there are some to whom God gives the grace 
of conversion, while others he only endures, or allows to 
go on in the course of things, we are not to inquire the 
reason why he converts some and not others. For the 
Apostle says, Has not the potter power over tJie clay, to make 
of the same mass one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor ? " 
We do not then deny (to bring this point to a conclu- 

1 "Interdum ex abundantia bonitatis suse, etiam eos qui impedimen- 
tum gratiae prsestant, auxilio suo praevenit, avertens eos a malo et 
convertens ad bonum. Et sicut non omnes caecos illuminat, nee 
omnes languidos sanat, ita non omnes qui gratiam impediunt, auxilio 
suo praevenit ut convertantur. . . . Hinc est quod Apostolus dicit: 
1 Deus volens ostendere iram et notam facere potentiam suam, sus- 
tinuit in multa patientia vasa irae apta in interitum, ut ostenderet 
divitias glorise suae in vasa misericordise, quae prseparavit in gloriam. " 
Rom. ix 22. 

2 " Cum autem Deus, hominum qui in eisdem peccatis detinentur, 
hos quidem praeveniens convertat, illos autem sustineat sive permittat 
secundum ordinem rerum procedere, non est ratio inquirenda, quare 
hos convertat, et non illos. Hinc est quod Apostolus dicit: An non 
habet potestatem figulus luti, ex eadem massa facere aliud quidem vas 
in honorem, aliud vero in contumeliam ? " Ibid. 21, Cont. Gent. 1. 3, 
c. 161. 

160 God gives Grace for Salvation. [PART n. 

sion) that there is such a thing as the moral abandon 
ment of some obstinate sinners, so that their conversion 
is morally impossible; that is to say, very difficult. And 
this concession is abundantly sufficient for the laudable 
object which our opponents have in defending their opin 
ion, which is to restrain evil-doers, and to induce them 
to consider, before they come to fall into such a deplor 
able state. But then it is cruelty (as Petrocorensis well 
says) to take from them all hope, and entirely to shut 
against them the way of salvation, by the doctrine that 
they have fallen into so complete an abandonment as to 
be deprived of all actual grace to enable them to avoid 
fresh sins, and to be converted; at any rate, mediately 
by means of prayer (which is not refused to any man 
while he lives, as we shall prove in the last chapter), 
whereby they can afterwards obtain abundant help for 
placing themselves in a state of salvation: since the fear 
of total abandonment would not only lead them to de 
spair, but also to give themselves more completely to 
their vices, in the belief that they are altogether destitute 
of grace; so that they have no hope left of escaping 
eternal damnation. 

The System of Jansenius. 161 





The System of Jansenius. 

i. In the following chapter we will, as we promised, 
demonstrate that the grace of prayer is given to all men. 
But this doctrine does not please Jansenius; he goes so 
far as to call it an hallucination: "It is an hallucination 
to think that the grace of prayer is always present to a 
man." 1 According to his system, he considers that with 
out the delectation relatively victorious we cannot pray; but 
this delight is not granted to all men, therefore (he adds) 
all men have not sufficient grace and power to fulfil the 

1 " Hallucinatio est, qua putant semper adesse homini gratiam ut 
petat." De Gr. Chr. 1. 3, c. 13. 

* Jansenius De grat. Christi, lib. iii. c. 13, circa finem, p. 139, 
" Delectatio relative victrix." It is the distinct doctrine of the Jan- 
senists that as a material atom within the influence of two opposite 
attractions, by inevitable necessity obeys that which is most powerful, 
so is it with the human will. At each waking moment, they say, a 
man is attracted either by heavenly or earthly delight, or by both. 
If the first, he necessarily loves God; if the second, he necessarily 
sins; if the third, he necessarily obeys the " delectatio relative vic 
trix," that one of the two delights which is intrinsically the most in 
tense. The liberty requisite for merit or demerit, according to Jan 
senius well-known proposition, consists not in any real power of 
choice, or freedom from necessity, but wholly in exemption from external 
violence. ED. 


1 62 Exposition and Confutation. [PARTII. 

commandments; for many are without even the remote 
grace to enable them to pray as they ought, or indeed to 
pray at all. " Since, therefore," he continues, " most men 
either do not ask for grace to enable them to fulfil the 
law, or do not ask for it as is necessary; and since God 
does not give all men the grace either to pray fervently, 
or even to pray at all, it is most evident that many of the 
faithful are without that sufficient grace, and, conse 
quently, without that perpetual power of fulfilling the 
one precept (of the moment) which some theologians 
proclaim," ] Before, then, we prove our own position, 
we must confute his pernicious system, from which all 
his errors are derived; and we must show that not we, 
Dut that he is laboring under an hallucination. 

All know the five propositions of Jansenius which were 
condemned by the Church as heretical* Now, as 
Tourneley proves, all these propositions follow if you 
once grant his system of preponderating delectation, on 
whicli Jansenius founds all his doctrine. 2 F. Ignatius 
Graveson says the same: " From this pernicious princi 
ple Jansenius and his followers derived these erroneous 
conclusions (the five propositions), which are most inti- 

1 " Cum ergo plurimi, vel non petant gratiam illam qua possint prae- 
cepta facere, vel non ita petant ut necessarium est, nee omnibus 
gratiam vel ferventer petendi vel omnino petendi Deus largiatur, 
aperiissimum est fidelibus multis deesse illam sufficientem gratiam, et 
consequenter illam perpetuam, quam quidam praedicant, faciendi 
praecepti potestatem." 

2 De Gr. Chr. q. 3, De Jans. ep. 3. 

* For the benefit of the reader we here subjoin the five propositions: 

1. Some commandments of God are impossible to just men who 
wish to fulfil them, and who, for this purpose, make efforts accord 
ing to the strength that they at present possess; and the grace that 
would render them possible is wanting to them. 

2. In the state of fallen nature one never resists interior grace. 

3. To merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature, there is not re 
quired in man freedom from interior necessity (libertas a necessitate), 

The System of Jansenius. 163 

mately connected and form one system with that prin 
ciple." l So F. Berti, who says that " from the principle 
of the two invincible delectations, as from a root, almost 
all the other Jansenist errors have sprung, and especially 
the five condemned propositions." : And Father Fortu 
nate da Brescia, in his lately published book, called A 
Confutation of the System of Cornelius Jansenius, proves to 
demonstration that, admitting this system, you must 
necessarily admit the five condemned propositions. 

Let us, therefore, distinctly exhibit this system of Jan 
senius. He says that the will of man, since the fall of 
Adam, is unable to do otherwise than to follow either 
the pleasure of grace (which he calls the celestial delec 
tation), or that of concupiscence (which he calls earthly 
delectation), according as one prevails over the others. 
So that if the heavenly delectation is greater, then it 
necessarily overcomes the other; if the earthly delecta 
tion preponderates, then the will necessarily yields to it. 

And here we must remark that Jansenius does not 
hereby intend deliberate or consequent delectation, for 
thus he would be in accord with all Catholic Doctors; 

1 " Ex hoc infesto principle Jansenius ejusquediscipuli has erroneas 
deducunt consecutiones, quse cum illo principio arctissimo vinculo 
colligatae cohaerent. "--Ep. cl. I, ep. I. 

* " Ex principio duarum delectationum invincibilium tanquam ex 
radice fluere alios fere omnes Jansenii errores, ac prsesertim quinque 
damnatas propositiones." Aug. syst. vind. d. 4, c. I, 8. 

but it is sufficient to have freedom from exterior compulsion (libertas 
a coac/;one). 

4. The Semi- Pelagians admitted the necessity of an interior pre 
venting grace for every act, even for the beginning of faith; they were 
heretics in that they maintained that the will of man can submit to 
this grace, or resist it. 

5. It is a Semi-Pelagian error to say that Jesus Christ died or shed 
his blood for all men without exception. 

These five propositions were condemned by Innocent X. in 1653. 


1 64 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

since, when the pleasure we take in a thing is deliberate, 
and embraced not from necessity but from free choice of 
the will, then certainly it is necessary that the will should 
act according to the delectation. But Jansenius intends 
indeliberate delectation, and in this sense he understands 
the celebrated saying of St. Augustine: " It is necessary 
that our act should follow the greater pleasure. " Now, 
as we shall presently show, this sentence must neces 
sarily be understood of deliberate and consequent delec 
tation; but Jansenius falsely interprets (and on this false 
interpretation founds his whole doctrine) that it means 
indeliberate delectation, antecedent to any act of the will. 
So that, in his system, there is no suchthing as sufficient 
grace; since it is either of too little weight, and neces 
sarily insufficient, or else it preponderates over the con 
cupiscence, and is then necessarily efficacious, since he 
makes the whole efficacy of grace consist in the relative 
preponderance of the indeliberate delectation: "There 
will be no such thing as sufficient grace" (these are his 
words); "but it will be either efficient, or so inefficient 
that no act can follow from it." 3 

When this system is once laid down, all the five con 
demned propositions follow as necessary conclusions 
from it. Let us omit the others, and speak here exclu 
sively of the first and third, as being most to our pur 


The first is, "Some commands of God are impossible 
to just men, who wish to fulfil them and endeavor to do 
so according to the strength they at present possess. 
Moreover, grace is wanting to them, whereby these pre- 

" Quod amplius delectat, secundum id operemur necesse est." 
In Gal. n. 49. 

" Non erit sufficiens gratia, sed vel efficax, vel ita inefficax ex qua 
operatic nequidem possit sequi." De Gr. Chr. 1. 4, c. 10. 

The System of Jansenius. 165 

cepts may become possible." Some precepts (says he) 
become impossible even to the just, who have the will 
and strive to observe them, in proportion as they want 
the grace which should prevail over concupiscence: 
" Unless the heavenly delectation is greater than the 
earthly, it cannot but happen that we are overcome by 
the infirmity of our will." 5 And again: " While carnal 
delectation is in vigor, it is impossible that the thought 
of virtue should prevail." Although, said Jansenius, 
grace regarded absolutely in itself, and apart from act 
and circumstance, may be abundantly sufficient to move 
the will to virtue; nevertheless, relatively considered, 
that is, when the carnal delectation is greater than the 
heavenly (for when the carnal preponderates over grace, 
it is always accompanied by the act of will), then grace 
is completely insufficient to draw to itself the consent of 
the will. And, as Father Graveson well observes, the 
absolute power to keep the commandments, which many 
would have by virtue of grace, whenever it is derived 
from a grace which is less than the concupiscence, is 
actually no longer power, but a true impotence; since 
the will is then entirely unable to act rightly, as the less 
weight cannot outweigh the greater. 

How, then, can a man be blamed for not fulfilling the 
precept, when he is without grace even sufficient to enable 
him to do so ? The objection is strong, and is most 
manifestly just; so much so, that Jansenius himself can 
not help putting it: u How is it that they are not excused 
who are without this assistance, since without it they 

1 " Aliqua Dei praecepta hominibus justis, volentibus et conantibus, 
secundum praesentes quas habent vires, sunt impossibilia; deest-quo- 
que illis gratia qua possibilia fiant." Ibid, \. 3, c. 13. 

2 " Nisi major fuerit coelestis delectatio quam terrena, fieri non 
potest quin proprise voluntatis infirmitate vincamur." 

3 " Vigente enim delectatione carnali, impossibile est ut virtutis 
consideratio praevaleat." De Gr. Chr. 1. 4, c. 6-g. 

1 66 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

would not be able to fulfil the precept?" 1 Let us see 
how he answers this question. The difficulty is great, 
therefore he attempts to disembarrass himself of it in 
several ways. 

i. He answers that inability excuses when a man 
wishes to fulfil the precept, but cannot; but not when he 
does not wish to fulfil it. But we answer that when, the 
will, according to his principles, is necessarily obliged 
to yield to the indeliberate pleasure of the concupiscence, 
because of its outweighing grace, it is then physically im 
possible for a man to wish to fulfil the precept; since, 
supposing the preponderance of the carnal pleasure, 
grace has no longer sufficient active strength to over 
come it. And of this principle Jansenius has no doubt, 
for he says that the stronger delectation intrinsically 
determines, and insuperably moves the will to accept it, 
so that the will is then completely deprived of relative 
power to resist. "Whence it follows," says Father 
Graveson, "that this necessity, according to the doctrine 
of Jansenius and his disciples, is not a moral but an 
antecedent and invincible necessity, which cannot be ad 
mitted without open heresy." 2 Jansenius says, more 
over, that except the delectation of grace preponderates, 
it is as impossible fora man to fulfil the precept as it is 
"for one without wings to fly, for the blind to see, for 
the deaf to hear, or for a man with broken limbs to 
walk straight. " : It would be the same for a man who 
had eyes but was deprived of light; because it is no 
more physically impossible for a blind man without eyes 

1 " Quomodo non sint excusati qui illo adjutorio carent, quando- 
quidem sine illo praeceptum implere non possint?" Ibid. 1. 3, c. 15. 

2 "Quo fit ut hsec necessitas, in doctrina Jansenii ejusque disci- 
pulorum, non sit necessitas moralis, sed antecedens et invincibilis; 
quae citra apertam haeresim admitti non potest." Ep. cl. 2, ep. 3. 

3 " Sine qua non magis potest homo bene operari, quam volare sine 
alis, quam homini caeco ut videat, vel surdo ut audeat, vel tibiis 
fracto ut recte gradiatur." De Gr. 1. 3, c, 15; 1. 2, c. i. 

77/6 System of Jansenius. 167 

to see than it is for one who has eyes but is without light; 
for physical impossibility is simply that which exceeds 
the natural powers. So that any one can see how base 
less is this first reply of Jansenius. 

2. Let us examine the second, which is still more so. 
He says that all the commandments are possible to man, 
just so far as God can give him grace to make him keep 
them: "All men are said to be able to believe, to be able 
to love God . . . for this power is nothing else than a 
passive flexibility of capacity, through which they are 
able to receive faith and charity." So that, according 
to Jansenius, man s sin in breaking the commandments 
is in proportion to -his capacity of receiving grace to 
fulfil them. But by this rule we might say that the blind 
can see, and the deaf hear, because God can make them 
see and hear; but, for all that, it is physically impossible 
for the blind to see, o" the deaf to hear, unless God gives 
them the power. So that to say that it is sufficient 
reason to call a precept possible, if it is possible to man 
in case God gives him the power, is either nonsense or 
fraud, intended to hide the truth; for, I ask, what help 
can a man have from that grace which he might have, 
but has not at the time ? It is the same as saying, a man 
might observe all the precepts if he could observe them; 
but at present he cannot. When the sick man, says St. 
Augustine, needs care to cure him, he cannot get well 
without care, however he may wisli it: " Nor yet can he 
become well when he will, but when he is healed by the 
use of proper care." 2 

3. Jansenius third answer is, that liberty of will con 
sists entirely in knowing the delightful object and in 

1 "Omnes homines dicuntur posse credere, posse diligere Deum; 
. . . haec enim potestas non est aliud nisi flexibilis capaeitas per 
quam possunt suscipere fidem et charitatem." L. 3, c. 15. 

2 " Nee tamen, cum vult, potest, sed cum fuerit, adhibita curatione, 
sanatus." De Perf. just. c. 3, rat. 5. 

1 68 Exposition and Confutation [PART n. 

taking pleasure in it: " Wherefore" (these are his words), 
" after surveying the arguments of Augustine, on which 
the whole doctrine of free will depends, we think that it 
is nothing but knowledge and delectation, or a pleasur 
able complacency in the object which has the power over 
the freewill to make it accept or reject. . . . Concerning 
knowledge we are not very particular, for scarcely any 
one doubts that it is necessary to an act of will." So 
that, according to Jansenius, the liberty of man consists, 
on the one hand, in his complacency in the delectation; 
on the other hand, in his knowledge of the object, or, in 
other words, in that judgment indifferent (equally ap 
plicable either to good or evil) whereby he knows the 
good and evil of the action; as, for instance, in murder, 
he knows the evil of the sin and the pleasure of the re 
venge. Hence lie says, in another place, that the wicked 
sin in proportion as they know by means of the law the 
malice of sin: "The first effect of the Jaw is confessed to 
be, to give the knowledge of sin;" 2 and quotes the text 
of St. Paul: I did not know sin but by the /aw. 3 In this 
he followed Calvin, who said: " The object of the law is 
to render man inexcusable; and this would not be a 
bad definition of it it is the knowledge of the conscience 
distinguishing between right and wrong, for the pur 
pose of taking away the pretext of ignorance." But 

1 " Quapropter, lustratis fundamentis Augustini, quibus tota doctrina 
de arbitrii libertate nititur, nihil aliud existimamus quam cognitionem 
acdelectationem seu delectabilem objecti complacentiam esse id quod 
tantam potestatem in liberum arbitrium habet, ut earn facial velle vel 
nolle. . . . De cognitione hie non multum solliciti sumus; illam enim 
ad volendum esse necessarium vix quisquam dubitat." L. 7, c. 3. 

<J " Profertur primus effectus legis dare cognitionem peccati." L. 

1, c. 7. 

" Peccatum non cognovi nisi per legem." Rom. vii. 7. 
4 " Finis ergo legis est ut reddatur homo inexcusabilis; nee male 
hoc modo definietur quod sit conscientiae agnitio inter justum et in- 
justum discernentis, ad tollendum ignorantise praetextum." hist, 1. 

2, c. 2. 

The System of Jansenius. 169 

we may answer that the indifferent judgment, or the 
knowledge of good and evil which belongs only to the 
intellect, can never constitute the freedom of choice 
which belongs altogether to the will; for liberty consists 
simply in the free choice of the will to do or not to do a 

4. Jansenius gives a fourth reply; but this is more in 
congruous and untenable than any of the former. He 
says that for sin it is not requisite to have the liberty of 
indifference, so that a man should be free from all neces 
sity of sinning; but that it is enough to have a liberty of 
exercise or of choice, so as to be able to abstain from the 
particular sin to which our concupiscence tempts us, but 
only by committing another. " So that" (these are his 
words) " a man may act, and abstain from this particular 
sin, at least by committing another;" 1 whereby he places 
man in such a dilemma that in order to avoid one sin 
he must necessarily commit another; and he says that 
such a liberty is sufficient to make a man guilty, though 
he may be necessitated to sin in one way or another. 
Thus he explains himself more clearly in another place: 
" The will of fallen man by no means ceases to be free in 
committing sin, although it be bound by a certain gen 
eral necessity of sinning; for it will be free in its exer 
cise (as they say), necessitated in the kind of thing it is 
to choose." 2 In answer to this we might repeat all that 
we said in Chap. II. 2, p. 154, against Giovenino, who 
says that all sinners, though deprived of sufficient grace, 
yet sin by this liberty of exercise. But what kind of 
liberty is this, that a man, whether he be good or bad, 

1 "Qua quis potest facere (peccatum), et ab eo, saltern aliud perpe- 
trando, abstinere." De St. nat. laps. 1. 4, c. 21. 

2 " Arbitrium lapsorum hominum nullo modo in peccando desinit 
esse liberum, quamvis generali quadam peccandi necessitate vin- 
ciatur; erit enim liberum quoad exercitium, ut loquuntur, necessita- 
tum, quoad specificationem." I hid. c. 19. 

1 70 Exposition and Confutation. [PARI 11 

could be called guilty^ though he is necessitated to sin 
in one way or another ? St. Thomas says that it is 
heresy to maintain that the will merits or demerits when 
it acts through necessity, although not compelled by 
violence to act: "Some have asserted that the will of 
man is necessarily moved to choose a thing, . . . but 
they still did not assert that the will is forced. . . . But 
this opinion is heretical, for it destroys the rule of merit 
or demerit in human actions; for there seems to be 
nothing meritorious or otherwise in a man acting from 
necessity in a way that he cannot help." Moreover, 
when a man is necessitated to commit one or the other 
sin, according to the general consent of all theologians, if 
he chooses the less sin, even though he voluntarily 
chooses it, he does not sin; because he is without the 
liberty which is required before an action can be im 
puted to him as sin. So that, in our case, when, by 
reason of a concupiscence that outweighs grace, a man 
has chosen the less of two sins, he does not sin. 

But, putting aside all these reflections, the direct an 
swer is, that, supposing Jansenius 1 principle of the pleas 
ure relatively preponderating to be true, this liberty of 
exercise to abstain from one sin by committing another 
becomes quite impossible. His principle, as we have 
already explained, is, that when the carnal pleasure out 
weighs the heavenly, then the will is necessitated to con 
sent to that individual pleasure to which it is physically 
drawn. And therefore he somewhere says that tin 
superior pleasure destroys the indifference of the will; 
for as a weight inclines the index of a balance, which 

Quidam posuerunt quod voluntas hominis ex necessitate movetur 
ad aliquid eligendum; nee tamen ponebant quod voluntas cogeretur. 
. . . Hsec autem opinio est hsereiica; toliit enim rationem merit! et 
demerit! in humanis actibus: non enim videtur meritorium vel 
demeritorium, quod aliquis sic ex necessitate agit quod vitare non 
possit." De Alal. q. 6, a. iin. 

The System of Jansenius. 171 

before stood in equilibrium, so does the pleasure move 
the will to consent fo that concupiscence to which it 
tempts it: "Since (the carnal delight) by the persuasion 
of its motion is the cause that the man, who before the 
motion was indifferent whether he acted or not, should 
be by the very motion of the concupiscence impelled to 
one side or the other, like a balance into which a weight, 
is put." l He says the same in another place, where he 
tries to refute those who will have it that the superior 
pleasure moves morally; and says that it does not draw 
and determine the will to accept the object proposed to 
it morally, but physically: " Since that is called moial 
predetermination, which is only in the object when it, 
as it were r counsels, orders, or beseeches; but this (de 
lectation) has its seat in the very power of the will, 
which it sets in motion by the intensity of the pleasure 
it gives, and by setting it in motion determines it; since 
it makes the will determine its own object, and there 
fore it may be said to predetermine the will." 2 So 
that, according to Jansenius, the pleasure predetermines 
the will to embrace the object to which it moves it, be 
fore the will determines itself. And that this is the 
true" meaning of Jansenius the learned Diroys has no 
doubt, who on this account says that Jansenius does 
not differ from the astrologers, who make the will of 
man subject to the influence of the planets; "so that the 
will is determined in the choice of its object by any im- 

1 "Cum hoc efficiat (delectatio carnalis) blanditiis raotus sui, ut, 
qui ad agendum et non agendum ante motum esset indifferens, ipso 
motu libidinis in alteram pattern, instar aequilibrii cui pondus additur, 
impellatur." De Gr. 1. 7, c. 14. 

2 " Siquidem moralis praedeterminatio ilia dicitur juse tantum se 
habet ex parte objecti, quemadmodum facit ille qui consulit, prseci- 
pit, rogat; sed hsec (delectatio) se habet in ipsa potentia voluntatis, 
quam propriae suse suavitatis magnitudine ad volendum applicat, et 
applicando determinat, utpote causans in ea hoc ipsum ut se deter- 
minet, ideoque praedeterminat." L. 8. c. 3. 

1 72 Exposition and Confutation. [PART 11. 

pression which may happen to precede its determina 
tion." l The Archbishop of Vienn says the same in his 
book Baianism and Jansenism Revived: "The Jansenists 
contend that by a pleasure superior in degree the will 
is invincibly determined in its operation, without any 
respect to the future determination of the will itself." 5 

Granting this system, how is the liberty of exercise 
possible ? since, according to Jansenius, the preponderat 
ing pleasure by itself predetermines the will to accept it; 
so that, as in the balance the less weight necessarily 
gives way to the larger, so does the will necessarily yield 
to the preponderating pleasure. So that, for instance, 
if any one is drawn by this pleasure to take another 
man s property, it is true that he may be led to abstain 
from thieving by love for his own reputation; but in 
cases where this love either does not exist, or is not 
greater than the pleasure of stealing, the love of reputa 
tion certainly cannot conquer, and then evidently all 
liberty of exercise ceases. 


But let us now pass on to the third proposition of Jan 
senius: "To merit and demerit in a state of fallen na 
ture, man does not require freedom from necessity, but 
freedom from compulsion." 1 He says then that, in or 
der to merit or to sin, the liberty of indifference, which 
excludes necessity, is not wanted, but it is enough if the 
will is not repugnant. And he goes so far as to assert 

1 " Voluntas determinatur ad electionem sui finis aliqua impressione 
quse illius determinationem antecedat." 

2 " Jansenistse contendunt delectatione gradibus superior! volunta- 
tem invincibiliter determinari ad operandum, absque ullo respectu ad 
futuram ipsius voluntatis determinationem." Bajan. et Jans. red. 
app. 2. 

3 "Ad merendum et demerendum, in statu naturzejapsae, non requi- 
ritur in homine libertas a necessitate, sed sufficit libertas a coactione." 

The System of Jansenius. 1 73 

that it is a paradox to say that the act of will is free, so 
far forth as the will is at liberty to accept or refuse the 
object. This proposition, also condemned as heretical, 
follows similarly from his system; for, supposing that the 
will, when moved by a preponderating pleasure, must 
necessarily obey it, it necessarily follows (as Jansenius 
shows) that it is sufficient for merit or demerit that a 
man should be willing to consent to the pleasure, al 
though he cannot do otherwise than be willing, and is 
even physically necessitated to be so. F. Serry well 
maintains that it is a monstrous doctrine to say "that 
merit can coexist with the necessity of acting." * And it 
was before this called heretical by St. Thomas, whose 
words, already quoted, I shall be pardoned for repeating 
here: "Some have asserted that the will of man is neces 
sarily moved to choose a thing; but they still did not as 
sert that the will is forced. But this opinion is heretical, 
for it destroys the rule of merit and demerit in human ac 
tions; for there seems to be nothing meritorious or other 
wise in a man acting from neccessity in any way that he 
cannot help." a 

And with reason it is called heresy, for it is contrary 
to Holy Scripture: God is faithful, who will not suffer yoii 
to be tempted above that you are able; but will also make with 
the temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it? But 
Jansenius says that at times man is so completely de 
prived of grace that he cannot resist temptatio ns, and is 
necessitated to succumb to them. 

Moses said to the people: This commandment that I com 
mand tJiee this day is not above thee? Again, Blessed is he that 

" Stare meritum posse cum agendi necessitate." 

2 Page 170 

3 " Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id 
quod potestis, sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum, ut possitis 
sustinere." i Cor. x. 13. 

4 " Mandatum hoc, quod ego praecipio tibi hodie, non supra te est." 
Deut. xxx. ii. 

1 74 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed; and could 
do evil things, and hath not done them. 1 Therefore it is not 
sufficient for merit that a man should act willingly, but 
it is necessary that he also act freely; that is, that he 
should be able to neglect the commandments, and 
should not be necessitated to fulfil them; and, vice versa 
in sin, that he should have the grace to abstain, and 
that it should be his own fault if he does not abstain. 

Nor is the reply of the impious Theodore Beza valid 
here; he says that the necessity does not depend on na 
ture, but on original sin, by which man voluntarily de 
prived himself of liberty, and is therefore justly punished 
for sinning, though he be necessitated to sin; for it may 
be answered that if a servant had by his own fault broken 
his leg, his master would be unjust if, after having for 
given the fault, he commanded him to run, and punished 
him for not running. " To hold a man guilty of sin," 
says St. Augustine, "because he has not done what he 
could not do, is abominable iniquity and folly." 3 

Moreover, supposing that man could merit or demerit 
when acting by necessity, without any balance of power 
to do otherwise, I do not know how it could be recon 
ciled with Holy Scripture, which says: You have your 
choice; choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would 
rather serve, whether . . . the gods of the Amo rites, etc.; . . . 
but as for me and my house, ive will serve tJie Lord. 3 A choice 
cannot be given where men act from necessity, and with 
out liberty; so that this text clearly proves that man is 
free from necessity. "A full power of choosing either 
side," says Petavius on this passage, " is clearly shown; 

"Qui potuit transgredi, et non est transgressus; facere mala, et 
non fecit." Rcchts. xxxi. 10. 

2 " Peccati reum tenere quemquam, quia non fecit quod facere non 
potuit, summae iniquitatis esse et insaniae." De Dual), an.c. 12. 

" Optio vobis datur: eligite hodie quod placet, cui servire pofissi- 
mum debeatis, utrum . . . diis Amorrhaeorum . . . ; ego autem et 
domus mea serviemus Domino." fos. xxiv. 15. 

The System of Jansenius. 175 

so that the will, as it were suspended and placed in 
the middle, may choose whichever it likes of the two 
objects." l 

The same is said in other parts of Scripture: / call 
heaven and earth to witness this day, tliat I have set before you 
life and death , blessing and cursing. Choose, therefore, life, 
that both thou and thy seed may live? God made man from 
the beginning, and left him in the hand of his oiun counsel. He 
added His commandments and precepts. . . . Before man is 
life and death, good and evil; that which he shall choose shall 
be given him.* On the latter passage Petavius says: "If 
the teacher had now to decide the present point, how 
could he more clearly express the freedom from neces 
sity which man enjoys? If he lived among us, and 
judged from our point of view, he could not describe in 
more precise terms the nature and property of human 
liberty and of free will than he has done here. 4 

There are other texts to the same purpose: / called, 
and you refused? They have been rebellious to the light* 
I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought 
forth wild grapes. 1 You always resist the Holy Ghost* 

1 "Plena utriusvis potestas ostenditur, ut, quasi suspensa et in 
medio posita, voluntas alterum quod volet e duobus adsciscat." De 
Op. sex d. \. 3, c. 2. 

2 " Testes invoco hodie coelum et terram, quod proposuerim vobis 
vitam et mortem, benedictionem et maledictionem; elige ergo vitam, 
ut et tu vivas et semen tuum." Deut. xxx. 19. 

3 " Deus ab initio constituit hominem et reliquit ilium in manu 
consilii sui. Adjecit mandata et prsecepta sua. . . . Ante hominem 
vita et mors, bonum et malum; quod placueritei, dabitur illi." Ecclus. 
xv. 14. 

4 "Non poterat expressioribus uti vocibus, si inter nos viveret ac 
de lite nostra judicaret, quam isthic fecit, ut libertatis humanae arbi- 
triique liberi naturam ac proprietatem describeret." Loco sup. cit. 

5 " Vocavi et renuistis." Prov. \. 24. 

6 " Ipsi fuerunt rebelles lumini. Job, xxiv. 13. 

7 " Expectavi, ut faceret uvas, et fecit labruscas." Isa. v. 2. 

8 " Vos semper Spiritui Sancto resistitis." Ads, vii. 5:. 

176 Exposition and Confutation. [PARTII. 

It is certainly the work of the Holy Spirit to call 
men, to enlighten their minds, and to move the will to 
good; but how can it be said that he refuses the call, 
that lie rebels against the light, that he resists grace, who 
is destitute of preponderating grace, and therefore must 
necessarily yield to the prevailing concupiscence ? 


True Doctrine of St. Augustine on the " Victorious Delecta 
tion" and on Free Will. 

"But what," says Jansenius, "if Augustine before me 
has maintained this same theory, that we must necessarily 
do that which pleases us most, according to the well- 
known passage, It is necessary that we act according 
to that which delights us most? 1 Now, before we an 
swer Jansenius, we must premise that St. Augustine, 
who had to confute several heresies of his time, all on 
the subject of grace, and all contrary to one another, 
had to speak of it diffusely and upon different points of 
view, and is therefore in several places obscure. Hence 
it has come to pass that not only each of the Catholic 
schools boasts of having him on its side, though their 
opinions are quite different, but also Calvin and Janse 
nius, whose errors have been condemned by the Church, 
have presumed to call him their patron. Calvin, writ 
ing against Pighius, says, "We follow nothing but Au 
gustine. . . . Pighius may squeak as he pleases, he will 
never make us allow that Augustine is not on our side." 2 
And Jansenius puts forward Augustine as his sole 
teacher, so that he even called his book by the title of 

" Quod amplius nos delectat, secundum id operemur necesse est." 
In Gal. n. 49. 

" Nos nihil quam Augustinum sequirnur. . . . Etiamsi crepet 
Pighius, nobis hoc extorquere non potest, quin Augustinus sit noster." 
Adv. Pigh. 1. 3. 

The System of Jansenius. 177 

" Augustinus." And the Jansenists only call themselves 
Augustinians. From these premises we only wish to 
infer that many passages of St. Augustine require ex 
planation by comparison with other passages of his 
works, where he declares his true opinion, if we would 
not be misled. Now let us come to the point. 

We have already explained at the beginning of the chap 
ter that this sentence of St. Augustine ought not and can 
not be understood of indeliberate pleasure, antecedent to 
any co-operation of the will, but ought to be understood 
of deliberate and consequent pleasure; for in cases 
where man freely consents to the pleasure, then, cer 
tainly, it is necessary that he should act upon it. And 
this is proved by what Augustine says in other places, 
where he confounds pleasure with love, or, rather, ex 
plains that the superior pleasure is nothing else than 
that deliberate love, and that affection, which, by our 
own free choice, predominates in us; in which pleasure, 
if we deliberately take delight, then it is necessary that 
we act upon it. So, that in substance, he simply says 
that the will must act upon that which it deliberately 
loves the most; for in one place he says that the pleas 
ure is, as it were, the weight of the soul, which drags it 
along with it " for pleasure is, as it were, the weight of 
the soul;" 1 and in another place, that this weight which 
draws each man s soul is his love " My love is my 
weight." 2 This he explains more clearly in another 
place, where he says we ought to be careful, " by God s 
help, to be so disposed as not to be tripped up by in 
ferior things, and to take pleasure only in the higher 
things." ; See how clearly he speaks of deliberate pleas 
ure, freely accepted. In another place, " What is it to 

1 " Delectatio quippe quasi pondus estanimae." De Mus. 1. 6, c. II. 

2 " Pondus meum, amor meus." Conf. 1. 13, c. 9. 

3 " Nos ita, Deo opitulante, ordinemus, ut inferioribus non offen- 
damur, solis autem superioribus delectemur." De Mus. 1. 6, c. n, 


1 78 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

be drawn by pleasure ? To delight in the Lord; and he 
will give thee the petitions of thy heart." J Again, " See 
how the Father draws ! He delights us by teaching, not 
by laying us under necessity." ! Again, " If we wish to 
enjoy the pleasures of heaven, we must bridle unlawful 
pleasure; as when we fast, the appetite rises against 
us; this it does by pleasure (i.e., indeliberate), but we re 
strain it by the law of the governing reason." So that, 
according to St. Augustine, the pleasure which incites 
us to break the law may be freely repressed by man by 
means of the dominant reason, and by the help of grace. 
Hence he exhorts us: " Let justice so delight you as to 
conquer even lawful pleasures." 

This is made still clearer by the context of the passage 
on which we are now disputing, where, after saying, 
" We must needs act upon the greater pleasure," he adds, 
" It is clear that our life must be according to our pur 
suits, and our pursuits must be according to our affections 
(mark this). Therefore, if there are two contradictory 
things, the command of justice and the carnal habit, and 
both of them are loved, we shall pursue that which we 
love most." So that when he says we must needs act 
according to that which delights us most, he only means 

1 "Quid est trahi voluptate ? Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi 
petitiones cordis tui. " Ps. xxxvi. 4. 

2 " Videte quomodo trahit Pater: docendo delectat, non necessita- 
tem imponendo." In Joan. tr. 26. 

3 " Si frui delectaverit, delectatio illicita refrenanda est ; velut cum 
jejunamus, et visis cibis palati appetitus assurgit, non fit nisi delecta- 
tione, sed earn dominantis rationis jure cohibemus." De Serin. JJoni. 
in monte, 1. i, c. 12. 

4 "Justitia sic delectet, ut vincat etiam licitas delectationes." 
Serni. 159, E. D. 

"Quod amplius nos delectat, secundum id operemur necesse 
est. Manifestum est certe secundum id nos vivere quod sectati 
fuerimus; sectabimur autem quod dilexerimus. Itaque, si ex adverse 
existant duo, prseceptum justitiae et consuetudo carnalis. et utrumque 
diligitur, ibi sectabimur quod amplius dilexerimus." In Gal. n. 54. 

The System of Jansenius. i 79 

that the will must necessarily act on that which it loves 
best; nor will it do to say, with Jansenius, that what 
gives most pleasure is most loved; for this is not always 
true, and St. Augustine expressly contradicts it when, in 
his Confessions, he says of himself, " I did not do that in 
which my affections took incomparably more pleasure, 
and which as soon as I would, I could do;" by which 
he means that he was already moved by God with an 
indeliberate affection, which made virtue incomparably 
more pleasant to him than vice, and that he might easily 
have been virtuous if he would; but that he resisted 
grace, and refused to be virtuous, and abandoned him 
self to vice. 

Further, if St. Augustine had believed that it was 
necessary for us to act upon the greater pleasure, he 
could never have said, " When the unlawful pleasure of 
concupiscence tickles you, fight, resist, do not consent; 
and the saying is fulfilled, Go not after thy desires." 
Still further, he says elsewhere that of two persons who 
have the same temptation to impurity, it sometimes hap 
pens that one consents to it and the other resists; and 
why ? because, he says, one wills to observe chastity, 
the other wills not: "If both are tempted by the 
same (mark the word same) temptation, and one yields 
and consents to it, while the other perseveres; what else 
is shown, but that one willed to fail, the other willed not 
to fail in chastity ?" J 

Moreover, when he says that it is necessary that we 
should act upon that which best pleases us, it may be 

1 " Non faciebam quod et incomparabili affectu amplius mihi 
placebat, et mox ut vellem, possem." Conf. 1. 8, c. 8. 

2 "Titillat delectatio illicitae concupiscentise ? pugna, resiste, noli 
consentire; et impletur hie: Post concupiscentias tuas non eas. " 
Ecclus. xviii. 30. Serin. 155, E. B. 

3 " Si eadem tentatione ambo tententur, et unus ei cedat, atque 
consentiat, alter perseveret; quid aliud apparet, nisi unum voluisse, 
alterum noluisse a castitate deficere ?" De Civ. D. 1. 12, c. 6. 

180 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

asked whether he speaks of deliberate or indeliberate 
pleasure. Now, we say that if he had meant indeliber 
ate pleasure, he would have been obliged, in consequence, 
to deny that the will, in order to be truly free, need be 
free not only from violence, but also from necessity. 
But there are a thousand places where he teaches the 
reverse, and says that man, whether in good or in evil, 
acts v/ithout necessity; therefore, when he speaks of the 
predominant pleasure overcoming, he must necessarily 
mean the deliberate or consequent pleasure. To quote 
a few of these numerous passages: 

" Our will would be no will at all if it were not in our 
own power; for that is not free to us which we have not 
in our power." 

In another place, speaking of the passage of St. 
Matthew where our Lord talks of good fruit springing 
from a good tree, and bad fruit from a bad tree, 2 he 
says, " When, therefore, our Lord says this, do this or 
do that, he shows that it is in the power of man to do 
it; for he that will not keep the law can keep it if he 
will." 3 Calvin objects that Augustine is here speaking 
of man in the state of innocence; but Bellarmine well 
observes that St. Augustine is here explaining a passage 
where our Lord is speaking against the Jews, and says 
of them, Ye shall know them by their fruits." So that it 
can never be supposed that St. Augustine meant to ap 
ply the remark to Adam. Moreover, he repeats what he 
had said against the Manichees, when writing against 

"Voluntas nostra nee voluntas esset, nisi esset in nostra potes- 
late; non enim est nobis liberum quod in potestate non habemus." 
De Lib. Arb. 1. 3, c. 3. 

2 Ch. vii. 17. 

3 " Hoc ergo Dominus dicens: Facile hoc, aut, Facite illud, osten- 
dit esse in potestate (hominum) quid facerent; . . . qui enim servare 
legem non vult, in potestate ejus est, si velit." De act. cum Fel. man. 

\. 2, C. 4. 

4 "A fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. " 

The System of Jansenius. 181 

the Pelagians: " Whenever it is said, Do not this 
and do not that/ and whenever an act of will is re 
quired of us to do or not to do something which God 
commands or forbids, in such places the will is shown to 
be sufficiently free." 1 Here Jansenius replies (like a 
partisan of Calvin, as he is) that St. Augustine is speak 
ing of necessity violently imposed on us, not of simple 
necessity. But here again Jansenius is mistaken; for on 
this point St. Augustine agreed with the Pelagians, and 
conceded to them that the will was free both from coercive 
and from simple necessity; hence in his book against 
Julian he did. not scruple to say, " Both of us affirm that 
the will in man is free. But you say that any one is free 
to do good without God s help; hence you are a 
Pelagian " When St. Augustine says, " Both of us 
affirm," 3 he admitted the same liberty to do or not to 
do which the Pelagians maintained, and they certainly 
maintained it to be exempt from any necessity whatever; 
so that there is no doubt that he held the will to be free 
not only from violence, but from any necessity whatever; 
he only contradicted the Pelagians in this point, that 
they maintained the will to be free to do good even 
without grace. 

Further, St. Augustine says that it is difficult to rec 
oncile the liberty of the will with the efficacy of grace: 
" This question, wherein we discuss the choice of the 
will, and the grace of God, is so difficult to determine 
that when we defend free will we seem to deny the grace 
of God; and when we assert the grace of God, we are 

" Ubi dicitur: Noli hoc, et Noli illud; et ubi ad aliquid faciendum 
vel non faciendum in divinis monitis opus voluntatis exigitur, satis 
liberum demonstratur arbitrium." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 2. 

" Liberum in hominibus esse arbitrium, utrique dicimus; libe 
rum autem esse quemquam ad agendum bonum sine adjutorio Dei, 
. . . vos dicitis; hinc estis Pelagiani." De Nupt. et Cone. 1. 2, c. 3. 
3 " Utrique dicimus." 

[82 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

supposed to destroy free will." If St. Augustine had 
supposed that the will was not free from simple neces 
sity, but only from violence, it would not have been 
difficult, but the easiest thing possible, to understand 
how grace acted; when, therefore, he said that it was 
difficult to understand, it was because he, held that 
efficacious grace certainly produced its effect in good 
acts; and, on the other hand, that the will did these acts 
freely, working without any necessity to prevent it from 
being able to do or to wish any acts different from 
those to which it was moved by grace. For the rest, the 
holy Father held it as certain that man, with the help of 
ordinary grace, was able to fulfil the commandments, or, 
at any rate, to procure by prayer greater help to enable 
him to fulfil them; otherwise (as he said) God would 
not have imposed these commandments on him: "Nor 
would he have commanded us to do this if he had con 
sidered it impossible to be done by man." ; 

We will quote some more passages of St. Augustine, 
where he reiterates the doctrine that the will of man is 
free from any necessity: " For that would not be sin 
which was not done by the will; and therefore punish 
ment would also be unjust, if man had not free will; 
that is, if he acted well or ill through necessity." ! 
Again, u Who would not exclaim that ft is folly to give 
commands to a man who is not free to do what is com 
manded ; and that it is injustice to condemn the man 

1 Ista quaestio, ubi de arbitrio voluntatis et de Dei gratia dis- 
putatur, ita est ad discernendum difficilis, ut, quando defenditur 
arbitrium, negari Dei gratia videatur, quando asseritur Dei gratia, 
liberum arbitrium putetur auferri." De Gr. C/ir. c. 47. 

* " Neque imperaret hoc Deus ut facerernus, si impossibile judicaret 
ut hoc ab homine fieret." In Ps. Ivi. 

3 " Non enim peccatum esset quod non fieret voluntate; ac per 
hoc pcena injustaC esset, si homo voluntatem non haberet liberam." 
De Lib. Arb. 1. 2, c. i. 

The System of Jansenius. 18 

who had no power to fulfil the command ?" Again, " If 
the motion whereby the will turns aside from the un 
changeable good is natural and necessary, it can by no 
means be culpable." Then, after saying that previous 
grace is necessary to enable us to do good, he adds, 
" But to consent to the call of God, or to dissent from 
it, is in the power of our own will." : Here he plainly 
teaches that the will can freely obey grace or resist it. 
Nor does it avail to say with Jansenius that St. Augus 
tine only means that to consent and dissent is the 
proper office of the will; for we can never believe that 
the holy Doctor would have taken such useless pains to 
prove that consent and dissent belong to the will and 
not to the intellect, a thing which any illiterate man can 
tell. Especially as St. Augustine s words, just before 
the last quoted sentence, are as follows: " No one has it 
in his power to determine what shall come into his mind, 
but to consent, etc." 4 So that it is clear that he is speak 
ing of the free power of the will to consent or dissent 
from that which comes into the head. In another place 
he says, " No one but God can make the tree" (he is 
speaking of the good trees that produce good fruit, and 
of the bad trees which produce bad fruit); " but every 
man s will has power to choose either good or bad. 
When, therefore, our Lord says, Do this or do that, he 
shows that it is in men s power to choose what to do." 
Elsewhere, in explanation of the help sine quo, he says, 

1 " Quis enim non clamet stultum esse praecepta dare ei cui liberum 
non est quod prsecipitur facere, et iniquum esse eum damnare cui non 
fuit potestas jussa complete ?" De Fide cont. Man. c. 10. 

2 " Motus quo voluntas avertitur ab incommutabili bono, si natura 
vel necessitate existit, culpabilis esse nullo pacto potest." De Lib. 
Arb. \. 3, c. i. 

3 " Consentire autem vocation! Dei, vel ab ea dissentire, proprise 
voluntatis est." De Sp. et Litt. c. 34. 

4 " Neminem habere in potestate quid ei veniat in mentem." 

1 84 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

"Without it the will cannot will; but still it is left to 
the free will either to will or not to will, to use the help 
or not to use it." 

From all this it is very clearly seen how far St Augus 
tine was from the opinion of Jansenius, that the will of 
man in its action is not free from necessity, much less 
that it is obliged to follow the preponderating pleasure, 
which by its impulse invincibly moves and determines it. 


Continuation of the Refutation of Jansenius and of His 

Now, let us apply this to the point we have in view, 
namely, to prove that God gives every one either proxi 
mate grace, or the remote grace of prayer, to enable him 
to observe the precepts; since otherwise the transgres 
sion of the law could never be imputed to him as a fault. 
Let us then see what are the two propositions that are 
exactly opposite to those of Jansenius. 

His first is, " Some precepts of God are impossible to 
the just man who wishes and tries to fulfil them with 
his present strength; nor does God give him grace to 
make them possible." 1 Hence the Catholic proposition, 
contradictory of this, is as follows: " Not any of the 
precepts of God is impossible, at least to the just man, 
who wishes to observe them, and who endeavors to do 
so; nor, even with his present strength, is he without the 
grace (either proximate, or at least remote) whereby he 
may at least obtain greater assistance to enable him to 

"Sine quo voluntas velle non possit; sic tamen ut velle et nolle, 
uti vel non uti, in ejus libero arbitrio relinquatur." 

2 " Aliqua Dei praecepta hominibus justis, volentibus et conantibus, 
secundum praesentes qnas habent vires, sunt impossibilia; deest 
quoque illis gratia qua possibilia fiant." 

The System of Jansenius. 185 

fulfil them. And here we must again observe that to 
avoid the condemned error it is not enough to grant the 
absolute possibility of observing the precept, for the Jan- 
senists themselves admit this possibility; but we must 
also admit the possibility (relatively to the actual carnal 
delectation which preponderates over the delectation of 
grace) to fulfil the commandment when it is incumbent 
on us to do so, or at least to obtain grace to keep it; 
since the error of Jansenius consists precisely in deny 
ing, not the absolute, but the relative possibility. 

Jansenius third proposition is that " in order to merit 
ill or well in the state of fallen nature, man need not 
have freedom from necessity, but only freedom from com 
pulsion." 1 Hence the Catholic proposition is the con 
tradictory: to merit ill or well, even in the state of fallen 
nature, man, whether just or unjust, requires freedom, 
not only from compulsion, but also from simple neces 
sity; since, according to the Catholic doctrine, the volun 
tary, whenever it is necessary, is not free in such a sense 
as is sufficient to merit ill or well in this life; but to 
merit ill or well the will must be free from any necessity 
whatever of being obliged to consent to either of two 
things determinately. 

Moreover, F. Fortunato da Brescia (a man universally 
celebrated by the learned of these days, especially by 
Muratori), in his late work entitled Confutation of the Sys 
tem of Cornelius Jansenius, says that if this system could 
possibly be true, God s law would be either foolish or 
unjust; for, according to it, if the heavenly pleasure pre 
dominates, then the will, quite independently of the law, 
is obliged to follow the precise impulse of the pleasure, 
and thus the law is useless; or, if the earthly pleasure 
predominates, then the law is unjust, for God imposes a 
commandment which it is physically impossible for man 

"Ad merendum et demerendum in statu naturae lapsae, non requiri- 
tur in homine libertas a necessitate, sed sufficit libertas a coactione." 

1 86 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

to obey, since the will must necessarily yield to the 

And in this way all the threats and admonitions of the 
Scriptures would be useless, and there would be no hu 
man action which could merit reward or punishment, 
since all the actions of man would be done through 
necessity. So that whenever any one exhorted us to do 
well, we might answer with Eusebius against the Fatal 
ists, "These powers are not mine, O Doctor; for they 
will do it if the fates so desire" (/>., if the carnal delight 
does not preponderate); "that which is fated will neces 
sarily come to pass." ] I must necessarily follow the 
pleasure that prevails. 

The same author says, further, that if we admit this 
system, we must also admit Manicheism, which sup 
posed two principles, a good and an evil; and says that 
as all the acts of men were derived from one or the 
other principle, the man was obliged to follow that 
which prevailed. Nor does it do to say that the neces 
sity in the system of the preponderating pleasure is not 
derived from a good or evil principle, as the Mani- 
cheans held, but depends on the sin of Adam, which is 
its cause; for the question is not through what principle 
the will acts necessarily when it is moved, but whether 
the will after Adam s fall has remained free from neces 
sity in its actions. And this is what the Jansenists deny, 
who hold that the will merits well and ill, though it is 
necessitated to will that to which the preponderating 
pleasure determines it. But, as F. Fortunate well ob 
serves, the books of Arnold, Irenee, Ventrochio, and the 
other Jansenists, were condemned for this very error of 
maintaining Jansenius principle of the invincibility of 
the pleasure which is superior in degree. And we know 
that it was for this reason that the theology of Gio- 

" Non sunt potestates hse meae, O Doctor ! Faciam enim, si fata 
volunt . . . aderit necessario quod fatatum est." Prcep. ev. 1. 6, c. 6. 

The System of Jansenius. 187 

venino was prohibited; for though he did not expressly 
hold the system we are discussing, yet he imprudently 
spoke too obscurely on the point: "The physical nature 
of efficacious grace consists simply in the preponderance 
of the pleasure which the mind takes in goodness." 1 
Still he did not use the phrase " relatively preponderat 
ing," though he proves his proposition by the often- 
quoted text of St. Augustine: " We must act according 
to that which pleases us most." And for this cause his 
work was so long prohibited, and has at last been al 
lowed because of the addition of a compendium, entitled 
The True Doctrine of the Church, extracted from the the 
ology of Tourneley, who has amply and well confuted 
the system. 

F. Fortunate concludes: "It is clear, then, that the 
system of Jansenius is favorable to them (Luther and 
Calvin), and so cannot be maintained by a Catholic 
without violating his faith. For we cannot preserve our 
faith and religion while defending a system on the ad 
mission of whose fundamental principles the reception 
of condemned doctrines necessarily follows." ; Tour 
neley meant the same when he said, " Since the Church 
condemned the five propositions in the sense of Jan 
senius, they must be condemned as parts of Jansenius 
theory of the superior and relatively preponderating 
pleasure, which is the foundation of his whole system/ 5 

1 " Natura physica gratia efficacis non in alio posita est quam in 
victrici delectatione qua mens circa bonum afficitur." Instit. p. 6, d. 
i, q- 4, c. 7. 

2 " Manifestum relinquitur et Jansenianum systema illis (Luthero et 
Calvino) plane favere, indeque a viro Catholico sine crimine violatae 
fidei propugnari nullatenus posse; non enim tuta fide, salvaque reli- 
gione, defendi potest systema, cujus fundamentalibus admissis prin- 
cipiis, damnata dogmata necessum est approbate." 

3 "Cum Ecclesia quinque propositiones damnaverit in sensu Jan- 
senii, necesse est illas damnatas fuisse in ipso Jansenii systemate, 
delectationis scilicet superioris ac relative victricis, quae totius sys- 
tematis iundamentum est," De Gr, Chr. q. 3 in prop. $ Jans. 

1 88 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

Nor will it avail to say that the system of Jansenius is 
one thing, which supposes that the pleasure which rela 
tively preponderates is indeliberate, that is, that it comes 
to us without any assent of the will; but that it is quite 
a different thing to say that the pleasure, though it rela 
tively preponderates by the superiority of its degree, 
yet is deliberate; that is, it preponderates not by itself 
and by its own strength (as the maintainers of this sys 
tem say), but it preponderates by being reinforced by 
the power of the consenting will. And hence they say 
that though the preponderating pleasure certainly and 
infallibly overcomes, yet it does not do so necessarily, 
as Jansenius maintained. 

This will not avail, because, as Tourneley well replies, 
that grace, or that pleasure which is infallibly efficacious, 
and invincibly determines the will by its preponderating 
power, cannot but necessitate the will to consent. And 
he proves it thus, " That grace necessitates which sup 
poses the will to be destitute of real power to resist it; 
but of this nature is grace, which is infallibly efficacious, 
because of the superiority of the degree of its strength. 
For grace of this kind supposes that the will has only 
inferior strength to resist; but it is a contradiction to 
say that superior strength, acting as such, can be over 
come by inferior; otherwise it would be necessary that 
the inferior strength should act beyond the degree of its 
power of acting." ] Nor does it avail to reply, that though 
the power of grace relatively preponderating is superior 
to that of the concupiscence taken by itself, it is not 

"Ea gratia est necessitans quse supponit voluntatem destitutam 
vera potentla resistendi; atqui talis est gratia infallibiliter efficax ex 
virium graduali superioritate. Nam hujusmodi gratia supponit vo 
luntatem non habere ad resistendum nisi vires inferiores. Repugnat 
autem ut vires superiores, quae agunt ut superiores, vincantur ab in- 
ferioribus; alias necesse esset ut inferiores operarentur ultra suae ac- 
tivitatis gradus." 

The System of Jansenius* 189 

superior to that of the concupiscence joined with that 
of the will, because, as Tourneley says, such a power of 
the will could only be admitted with respect to evil which 
a man can do by himself, as when he overcomes one vice 
by another, or at least with respect to good of the natural 
order; but not with respect to supernatural good, such 
as the conquest of a strong concupiscence, which cannot 
be effected without God s grace. 

Hence the Fathers of Diospolis required every Pela 
gian, among other things, " to confess that when we 
fight against temptations and unlawful concupiscence, 
the victory comes not from our own will, but from the 
help of God." * And the reason is, as St. Thomas teaches, 
that no active principle can produce an effect exceeding 
the sphere of its activity; so that no natural principle or 
cause can produce a supernatural effect: " No act ex 
ceeds the proportion of its active principle; and hence 
we see that in natural things nothing can by its own 
operation produce an effect which exceeds the power of 
its activity, but can only by its own operation produce 
an effect proportionate to its power." So that the 
natural power of the human will, although united to the 
power of grace, cannot, when the latter is inferior to the 
power of the concupiscence, contribute to produce a 
supernatural effect, such as the conquest of a violent 
concupiscence that preponderates over grace. And, in 
fact, the Jansenists say, we are contented if you grant to 
us that the delectation certainly overcomes by reason of 

1 " Ut fateatur, quando contra tentationes concupiscentiasque il- 
licitas dimicamus, non ex propria voluntate, sed ex adjutorio Dei 
provenire victoriam." Cath. conf. 

Nullus actus excedit proportionem principii activi. Et ideo 
videmus in rebus naturalibus quod nulla res potest perficere effectum 
per suam operationem qui excedat virtutem activam, sed solum potest 
producere per operationem suam effectum suae virtuti proportiona- 
tum." i. 2. q. 109, a. 5. 

1 90 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

its superior power. See how one of them, the Abbot de 
Bourzeis, speaks: " It is sufficient for us if this single 
truth be granted, that as often as we consent to the grace 
of God, it always arises from the right love which God 
inspires, being superior in strength to the perverse love; 
and in consequence of this superiority always most cer 
tainly overcoming it." Hence Tourneley, speaking of 
the two systems, of pleasure absolutely preponderating, 
and of pleasure relatively preponderating, concludes, 
"We have known orthodox theologians who test effica 
cious grace by its pleasure being absolutely and simply 
preponderating over all other pleasures; and who call 
that sufficient grace which has just power enough to 
overcome the lust actually opposed to it. But we have 
only met with Jansenists who maintain that no grace 
can overcome unless it is relatively preponderating in 
degree, and who admit no other sufficient grace than 
one that is inferior in strength to the superior concupis 
cence which opposes it." 2 

So that, to conclude, we do not intend now to blame 
the opinion that the will, even when it follows the greater 
delectation, yet always acts freely, that is, without neces 
sity, and with true power (not merely nominal or hypo 
thetical power) to act in a contrary way; but we only 

" Nobis enim sufficit quod haec sola nobis veritas concedatur, 
nimirum quoties gratiae Dei consentimus, id oriri semper ex eo quod 
rectus amor, quern Deus nobis inspirat, viribus superior est perverso 
amori, et, quia viribus superior est, idcirco eum certissime superare." 
Collat, 4, c. 30. 

2 " Novimus quidem orthodoxos theologos qui vim gratiae efficacem 
colligunt ex ipsius delectatione absolute et simpliciter victrice; quique 
in gratia sufficiente pares vires agnoscunt ad oppositam actualem cu- 
piditatem superandam. Verum qui gratiam velint esse victricem rela 
tive, seu ex superioritate graduum, quique non aliam sufficientem 
admittunt gratiam quam viribus inferiorem oppositae superiori con- 
cupiscentise, non alios quam Janseniani systematis defensores novi- 
mus." De Gr. Chr. q. 9, a. 2, obj. 6. 

The System of Jansenius. 191 

reject the opinion of those who say that when one of the 
two pleasures, the carnal or the heavenly, preponderates 
by being greater in degree than the other, then man has 
no more power to resist and to overcome it, because the 
greater force always overcomes the less. 

Nevertheless, I cannot in this place neglect to mentio 
the difficulty that I find in this system of the preponder 
ating delectation. Its defenders say, as also F. John 
Laurence Berti, that the efficacy of grace, as they main 
tain it, does not differ in substance from the efficacy as 
taught by the Thomists, though founded on different 
principles; for the Thomists make the efficacy of grace 
consist in a physical predetermination, but the Jansenists 
in the preponderating pleasure. That which is done by 
physical premonition according to the Thomists, the same 
is done by victorious delectation according to the Au- 
gustinians; namely, the liberty of the will is moved to 
give consent in actu secundo. Further, both opinions 
teach that man still has the power, /;/ actu primo, to act 
in opposite directions; so that the will always acts freely 
and without necessity.* 

But I observe that, as the principles and the reasons 
of these two opinions are different, so also are their con 

According to the Thomists, the reason of the efficacy 
of grace is because the created will is in a state of pas 
sive potentiality, able to receive the motions of grace ; 
so that to come to actual operation it must be moved by 
God, as the first agent and first free cause, who, by his 

* Berti. August. Syst. Vindic. Diss. 5, c. 3, n. 4. " In actu primo," 
" in actu secundo." " In actu primo is much the same with our 
English expression in power, or in liability; "in actu secundo," in 
act. Thus, at every moment we are subject to concupiscence in actu 
piimo, because we are liable to be tempted by passion to disobey God s 
will; but we are only subject to it " in actu secundo" when we are at 
this moment tempted by passion to disobey God s will. ED. 

1 92 Exposition and Confutation. [PART 11. 

predetermination, adapts and determines the potentiality 
(of the will) into actuality, This only relates to the act; 
but as for the power of capability, the Thomists say that 
man has the grace of potentiality wholly complete, and 
in proximate preparation, so as to be able to act virtu 
ously. Thus F. Gonet, " Th.e grace which gives the 
power gives the full complement, and all the strength or 
sufficiency which is requisite, so far as the actus primus is 
concerned." So, also, Cardinal Gotti: "Sufficient grace 
gives proximate power, and complete power within the 
limits of potentiality." 2 * And thus all other Thomists in 
general; and if any of them apparently speak otherwise, 
it is only of the actus secundus, not primus. 

On the other hand, the reason of the principle of those 
who maintain the opinion of the pleasure superior in 
degree is because (as they say) whereas at first, in the 
state of innocence, man only required "sufficient grace" 
to do well, since his will, being then sound and in perfect 
balance, could easily act with only sufficient grace, with 
out needing efficacious grace, now, on the other hand, 
since the fall of Adam, the will, being injured and in 
clined to evil, has need of "efficacious grace," which, by 
means of the victorious pleasure, adapts it for acting vir 
tuously. But (I say) according to this reason for the 
system, granting that the will of man has become so 
weak that, in its present state, it cannot act without 

" Gratia quae dat posse, dat totum complementum et totam virtu- 
tern seu sufficientiam quae requiritur ex parte actus primi." Man. 
Thorn, tr. 7, c. 10. 

"Gratia sufficiens dat posse proximum et expeditum in ratione 
potentiae." De Gr. q. 2, d. 4, 2. 

* Gotti t. ii. tr. vi. de Grat. q. 2, dub. 4, n. 4, p. 286. " In sensu 
composite," "in sensu diviso." The meaning of these phrases will 
best be shown by illustrations. I have full moral power to avoid all 
venial sins " in sensu diviso that is, I can avoid each one of them; 
there is no one which I cannot avoid, but not " in sensu composito" 
for I have not moral power to avoid <r// venial sins collectively. ED, 

The System of Jansenhis. 193 

efficacious grace, it is impossible to say that man still 
has, by virtue of sufficient grace, not even in the actus 
primus, nor either in the sensus coinpositus, nor sensus divisus, 
the complete and proximately prepared power to observe 
the commandments, or to be able to do any good work, 
even though it be mediate, by means of which he can 
place himself in a position to obtain greater help to en 
able him to fulfil the law. 

I know that the supporters of this opinion have no ob 
jection to grant this, and to say that, in our present state, 
sufficient grace does not give f complete and prepared 
power. "Sufficient grace," says F. Macedo, one of this 
school, "does not give power proximately complete and 
prepared." And elsewhere, speaking of the grace of 
Adam innocent and of Adam fallen, he says, " The first 
supposed (a power) prepared and free; the second a 
power crippled, hindered, and enslaved." 

So, supposing that grace, when inferior to the concu 
piscence, does not give complete and prepared power to 
observe the commandments, it can, in truth, be no longer 
called sufficient. So that, in fact, F. Berti, who defends 
such a system of the relatively victorious delectation, 
finds no difficulty in further granting that such inferior 
grace ought properly to be called inefficacious, and not 
sufficient. So that on this system, they who do not re 
ceive from God grace that is efficacious, by means of the 
delectation relatively victorious over that of the concu 
piscence, have not even grace sufficient to enable them 
to fulfil the commandments. F. Berti thus writes in 
defence of his opinion: first, he states the three objec 
tions of his opponents, which are as follows: "There are 
three things which savor of the Jansenist dogma, and 

1 " Gratia sufficiens non dat potentiam proximo completam et expe- 

2 " Prima supponebat potentiam expeditam et liberam, secunda 
impeditam et servam." Cort. D. Aug. tr. 2, q. 3, a. 2. 


194 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n. 

are the fountain and source of the five condemned prop 
ositions; to which the new Jansenists, the chief of 
whom are two (doubtless pretended) Augustinians, make 
no objection" (these two are F. Bellelli and F. Berti, 
against whom the Archbishop of Vienne wrote). " The 
first of these three things is, that they do not make effi 
cacious grace consist simply in a victorious delectation, 
but in a delectation relatively preponderating, etc. The 
second is, that they deny the existence of a power proxi- 
mately prepared in the case of a delectation of a lower 
grade, requiring for this, as regards the power and the 
actus primus, a stronger delectation; and therefore ineffi 
cacious grace (or the assistance sine quo, which they preach 
about) is not really sufficient grace, either in the Molinist 
sense or the Thomist sense; since sufficient grace, by 
the common consent of Catholics, confers power proxi- 
mately prepared. The third thing that follows from 
this is, that they deny the existence of such a thing as 
sufficient grace; the very name of which they fraud 
ulently abstain from using, and call it rather ineffica 
cious than insufficient." Such are the objections. Now 
for F. Berti s answer: "I most firmly and unhesitatingly 
declare that the three doctrines just cited are noway 
erroneous, nor principles of the five condemned proposi- 

1 " Tria sunt quae Jansenianum redolent dogma, et quinque damnata- 
rum propositionum sunt fons et origo, a quibus novi Janseniani, quos 
inter eminent duo baud dubie spurii Augustinenses minime abhorrent. 
Horum primum est, quodnon tantum in delectatione victrici reponunt 
gratiam efficientem, sed in delectatione victrici relativa. Alterum, 
quod negant in delectatione inferioris gradus potentiam proxime ex- 
peditam, ad hanc requirentes ex parte potentiae et actus primi robus- 
tiorem delectationem; ideoque gratia inefficax, sive adjutorium sine 
quo ab ipsis depraedicatum, non est vera gratia sufficiens, neque Mo- 
linistico sensu neque Thomistico, cum gratia sufficiens communi sensu 
Catholicorum conferat ipsam potentiam proxime expeditam. Tertium, 
quod hinc consequitur, veram gratiam sufficientem e medio tollunt, 
illam potius inefficacem quam sufficientem appellantes." 

The System of Jansenins. 195 

tions; but that some people, moved indeed by a laudable 
zeal for refuting Jansenius, but nevertheless carried 
away by the prejudice of their private judgment, have 
made no distinction between what is Catholic and what 
is erroneous and condemned; and that from these peo 
ple s lucubrations, some anonymous sciolist" (the Arch 
bishop of Vienne, to wit), "and some other men of 
scanty learning and fat wits, have taken occasion to 
calumniate the unshaken doctrines of Augustine (which, 
whether they admit it or not, are the same as ours) as 
monstrous heresies." 1 

Now I confess myself also to f be precisely one of these 
scantily learned and gross-minded men; for I cannot 
understand how the propositions of F. Berti hold to 
gether; since in their consequences they appear clearly 
repugnant to one another. If he had said that to ob 
serve the divine law we have need of efficacious grace, 
but that sufficient grace, which is given to all, gives the 
proximate power to enable us to pray, and by prayer to 
obtain the greater assistance necessary for the actual 
observance of the commandments, we should quite 
agree; for this is our opinion, which we shall set forth 
and prove in the next chapter. 

But we cannot agree; because, while speaking of 
prayer, he says well that every one of the faithful, by 
means of this sufficient grace, if he puts no impediment 
in the way, can pray, and by prayer obtain the immedi- 

1 " Ego vero firmissime et absque ulla haesitatione pronuntio, tria 
doctrinae capita nuperrime commemorata nequaquam erronea esse 
nee damnatarum propositionurn principia; sed aliquos Jansenii quidem 
refutandi zelo permotos, sed propriae sententiae prsejudicio abreptos, 
quid catholicum sit, quid erroneum et damnatum minime distinxisse, 
atque ex horum lucubrationibus ansam arripuisse sciolum anonymum, 
et si qui alii sunt curtae eruditionis et pinguis minervae homines, in- 
concussa Augustini dogmata, quae, velint nolint, sunt eadem ac nostra, 
tamquam portenta hseresum calumniandi." Aug. syst. vind. d. 4, c. 

I. 2. 

196 Exposition and Confutation. [PART n 

ate assistance to enable him actually to fulfil the com 
mandments. " To each of the faithful " (these are his 
words), " unless he freely puts an obstacle in the way, 
the grace of prayer is given, by which he may obtain 
the aid immediately sufficient to fulfil the command 
ments." And, further, he says in another place that 
the said sufficient grace, common to all the faithful, al 
though only remotely sufficient for the observance of 
the precepts, is, nevertheless, proximately sufficient for 
prayer, by which efficacious grace is then obtained: "In 
him who has the little will (that is, the will which is fur 
nished by the sufficient grace) there is a power proxi 
mately sufficient for prayer, and remotely sufficient for 
the observance of the commandments, which he will be 
able proximately to fulfil, when by prayer he has ob 
tained a strong will" (which strong will is furnished by 
efficacious grace). 2 He says then, and says wisely, that 
for the observance of the commandments, it cannot be 
said that sufficient grace gives to all the proximate 
power actually to fulfil them; for (as he well observes in 
the place just cited, 4) the proximate power to observe 
the precepts is that which needs nothing further to en 
able it to act; hence he writes in the same section (4), 
near the beginning, that the complete and prepared 
power can only be had from efficacious grace: " Effica 
cious grace alone gives the complete and ready power." ! 
Hence he adds that, in order that the sufficient grace 
may be said to be proximately sufficient for actual oper 
ation, u it is requisite that it should not need any fur- 

1 " Cuilibet fideli, nisi libere ponat obicem adest gratia orationis, 
qua impetrare potest auxilium immediate sufficiens ad implenda 
mandata." De Theol. Disc. 1. 18, c. 8, p 4. 

12 "In eo qui habet voluntatem parvam est potentia proxime suffi 
ciens ad orandum et sufficiens remote ad observantiam praeceptorum, 
quae poterit proxime implere, dum per orationem obtinuerit robus- 
tam voluntatem." Aiig, syst. vind. d. 4, c. I, 9. 

3 "Gratia efficax sola dat potentiam completam et expeditam." 
Ibid. 4- 

The System of Jansenius. 197 

ther means in order to act." So that, according to the 
reasoning of F. Berti, though the sufficient grace does 
not supply all the faithful with proximate power to keep 
the commandments, yet it supplies all with power proxi- 
mately sufficient to pray. Therefore each of the faith 
ful, by the aid of " sufficient grace" alone, can actually 
pray, without the need of any further assistance, that is, 
of efficacious grace. 

But then I do not know how this agrees with what he 
says in another place: " No one without grace, effica 
cious in itself, has the power of praying united with the 
act." 2 Therefore, according to this second proposition, 
the " sufficient grace" does not give really, but only in 
name, the power proximately sufficient for prayer. It 
only gives the power remotely sufficient, if there is need 
of efficacious grace to make the power of praying issue 
in act. Either, therefore, for actual prayer, "efficacious 
grace" is requisite, and then it cannot be said that the 
sufficient grace gives the power proximately sufficient; 
or else "sufficient grace" gives the power proximately 
sufficient for actual prayer; and then there is no need 
of the efficacious grace of the preponderating pleasure, 
which he seeks to establish. But St. Augustine also, 
says F. Berti, requires an overpowering pleasure to ena 
ble us to pray: ".Augustine teaches- that for prayer a 
certain knowledge is requisite, and an overpowering 
pleasure." I have examined the passage referred to, 
which is as follows: "Let us understand, if we can, that 
the good Lord God sometimes does not give even to his 
saints either the certain knowledge of some good work, 
or an overpowering delight in it, in order that they may 

1 " Requiritur ut alio medio non egeat ut exeat in actum." 

- " Nullus absque gratia per se efficaci, habet potentiam orandi 

conjunctam cum actu." De Theol. Disc. 1. 18, c. 8, p. 5. 

3 " Augustinus docet necessariam ese ad orandum certam scientiam 

et victricem delectationem." 

198 Exposition and Confutation. [PARTH. 

understand that the light wherewith their darkness is 
enlightened comes not from themselves, but from him, 
and so also the sweetness by which their land yields its 
fruit." St. Augustine does not say that an overpower 
ing delight is requisite for prayer; he only says that 
sometimes God does not give even to his saints either 
the certain knowledge or the overpowering delight of 
some just work, in order that they may know that from 
him, and not from themselves, they have the light to 
illumine them, and the sweetness to make them bear 

Therefore St. Augustine does not here primarily speak 
of the sufficient grace by which a man can work, but 
does not always work; nor does he say that man with 
only sufficient grace, and without efficacious grace, can 
not actually pray; but he speaks only of efficacious 
grace, which, by means of an overpowering delight, in 
fallibly causes him to do well. Secondly, he does not 
speak here of prayer, but of just works; which properly 
means the observance of the precepts or of the counsels; 
since prayer, though it is a good work, of its own nature 
is not a work, but the means of obtaining the aid neces 
sary to execute good works. 

We also hold, as we said before, that efficacious grace 
is necessary for the observance of the commandments; 
but we say that for actual prayer, whereby we may ob 
tain efficacious grace, the sufficient grace which God 
gives to all the faithful is enough. And thus we do no 
violence to the truth that God s commandments are not 
impossible to any one; since every man, by means of the 
sufficient grace only, can perform such an easy thing as 

1 " Intelligamus, si possumus, Dominum Deum bonum ideo etiam 
sanctis suis alicujus operis justi aliquando non tribuere vel certam 
scieutiam vel victricem delectationem, ut cognoscant non a seipsis, 
sed ab illo sibi esse lucem qua illuminentur tenebrae eorum, et suavi- 
tatem qua det fructum suu m terra eorum." De Pecc. mer. 1. 2, c. 19. 

The System of Jansenius. 199 

prayer; and by means of prayer he will obtain the as 
sistance of gratuitous efficacious grace, which is neces 
sary for the actual performance of difficult things such 
as the observance of the commandments. Thus says 
Cardinal Noris, whose words I will quote in the next 
chapter, and before him St. Augustine: " By the fact 
that we most firmly believe that God does not command 
impossibilities, we are admonished in easy matters what 
to do, and in difficult matters what to ask for." l Oth 
erwise, if sufficient grace were not enough for actual 
prayer, and the addition of efficacious grace were al 
ways necessary, and if this were denied to any man as, 
in fact, efficacious grace is denied to many I cannot 
see how the commandments of God could be said to be 
possible to such a person, and how God could demand 
of him the observance of his law (at the time when he 
denies him even the efficacious grace to enable him ac 
tually to pray), and how with justice he could condemn 
him to hell for not observing it. This is precisely that 
which made Jansenius say that some precepts were 
impossible even from the first; because he erroneously 
said that some men want the grace to make the precepts 
possible to them. But it is not so; because God gives 
to all men (we are not here considering the case of infi 
dels and obstinate sinners) the proximate grace to ena 
ble them actually to pray, as we shall prove in the next 
chapter. And so no one will be able to make the excuse 
that* the observance of the precepts was impossible to 
him; for though he had not efficacious grace for their 
actual observance, he had, nevertheless, grace proxi- 
mately sufficient for actual prayer, by means of which 
he would have obtained from God efficacious grace, ac 
cording to his promise of hearing whoever prays to him; 

" Eo ipso quo firmissime creditur Deum justum et bonum impos- 
sibilia non praecipere, hinc admonemur, et in facilibus quid agamus, 
et in difficilibus quid petamus." De Nat. et Gr. c. 69. 

2OO Exposition and Confutation. [PARTIL 

and with this he certainly might have observed the pre 
cepts. And the Council of Trent has expressly declared 
this against Luther, who asserted that the observance 
of God s law was impossible even to the faithful. 
"God," it says, "does not command impossibilities; but 
by commanding, he admonishes you to do what you 
can, and to ask for what you cannot do; and by .his help 
he enables you to do it." 

1 " Deus impossibilia non jubet; sed jubendo monet, et facere quid 
possis, et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis." Sess. 6, cap. 

All receive the Grace of Prayer. 20 i 



The Principal Theologians who teach this Doctrine. 

Assuming, then, that God wills all men to be saved, 
and that, as far as he is concerned, he gives to all the 
graces necessary for their salvation, we must say that 
all men have given to them the grace to enable them ac 
tually to pray (without needing a further grace); and by 
prayer to obtain all further aid necessary for the ob 
servance of the commandments and for salvation. But 
it must be remarked that when we say "without need 
ing a further grace," we do not mean that the common 
grace gives the power of prayer without the aid of assist 
ing grace, since, in order to exercise any act of piety, 
besides the exciting grace, there is doubtless required 
the assisting or co-operating grace. But we mean that 
the common grace gives every man the power of actual 
prayer, without a further preventing grace, which, physi 
cally or morally, determines the will of man to exercise 
the act of prayer. We will first mention the names of 
the famous theologians who teach this opinion ascertain, 
and then we will prove it by authorities and arguments. 

It is held by Isambert, Cardinal du Perron, Alphonsus 
le Moyne, and others whom we shall presently quote, and 
at greater length as a set proposition by Honoratus 

2O2 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

Tourneley. All these authors prove that every man, by 
means of the ordinary sufficient grace alone, can actually 
pray, without need of further aid; and by prayer can ob 
tain all the graces requisite for the performance of the 
most difficult things. 

It was also held by Cardinal Noris, who proves the 
proposition, that man, when the commandment urges 
(urgendoilprccctto), can pray if he will; and he proves it 
thus: " It is clear that the power to pray should be prox 
imate in the just man or the faithful; for if the faithful 
has only a remote power for a simple act of prayer (I am 
not here speaking of fervid prayer), he will not have 
another proximate power to obtain the grace of prayer, 
otherwise the series would be infinite." Assuming that, 
in order to keep the commandments and to be saved, 
prayer is necessary, as we proved in the beginning, when 
we spoke of the necessity of prayer, this learned author 
says well that every one has the proximate power of 
prayer, in order that by prayer he may obtain the prox 
imate power to do good; and therefore all can praj r with 
only the ordinary grace, without other assistance. Other 
wise, if, in order to obtain the proximate power for the 
act of prayer we required another power, we should still 
want another power of grace to obtain this power, and 
so on ad iiifinitum, and it would no longer be in the 
power of man to co-operate in his salvation. 

The same author in another place maintains this doc 
trine more clearly: " Even in the state of fallen nature 
the assistance sine quo (i.e., the sufficient grace which is 
common to all) is given, though Jansenius denies it; and 
this assistance produces in us weak acts, namely, prayer 

1 " Manifestum est potentiam ad orandum debere esse proximam 
in justo sive fideli; nam, si fidelis sit in potentia remota ad simpliciter 
orandum (non enim hie loquor de fervida et diiiturniore oratione). 
non habet is aliam potentiam proximam pro impetranda oratione; 
alias procederetur in infinitum." fans. err. cat. subl. c. 2, I. 

Theologians who Teach this Doctrine. 203 

not very fervid, for fulfilling the commandments; but for 
the actual observance of these, the assistance sine quo is 
only a remote help, by which we can, however, obtain by 
prayer the assistance quo, or efficacious grace, by which 
the commandments are fulfilled." So that Cardinal 
Noris held it as certain that in the present state all men 
have the assistance sine quo, i.e., ordinary grace, which, 
without need of further assistance, produces prayer, by 
which we can then obtain efficacious grace to enable us 
to observe the law. And hence we can easily understand 
the axiom universally received in the schools: "To him 
who does what in him lies, God does not refuse his 
grace." : That is, to the man who prays, and thus makes 
good use of the sufficient grace which enables him to do 
such an easy thing as prayer, God does not refuse the 
efficacious grace to enable him to execute difficult things. 
Thus, also, Louis Thomassin, who expresses astonish 
ment at those who say that "sufficient assistance" is not 
enough to do any actual good work, nor to avoid any sin: 
"For if," he says, "this assistance is truly assistance, 
and gives proximate power, how is it that, out of the in 
numerable quantity of men who are thus assisted, none 
keep the commandments ? Or how is it truly sufficient, 
if, besides it, efficacious grace is necessary ? That man 
has not a sufficient power who wants a necessary assist 
ance which is not in his own power." 3 He means that 

1 " Etiam in statu naturae lapsse datur adjutorium sine quo non, 
secus ac Jansenius contendit, quod quidem adjutorium efficit in nobis 
. . . actus debiles, nempe orationes minus fervidas pro adimplendis 
mandatis; in ordine ad quorum executionem adjutorium sine quo non 
est tantum auxilium remotum, impetratorium tamen auxilii quo, sive 
gratiae efficacis qua mandata implentur." -Jans. err. cal. subl. c. 2, 


2 " Facienti quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam." 

3 " Si haec enim auxilia vere auxilia sunt, et proximam vere dant 
potestatem, qui fit ut, ex innumerabili tamdiu hominum qui ita ju- 
vantur multhudine, praeceptum observe! nemo ? Aut quomodo vere 

2O4 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART 11. 

" sufficient grace," to be really sufficient, ought to give 
a man the proximate and ready power to execute a good 
act; but since, in order to perform such an act, another 
grace namely, efficacious grace is wanted, unless a man 
has (at least mediately) this efficacious grace which is 
necessary for salvation, how can it be said that the 
"sufficient grace" gives this proximate and ready power? 
Since, says St. Thomas, u God does not neglect to do 
that which is necessary to salvation." On the one hand, 
it is true that God is not bound to give us his grace, be 
cause what \s gratis is not of obligation; but, on the other 
hand, supposing that he gives us commandments, he is 
obliged to give us the assistance necessary for observing 
them. And as God obliges us actually to observe every 
precept whenever it applies, so ought he also actually to 
supply us (at least mediately or remotely) with the assist 
ance necessary for the observance of the precept, without 
the necessity of a further grace, which is not common to 
all. Hence Thomassin concludes, that in order to recon 
cile the proposition that " sufficient grace" is enough for 
a man s salvation with the statement that efficacious 
grace is requisite to observe the whole law, it is neces 
sary to say that sufficient grace is enough to pray, and to 
perform similar easy acts, and that by means of these we 
then obtain efficacious grace to fulfil the difficult acts. 
And this is without doubt in conformity with the doc 
trine of St. Augustine, who teaches: "By the very fact 
that God is most firmly believed not to command impos 
sibilities, w r e are admonished both what to do in easy 
things, and in difficult things what toaskfor." 2 On this 

sufficientia sunt, si prseterea gratia efficax est necessaria ? Non is 
habet potestatem sufficientem cui deest aliud auxilium necessarium, 
quod in ejus potestate non est." Cons. sch. de gr. tr. 3, c. 8. 

1 " Deus non deficit ab agendo quod est necessarium ad salutem." 
P. i, q 49. a. 2. 

3 " Eo ipso quo firmissime creditur Deum justum et bonum impos- 

Theologians who Teach this Doctrine. 205 

passage Cardinal Noris observes, " Therefore, we are able 
to do easy or less perfect works without asking God for 
further help; for which, however, we must pray in more 
difficult works." Thomassin also brings forward the 
authority of St. Bonaventure, Scotus, and others on this 
subject, and says, "All these considered the sufficient 
grace to be truly sufficient, whether the will consents to 
it or not." 2 And this he demonstrates in four parts of 
his book, adducing the authorities of the schoolmen for 
a long series of years, beginning from the year noo. 

Habert, Bishop of Vabres and Doctor of the Sorbonne, 
who was the first to write against Jansenius, says: " We 
think, first, that sufficient grace has only a contingent 
or mediate connection with the actual effect of the com 
plete consent. . . . We think, further, that sufficient 
grace is a grace that disposes for efficacious grace, since 
from a good use of it God afterwards grants to the cre 
ated will the grace that performs the complete effect." 3 
He had said before that " all Catholic Doctors, of all 
schools, have professed, and do profess, that a real in 
ward grace is given, which is capable of persuading the 
will to consent to good, though, on account of the free re 
sistance of the will, it sometimes does not persuade it thus 

sibilia non prsecipere, hinc admonemur, et in facilibus quid agamus, 
et in difficilibus quid petamus." De Nat, et Gr. c. 69. 

1 "Igitur opera facilia seu actus bonos minus perfectos facere pos- 
sumus, absque eo quod majus auxilium a Deo postulemus, quodtamen 
in actibus difficilioribus petendum est. " Loco sup, cit, 

2 Omnibus ea placuere sufficientia auxilia, vere sufficientia, qui- 
bus assentitur quandoque voluntas, quandoque non." Cons. sch. p. 2, 
ad Jin, 

3 " Censemus primo, quod immediate cum ipso effectu consensus 
completi (gratia) sufficiens non habet habitudinem, nisi contingenter 
vel mediate. . . . Arbitramur proinde gratiam sufficientem esse gra- 
tiam dispositionis ad efficacem, utpote ex cujus bono usu Deus postea 
gratiam compleii effectus effectivam creatae voluntati concedat." 
Theol. Gr. Pair. 1. 2, c. 15. 

206 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

to consent," 1 and for this doctrine be quotes Gamaches, 
Duval, Isambert, Perez, Le Moyne, and others. Then 
lie goes on: The assistance, therefore, of sufficient grace 
disposes us for the reception of efficacious grace; and is 
in some sort efficacious, namely, of an incomplete effect, 
obtained first remotely, then more nearly, and at last 
proximately such as is an act of faith, hope, love, and, 
mixed with these, one of prayer. Hence the famous 
Alphonsus Le Moyne taught that this sufficient grace was 
the grace of asking, or of prayer, of which St. Augustine 
so often speaks." 2 So that, according to Habert, the 
difference between efficacious and sufficient grace is, that 
the former produces its effect completely, while the latter 
produces it either contingently (i.e., sometimes, but not 
always) or mediately (/>., by means of prayer). More 
over, he says that sufficient grace, according to the good 
use we make of it, prepares us to obtain efficacious grace; 
hence he calls sufficient grace " in some sort efficacious" 
(secundum quid), because of its effect commenced but not 
completed. Lastly, he says that sufficient grace is the 
grace of prayer, of which it is in our power to avail our 
selves, as St. Augustine teaches. So that a man has no 
excuse if he does not do that which he already has suffi 
cient grace to enable him. to perform; by which grace, 
without further assistance, he may either act, or at least 
obtain more help to enable him to act. And Habert 

1 Catholici Doctores omnes, dari gratiam aliquam vere intrinsecam, 
quse possit consensum voluntatis ad bonum salutis elicere, nee tamen 
propter liberam voluntatis resistentiam eumdem aliquando eliciat, 
omnibus in scholis profess! sunt et profitentur." Theol. Gr. Pair. 1. 
2, c. 6. 

2 " Auxilia igitur gratise sufficientis sunt dispositiva ad efficacem, 
et efficacia secundum quid, effectus videlicet incompleti, impetrantis 
primo remote, propius, ac tandem proxime, qualis est actus fidei, spei, 
timoris, atque inter haec omnia orationis. Unde celeberrimus Al 
phonsus Lemoinus gratiam illam sufficientem docuit esse gratiam 
petendi, seu orationis, de qua toties beatus Angustinus." Ibid. c. 15. 

Theologians who Teach this Doctrine. 207 

asserts that this was the common doctrine of the Sor- 

Charles du Plessis d Argentre, another theologian of 
the Sorbonne, quotes more than a thousand theologians 
who teach directly that with sufficient grace easy works 
are accomplished; and that a man who makes use of it 
obtains thereby a more abundant assistance for his thor 
ough conversion. And precisely in this sense, as we 
said before, he says the celebrated axiom of the schools 
is to be understood: "To those who do what is in their 
power" (that is, by means of sufficient grace) " God does 
not deny grace;" 1 that is, more abundant and efficacious 

The learned Dionysius Petavius proves at great 
length that man works with simple sufficient grace; and 
he even asserts that it would be monstrous to say other 
wise; and that this is the doctrine not only of theolo 
gians, but also of the Church. Hence he says that the 
grace of observing the precepts follows prayer; and that 
the gift of prayer is given by God at the time when he 
imposes the precept: " This gift, by which God grants 
us power to do justly, follows the act of prayer; and 
this act is given contemporaneously with the law." So 
that as the law is imposed upon all, so the gift of prayer 
is given to all. 

The author of the Theology for the Use of the Seminary 
of Peterkau says that with sufficient grace alone "a 
man can do well, and sometimes does so;" so that " there 
is nothing to hinder that, of two persons furnished with 
the same assistance, one should very often perform the 
mere acts (which precede full conversion), the other 

1 Facienti quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam. 

" 2 " Donum istud, quo Deus dat ut jussa faciamus, affectum ora- 
tionis subsequitur, et tails affectus legi comes datur." De Deo, \. 
10, c. 20. 19. 

3 " Aliquis potest bene agere, et aliquando beneagit." 

208 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PARTII. 

not." And this, he says, is in conformity with the doc 
trine of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, and of his first 
disciples, especially of Father Bartholomew Medina, 
who says, " Sometimes a man is converted only with 
sufficient grace." : And I find that also Father Louis 
of Granada asserts this to be the common doctrine of 
theologians: " Theologians reckon two kinds of assist 
ance one sufficient, the other more than sufficient; by 
the former of which men are sometimes converted, 
sometimes refuse to be converted." And, shortly after 
wards, "And theologians define how universally this 
assistance is open to men." Hence Petrocorensis says: 
" So man can do some acts of piety, such as to pray to 
God with humility with the sufficient grace only, and 
sometimes actually does them, and so prepares himself 
for further graces." This, he says, is the order of 
God s Providence with regard to graces, " that the suc 
ceeding should follow the good use of the former." 
And he concludes that thorough conversion and final 
perseverance " are infallibly obtained by prayer, for 
which the sufficient grace which is given to every one 
abundantly suffices." 7 

1 " Nihil vetat ut, ex duobus aequali auxilio praeventis, faciliores 
actus, plenam conversionem saepissime praecedentes, unus facial, 
alius non." Lib. 6, q. 3. 

" Cum sola gratia sufficient! aliquando homo convertitur. In i. 2. 
q. 109, a. 10. 

" Duo auxiliorum genera theologi statuunt, alterum sufficiens, alte- 
rum superabundans; et quidem priori auxilio excitati homines ali- 
quando convertuntur, aliquando converti renuunt." 

4 " Et quidem prius illud auxilium ad omnes homines quam latis- 
sime patere theologi definiunt." In fest. S. Matt. cone, i, p. i. 

6 " Si quosdam pietatis actus (nempe humiliter Deum deprecari) cum 
solo auxilio sufficienti (homo) facere potest, et aliquando facit, quibus 
se ad ulteriores gratias praeparat." 

6 " Ut priorum bono usui posteriores succedant." Loco sup. cit. 

1 " Infallibiliter (homines) promerentur oratione, pro qua sufficiens 
gratia, quae nulli non praesto est, plenissime sufficit." 

Theologians who Teach this Doctrine. 209 

The same is held by Cardinal d Aguirre, who in all 
things follows St. Augustine. 1 

Father Antonio Boucat, of the order of St. Francis of 
Paula, defends the position that every one is now able, 
without new assistance, to obtain by prayer the grace 
of conversion. And after quoting Gamaches, Duval, 
Habert, Le Moyne, he cites in favor of this opinion Pe 
ter of Tarantasia, Bishop of Tulle, Godert de Fonte, 
and Henry of Ghent, Doctors of the Sorbonne, together 
with the Regius Professor Lygne, who, in his tract De 
Gratia, demonstrates that "sufficient grace" not only 
gives prayer, as Le Moyne and Professor Elias said, but 
also gives the power to do some works that are not dif 

Gaudenzio Bontempi in like manner demonstrated 
that sufficient grace obtains efficacious grace by means 
of prayer, which is given to all who will avail themselves 
of it. 

Cardinal Robert Pullo asserts two kinds of grace one 
always victorious, the other one by which man some 
times works, sometimes does not: "The other by the as 
sistance of which man can do which he chooses of these 
two things, either to co-operate with grace, or to despise 
it, and to continue sinning." : 

Father Fortunate da Brescia is also of the same opin 
ion, and holds that all men have the mediate grace of 
prayer to enable them to observe the precepts; and has 
no doubt that St. Augustine held the same. 

Richard of St. Victor similarly teaches that there is a 
sufficient grace which a man sometimes consents to, 
sometimes resists. 

Dominic Soto asks, "Why of two persons whom God 

1 Theol. S. Ans. t. 3, d. 125, 126, 127. 

2 " Utrumlibet aut gratise cooperans agit, aut ea spreta, malum 
agere non desistit." Sent. 1. 6, c. 50. 


2 ro All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

is most ready and desirous to convert, one is drawn by 
grace, and not the other ?" And he answers : " No 
other reason can be given, except that one consents and 
co-operates, while the other does not co-operate." ; 

Matthias Felicio, who wrote against Calvin, thus de 
fines ordinary or sufficient grace: " It is a divine motion, 
or instinct, which moves a man to good, and is denied 
to none. Men behave differently to this instinct; for 
some acquiesce in it, and are disposed de congruo for ha 
bitual grace; for we believe that God will not desert 
those who do what they can. Others, on the contrary, 
oppose it." : 

Andreas Vega likewise says: " These helps, which are 
given to all men, are by most called inefficacious, be 
cause they do not always produce their effect, but are 
sometimes frustrated by sinners." Therefore, sufficient 
grace sometimes produces its effect, and sometimes does 

Cardinal Gotti in one place of his Theology apparently 
agrees with us; for where he discusses the difficulty, 
how a man can persevere if he will, when it is not in his 
power to have the special assistance which is requisite 
for perseverance, he answers that although this special 
assistance is not in a man s power, "yet it is said to be 
in a man s power, because he can by the grace of God 
ask for it and obtain it; and in this way it may be said 

"Alia ratio reddi non potest, nisi quod alter praebet assensum et 
cooperatur, alter vero minime." De Nat. et Gr. 1. i, c. 15. 

2 " Est motio divina sive instinctus quo movetur homo ad bonum, 
nee alicui denegatur. Homines deversimode se ad istum habent in- 
stinctum: aliqui namque illi acquiescunt, sicque ad gratiam habitua- 
lem de congruo disponuntur, quia facientibus quod in se est, non de- 
fore Deus creditur; alii repugnant." Inst. chr. d. 24, c. 20. 

3 " Haec autem auxilia, quae omnibus dantur, a plerisque ineffica- 
cia vocantur, quia non semper habent suum effectum, sed plerumque 
a peccatoribus frustrantur." De Justif. 1. 13, c. 13. 

Theologians who Teach this Doctrine. 2 1 1 

to be in a man s power to have the assistance neces 
sary for perseverance, because it can be obtained by 
prayers." So, to verify the proposition that it is in a 
man s power to persevere, it is necessary to grant both 
that he can, without needing any further grace, obtain 
by prayer the assistance requisite for perseverance; and, 
also, that with only the sufficient grace common to all, 
without need of any special grace, he can actually pray, 
and by prayer obtain perseverance; otherwise it could 
not be said that every man had the grace necessary for 
perseverance, at least remotely or mediately, by means 
of prayer. 

But if Cardinal Gotti did not mean this, at any rate 
St. Francis de Sales did, when he said that the grace of 
actual prayer is given to every one who will avail him 
self of it, and thence deduced that perseverance is in 
the power of everybody. The saint says this clearly in 
his TheotimuSi where, after proving that constant prayer 
is necessary to obtain from God the gift of final perse 
verance, he adds: "Now, since the gift of prayer is 
freely promised to all those who will consent to the 
heavenly inspirations, consequently it is in our power 
to persevere." 

Cardinal Bellarmine teaches the same thing: " An as 
sistance, then and there, sufficient for salvation, is given 
mediately or immediately to all men. . . . We say medi 
ately or immediately, because to those who have the use 
of reason we believe that holy inspirations are given by 
God, and that by this they have immediately the exciting 
grace; by which, if they will acquiesce in it, they can 

1 " In potestate tamen hominis aliquo modo dicitur esse quod ipse 
per Dei gratiam potest ab eo petere ac obtinere; et hoc modo in 
hominis justi potestate dici potest esse ut habeat auxilium ad perse- 
verandum necessarium, illud impetrando orationibus." De Grat. q. 
i, d. 13, 3- 

212 A LI receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

be disposed to be justified, and at last to obtain salva 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 

Let us now proceed to examine the proofs of this 
doctrine. It is proved, first from authority. We shall 
cite Scripture, the Council of Trent, and the Holy 


We have first the authority of the Apostle, who as 
sures us that God is faithful, and will not permit us to 
be tempted beyond our strength, since he always gives 
us assistance (whether immediate or mediate, by means 
of prayer) to resist the assaults of our enemies: God is 
faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye 
are able; but will make with the temptation issue, that ye may 
be able to bear it? Jansenius says that this text refers 
only to the predestinate, but this comment of his is 
completely unfounded; for St. Paul is writing to all the 
faithful of Corinth, all of whom he certainly did not 
consider to be predestinate. So that St. Thomas has 
good reason for understanding it generally of all men, 
and for saying that God would not be faithful if he did 
not grant us (so far as in him lies) those graces by 
means of which we can obtain salvation: " But he would 

" Auxilium sufficiens ad salutem, pro loco et tempore, mediate 
vel immediate omnibus datur. . . . Dicimus: Mediate vel immedi 
ate; quoniam, iis qui usu rationis utuntur, immitti credimus a Deo 
sanctas inspirationes, ac per hoc immediate illos habere gratiam exci- 
tantem, cui si acquiescere velint, possint ad justificationem disponi 
etad salutem aliquando pertingere." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 1. 2, c. 5. 

" Fidelis autem Deus est, qui non patietur vos tentari supra id 
quod potestis; sed faciet etiam cum tentatione proventum, ut possitis 
sustinere." I Cor. x. 13. 

Authority ^lpon which this Doctrine is based. 213 

not appear to be faithful were he to refuse us (so far as 
he is concerned) those things which are requisite to 
enable us to come to him." It is proved, moreover, by 
all those texts in which God exhorts us to convert our 
selves, and to have recourse to him to ask him for the 
graces necessary for our salvation, and promises to hear 
us when we have recourse to him. Wisdom preacheth 
aloud, . . . saying, O children, how long will ye love child 
ishness, and fools covet those things which are hurtful to them- 
seli es, etc. ? Turn ye at My reproof : behold, I will utter 
My Spirit to you. . . . Because I called, and you refused, 
etc., I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock at 
you? This exhortation, Turn ye, would be simple mock 
ery, says Bellarmine, if God did not give to sinners at 
least the mediate grace of prayer for their conversion. 
Besides, we find in the passage mention made of the 
internal grace by which God calls sinners, and gives 
them actual assistance for conversion, if they will accept 
it, in the words, Behold, I will bring forth My Spirit to 
you? Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will refresh you." Come, and accuse me, saith the 
Lord ; if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as 
snow? Ask, and it shall be given you? And so in hun- 

1 " Non autem videretur esse fidelis Deus, si nobis denegaret, quan 
tum in ipso est, ea per quae pervenire ad eum possemus." In I Cor. 
i. lect. i. 

2 "Sapientia foris praedicat . . , dicens: Usquequo, parvuli, diligi- 
tis infantiam, et stulti ea quae sibi sunt noxia cupient . . .? Conver- 
timini ad correptionem meam: en, proferam vobis spiritum meum. 
. . . Quia vocavi, et renuistis . . .; ego quoque in interim vestro 
ridebo et subsannabo." Prov. i. 20. 

3 "En, proferam vobis spiritum meum." 

4 " Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego refi- 
ciam vos." Matt. xi. 28. 

5 " Venite et arguite me, dicit Dominus, si fuerint peccata vestra at 
coccinum, quasi nix dealbabuntur." Isa. \. 18. 

6 " Petite, et dabitur vobis." Matt. vii. 7. 

214 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

dreds of other texts already quoted. Now, if God did 
not give every one grace actually to have recourse to 
him, and actually to pray to him, all these invitations 
and exhortations, Come all, and I will refresh you ; seek, 
and it shall be given you, would be s vain. 


It is clearly proved by the passage of the Council of 
Trent so often quoted. 1 I beg the reader to give his 
best attention to this proof; which, if I am not mistaken, 
is perfectly decisive. There were innovators who said 
that as man was deprived of free-will by the sin of 
Adam, the will of man at present does nothing in good 
actions, but is induced to receive them passively from 
God, without producing them itself; and hence they in 
ferred that the observance of the commandments was 
impossible to those who are not efficaciously moved and 
predetermined by grace to avoid evil and to do good. 
Against this error the Council pronounced sentence in 
words borrowed from St. Augustine: "God does not 
command impossible things; but by commanding, ad 
monishes you both to do what you can, and to pray for 
what you cannot do; and he helps you, so that you may 
be able." 2 

The Council, then, in order to prove against the heretics 
that God s commandments are not impossible to any one, 
has declared that all men have assistance to enable them 
to do good, or at least have the grace of prayer whereby 
to obtain greater assistance. The meaning of this is, that 
every man can, by means of the common grace, do easy 
things (such as pray) without need of further extraor 
dinary grace; and can by prayer obtain strength to do 

1 Sess. 6, cap, 4. 

2 " Deus impossibilia non jubet; sed jubendo monet, et facere quod 
possis, et petere quod non possis; et adjuvat ut possis." 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 215 

difficult things, according to the teaching of St. Augus 
tine, already quoted: "By the very fact that we most 
firmly believe that the good and just God could not have 
commanded impossible things, we are admonished in 
easy matters what to do, and in difficult matters what to 
pray for." * So that, according to the Council, the divine 
precepts are possible to all men, at least by means of 
prayer, by which greater help may be obtained to enable 
us to observe them. If, therefore, God has imposed his 
commands on all men, and has rendered their observance 
possible to all, at least mediately hy means of prayer, we 
must necessarily conclude that all men have the grace 
to enable them to pray; otherwise, the commandments 
would not be possible to him who was without this grace. 
And as God grants to prayer actual grace to do good, 
and thereby renders all his commandments possible, so 
also he gives all actual grace to pray; otherwise, if there 
were any man who had not actual grace to pray to him, 
the commandments would be impossible, as he could 
not even by means of prayer obtain the assistance neces 
sary for their observance. 

This being settled, it is of no use to say that the words, 
" God admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask 
for what you cannot do," 2 are only to be understood of 
possible, not of actual, prayer;, because, we reply, if the 
common and ordinary grace gave only possible and not 
actual prayer, the Council would not have said, " He ad 
monishes you to do what you can, and to ask for what you 
cannot do;" 3 but, " He admonishes you that you can do, 
and that you can pray." 4 Moreover, if the Council had 

1 " Eo ipso quo firmissime creditur Deum justum et bonum impos- 
sibilia non potuisse praecipere, hinc admonemur, et in facilibus quid 
agamus, et in difficilibus quid petamus." De Nat. et Graf. c. 69. 

" Monet (Deus) et facere quod possis, et petere quod non possis." 

3 " Monet et facere quod possis." 

4 " Monet et petere quod non possis*" 

216 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

not intended to declare that every one can observe the 
precepts, or can pray to obtain grace to observe them, 
and had not meant to speak of actual grace, it would not 
have said " He admonishes," because this word properly 
refers to actual operation, and imports not the instruc 
tion of the mind, but the movement of the will to do that 
good which it can actually do. When, therefore, it said, 
" He admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask for 
what you cannot do," it most clearly expressed, not only 
possible operation and possible prayer, but actual opera 
tion and actual prayer. For if man had need of another 
extraordinary grace, which as yet he has not, in order 
actually to work or to pray, how could God admonish 
him to do or to ask that which he cannot actually either 
do or ask without efficacious grace? Father Fortunate 
Brescia speaks wisely on this point: If the actual grace 
of prayer were not given to all, but if for prayer we had 
need of efficacious grace, which is not common to all. 
prayer would be impossible to the great number who are 
without this efficacious grace; so that it could not be 
said with propriety that "God admonishes you to ask 
for that which you cannot do," because he would then 
admonish us to do a thing requiring a grace which we 
did not possess. So that God s admonition to work and 
to pray must be understood of actual operation and 
prayer, without need of a further extraordinary grace. 
And this is exactly what St. Augustine means: "Hence 
we are admonished in easy things what to do, and in 
difficult things what to pray for;" 1 because he supposes 
that though all have not grace to enable them to do dif 
ficult things, all have at least grace to pray, prayer being 
an easy thing for everybody, as he also propounds in the 
words afterwards adopted by the Council of Trent, " God 

" Hinc adjnonemur et in facilibus quid agamus, et in dificilibus quid 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 217 

admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask for what 
you cannot do." 

To recapitulate the argument: the Council says that 
God does not impose impossible commands, because he 
either gives assistance to observe them, or gives the grace 
of prayer to obtain this assistance, which he always grants 
when it is prayed for. Now, if it could ever be true that 
God does not give all men grace, at least the mediate 
grace of prayer, actually to observe all his precepts, Jan- 
senius proposition would be true, that even the just man 
is without grace to enable him actually to observe some 
of the commandments. 

I do not know how else the text of the Council of 
Trent can be understood and explained, unless the "suf 
ficient grace" gave to all men the power of actually pray 
ing without the "efficacious grace" which our opponents 
suppose to be necessary for the actual performance of 
any pious work. And supposing this necessity of a 
further grace for actual prayer, I cannot understand how 
this other text of the same Council can be true: "God 
does not leave those who have been once justified with 
out grace, unless they first leave him." ] If, I say, the 
ordinary sufficient grace would not be enough for actual 
prayer, but if for this purpose efficacious grace, which 
is not common to all men, would be required, it would 
be true that when the just man would be tempted to 
commit his first mortal sin, and God would not give him 
efficacious grace at least to enable him to pray, and so 
to obtain strength to resist, then his succumbing to 
temptation might rather be said to result from the just 
man being abandoned by God before he had abandoned 
God, and from being left without the efficacious grace 
necessary to enable him to resist. 

1 " Deus namque sua gratia semel justificatos non deserit, nisi ab 
eis prius deseratur." Sess. 6, cap. n. 

218 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

Our opponents object to us a passage of St. Augustine 
where he appears. to maintain that the grace of prayer 
is not granted to all men: "Is not our prayer itself at 
times so tepid, or rather so cold, and almost null so 
null, indeed, that we do not notice its nullity with any 
sorrow; for if this coldness is against our will, it does 
not prejudice our prayer?" 1 But Cardinal Sfondrati 
well replies, " It is one thing to say that sinners do not 
pray, another to say that they have not grace to enable 
them to pray." 2 St. Augustine does not say that any 
persons are without grace to pray as they ought, but 
only that at times our prayer is so cold as to be almost 
null, not for want of God s assistance to enable us to 
pray better, but simply through our fault, which renders 
our prayer null. Tourneley answers in the same way, 
where he says of the first condemned proposition of 
Jansenius: "The just do not always pray as they ought. 
It is their own fault that they do not pray so, since they 
have by grace sufficient strength to pray. St. Augustine 
says that our prayer is sometimes cold and almost null; 
but he does not say that we have not grace to enable us 
to pray more fervently." : Moreover, Cardinal Noris ob 
serves on this same passage, that by means of tepid 
prayer we can at least obtain grace to pray more fer 
vently, and then by this we obtain efficacious grace to 
keep the commandments: " I conclude that even tepid 

1 "Nonne aliquando ipsa oratio nostra sic tepida est, vel potius 
frigida et pene nulia, imo interdum ita nulla ut neque hoc in nobis 
cum dolore advertamus, quia, si vel hoc dolemus, jam oramus?" Ad 
Simp I. 1. i, q. 2. 

"Aliud est peccatores non orare, aliud non habere gratiam qua 
orare possint." Nod. prced. p. i, 2. 

3 " Justi non semper orant ut oportet; eorum culpa est quod ita non 
orent, cum habeant ex gratia sufficientes vires ad orandum. Unde 
Sanctus Augustinus ait quidem orationem nostram aliquando frigidam 
ac pene nullam esse, at non ait desse gratiam per quam oratio possit 
ardentior fieri." De Gr. Chr. q. 3, p. i. , 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 219 

prayer is made with the assistance sine quo non, and by 
the ordinary help of God, since they are weak acts, 
etc. . . . And yet by tepid prayer we obtain the spirit of 
more fervent prayer, which is given to us by the assist 
ance quo." 1 And he confirms this by the authority of St. 
Augustine, who writes thus on Ps. xvi.: " I have directed 
my prayers unto Thee with a free and strong intention; 
for Thou didst hear me when I prayed more weakly, and 
didst grant me strength for this." 2 

Nor can a valid objection be drawn from St. Augus 
tine s observation on the text of St. Paul: " The Spirit 
beseeches for us with groans not to be uttered" 3 that it is the 
Holy Spirit that makes us intercede, and inspires us 
with the disposition to intercede, 4 since the saint here 
simply says, against the Pelagians, that no one can pray 
without grace. And thus he himself explains it in his 
commentary on Ps. Hi., where he says, " What thou doest 
by His gift, He is said to do; because without Him thou 
couldst not do it." & 


In the third place, our opinion is proved by the sayings 
of the holy Fathers. 

St. Basil says: " When, however, any one is allowed to 

1 Colligo ipsammet tepidam orationem fieri a nobis cum adjutorio 
sine quo non ac ordinario concursu Dei, cum sint actus debiles et 
minus perfecti. Ea tamen tepida oratione impetramus spiritum fer- 
ventioris orationis, qui nobis adjutorio quo donatur." Jans. err. cal. 
subl. c. 3. 

2 " Ego libera et valida intentione preces ad te direxi, quoniam, ut 
hanc habere possem, exaudisti me infirmius orantem." /;/ Ps. xvi. 

3 " Spiritus postulat pro nobis gemitibus inenarrabilibus." Rom.\\\\. 

4 " Interpellate nos facit, nobisque intcrpellandi inspirat affectum." 
Ep. 194, c. 4, E. B. 

5 "Quod dono ipsius tu facis, ille facere dicitur, quia sine illo tu 
non faccres." In Ps. lii. 

22O All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

fall into temptation, it happens that he may be able to 
endure it, and to ask in prayer that the will of God may 
be done." The saint then says that when God permits 
a man to be tempted, he does it in order that the man 
may resist by asking for God s will, i.e., the grace to 
overcome. He therefore supposes that when a man has 
not sufficient assistance to overcome the temptation, he 
at least has the actual and common grace of prayer, by 
which he may obtain whatever further grace he needs. 

St. John Chrysostom says, " He gave a law which 
might make their wounds manifest, in order that they 
might desire a physician." 5 And again: " Nor can any 
one be excused who, by ceasing to pray, has voluntarily 
abstained from overcoming his adversary. 3 If such a 
man had not the grace necessary for actual prayer, 
whereby he might obtain grace to resist, he might ex 
cuse himself when he is overcome. 

So also St. Bernard: "Who are we, or what is our 
strength ? This is what God wanted, that we, seeing 
our weakness, and that we have no other help, should, 
with all humility, have recourse to his mercy." 4 God, 
then, has imposed on us a law impossible to our own 
strength, in order that we should go to him, and by 
prayer obtain strength to observe it; but if any one were 
without the grace of actual prayer, to him the Jaw would 

be utterly impossible. "Many persons," says the same 


1 " Ubi quis permissus est in tentationem incidere, eventum ut suf- 
ferre possit et voluntatem Dei per orationem petere." Mor. reg. 62, 

C. 2. 

a " Legem dedit quse vulnera patefaceret, ut medicum optarent." 
In Gall. iii. 22. 

3 " Nee quisquam poterit excusari, qui hostem vincere noluit, dum 
orare cessavit." Horn, de Moys. 

4 "Qui sumus nosPaut quae fortitude nostra? hoc quaerebat Deus, 
ut videntes defectum nostrum, et quod non est nobis auxilium aliud, 
ad ejus misericordiam tota humilitate curramus." In Quad. s. 5. 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 221 

St. Bernard, "complain that they are deserted by grace; 
but grace could much more justly complain of being de 
serted by them." God has much more reason to com 
plain of us for not corresponding to the grace he gives 
us, than we have to complain of not having grace to 
which we may correspond. 

But no Father is more clear on this point than St. 
Augustine in several places. In one he says: " The Pela 
gians think themselves very knowing when they say, God 
would not command that which he knows man could not 
do. Who is ignorant of this? f But God does command 
some things that we cannot do, in order that we might 
know that for which we ought to ask him." 2 

Again, " It is not reckoned your fault, if you are igno 
rant without wishing to be so; but only if you neglect to 
inquire into that of which you are ignorant; nor that you 
do not cure your wounded members, but that you despise 
him who is willing to heal you. These are your own 
sins; for no man is deprived of the knowledge of how to 
seek with advantage." So that, according to St. Augus 
tine, no one is deprived of the grace of prayer, whereby 
he may obtain help for his conversion; otherwise, if this 
grace were wanting, it could not be his fault if he were 
not converted. 

Again: "What else, then, is shown us, but that it is 

"Omnes nobis causamur deesse gratiam; sed justius forsitan 
ipsa sibi queritur gratia deesse nonnullos." De Div. s. 17. 

2 " Magnum aliquid Pelagian! se scire putant, quando dicunt: Non 
juberct Deus quod sciret non posse ab homine fieri. Quis hoc 
nesciat ? sed ideo jubet aliqua quae non possumus, ut noverimus quid 
ab illo petere debeamus." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 16. 

8 " Non tibi deputatur ad culpam quod invitus ignoras, sed quod 
negligis quaerere quod ignoras; neque illud quod vulnerata membra 
non colligis, sed quod volentem sanare contemnis. Ista tua propria 
peccatasunt: nulli enim homini ablatum est scire utiliter quaerere." 
De Lib. Arb. 1. 3, c. 19. 

222 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

God who gives us power both to ask, and to seek, and to 
knock, who commands us to do these things ?" 

Again: "Once for all, receive this and understand it. 
Art thou not yet drawn ? Pray that thou mayest be 
drawn." 2 

Again: "That the soul, then, knows not what it ought 
to do comes from this, that it has not yet received it; but 
it will receive this also, if it has made a good use of what 
it has received; and it has received power to seek piously 
and diligently if it will." 3 

Mark the words " it has received power to seek dili 
gently and piously." Every one, then, has the grace 
necessary for prayer; and if he makes a good use of this, 
he will receive grace to do that which before he was un 
able to do immediately. Again: "Let the man who is 
willing, but cannot do what he wills, pray that he may 
have such a measure as suffices for fulfilling the com 
mandments; for he is so far assisted as to be able to do 
what is commanded." 4 Again: "Freewill is admonished 
by command to seek the gift of God; but it would be ad 
monished without fruit to itself, unless it had first re 
ceived some little love, to induce it to seek such aid as 
would enable it to fulfil what was commanded," 5 

1 " Quid ergo aliud ostenditur nobis, nisi quia et petere et quserere 
et pulsare ille concedit, qui ut hsec faciamus jubet?" Ad Simp 1. 1. i, 
q. 2. 

2 " Semel accipe et intellige: nondum traheris ? ora ut traharis." 
In Jo. tr. 26. 

3 " Quod ergo ignorat (anima) quid sibi agendum sit, ex eo est quod 
nondum accepit; sed hoc quoque accipiet si hoc quod accepit bene usa 
fuerit: accepit autem ut pie et diligenter quserat, si volet." De Lib. 
Arb. 1. 3, c. 22. 

4 " Homo qui voluerit, et non potuerit, oret ut habeat tantam vo- 
luntatem, quanta sufficit ad implenda mandata: sic quippe adjuvatur, 
ut faciat quod jubetur." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 15. 

5 " Praecepto admonitum est liberum arbitrium, ut quaeret Dei 
donum; quod quidem sine suo fructu prorsus admoneretur, nisi prius 

Authority upon whicJi this Doctrine is based. 223 

Mark the words, "some little love ;" this means "suffi 
cient grace" whereby man is able to obtain by prayer 
actual grace to keep the commandments, whereby "he 
is induced to seek such aid as would enable him to fulfil 
what was commanded." 3 

Again: " He gives us commandments for this reason, 
that when we have tried to do what we are com 
manded, and are wearied through our infirmity, we may 
know how to ask the help of grace." 2 Here the saint 
supposes that with ordinary grace we are not able to do 
difficult things, but can by means of prayer obtain the 
aid necessary to accomplish tllem. Hence he goes on to 
say, TJie Laiv entered that sin might abound, when men 
do not implore the aid of God s grace; but when, by God s 
vocation, they understand to whom they must groan, 
and thereupon invoke him, the succeeding words will 
be fulfilled: Where sin abounded, grace superabounded.* 
Here, as Petavius says, we see in express terms the want 
of abundant grace; and, on the other hand, the presence 
of ordinary and common grace which enables men to 
pray, and which St. Augustine here calls "God s voca 

In another place he says: " Free-will is left to man in 
this mortal life, not to enable him to fulfil justice when 
he pleases, but to enable him to turn with pious suppli 
cations to Him by whose gift he can fulfil it." When 

acciperet aliquid dilectionis, ut addi sibi qusereret unde, quod jube- 
batur, impleret." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 18. 

" Ut addi sibi qusereret unde, quod jubebatur, impleret." 

2 " Jubet ideo ut, facere jussa conati et nostra infirmitate fatigati, 
adjutorium gratise poscere noverimus." Ep. 157, E. B. 

3 "Lex subintravit ut abundaret delictum, cum homines adjutorium 
gratiae non implorant; cum autem vocatione divina intelligunt cui sit 
ingemiscendum, et invocant eum, fiet quod sequitur: Ubi abundavit 
delictum, superabundavit gratia. " Rom. v. 20. 

4 " Hoc restat in ista mortali vita libero arbitrio, non ut impleat 
homo justitiam cum voluerit, sed ut se supplici pietate convertat ad 
eum cujus dono earn possit implere." Ad Simpl. \. I, q. I. 

224 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

therefore, Augustine says that man is unable to fulfil the 
whole law, and that prayer is the only means given him 
to obtain help to fulfil it, he certainly supposes that God 
gives every man the grace of actual prayer, without need 
of a further extraordinary aid, not common to all men; 
otherwise, where this special aid was wanting, "nothing 
would be left to the will " to observe all the command 
ments, or at least the more difficult of them. And when 
the saint speaks thus, he certainly cannot mean that 
" sufficient grace" gives only the power, not the act of 
prayer; for so far as relates to power, it is certain that 
"sufficient grace" gives power for even the most difficult 
works. Hence the holy Father evidently means (as he 
teaches elsewhere) that easy things, such as prayer, may 
well be actually accomplished by any man with the " suf 
ficient grace;" and difficult things with the help which is 
obtained by means of prayer. 

But there are two texts of St. Augustine which are 
peculiarly to the point. 

The first is this: "It is certain that we can keep the 
commandments if we will; but since the will is prepared 
by God, we must ask him that we may have such a will 
as is sufficient to enable us to perform what we will." * 
Here he says that it is certain we could observe the law 
if we would; on the other hand, he says that in order to 
will to do so, and actually to do so, we must pray. There 
fore all men have grace given tnem to pray, and by 
prayer to obtain the abundant grace which makes us 
keep the commandments; otherwise, if for actual prayer, 
efficacious grace, which is not common to all, were req 
uisite, those to whom it was not given would not be 
able to keep the commandments, nor to have the will to 
keep them. 

" Certum est nos mandata servare, si volumus; sed, quia praepara- 
tur voluntas a Domino, ab illo petendum est ut tantum velimus, quan 
tum sufficit ut volendo faciamus." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 16. 

Authority upon which this Doctrine is based. 225 

The second text is that where the holy Doctor answers 
the monks of Adramyttium, who said that " if grace was 
necessary, and if we can do nothing without it, why 
blame when we cannot work, and have not grace to do 
so ? You should rather pray God for us, that he would 
give us this grace." St. Augustine answers: You must 
be blamed, not because you do not work when you have 
not strength, but because you do not pray to obtain 
strength: "He who will not be admonished, and says, 
Do you rather pray for me, must on that very account 
be admonished to do it (i.e., to pray) for himself." 1 Now 
if the saint had not believed that every man has grace, 
to pray (if he will) without need of further aid, he never 
could have said that these people were to be blamed for 
not praying; for they could have answered, that if they 
were not to be blamed for not working, when they had 
not special grace to enable them to work, in like manner 
they could not be blamed for not praying, when they 
had not special grace for actual prayer. This is what St. 
Augustine elsewhere says: "Let them not deceive them 
selves who say, why are we commanded to abstain from 
evil and do good, if it is God who works in us both to 
will and to do it?" 2 And he answers, that when men 
do good they should thank God for it, who gives them 
strength to do it; and when they do it not, they should 
pray to have the strength which they lack: "But when 
they do it not (these are his words), let them pray that 
they may receive that which as yet they have not." 
Now, if these people had not even the grace for the act 

1 " Qui corripi non vult, et dicit: Ora potius pro me, ideo corri- 
piendus est ut facial (oret) etiam ipse pro se." De Corr. et Gr. c. 5. 

2 " Non se fallant qui dicunt: Ut quid nobis praecipitur ut decline- 
mus a malo et faciamus bonum, si id velle et operari Deus operatur 
in nobis?" De Corr. et Gr. c. 2. 

3 " Quando autem non agunt, orent ut, quod nondum habent, acci- 


226 AIL receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

of prayer, they might answer, " Why are we commanded 
to pray, if God does not work in us to make us pray ?" J 
How are we to will to pray, if we do not receive the 
grace necessary for actual prayer ? 

St. Thomas does not speak expressly of prayer, but 
assumes the certainty of our proposition, when he says, 
" It belongs to God s Providence to provide every indi 
vidual with what is necessary for salvation, provided he 
puts no impediment in the way." Since, then, it is true, 
on the one hand, that God gives to all men the graces 
necessary for salvation, and, on the other, for prayer, we 
require the grace which enables us actually to pray, and 
thereby to obtain further and greater assistance to enable 
us to do that which we cannot compass with ordinary 
grace, it follows, necessarily, that God gives all men 
sufficient grace actually to pray if they will, without 
need of efficacious grace. 

Here we may add the answer of Bellarmine to the 
heretics, who inferred from the text, No one can come to 
Me, unless My Father draw him? that no one could go to 
God who was not properly drawn by him. "We 
answer," he says, " that the only conclusion from this 
text is, that all men have not the efficacious grace to 
make them really believe; but we cannot conclude that 
all men have not at least assistance which confers the 
possibility of believing, or, at any rate, the possibility of 
asking for grace." 

1 " Ut quid nobis praecipitur ut oremus, si orare Deus non operatur 
in nobis ?" 

2 "Hoc ad divinam Providentiam pertinet, ut cuilibet provideat de 
necessariis ad salutem, dummodo ex parte ejus non impediatur." De 
Vent. q. 14, a. n. 

" Nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Pater, qui misit me, traxerit 
eum." John, vi. 44. 

4 " Respondemus eo solum concludi non habere omnes auxilium 
efficax quo reipsa credant; non tamen concludi non habere omnes 
auxilium quo possint credere, vel certe quo possint auxilium petere." 
De Gr. et Lib. Arb. I. 2, c. 8. 

Reasons that j testify this Doctrine. 227 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 

Let us now, proceed, in the third and last place, to 
examine the reasons of this opinion. Petavius, Duval, 
and other theologians ask why God imposes on us com 
mands which we cannot keep with the common and 
ordinary grace ? Because, they answer, he wishes us to 
have recourse to him in prayer, according to the general 
consent of the Fathers, as we have seen above. Hence 
they infer that we ought to h<?ld it to be certain that 
every man has grace actually to pray, and by prayer to 
obtain greater grace to enable him to do that which is 
impossible to him with the ordinary grace; otherwise 
God would have imposed an impossible law. 

This reason is very strong; another is, that if God 
imposes on all men the duty of actual observance of his 
commandments, we must necessarily suppose that he also 
gives to all men the grace necessary for this actual obser 
vance, at least mediately, by means of prayer. In order, 
therefore,, to uphold the reasonableness of the law, and 
the justice of the punishment of the disobedient, we must 
hold that every man has sufficient power, at least medi 
ately, by means of prayer, for the actual satisfaction of 
the law; and that at times he prays without need of an 
unusual and additional grace; otherwise, if he had not 
this mediate or remote power of actually keeping the 
commandments, it could never be said that all men had 
from God sufficient grace for the actual observance of 
the law. 

Thomassin and Tourneley accumulate many other 
reasons for this opinion; but I pass them over to attend 
to one that seems to me demonstrative. It is founded 
on the precept of hope, which obliges us all to hope in 
God with confidence for eternal life; and I sav that if we 

228 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART 11. 

were not certain that God gives us all grace to enable us 
actually to pray, without need of another particular and 
unusual grace, no one without a special revelation could 
hope for salvation as he ought. But I must first explain 
the grounds of this argument, 

The virtue of hope is so pleasing to God that he has 
declared that he feels delight in those who trust in him: 
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that hope in His mercy. * 
And he promises victory over his enemies, perseverance 
in grace, and eternal glory, to the man who hopes, be 
cause he hopes: Because he hoped in Me, I will deliver him; 
I will protect him. . . . I will deliver him and I will glorify 
him? Preserve me, for I have put my trust in T/iee. 3 He 
will save them, because they have hoped in Him? No one Jiath 
hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded* And let usbe 
sure that the heaven and earth will fail, but the promises 
of God cannot fail: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but 
My words shall not pass away. 5 St. Bernard, therefore, 
says that all our merit consists in reposing all our con 
fidence in God: "This is the whole merit of man, if he 
places all his hope in him." The reason is, that he who 
hopes in God honors him much: Call upon Me in the day 
of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. 8 He 
honors the power, the mercy, and the faithfulness of 

1 " Beneplacitum est Domino ... in eis qui sperant super mise- 
ricordiam ejus." Ps. xlvi. u. 

a " Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum, protegam eum, . . . 
eripiam eum, et glorificabo eum." Ps. xc. 14. 

3 " Salvabit eos, quia speraverunt in eo." Ps. xxxvi. 40. 

4 " Conserva me, Domine, quoniam speravi in te." Ps. xv. i. 

5 " Nullus speravit in Domino, et confusus est." Ecclus. ii. n. 

6 " Coslum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non praeteribunt." 
Matt. xxiv. 35. 

1 " Hoc totum hominis meritum, si totam spem suam ponat in eo." 
In Ps. xc. s. 15. 

8 " Invoca me in die tribulationis; eruam te, et honorificabis me." 
Ps. xlix. 15. 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 229 

God; since he believes that God can and will save him; 
and that he cannot fail in his promises to save the man 
who trusts in him. And the Prophet assures us that the 
greater is our confidence, the greater will be the meas 
ure of God s mercy poured out upon us: Let Thy mercy, 
O Lord, be upon us, as we have Jioped in Thee? 

Now, as this virtue of hope is so pleasing to God, he 
has willed to impose it upon us by a precept that binds 
under mortal sin, as all theologians agree, and as is evi 
dent from many texts of Scripture. Trust in Him, all ye 
congregations of people? Ye that fear the Lord, hope in Him? 
Hope in thy God always* Hope perfectly for that grace which 
is offered to you? Then this hope of eternal life ought to 
be sure and firm in us, according to the definition of St. 
Thomas: "Hope is the certain expectation of beatitude. 
And the sacred Council of Trent has expressly declared, 
"All men ought to place and repose a most firm hope in 
the help of God; for God, unless they fail to correspond 
to his grace, as he has begun the good work, so will he 
finish it, working in them both to will and to perform." 7 
And long before St. Paul had said of himself: / know 
whom I have believed, and I am certain that He is able to keep 
what I have committed to Him? And herein is the differ 
ence between Christian and worldly hope. Worldly 

1 " Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum spe- 
ravimus in te." Ps. xxxii. 22. 

2 "Sperate in eo, omnis congregatio populi." Ps. Ixi. 9. 

" Qui timetis Dominum, sperate in ilium." Ecclus, ii. 9. 

4 " Spera in Deo tuo semper." Os. xii. 6. 

5 " Perfecte sperate in earn, quae offertur vobis, gratiam." I Pet. 

i. 13- 

6 Spes est certa expectatio futurae beatitudinis." 2. 2. q. 18, a. 4. 

7 " In Dei auxilio firmissimam spem collocare et reponere omnes 
debent: Deus enim, nisi ipsi illius gratiae defuerint, sicut ccepit opus 
bonum, ita perficiet, operans velle et perficere." Sess. 6, cap. 13. 

8 " Scio enim cui credidi, et certus sum qui potens est depositum 
meum servare." 2 7V/. i. 12. 

230 All receive the Grace of Prayer . [PART n. 

hope need only be an uncertain expectation: nor can it 
be otherwise; for it is always doubtful whether a man 
who has promised a favor may not hereafter change his 
mind, if he has not already changed it. But the Chris 
tian hope of eternal salvation is certain on God s part; 
for he can and will save us, and has promised to save 
those who obey his law, and to this end has promised us 
all necessary graces to enable us to obey this law, if we 
ask for them. It is true that hope is accompanied by 
fear, as St. Thomas says; but this fear does not arise 
from God s part, but from our own; since we may at any 
time fail, by not corresponding as we ought, and by put 
ting an impediment in the way of grace by our sins. 
Reasonably, then, did the Council of Trent condemn the 
innovators, who, because they entirely deprive man of 
free will, are obliged to make every believer have an in 
fallible certitude of perseverance and salvation. This 
error was condemned by the Council; because, as we 
have said, in order to obtain salvation, it is necessary for 
us to correspond; and this correspondence of ours is un 
certain and fallible. Hence God wills that we should, 
on the one hand, always fear for ourselves, lest we should 
fall into presumption, in trusting to our strength; but, on 
the other, that we should be always certain of his good 
will, and of his assistance to save us; provided always 
that we ask him for it; in other words, that we might 
always have a secure confidence in his goodness. St. 
Thomas says that we ought to look with certainty to 
receive from God eternal happiness, confiding in his 
power and mercy, and believing that he can and will 
save us. " Whoever has faith, is certain of God s power 
and mercy." 1 

Now, as the hope of our salvation by God ought to be 

1 " De potentia Dei et misericordia ejus certus est quicumque fidem 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 231 

certain (as St. Thomas defines it), "the certain expecta 
tion of beatitude," l consequently the motive of our hope 
must also be certain; for if the foundation of our hope 
were uncertain, and admitted a doubt, we could not with 
any certainty hope and expect to receive salvation, and 
the means necessary for it, from the hands of God. But 
St. Paul will have us to be nothing less than firm and 
immovable in our hope, if we would be saved: If so ye 
continue in the faith, grounded, and settled, and immovable 
from the hope of the Gospel, which you have heard* In an 
other place he repeats that our faith ought to be as im 
movable as an anchor securely fixed; since it is grounded 
on the promises of God, who cannot lie: And we desire 
that every one of you should show forth the same carefulness to 
the accomplishing of hope unto the end. . ". . That by two im 
mutable things, in which it is impossible for God to He, we may 
have the strongest comfort, who have fled for refuge to hold 
fust the hope set before us, which we have as an anchor of the 
soul, sure and firm* Hence St. Bernard says that our 
hope cannot be uncertain, as it rests on God s promises: 
" Nor does this expectation seem to us vain, or this hope 
doubtful, since we rely on the promises of the eternal 
truth. " 4 In another place he says of himself that his 
hope depends on three things, the love which induced 
God to adopt us as his children, the truth of his promises, 
and his power to fulfil them: "Three things I see in 

1 " Certa expecu.tio beatitudinis." 

* "Si tamen permanetis in fide fundati, et stabiles, et immobiles a 
spe Evangelii, quod audistis." Col. i. 23. 

3 " Cupimus autem unumquemque vestrum eamdem ostentare sol- 
licitudinem ad expletionem spei usque in finem; . . . ut per duas res 
immobiles, quibus impossible est mentiri Deum, fortissimum solatium 
habeamus, qui confugimus ad tenendam propositam spem, quam 
sicut anchoram habemus animae tutam ac firmam." Heb. vi. n-iS. 

4 " Neque enim vana nobis haec expectatio, aut dubia spes videtur, 
innixa nimirum aeternae promissionibus Veritatis." In Ps. xc. s. 7. 

232 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

which my hope consists, the love of adoption, the truth 
t)f promise, the power of performance." 1 

And therefore the Apostle St. James declares that the 
man who. desires the grace of God must ask for it, not 
with hesitation, but with the confident certainty of ob 
taining it: Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering* For if 
he asks with hesitation, he shall obtain nothing: For he 
that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, that is moved and car 
ried about by the wind; therefore, let not that man think that 
he shall receive anything of the Lord: 1 And St. Paul praises 
Abraham for not doubting God s promise; as he knew 
that when God promises, he cannot fail to perform: In 
the promise, also, of God, he staggered not by distrust; but was 
strengthened in faith, giving glory to God; most fully knowing 
that whatsoever He has promised, He is able also to perform? 
Hence, also, Jesus Christ tells us that we shall then re 
ceive all the graces that we desire when we ask them 
with a sure belief of receiving them: Therefore I say to 
you, all tilings whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that 
you shall receive them, and they shall come unto you? In a 
word, God will not hear us, unless we have a sure con 
fidence of being heard. 

Now let us come to the point. Our hope of salvation, 
and of receiving the means necessary for its attainment, 
must be certain on God s part. The motives on which 

" Tria considero in quibus spes mea consistit; charitatem adop- 
tionis, veritatem promissionis, potestatem redditionis." Dom. 6 p. 
Pent, s. 3. 

2 " Postulet autem in fide, nihil haesitans." 

3 " Qui enim haesitat, similis est fluctui maris, qui a vento movetur 
et circumfertur; non ergo aestimet homo ille quod accipiat aliquid a 
Domino." James, i. 6. 

4 " In repromissione etiam Dei non haesitavit diffidentia, sed confor- 
tatus est fide, dans gloriam Deo, plenissime sciens quia, quaecumque 
promisit Deus, potens est et facere." Rom. iv. 20. 

6 " Propterea dico vobis: omnia quascumque orantes petitis, credite 
quia accipietis, et evenient vobis." Mark, xi. 24. 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 233 

this certainty are founded, as we have seen, are the 
power, the mercy, and the truth of God; and of these 
the strongest and most certain motive is God s infallible 
faithfulness to the promise which he has made to us, 
through the merits of Jesus Christ, to save us, and to 
give us the graces necessary for our salvation; because, 
though we might believe God to be infinite in power and 
mercy, nevertheless, as Giovenino well observes, we 
could not feel confident expectation of God s saving us, 
unless he had surely promised to do so. But this prom 
ise is conditional, if we actively correspond to God s 
grace and pray, as is clear from f the Scriptures: Ask, and 
ye shall receive ; if ye ask the Father anything in My 
name, He will give it you. He will give good things to those 
that ask Him. We ought always to pray. Ye have not, be 
cause ye ask not. If any one wanteth wisdom, let him ask of 
God; 1 and many other texts which we have quoted be 
fore. For this cause the Fathers and theologians, as 
we showed in Part I., Chapter I., maintain that prayer is 
a necessary means of salvation. 

Now, if we were not certain that God gives to all men 
grace to enable them actually to pray, without need of a 
further, special, and unusual grace, we could have no 
certain and firm foundation for a certain hope of salva 
tion in God, but only an uncertain and conditional 
foundation. When I am certain that by prayer I shall 
obtain eternal life, and all the graces necessary to attain 
it; and when I know that God will not deny me the grace 
of actual prayer, if I will (because he gives it to all men), 
then I have a sure foundation for hoping in God for salva 
tion, unless I fail on my part. But when I am in doubt 
whether or not God will give me that particular grace 

1 " Petite et accipietis. Si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, 
dabit vobis. Dabit bona petentibus se. Oportet semper orare. 
Non habetis, propter quod non postulates. Si quis indiget sapientia, 
postulet a Deo, etc." 

234 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

which he does not give to all, but which is necessary for 
actual prayer, then I have not a certain foundation for 
my hope of salvation, but only a doubtful and uncertain 
one; since I cannot be sure that God will give me this 
special grace, without which I cannot pray, since lie re 
fuses it to so many. And in this case the uncertainty 
would not be only on my part, but also on God s part; 
and so Christian hope would be destroyed, which, ac 
cording to the Apostle, ought to be immovable, firm, 
and secure. I really cannot see how a Christian can ful 
fil the precept of hope hoping, as he ought, with sure 
confidence for salvation from God, and for the graces 
necessary for its attainment unless he holds it as an 
infallible truth that God commonly gives to every indi 
vidual the grace actually to pray, if he chooses, without 
need of a further special assistance. 

So that, to conclude, our system or opinion (held by 
so many theologians, and by our humble Congregation) 
well agrees, on the one hand, with the doctrine of grace 
intrinsically efficacious, by means of which we infallibly, 
though freely, act virtuously. 

It cannot be denied that God can easily, with his om 
nipotence, incline and move men s hearts freely to will 
that which he wills, as the Scriptures teach: The heart of 
the king is in the hand of the Lord; whithersoever He will. He 
shall turn it? I will put My Spirit in the midst of you, and 
I will cause you to walk in My commandments y 2 My counsel 
shall stand, and all My will shall be done* He chaugeth the 
Jieart of the princes of the people of the earth? May the God 
of peace make you perfect in every good work, that you may do 

1 "Cor regis in manu Domini: quocumque voluerit, inclinabit il- 
lud." Prov. xxi. I. 

2 " Spiritum meum ponam in medio vestri, et faciam ut in praeceptis 
meis ambuletis." Ezek. xxxvi. 27. 

1 "Consilium meum stabit, et omnis voluntas mea fiet." Isa. xlvi. 10. 

4 " Qui immutat cor principum populi terrse." Job, xii. 24. 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 235 

His will; working in you that which is well -pleasing in His 
sight, through Jesus Christ? 

And it cannot be denied that St. Augustine and St. 
Thomas have taught the opinion of the efficaciousness of 
grace in itself, by its own nature. This is evident from 
many passages, and specially from the following: 

St. Augustine says: " Yet God did not this, except by 
the will of the men themselves; since he, no doubt, has 
the most almighty and absolute power of inclining the 
hearts of men." 2 Again: "Almighty God works in the 
hearts of men, that he may do by their means that which 
he has determined to do." s Again: "Although they all 
do what is right in the service of God, yet he causes 
them to do what he commands." 4 Again: "It is certain 
that we act when we act; but he causes us to act, by be 
stowing most efficacious powers on the will, according 
to his words, / will make you to walk in my justifications? 
Again, on the text For it is God that worketh in you, both, 
to will and accomplish according to His good will, he says 
" We therefore will; but God worketh in us, both to will 
and to perform." Again: "As the will is prepared by 
God, we must pray that we may have as much will as 

1 " Deus autem pacis . . . aptet vos in omni bono, ut faciatis ejus 
voluntatem: faciens in vobis quod placeat coram se per Jesum Chris 
tum." Heb. xiii. 21. 

2 " Qui (Deus) tamen hoc non fecit nisi per ipsorum hominum vo- 
luntates, sine dubio habens humanorum cordium inclinandorum om- 
nipotentissimam potestatem." De Cor. et Gr. c. 14. 

3 " Agit Omnipotens in cordibus hominum, ut per eos agat quod 
per eos agere voluerit." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 21. 

4 "Et si faciunt homines bona quae pertinent ad colendum Deum, 
ipse facit ut illi faciant quae praecepit." De Freed. SS. c. 10. 

5 " Certum est nos facere cum facimus; sed ille facit ut faciamus, 
prabendo vires efficacissimas voluntati, qui dixit: Faciam ut in prae- 
ceptis meis ambuletis (Ezek. xxxvi. 27)." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 16. 

6 " Deus est enim (inquit Apostolus) qui operatur in vobis et velle 
et perficere pro bona voluntate. Nos ergo volumus; sed Deus in 
nobis operatur et velle." Phil. ii. 13; De Dono. pers. c. 13. 

236 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

is sufficient to make us act when we will." 1 Again: 
" God knows how to work in men s hearts, not so as to 
make them believe against their will, which is impossible, 
but so as to make them willing instead of unwilling." 2 
Again: " He works in men s hearts, not only true revela 
tions, but also good-will." Again: "Our acts of will 
have just so much power as God chooses them to have." 4 
Again: "The wills which preserve the system of crea 
tion are in such sort in God s power, that he makes them 
incline where he will and when he will." 5 So St. 
Thomas: "God infallibly moves the will by the efficacy 
of the moving power, which cannot fail." Again: 
"Love has the character of impeccability, from the pow 
er of the Holy Spirit, who infallibly works whatever he 
will; hence it is impossible that these two things should 
be at the same time true, that the Holy Spirit wills to 
move a person to an act of love, and that at the same 
time the person should lose love by an act of sin." 7 

1 " Quia praeparatur voluntas a Domino, ab illo petendum est, ut 
tantum velimus quantum sufficit, ut volendo faciamus." De Gr. et 
Lib. Arb. c. 16. 

2 " Novit (Deus) in ipsts hominum cordibus operari, non ut homi 
nes, quod fieri non potest, nolentes credant, sed ut volentes ex no- 
lentibus fiant." Ad Bonif. 1. I, c. 19. 

3 "Operatur in cordibus hominum, non solum veras revelationes, 
sed bonas etiam voluntates." De Gr. Chr. c. 24. 

4 " Voluntates nostrse tantum valent, quantum Deus eas valere 
voluit." De Civ. D. 1. 5, c. 9. 

5 "Voluntates, quae conservant saculi creaturam, ita esse in Dei 
potestate, ut eas, quo voluerit, quando voluerit, facial inclinari." De 
Gr. et Lib. Arb. c. 20. 

6 "Deus movet voluntatem immutabiliter propter efficaciam virtutis 
moventis, quae deficere non potest." De Mai. q. 6, ad 3. 

1 " Charitas impeccabilitatem habet ex virtute Spiritus Sancti, qui 
infallibiliter operatur quodcumque voluerit; unde impossibile est haec 
duo simul esse vera: quod Spiritus Sanctus velit aliquem movere ad 
actum charitatis, et quod ipse charitatem amittat peccando." 2. 2. 
q. 24, a. ii. 

Reasons that justify this Doctrine. 237 

Again: "If God moves the will to anything, it is impos 
sible to say that the will is not moved to it." 1 

On the other hand, our opinion is quite consonant to 
the doctrine of truly sufficient grace being given to all, 
by corresponding to which a man will gain efficacious 
grace; while by not corresponding, but resisting, he will 
deservedly be refused this efficacious grace. And thus 
all excuse is taken away from those sinners who say 
that they have not strength to overcome their tempta 
tions; because if they had prayed, and made use of the 
ordinary grace which is given to all men, they would 
have obtained strength, and would have been saved. 
Otherwise, if a person does not admit this ordinary grace, 
by which every one is enabled at least to pray (without 
needing a further special and unusual grace), and by 
prayer to obtain further assistance to enable him to ful 
fil the law, I do not know how he can explain all those 
texts of the Scripture, in which souls are exhorted to 
return to God, to overcome temptation, and to corre 
spond to the divine call: Return, ye transgressors, to the 
heart; * Return and live; Be converted, and do penance? 
Loose the bonds from off thy neck;* Come to Me, all you that 
labor and are burdened; 5 Resist, strong in faith; 6 Walk 
whilst you have the light. 1 I cannot tell, I say, supposing 
it were true that the grace of prayer were not given to 
all, to enable them thereby to obtain the further assist 
ance necessary for salvation, how these texts could be 

1 "Si Deus movet voluntatem ad aliquid, impossibile est huic 
positioni quod voluntas ad illud non moveatur. i. 2. q. 10, a. 4. 
* " Redite, praevaricatores, ad cor." ha. xlvi. 8. 

3 " Revertimini, et agite poenitentiam .... Revertimini, et vivite." 
Ezek. xviii. 30 32. 

4 "Solve vincula colli tui." Isa. Hi. 2. 

5 " Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis." Matt. 
xi. 28. 

6 " Resistite fortes in fide." I Pet. v. 9. 

7 "Ambulate dum lucem habetis." John, xii. 35. 

238 All receive t/ie Grace of Prayer. 


explained, and how the sacred writers could so forcibly 
exhort all men, without any exception, to be converted, 
to resist the enemy, to walk in the way of virtue, and, for 
this end, to pray with confidence and perseverance if 
the grace of doing well, or at least of praying, were not 
granted to all, but only to those who have the gift of 
efficacious grace. And I cannot see where would be the 
justice of the reproof given to all sinners without excep 
tion, who resist grace and despise the voice of God: 
You always resist the Holy Ghost; 1 Because I called and you 
refused; I stretched out my hand, and there was none that 
regarded; yoti have despised all my counsel, and have neglected 
my reprehensions? If they were without even the remote 
but efficacious grace of prayer, which our opponents 
consider necessary for actual prayer, I cannot tell how 
all these reproofs could be justly made against them.* 


1 have done. Some, perhaps, will wish that I had 
given more space to the distinct examination of the 
question so much controverted, wherein consists the effi- 

1 " Vos semper Spiritui Sancto resistitis." Acts, vii. 51. 

* " Quia vocavi, et renuistis; extendi manum meam, et non fuit 
qui aspiceret. Despexistis omne consilium meum, et increpationes 
meas neglexistis." Prov. i. 24. 

* It may be of benefit to the reader to sum up here in a few simple 
words the teaching of St. Alphonsus about actual grace and about 
prayer. His teaching seems to us to dissipate all the doubts and 
difficulties that we meet with in the different systems. 

In what God requires of us there are easy things that we can do 
with the ordinary grace common to all men the grace really sufficient 
for acting, without the need of special help. But as soon as a soul 
wishes to correspond to the first grace that invites it to do the good 
by enlightening its intellect and fortifying its will, the Holy Ghost 
does not fail to unite himself to it and to aid it. Now, among the 
easy things that require no other help than the common grace given 
to all men is necessarily Prayer, by means of which we certainly 
obtain all the graces of which we stand in need in every state in 

Reasons that justify tJiis Doctrine. 239 

caciousness of grace, and which the systems of different 
schools attribute to a physical premotion, to congruous 
grace, to concomitant grace, to a delectation which over 
comes by reason of a moral action, or to a delectation 
which overcomes by reason of its superiority in degree. 
But for this, such a book as this, which I deliberately 
intended should be small and easily readable, would not 
have been enough. To explore this vast sea, many vol 
umes would have been required. But this work has 
been sufficiently performed by others, and, moreover, it 
was beside my purpose. Still, I wished to establish the 
point treated of in my second part, for the honor of 
God s providence and goodness, and to be of assistance 
to sinners, to prevent them from giving themselves up 
to despair, because they think themselves deprived of 
grace; and also to take from them all excuse, if they say 
that they have not strength to resist the assaults of the 
senses and of hell. I have shown them, that of those 
who are lost, no one is damned for the original sin of 
Adam, but solely for his own fault, because God refuses 

which we may find ourselves. There are also difficult things which 
we cannot do without a special grace that is not common to all, but 
surely granted to every one that asks for it as he should by means of 
the common grace which is never wanting to any one. 

This is conformable to the celebrated saying of St. Augustine, 
adopted and sanctioned by the Council of Trent: " Deus iinpossibilia 
non jubet, sed jubendo monet, et facere quod possis, et petere quod non 
possis; et adjuvat ut possis" (pages 30, 214). " God does not command 
impossible things: but by commanding, admonishes vou both to do 
what you can, and to pray for what you cannot do, and he helps you, 
so that you may be able." God, who is just, in imposing his law, 
joins to it the necessary grace light and force that admonishes 
the conscience and furnishes the means: Jubendo monet. We must 
therefore admit a first grace given to all men: a grace that makes 
them capable of doing easy things: Facere quod possis, and, conse 
quently, to think of praying and to wish to pray. Now, as soon as 
we wish to pray, we are already united with God, we have already 
begun to ask and to obtain : Petere quod non possis, et adjuvat ut possis. 
In this all is contained. ED. 

240 All receive the Grace of Prayer. [PART n. 

to no one the grace of prayer, whereby we may obtain 
his assistance to overcome every concupiscence, and 
every temptation. 

For the rest, my principal intention was to recommend 
to all men the use of prayer as the most powerful and 
necessary means of grace, in order that all men should 
more diligently and earnestly attend to it, if they wish 
to be saved; for many poor souls lose God s grace, and 
continue to live in sin, and are finally damned, for this 
very reason, that they do not pray, nor have recourse to 
God for assistance. The worst of the matter is (I cannot 
help saying so), that so few preachers and so few con 
fessors have any definite purpose of indoctrinating their 
hearers and penitents with the use of prayer, without 
which it is impossible to observe the law of God, and to 
obtain perseverance in his grace. 

Having observed that so many passages, both of the 
Old and the New Testament, assert the absolute neces 
sity of prayer, I have made it a rule to introduce into all 
the missions, as given by our Congregation for several 
years, a sermon on prayer; and I say, and repeat, and 
will keep repeating as long as I live, that our whole sal 
vation depends on prayer; and, therefore, that all writers 
in their books, all preachers in their sermons, all confess 
ors in their instructions to their penitents, should not 
inculcate anything more strongly than continual prayer. 
They should always admonish, exclaim, and continually 
repeat, Pray, pray, never cease to pray; for if you pray, 
your salvation will be secure; but if you leave off pray 
ing, your damnation will be certain. All preachers and 
directors ought to do this; because, according to the 
opinion of every Catholic school, there is no doubt of 
this truth, that he who prays, obtains grace and is saved; 
but those who practise it are too few, and this is the 
reason why so few are saved. 

Devout Practices. 241 



Prayer to obtain Final Perseverance. 

Eternal Father, I humbly adore and thank Thee for 
having created me, and for having redeemed me by means 
of Jesus Christ. I thank Thee for having made me a 
Christian by giving me the true faith, and by adopting 
me for Thy child in holy baptism. I thank Thee for 
having given me time for repentance after my many sins, 
and for having, as I hope, pardoned all my offences 
against Thee. I renew my sorrow for them, because I 
have displeased Thee. O Infinite Goodness ! I thank 
Thee also for having preserved me from falling again as 
often as I should have done if Thou hadst not held me 
up and saved me. But my enemies do not cease to fight 
against me, nor will they until death, that they may again 
have me for their slave; if Thou dost not keep and help 
me continually by Thine assistance, I shall be wretched 
enough to lose Thy grace anew. I therefore pray Thee, 
for the love of Jesus Christ, to grant me holy persever 
ance till death. Thy Son Jesus has promised that Thou 
wilt grant us whatever we ask for in his name. By the 
merits, then, of Jesus Christ, I beg of Thee for myself, and 
for all those who are in Thy grace, the grace of never 
more being separated from Thy love, but that we may 
always love Thee in this life and in the next. 

Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. 

242 Devout Practices. [PART n. 


Prayer to Jesus Christ, to obtain His Holy Love. 

My crucified Love, my dear Jesus ! I believe in Thee, and 
confess Thee to be the true Son of God and my Saviour. 
I adore Thee from the abyss of my own nothingness, and 
I thank Thee for the death Thou didst suffer forme, that 
I might obtain the life of divine grace. My beloved Re 
deemer, to Thee I owe all my salvation. Through Thee I 
have hitherto escaped hell; through Thee have I received 
the pardon of my sins. But I am so ungrateful that, instead 
of loving Thee, I have repeated my offences against Thee. 
I deserve to be condemned, so as not to be able to love 
Thee any more. But no, my Jesus, punish me in any 
other way, but not in this. If I have not loved Thee in 
time past, I love Thee now; and I desire nothing but to 
love Thee with all my heart. But without Thy help I 
can do nothing. Since Thou dost command me to love 
Thee, give me also the strength to fulfil this Thy sweet 
and loving precept. Thou hast promised to grant all 
that we ask of Thee: You shall ask whatever you ivill, 
and it shall be done unto you. 1 Confiding, then, in this 
promise, my dear Jesus, I ask, first of all, pardon of all 
my sins; and I repent, above all things, because I have 
offended Thee, O Infinite Goodness! I ask for holy per 
severance in Thy grace till my death. But, above all, I ask 
for the gift of Thy holy love. Ah, my Jesus, my Hope, 
my Love, my All, inflame me with that love which Thou 
didst come on earth to enkindle! " For this end, make me 
always live in conformity with Thy holy will. Enlighten 
me, that I may understand more and more how worthy 
Thou art of our love, and that I may know the immense 
love Thou hast borne me, especially in giving Thy life 
for me. Grant, then, that I may love Thee with all my 

1 "Quodcumque volueritis, petetis, et fiet vobis." John xv. 7. 
2 " Tui amoris in me ignem accende." 

Devout Practices. 243 

heart and may love Thee always, and never cease to beg 
of Thee the grace to love Thee in this life; that living 
always, and dying in Thy love, I may come one day to 
love Thee with all my strength in heaven, never to leave 
off loving Thee for all eternity. 

Mother of beautiful love, my advocate and refuge, 
Mary, who art of all creatures the most beautiful, the 
most loving, and the most beloved of God, and whose 
only desire it is to see him loved ! ah, by the love thou 
bearest to Jesus Christ, pray for me, and obtain for me 
the grace to love him always, and with all my heart ! 
This I ask and hope for from thae. Amen. 


Prayer to obtain Confidence in the Merits of Jesus Christ 
and in the Intercession of Mary, 

Eternal Father, I thank Thee for myself, and on behalf of 
all mankind, for the great mercy that Thou hast shown 
us, in sending Thy Son to be made man, and to die to obtain 
our salvation; I thank Thee for it, and I should wish to 
offer Thee in thanksgiving all that love which is due for 
such an inestimable benefit. By his merits our sins are 
pardoned, and Thy justice is satisfied for the punishment 
we had merited; by these merits Thou dost receive us 
miserable sinners into Thy grace, while we deserve noth 
ing but hatred and chastisement: Thou dost receive men 
to reign in Paradise. Finally, Thou hast bound Thyself, 
in consideration of these merits, to grant all gifts and 
graces to those who ask for them in the name of Jesus 

1 thank Thee also, O Infinite Goodness, that, in order 
to strengthen our confidence, besides giving us Jesus 
Christ as our Redeemer, Thou hast also given us Thy 
beloved daughter Mary as our advocate; so that, with 
that heart full of mercy which Thou hast given her, she 
may never cease to succor by her intercession any sin- 

244 Devoiit Practices. [PART n. 

ner who may have recourse to her; and this intercession 
is so powerful with Thee that Thou canst not deny her 
any grace which she asks of Thee. 

Hence it is Thy will that we should have a great con 
fidence in the merits of Jesus, and in the intercession of 
Mary. But this confidence is Thy gift, and it is a great 
gift which Thou dost grant to those only who ask Thee 
for it. This confidence, then, in the blood of Jesus Christ, 
and in the patronage of Mary, I beg of Thee, through 
the merits of Jesus and Mary. To Thee, also, my dear 
Redeemer, do I turn; it was to obtain for me this confi 
dence in Thy merits that Thou didst sacrifice Thy life 
on the cross for me, who was worthy only of punishment. 
Accomplish, then, the end for which Thou hast died; en 
able me to hope for all things, through confidence in Thy 
Passion. And thou, O Mary, my Mother, and my hope 
after Jesus, obtain for me a firm confidence, first in the 
merits of Jesus thy Son, and then in the intercession of 
thy prayers, prayers which are all-powerful in gaining 
all they ask ! 

O my beloved Jesus! O sweet Mary! I trust in you. 
To you do I give my soul; you have loved it so much, 
have pity on it, and save it. 

Prayer to obtain the Grace of being Constant in Prayer. 

God of my soul, I hope in Thy goodness that Thou 
hast pardoned all my offences against Thee, and that I 
am now in a state of grace. I thank Thee for it with all 
my heart, and I hope to thank Thee for all eternity. 1 I 
know that I have fallen, because I have not had recourse to 
Thee when I was tempted, to ask for holy perseverance. 
For the future, I firmly resolve to recommend myself al 
ways to Thee, and especially when I see myself in danger 

1 " Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo." Ps. Ixxxviii. 2. 

Devout Practices. 245 

of again offending Thee. I will always fly to Thy mercy, 
invoking always the most holy names of Jesus and Mary, 
with full confidence that when I pray Thou wilt not fail 
to give me the strength which I have not of myself to 
resist my enemies. This I resolve and promise to do. 
But of what use, O my God, will all these resolutions 
and promises be, if Thou dost not assist me with Thy 
grace to put them in practice; that is, to have recourse to 
Thee in all dangers? Ah, Eternal Father! help me, for 
the love of Jesus Christ; and let me never omit recom 
mending myself to Thee whenever I am tempted. I 
know that Thou dost always help me when I have re 
course to Thee; but my fear is, that I should forget to 
recommend myself to Thee, and so my negligence will 
be the cause of my ruin, that is, the loss of Thy grace, 
the greatest evil that can happen to me. Ah, by the 
merits of Jesus Christ, give me grace to pray to Thee; 
but grant me such an abundant grace that I may always 
pray, and pray as I ought ! 

O my Mother Mary, whenever I have had recourse to 
thee, thou hast obtained for me the help which has kept 
me from falling! Now I come to beg of thee to obtain a 
still greater grace, namely, that of recommending myself 
always to thy Son and to thee in all my necessities. My 
Queen, thou obtainest all thou dost desire from God by 
the love thou bearest to Jesus Christ; obtain for me now 
this grace which I beg of thee, namely, to pray always, 
and never to cease praying till I die. Amen. 


Prayer to be said Every Day, to obtain the Graces Necessary 
for Salvation. 

Eternal Father, Thy Son has promised that Thou wilt 
grant us all the graces which we ask Thee for in his 
name. In the name, therefore, and by the merits of 

246 Devout Practices. [PART n. 

Jesus Christ, I ask the following graces for myself and 
for all mankind. And, first, I pray Thee to give me a 
lively faith in all that the holy Roman Church teaches 
me. Enlighten me also, that I may know the vanity of 
the goods of this world, and the immensity of the infinite 
good that Thou art; make me also see the deformity of 
the sins I have committed, that I may humble myself 
and detest them as I ought; and, on the other hand, show 
me how worthy Thou art by reason of Thy goodness, 
that I should love Thee with all my heart. Make me 
know also the love Thou hast borne me, that from this 
day forward I may try to be grateful for so much good 
ness. Secondly, give me a firm confidence in Thy mercy 
of receiving the pardon of my sins, holy perseverance, and, 
finally, the glory of paradise, through the merits of Jesus 
Christ and the intercession of Mary. Thirdly, give me 
a great love towards Thee, which shall detach me from 
the love of this world and of myself, so that I may love 
none other but Thee, and that I may neither do nor 
desire anything else but what is for Thy glory. Fourthly, 
I beg of Thee a perfect resignation to Thy will, in accept 
ing with tranquillity sorrows, infirmities, contempt, per 
secutions, aridity of spirit, loss of property, of esteem, 
of relatives, and every other cross which shall come to 
me from Thy hands. I offer myself entirely to Thee, 
that Thou mayest do with me and all that belongs to me 
what Thou pleasest. Do Thou only give me light and 
strength to do Thy will; and especially at the hour of 
death help me to sacrifice my life to Thee with all the 
affection I am capable of, in union with the sacrifice 
which Thy Son Jesus Christ made of his life on the Cross 
on Calvary. Fifthly, I beg of Thee a great sorrow for 
my sins, which may make me grieve over them as long 
as I live, and weep for the insults I have offered Thee, 
the Sovereign Good, who art worthy of infinite love, and 
who hast loved me so much. Sixthly, I pray Thee to 

Devout Practices. 247 

give me the spirit of true humility and meekness, that I 
may accept with peace, and even with joy, all the con 
tempt, ingratitude, and ill-treatment that I may receive. 
At the same time, I also pray Thee to give me perfect 
charity, which shall make me wish well to those who 
have done evil to me, and to do what good I can, at least 
by praying, for those who have in any way injured me. 
Seventhly, I beg of Thee to give me a love for the virtue 
of holy mortification, by which I may chastise my rebel 
lious senses and cross my self-love ; at the same time, I 
beg Thee to give me holy purity of body, and the grace 
to resist all bad temptations, by ever having recourse to 
Thee and Thy most holy Mother. Give me grace faith 
fully to obey my spiritual Father and all my Superiors in 
all tilings. Give me an upright intention, that in all I 
desire and do I may seek only Thy glory, and to please 
Thee alone. Give me a great confidence in the Passion 
of Jesus Christ, and in the intercession of Mary Immacu 
late. Give me a great love towards the most Adorable 
Sacrament of the Altar, and a tender devotion and love 
to Thy holy Mother. Give me, I pray Thee, above all, 
holy perseverance, and the grace always to pray for it, 
especially in time of temptation and at the hour of 

Lastly, I recommend to Thee the holy souls of Purga 
tory, my relatives and benefactors; and in an especial 
manner I recommend to Thee all those who hate me or 
who have in any way offended me ; I beg of Thee to 
render them .good for the evil they have done, or may 
wish to do me. Finally, I recommend to Thee all in 
fidels, heretics, and all poor sinners; give them light and 
strength to deliver themselves from sin. O most loving 
God, make Thyself known and loved by all, but especially 
by those who have been more ungrateful to Thee than 
others, so that by Thy goodness I may come one day to 

248 Devout Practices. [PART n. 

sing Thy mercies in paradise; for my hope is in the merits 
of Thy blood, and in the patronage of Mary. 

O Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me ! So I 
hope ; so may it be ! 

Thoughts and Ejaculations. 

God ! who knows what fate awaits me ? 

1 shall be either eternally happy or eternally miserable. 
Of what worth is all the world without God ? 

Let all be lost, but let not God be lost. 

I love Thee, my Jesus, who didst die for me ! 

Would that I had died before I ever offended Thee ! 

I will rather die than lose God. 

Jesus and Mary, you are my hope. 

My God, help me, for the love of Jesus Christ ! 

My Jesus, Thou alone art sufficient for me! 

Suffer me not to separate myself from Thee. 

Give me Thy love, and then do with me what Thou pleasest. 

Whom shall I love, if I love not Thee, my God ? 

Eternal Father, help me, for the love of Jesus ! 

I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, 1 love Thee! 

Here I am, O Lord ; do with me what Thou wilt ! 

When shall I see myself altogether Thine, my God ? 

When shall I be able to say to Thee, My God, I can lose Thee 

no more ? 

Mary, my hope, have pity on me! 
Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me ! 

Lord, who am I, that Thou shouldst desire to be loved by me? 
My God, I desire Thee alone, and nothing more. 
I desire all that Thou dost will, and that alone. 
Oh, that I might be annihilated for Thee, who wast annihilated 

for me ! 

Towards Thee alone, my God, have I been ungrateful ! 
I have offended Thee enough, I will no longer displease Thee. 
If I had died then, I could not have loved Thee any more. 
Let me die before again offending Thee. 
Thou hast waited for me that I might love Thee. Yea, I will 

love Thee. 

Thoughts and Ejaculations. 249 

I consecrate the remainder of my life to Thee. 

my Jesus, draw me entirely to Thyself! 

Thou wilt not leave me ; I will not leave Thee. I hope that we 

shall always love each another, O God of my soul ! 
My Jesus, make me all Thine before I die ! 
Grant that when Thou shalt come to judge me, I may see Thee 

with a benign countenance. 
Thou hast done more than enough to oblige me to love Thee. 

I love Thee, I love Thee ! 
Deign to accept the love of a sinner who has so often offended 

Thou hast given Thyself all to me ; I give myself all to Thee. 

1 desire to love Thee exceedingly f in this life, that I may love 

Thee exceedingly in the next. 
Teach me to know Thy great goodness, that I may love Thee 

very much. 
Thou lovest those that love Thee. I love Thee ; do Thou also 

love me. 

Give me the love Thou requires! of me. 
I rejoice that Thou art infinitely happy. 
Oh that I had always loved Thee, and had died before I had 

offended Thee. 

Grant that I may overcome all things to please Thee. 
I give Thee my whole will ; dispose of me as thou pleasest. 
My pleasure is to please Thee, O Infinite Goodness ! 
I hope to love Thee for all eternity, O eternal God ! 
Thou art omnipotent; make me a saint. 
Thou didst seek me while I was flying from Thee ; Thou wilt 

not drive me away now that I seek after Thee. 
I thank Thee for giving me time to love Thee. I thank Thee, 

and love Thee ! 

Let me give myself entirely to Thee this day, 
Punish me in anyway, but deprive me not of the power of loving 


I will love Thee, my God, without reserve. 
I accept all sufferings and all contempt, provided I may love 


I desire to die for Thee, who didst die for me. 
I wish that all could love Thee, who didst die for me. 
I wish that all could love Thee as Thou meritest. 

250 Devout Practices. [PART n. 

I wish to do everything that I know to be Thy pleasure. 
I care more to please Thee than for all the pleasures of the world. 
O holy will of God, you are my love ! 
O Mary, draw me entirely to God ! 

O my Mother, make me always have recourse to thee ; it is for 
thee to make me a saint ; this is my hope. 

Hymn. 251 


Invocation of the Blessed Virgin in Time of Temptation. 

Haste, my Mother, run to help me ; 

Mother, haste, do not delay ; 
See from hell the envious serpent 

Comes my troubling soul to slay. 

Ah ! his very look affrights me, 

And his cruel rage I fear ; 
Whither fly, if he attafcks me ? 

See him, see him coming near ! 

Lo I I faint away with terror, 

For if yet thou dost delay, 
He will dart at me his venom ; 

Then, alas ! I am his prey. 

Cries and tears have nought availed me, 

Spite of all, I see him there ; 
Saints I call till I am weary, 

Still he stands with threat ning air. 

Now his mighty jaws are open, 

And his forked tongue I see ; 
Ah ! he coils to spring upon me, 

Mother ! hasten, make him flee. 

Mary ! yes, the name of Mary 
Strikes with dread my cruel foe , 

Straight he flees, as from the sunbeam 
Swiftly melts the winter s snow. 

Now he s gone, but do thou ever 

Stay beside me, Mother dear ; 
Then the hellish fiend to tempt me 

Nevermore will venture near. 

252 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

Jttentttl JJrajier anb ttye (Exercises of a fUtreat. 


Mental Prayer is Morally Necessary for Salvation. 


In the first place, without mental prayer the soul is 
without light. They, says St. Augustine, who keep their 
eyes shut cannot see the way to their country. The 
eternal truths are all spiritual things that are seen, not 
with the eyes of the body, but with the eyes of the mind; 
that is, by reflection and consideration. Now, they who 
do not make mental prayer do not see these truths, 
neither do they see the importance of eternal salvation, 
and the means which they must adopt in order to obtain 
it. The loss of so many souls arises from the neglect of 
considering the great affair of our salvation, and what 
we must do in order to be saved. With desolation, says 
the prophet Jeremias, is all the land made desolate: because 
there is none that consider eth in the heart? On the other 

1 " Desolatione desolata est omnis terra, quia nullus est qui re- 
cogitet corde." Jer. xii. n. 

* We have made up this treatise from different extracts; the greatest 
part is taken from the True Spouse of Christ, Chapter XV., and the 
rest from other works that are indicated. The whole offers a com 
plete exposition of the teaching of St. Alphonsus on mental prayer, 
and fills a very important gap that we could not leave in the 
methodical plan that we have followed; for mental prayer is un 
questionably one of the greatest means of salvation and of perfection. 
To this treatise we add the Spiritual Retreat, which is but an ex 
traordinary exercise of prayer. ED. 

Its Moral Necessity for Salvation. 253 

hand, the Lord says that he who keeps before his eyes 
the truths of faith that is, death, judgment, and the 
happy or unhappy eternity that awaits us shall never 
fall into sin. In all thy works remember thy last end^ and 
thou shalt never sin? Draw near to God, says David, and 
you shall be enlightened. Come ye to Him and be en 
lightened? In another place, our Saviour says, Let your 
loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands? These 
lamps are, according to St. Bonaventure, holy medita 
tions; 4 for in prayer the Lord speaks to us, and en 
lightens, in order to show us the way of salvation. Thy 
word is a lamp to my feet? 

St. Bonaventure also says that mental prayer is, as it 
were, a mirror, in which we see all the stains of the soul. 
In a letter to the Bishop of Osma, St. Teresa says, 
" Although it appears to us that we have no imperfections, 
still when God opens the eyes of the soul, as he usually 
does in prayer, our imperfections are then clearly seen." 6 
He who does not make mental prayer does not even 
know his defects, and therefore, as St. Bernard says, he 
does not abhor them. 7 He does not even know the 
dangers to which his eternal salvation is exposed, and, 
therefore, he does not even think of avoiding them. But 
he who applies himself to meditation instantly sees his 
faults, and the dangers of perdition, and, seeing them, 
he will reflect on the remedies for them. By meditating 
on eternity, David was excited to the practice of virtue, 
and to sorrow and works of penance for his sins. / 

1 " Memorare novissima tua, et in seternum non peccabis." Ecclus. 
vii. 40. 

IJ " Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

"Sint lumbi vestri praecincti, et lucernae ardentes in manibus 
vestris." Luke, xii. 35. 

4 " Oratio est lucerna. 

5 " Lucerna pedibus meis, verbum tuum." Ps. cxviii. 105. 

6 Letter 8. 

7 " Seipsum non exhorret, quia nee sentit." De Cons, 1. i, c. 2. 

254 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

thought upon the days of old, and I had in my mind the eternal 
years . . . and I was exercised, and I swept my spirit? The 
spouse in the Canticles says, The flowers have appeared 
in our land: the time of pruning is come: the voice of the 
turtle is heard in our land? When the soul, like the 
solitary turtle, retires and recollects itself in meditation 
to converse with God, then the flowers that is, good de 
sires appear: then comes the time of pruning, that is, 
the correction of faults which are discovered in mental 
prayer. "Consider," says St. Bernard, "that the time 
of pruning is at hand, if the time of meditation has gone 
before." 3 For (says the saint in another place) medita 
tion regulates the affections, directs the actions, and 
corrects defects. 4 


Moreover, without meditation there is not strength to 
resist the temptations of our enemies, and to practise 
the virtues of the Gospel. 

Meditation is like fire with regard to iron, which, when 
cold, is hard, and can be wrought only with difficulty. 
But placed in the fire it becomes soft, and the workman 
gives it any form he wishes, 5 says the venerable Bartholo 
mew a Martyribus. To observe the divine precepts and 
counsels, it is necessary to have a tender heart, that is, 
a heart docile and prepared to receive the impressions 

1 " Cogitavi dies antiques, et annos aeternos in mente habui . . . 
et exercitabar, et scopebam spiritum meum." Ps. Ixxvi. 6. 

2 " Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra, tempus putationis advenit; 
vox turturis audita est in terra nostra." Cant. ii. 12. 

3 " Puta tempus putationis adesse, simeditatio praeivit." De Cons. 
1. 2, c. 6. 

4 " Consideratio regit affectus, dirigit actus, corrigit excessus." 
Jbid. 1. i, c. 7. 

6 " Faber ignitum ferrum ictibus mollire satagit." De grad. Doctr. 
Spir. c. 26. 

// disposes its to practise Virtue. 255 

of celestial inspirations, and ready to obey them. It 
was this that Solomon asked of God: Give, therefore, to thy 
servant an understanding heart? Sin has made our heart 
hard and indocile; for, being altogether inclined to 
sensual pleasures, it resists, as the Apostle complained, 
the laws of the spirit: But I see another law in my mem 
bers, fighting against the law of my mind? But man be 
comes docile and tender to the influence of grace 
which is communicated in mental prayer. By the con 
templation of the divine goodness, the great love which 
God has borne him, and the immense benefits which 
God has bestowed upon him, man is inflamed with love, 
his heart is softened, and made obedient to the divine 
inspirations. But without mental prayer, his heart will 
remain hard and restive and disobedient, and thus he 
will be lost: A hard heart shall fare evil at the last? Hence, 
St. Bernard exhorted Pope Eugene never to omit medi 
tations on account of external occupations. " I fear for 
you, O Eugene, lest the multitude of affairs (prayer and 
consideration being intermitted) may bring you to a 
hard heart, which abhors not itself, because it perceives, 
not." 4 

Some may imagine that the long time which devout 
souls give to prayer, and which they could spend in use 
ful works, is unprofitable and lost time. But such per 
sons know not that in mental prayer souls acquire 
strength to conquer enemies and to practise virtue. 
" From this leisure," says St. Bernard, " strength comes 
forth." Hence, the Lord commanded that his spouse 

1 " Dabis ergo servo tuo cor docile." 3 Kings, iii. 9. 

2 "Video autem aliam legem in membris meis, repugnantem legi 
mentis meae." Rom. vii. 23. 

3 "Cor durum habebit male in novissimo; et qui amat periculum, 
in illo peribit." Ecclus. iii. 27. 

4 " Timeo tibi, Eugeni, ne multitudo negotiorum, intermissa 
oratione et consideratione, te ad cor durum perducat, quod seipsum 
non exhorret, quia nee sentit." De Cons. 1. I, c. 2. 

6 Ex hoc otio vires proveniunt." 

256 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

should not be disturbed. I adjure you . . . that you stir 
not up, nor awake my beloved till she please. 1 He says, until 
she please; for the sleep or repose which the soul takes in 
mental prayer is perfectly voluntary, but is, at the same 
time, necessary for its spiritual life. He who does not 
sleep has not strength to work nor to walk, but goes 
tottering along the way. The soul that does not re 
pose and acquire strength in meditation is not able to 
resist temptations, and totters on the road. In the life 
of the Venerable Sister Mary Crucified, we read that, 
while at prayer, she heard a devil boasting that he had 
made a nun omit the common meditation, and that 
afterwards, because he continued to tempt to her, she 
was in danger of consenting to mortal sin. The servant 
of God ran to the nun, and, with the divine aid, rescued 
her from the criminal suggestion. Behold the danger to 
which one who omits meditation exposes his soul ! St. 
Teresa used to say that he who neglects mental prayer, 
needs not a devil to carry him to hell, but that he brings 
himself there with his own hands. And the Abbot 
Diocles says that " the man who omits mental prayer 
soon becomes either a beast or a devil." 


Without petitions on our part, God does not grant the 
divine helps; and without aid from God, we cannot 
observe the commandments. 2 From the absolute neces 
sity of the prayer of petition arises the moral necessity 
of mental prayer; for he who neglects meditation, and 
is distracted with worldly affairs, will not know his 
spiritual wants, the dangers to which his salvation is ex 
posed, the means which he must adopt in order to con- 

" Ne suscitetis neque evigilare faciatis Dilectam, donee ipsa 
velit." Cant. iii. 5. 

2 See Necessity of Prayer, page 23. 

It helps ns to pray as we should. 257 

quer temptations, or even the necessity of the prayer of 
petition for all men; thus, he will give up the practice 
of prayer, and by neglecting to ask God s graces he will 
certainly be lost. The great Bishop Palafox, in his 
Annotations to the letters of St. Teresa, says: 1 "How 
can charity last, unless God gives perseverance? How 
will the Lord give us perseverance, if we neglect to ask 
him for it? And how shall we ask him without mental 
prayer ? Without mental prayer, there is not the com 
munication with God which is necessary for the preser 
vation of virtue." And Cardinal Bellarmine says, that 
for him who neglects meditation^ it is morally impossible 
to live without sin. 

Some one may say, I do not make mental prayer, but 
I say many vocal prayers. But it is necessary to know, 
as St. Augustine remarks, that to obtain the divine 
grace it is not enough to pray with the tongue, it is 
necessary also to pray with heart. On the words of 
David, / cried to the Lord with my voice? the holy Doctor 
says, " Many cry not with their own voice (that is, not 
with the interior voice of the soul), but with that of the 
body. Your thoughts are a cry to the Lord. 3 Cry 
within, where God hears." 4 This is what the Apostle 
inculcates: Praying at all times in the spirit." In general, 
vocal prayers are said distractedly with the voice of the 
body, but not of the heart, especially when they are 
long, and still more especially when said by a person 
who does not make mental prayer; and, therefore, God 
seldom hears them, and seldom grants the graces asked. 
Many say the Rosary, the Office of the Blessed Virgin, 

1 Letter 8. 

2 " Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi." Ps. cxli. 2. 

3 " Multi clamant, non voce sua, sed corporis. Cogitatio tua 
clamor est ad Dominum." Ennarr. in Ps. cxli. 

4 " Clama intus, ubi audit Deus." In Ps. xxx. en. 4. 

5 " Orantes omni tempore in spiritu." Eph. vi. 18. 

258 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

and perform other works of devotion; but they still con 
tinue in sin. But it is impossible for him who per 
severes in mental prayer to continue in sin: he will 
either give up meditation or renounce sin. A great ser 
vant- of God used to say that mental prayer and sin 
cannot exist together. And this we see by experience: 
they who make mental prayer rarely incur the enmity 
of God; and should they ever have the misfortune of 
falling into sin, by persevering in mental prayer they 
see their misery and return to God. Let a soul, says 
St. Teresa, be ever so negligent, if it persevere in 
meditation, the Lord will bring it back to the haven of 

Mental Prayer is Indispensable in order to attain Perfection. 

All the saints have become saints by mental prayer. 
Mental prayer is the blessed furnace in which souls are 
inflamed with the divine love. In my meditation, says 
David, a fire shall flame out. 1 St. Vincent of Paul used 
to say that it would be a miracle if a sinner who attends 
at the sermons in the mission, or in the spiritual exercises, 
were not converted. Now, he who preaches, and speaks 
in the exercises, is only a man; but it is God himself 
that speaks to the soul in meditation. I will lead her into 
the wilderness; and I will speak to her heart? St. Catha 
rine of Bologna used to say, "He who does not practise 
mental prayer deprives himself of the bond that unites 
the soul with God; hence, finding her alone, the devil 
will easily make her his own." " How," she would say, 
" can I conceive that the love of God is found in the soul 
that cares but little to treat with God in prayer?" 

Where, but in meditation, have the saints been inflamed 

1 " In meditatione mea exardescet ignis." Ps. xxxviii. 4. 

* "Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Oses, ii. 14. 

Indispensable to attain Perfection. 259 

with divine love ? By means of mental prayer, St. Peter 
of Alcantara was inflamed to such a degree that in order 
to cool himself, he ran into a frozen pool, and the frozen 
water began to boil like water in a caldron placed on 
the fire. In mental prayer, St. Philip Neri became in 
flamed, and trembled so that he shook the entire room. 
In mental prayer, St. Aloysius Gonzaga was so inflamed 
with divine ardor that his very face appeared to be on 
fire, and his heart beat as strongly as if it wished to fly 
from the body. 

St. Laurence Justinian says: " By the efficacy of men 
tal prayer, temptation is banished, sadness is driven 
away, lost virtue is restored, fervor which has grown 
cold is excited, and the lovely flame of divine love is 
augmented." * Hence, St. Aloysius Gonzaga has justly 
said that he who does not make much mental prayer 
will never attain a high degree of perfection. 

A man of prayer, says David, is like a tree planted 
near the current of waters, which brings forth fruit in 
due time; all his actions prosper before God. Blessed 
is the man . . . who shall meditate on his law day and night ! 
And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running 
waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in due season, and his 
leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall 
prosper? Mark the words in due season- that is, at the 
time when he ought to. bear such a pain, such an af 
front, etc. 

St. John Chrysostom 3 compared mental prayer to a 

1 " Ex oratione fugatur tentatio, abscedit tristitia, virtus reparatur, 
excitatur fervor, et divini amoris flamma succrescit." De Casto 
Conn. c. 22. 

" Beatus vir qui . . . in lege ejus meditabitur die ac nocte. Et 
erit tamquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, 
quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo; et folium ejus non defluet, 
et omnia quaecumque faciet, prosperabuntur." Ps. i. 3. 

3 Ad pop. Ant. horn. 79. 

260 Mental Prayer. [PARTII. 

fountain in the middle of a garden. Oh ! what an abun 
dance of flowers and verdant plants do we see in the gar 
den which is always refreshed with water from the foun 
tain ! Such, precisely, is the soul that practises mental 
prayer: you will see, that it always advances in good de 
sires, and that it always brings forth more abundant 
fruits of virtue. Whence does the soul receive so many 
blessings ? From meditation, by which it is continually 
irrigated. Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with 
the fruits of the orchard. . . . The fountain of gardens, the 
well of living waters, which run with a strong stream from 
Libanus. 1 But let the fountain cease to water the garden, 
and, behold, the flowers, plants, and all instantly wither 
away; and why ? Because the water has failed. You 
will see that as long as such a person makes mental 
prayer, he is modest, humble, devout, and mortified in 
all things. But let him omit meditation, and you will 
instantly find him wanting in modesty of the eyes, proud, 
resenting every word, indevout, no longer frequenting the 
sacraments and the church; you will find him attached to 
vanity, to useless conversations, to pastimes, and to 
B earthly pleasures; and why ? The water has failed, and, 
therefore, fervor has ceased. My soul is as earth without 
water unto thee. . . . My spirit hath fainted away* The soul 
has neglected mental prayer, the garden is therefore dried 
up, and the miserable soul goes from bad to worse. 
When a soul abandons meditation, St. Chrysostom re 
gards it not only as sick, but as dead. "He," says the 
holy Doctor, " who prays not to God, nor desires to en 
joy assiduously his divine conversation, is dead. . . . 

1 "Emissiones tuse, paradisus malorum punicorum cum pomorum 
fructibus. . . . Fons hortorum, puteus aquarum viventium, quse 
fluunt impetu de Libano." Cant, iv. 13. 

8 " Anima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi, . . . defecit spiritus 
meus." Ps. cxlii. 6. 

Indispensable to attain Perfection. 261 

The death of the soul is not to be prostrated before 
God." 1 

The same Father says that mental prayer is the root 
of the fruitful vine.* And St. John Climacus writes, 
that " prayer is a bulwark against the assault of afflictions, 
the spring of virtues, the procurer of graces." : Rufinus 
asserts, that all the spiritual progress of the soul flows 
from mental prayer. 4 And Gerson goes so far as to 
say that he who neglects meditation cannot, with 
out a miracle, lead the life of a Christian. 5 Speaking of 
mental prayer, Jeremias says, He shall sit solitary, and hold 
his peace; because he hath taken it up upon himself * That is, 
a soul cannot have a relish for God, unless it withdraws 
from creatures, and sits, that is, stops to contemplate 
the goodness, the love, the amiableness of God. But 
when solitary and recollected in meditation that is, when 
it takes away its thoughts from the world it is then 
raised above itself; and departs from prayer very dif 
ferent from what it was when it began it. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola used to say that mental prayer 
is the short way to attain perfection. In a word, he who 
advances most in meditation makes the greatest progress 
in perfection. In mental prayer the soul is filled with 
holy thoughts, with holy affections, desires, and holy 
resolutions, and with love for God. There man sacri- 

"Quisquis non orat Deum, nee divino ejus colloquio cupit assidue 
frui, is mortuus est. . . . Animae mors est non \ rovolvi coram Deo." 
De or. D.\. I. 

8 " Radix vitis frugiferae." De or. D. 1. I. 

" Oratio est propugnaculum adversus impetum afflictionum, virtu- 
tum scaturigo, gratiarum conciliatrix." Scala sp. gr. 28. 

4 " Omnis profectus spiritualis ex meditatione procedit." In Ps. 

" Absque meditationis exercitio, nullus, secluso miraculo Dei, ad 
Christianae religionis normam attingit." De Med. cons. 7. 

" Sedebit solitarius, et tacebit, quia levavit super se." Lam. 
iii. 28. 

262 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

lices his passions, his appetites, his earthly attachments, 
and all the interests of self-love. Moreover, by praying 
for them, in mental prayer, we can save many sinners, 
as was done by St. Teresa, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, 
and is done by all souls enamoured of God, who never 
omit, in their meditations, to recommend to him all in 
fidels, heretics, and all poor sinners; begging him also 
to give zeal to priests who work in his vineyard, that 
they may convert his enemies. In mental prayer we 
can also, by the sole desire of performing them, gain the 
merit of many good works which we do not perform. 
For, as the Lord punishes bad desires, so, on the other 
hand, he rewards all our good desires. 


My Jesus, Thou hast loved me in the midst of pains ; and in 
the midst of sufferings, I wish to love Thee. Thou hast spared 
nothing, Thou hast even given Thy blood and Thy life, in order to 
gain my love; and shall I continue, as hitherto, to be reserved 
in loving Thee? No, my Redeemer, it shall not be so : the in 
gratitude with which I have hitherto treated Thee is sufficient. 
To Thee I consecrate my whole heart. Thou alone dost deserve 
all my love. Thee alone do I wish to love. My God, since 
Thou wishest me to be entirely Thine, give me strength to serve 
Thee as Thou deservest, during the remainder of my life. Par 
don my tepidity and my past infidelities. How often have I 
omitted mental prayer, in order to indulge my caprice! Alas! 
how often, when it was in my power to remain with Thee in 
order to please Thee, have I remained with creatures, so as to 
offend Thee ! Oh, that so many lost years would return ! But, 
since they will not return, the remaining days of my life must 
be entirely Thine, O my beloved Lord ! I love Thee, O my 
Jesus ! I love Thee, O my Sovereign Good ! Thou art and 
shalt be forever the only love of my soul. O Mother of fair 
love, O Mary ! obtain for me the grace to love thy Son, and to 
spend the remainder of my life in his love. Thou dost obtain 
from Jesus whatsoever thou wishest. Through thy prayer I 
hope for this gift. 

The Ends of Mental Prayer. 263 


The Ends of Mental Prayer.* 

In order to practise well mental prayer, or meditation, 
and to make it truly profitable to the soul, we must well 
ascertain the ends for which we attempt it. 


We must meditate in order to unite ourselves more 
completely to God. It is not so much good thoughts 
in the intellect as gcod acts of the will, or holy desires, 
that unite us to God; and such are the acts which we per 
form in meditation, acts of humility, confidence, self- 
sacrifice, resignation, and especially of love and of re 
pentance for our sins. Acts of love, says St. Teresa, are 
those that keep the soul inflamed with holy love. 

But the perfection of this love consists in making our 
will one with that of God; for the chief effect of love, as 
Dionysius the Areopagite says, is to unite the wills of 
those who love, so that they have but one heart and one 
will. St. Teresa also says, " All that he who exercises 
himself in prayer should aim at, is to conform himself 
to the divine will, and he may be assured that in this con 
sists the highest perfection; he who best practises this 
will receive the greatest gifts from God, and will make the 
greatest progress in an interior life." 1 

There are many, however, who complain that they go 
to prayer and do not find God; the reason of which is, 
that they carry with them a heart full of earth. "De 
tach the heart from creatures, says St. Teresa; seek God, 
and you will find him." The Lord is good to the soul thai 
seeketh Him? Therefore, to find God in prayer, the soul 

1 Interior Castle, d. 2, ch. i. 
"Bonus est Dominus . . . animae quaerenti ilium." Lam. Hi. 25. 

* Pious Reflections, 15; Preparation for Death, consid. xxxvi.; 
The Love of God, 3. 

264 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

must be stripped of its love for the things of earth, and 
then God will speak to it: / will lead her into the wilder 
ness, and I will speak to her heart? But in order to find 
God, solitude of the body, as St. Gregory observes, is 
is not enough; that of the heart is necessary too. The 
Lord one day said to St. Teresa: " I would willingly speak 
to many souls; but the world makes such a noise in their 
heart that my voice cannot make itself heard." Ah ! 
when a detached soul is engaged in prayer, truly does 
God speak to it, and make it understand the love which 
he has borne it; and then the soul, says St. Laurence 
Justinian, burning with holy love, speaks not; but in 
that silence, oh, how much does it say ! The silence of 
charity, observes the same writer, says more to God than 
could be said by the utmost powers of human eloquence; 
each sigh that it utters is a manifestation of its whole 
interior. 2 It then seems as if it could not repeat often 
enough, My Beloved to me, and I to Him. 


We must meditate in order to obtain from God the 
graces that are necessary to advance in the way of salva 
tion, .and especially to avoid sin, and to use the means 
which will lead us to perfection. 

The best fruit which comes from meditation is the 
exercise of prayer. Almighty God, ordinarily speaking, 
does not give grace to any but those who pray. St. 
Gregory writes: " God desires to be entreated; he desires 
to be constrained; he desires to be, as it were, conquered 
by importunity." It is true that at all times the Lord is 
ready to hear us, but at the time of meditation, when we 
are most truly in converse with God, he is most bounti 
ful in giving us his aid. 

1 " Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Osee, ii. 

2 De Disc. man. c. 24. 

The Ends of Mental Prayer. 265 

Above all, should we, in meditation, ask God for per 
severance and his holy love. 

Final perseverance is not a single grace, but a chain of 
graces, to which must correspond the chain of our pray 
ers. If we cease to pray, God will cease to give us his 
help, and we shall perish. He who does not practise 
meditation will find the greatest difficulty in persevering 
in grace till death. Let us remember what Palafox 
says: " How will the Lord give us perseverance if we do 
not ask it ? And how shall we ask for it without medita 
tion ? Without meditation there is no communion with 

We must also be urgent with prayers to obtain from 
God his holy love. St. Francis de Sales says that all 
virtues come in union with holy love. All good things 
came to me together with her. 1 

Let us, therefore, pray continually for perseverance 
and love; and, in order to pray with greater confidence, 
let us ever bear in mind the promise made us by Jesus 
Christ, that whatever we seek from God through the 
merits of his Son, he will give it us. 2 Let us, then, pray, 
and pray always, if we would that God should make us 
abound in every blessing. Let us pray for ourselves, 
and, if we have zeal for the glory of God, let us pray also 
for others. It is a thing most pleasing to God to be en 
treated for unbelievers and heretics, and all sinners. 
Let the people confess to Thee, O God; let all the people con 
fess to Thee? Let us say, O Lord, make them know] 
Thee, make them love Thee. We read in the lives of St. 
Teresa and St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi how God in 
spired these holy women to pray for sinners. And to 

1 " Venerunt autem mihi omnia bona pariter cum ilia." Wisd. vii. 7. 

* Amen, amen, dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, 
dabit vobis." yohn, xvi. 23. 

3 " Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus, confiteantur tibi populi omnes." 
Ps. Ixvi. 6.. 

266 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

prayer for sinners let us also add prayers for the holy 
souls in purgatory. 


We must apply ourselves to meditation, not for the 
sake of spiritual consolations, but chiefly in order to 
learn what is the will of God concerning us. Speak, 
Lord, said Samuel to God, for Thy servant heareth. 1 
Lord, make me to know what Thou wilt, that I may do it. 
Some persons continue meditation as long as consola 
tions continue; but when these cease, they leave off medi 
tation. It is true that God is accustomed to comfort 
his beloved souls at the time of meditation, and to give 
them some foretaste of the delights he prepares in heaven 
for those who love him. These are things which the 
lovers of the world do not comprehend; they who have 
no taste except for earthly delights despise those which 
are celestial. Oh, if they were wise, how surely would 
they leave their pleasures to shut themselves in their 
closets, to speak alone with God ! Meditation is nothing 
more than a converse between the soul and God; the soul 
pours forth to him its affections, its desires, its fears, its 
requests, and God speaks to the heart, causing it to 
know his goodness, and the love which he bears it, and 
what it must do to please him. 

But these delights are not constant, and, for the most 
part, holy souls experience mucti dryness of spirit in 
meditation. " With dryness and temptations," says St. 
Teresa, " the Lord makes proof of those who love him." 
And she adds, Even if this dryness lasts through life, 
let not the soul leave off meditation; the time will come 
when all will be well rewarded." The time of dryness 
is the time for gaining the greatest rewards; and when 

1 " Loquere, Domine, quia audit servus tuus." I Kings, iii. 9. 

Principal Stibjects of Meditation. 267 

we find ourselves apparently without fervor, without 
good desires, and, as it were, unable to do a good act, let 
us humble ourselves and resign ourselves, for this very 
meditation will be more fruitful than others. It is 
enough then to say, if we can say nothing more, " O 
Lord, help me. have mercy on me, abandon me not !" 
Let us also have recourse to our comforter, the most 
holy Mary. Happy he who does not leave off meditation 
in the hour of desolation. 

Principal Subjects of tMeditation. * 

The Holy Spirit says, In all thy works remember thy 
last end, and thou shalt never sin. 1 He who often medi 
tates on the four last things namely, death, judgment, 
and the eternity of hell and paradise will not fall into 
sin. But these truths are not seen with the eye of the 
body; the soul only perceives them. If they are not 
meditated on, they vanish from the mind; and then the 
pleasures of the senses present themselves, and those 
who do not keep before themselves the eternal truths are 
easily taken up by them; and this is the reason why so 
many abandon themselves to vice, and are damned. All 
Christians know and believe that they must die, and that 
we shall all be judged; but because they do not think 
about this, they live far away from God. 

If we, moreover, do not meditate especially on our obli 
gation to love God on account of his infinite perfections 
and the great blessings that he has conferred upon us, and 
the Iqve that he has borne us, we shall hardly detach our 
selves from the love of creatures in order to fix our whole 
love on God. It is in the time of prayer that God gives 

1 " Memorare novissimatua, et in seternum non peccabis." Ecchis. 
vii. 40. 

* Rule of Life, ch. i. 2; The Love of God, 3. 

268 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

us to understand the worthlessness of earthly things, 
and the value of the good things of heaven; and then it 
is that he inflames with his love those hearts that do not 
offer resistance to his calls. 

After all, the good rule is that we preferably meditate 
on the truths and mysteries that touch us more and pro 
cure for our soul the most abundant nourishment. Yet 
the subject most suitable for a person that aspires to 
perfection ought to be the Passion of our Lord. Louis 
Blosius relates that our Lord revealed to several holy 
women to St. Gertrude, St. Bridget, St. Mechtilde, and 
St. Catharine of Sienna that they who meditate on 
his Passion are very dear to him. According to St. 
Francis de Sales, the Passion of our Redeemer should 
be the ordinary subject of the meditation of every Chris 
tian. Oh, what an excellent book is the Passion of 
Jesus ! There we understand, better than in any other 
book, the malice of sin, and also the mercy and love of 
God for man. To me it appears that Jesus Christ has 
suffered so many different pains the scourging, the 
crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, etc. that, having 
before our eyes so many painful mysteries, we might 
have a variety of different subjects for meditating on 
his Passion, by which we might excite sentiments of 
gratitude and love. 

The Place and the Time Suitable for Meditation. 


We can meditate in every place, at home or elsewhere, 
even in walking, in working. How many are there who, 
not being able to do otherwise, raise their hearts to 
God and apply their minds to mental prayer without 
leaving for this purpose their occupations, their work, 

* Homo Apost. app. 4, 3; Pious Reflections, 32-34. 

Place and Time Suitable for Meditation. 269 

or meditate even when travelling ! He who seeks God 
will find him everywhere and at all times. 

The essential condition to converse with God is the 
solitude of the heart, without which prayer would be 
worthless, and, as St. Gregory says, it would profit us 
little or nothing to be with the body in a solitary place, 
while the heart is full of worldly thoughts and affections. 1 
But to enjoy the solitude of the heart, which consists in 
being disengaged from worldly thoughts and affections, 
deserts and caves are not absolutely necessary. Those 
who from necessity are obliged to converse with the 
world, whenever their hearts are free from worldly at 
tachments, even in the public streets, in places of resort, 
and public assemblies, can possess a solitude of heart, 
and continue united with God. All those occupations 
that we undertake in order to fulfil the divine will have 
no power to prevent the solitude of the heart. St. 
Catharine of Sienna truly found God in the midst of the 
household labors in which her parents kept her employed 
in order to draw her from devotional exercises; but in 
the midst of these affairs she preserved a retirement in 
her heart, which she called her cell, and there ceased not 
to converse with God alone. 

However, when \ve can, we should retire to a solitary 
place to make our meditation. Our Lord has said, 
When thou shalt pray, enter thy chamber , and, having shut 
the door, pray to thy Father in secret. 1 St. Bernard says 
that silence, and the absence of all noise, almost force 
the soul to think of the goods of heaven. 8 

But the best place for making mental prayer is the 
church; for Jesus Christ especially delights in the medi- 

1 "Quid prodest solitude corporis, si solitude defuerit cordis?" 
Mor. 1. 30, c. 23. 

"Tu autem, cum oraveris, intra in cubiculum tuum, et, clauso 
ostio, ora Patrem tuum in abscondito." Matt. vi. 6. 

3 " Silentium, eta strepituquies, cogit caelestia meditari." Epist. 78. 

270 Mental Prayer. [PARTII. 

tation that is made before the Blessed Sacrament, since 
there it appears that he bestows light and grace most 
abundantly upon those who visit him. He has left him 
self in this sacrament, not only to be the food of souls 
that receive him in Holy Communion, but also to be 
found at all times by every one who seeks him. Devout 
pilgrims go to the holy town of Loreto, where Jesus 
Christ dwelt during his life; and to Jerusalem, where he 
died on the cross ; but how much greater ought to be 
our devotion when we find him before us in the taber 
nacle, in which this Lord himself now dwells in person, 
who lived among us, and died for us on Calvary ! It 
is not permitted in the world for persons of alt ranks 
to speak alone with kings; but with Jesus Christ, the 
King of kings, both nobles and plebeians, rich and poor, 
can converse at their will, setting before him their 
wants, and seeking his grace; and there Jesus gives 
audience to all, hears all, and comforts all. 


We have here to consider two things namely, the time 
of the day most suitable for mental prayer, and the time 
to be spent in making it. 

i. According to St. Bonaventure, the morning and the 
evening are the two parts of the day which, ordinarily 
speaking, are the fittest for meditation. 1 But, accord 
ing to St. Gregory of Nyssa, the morning is the most 
seasonable time for prayer, because, says the saint, 
when prayer precedes business, sin will not find entrance 
into the soul. 2 And the Venerable Father Charles Carafa, 
founder of the Congregation of the Pious Workers, used 
to say that a fervent act of love, made in the morning 

1 " Mane et vespere tempus est orationis opportunum." Spec. disc. 
p. i, c. 12. 

2 " Si oratio negotium praecesserit, peccatum aditum non inveniet." 
De orat. Dom. or. i. 

Place and Time Suitable for Meditation. 271 

during meditation, is sufficient to maintain the soul in 
fervor during the entire day. Prayer, as St. Jerome has 
written, is also necessary in the evening. Let not the 
body go to rest before the soul is refreshed by mental 
prayer, 1 which is the food of the soul. But at all times 
and in all places we can pray; it is enough for us to raise 
the mind to God, and to make good acts, for in this con 
sists mental prayer. 

2. With regard to the time to be spent in mental 
prayer, the rule of the saints was, to devote to it all the 
hours that were not necessary for the occupations of 
human life. St. Francis Borgia employed in meditation 
eight hours in the day, because his Superiors would not 
allow him a longer time; and when the eight hours had 
expired, he earnestly asked permission to remain a little 
longer at prayer, saying, "Ah! give me another little 
quarter of an hour." St. Philip Neri was accustomed to 
spend the entire night in prayer. St. Anthony the Abbot 
remained the whole night in prayer; and when the sun 
appeared, which was the time assigned for terminating 
his prayer, he complained of it for having risen too 

Father Balthassar Alvarez used to say that a soul that 
loves God, when not in prayer, is like a stone out of its 
centre, in a violent state; for in this life we should, as 
much as possible, imitate the life of the saints in bliss, 
who are constantly employed in the contemplation of 

But let us come to the particular time which a re 
ligious who seeks perfection should devote to mental 
prayer. Father Torres prescribed an hour s meditation 
in the morning, another during the day, and a half- 
hour s meditation in the evening, when they should not 
be hindered by sickness, or by any duty of obedience. 

1 <; Non prius corpusculum requiescat, quam anima pascatur."- 
Ad Eust. de Virgin. 

272 Mental Prayer. IPARTII. 

If to you this appears too much, I counsel you to give 
at least two hours to mental prayer. It is certain that a 
half hour s meditation each day would not be sufficient 
to attain a high degree of perfection; for beginners, 
however, this would be sufficient.* 

Sometimes the Lord wishes you to omit prayer in 
order to perform some work of fraternal charity; but it 
is necessary to attend to what St. Laurence Justinian 
says: "When charity requires it, the spouse of Jesus 
goes to serve her neighbor; but during that time she 
continually sighs to return to converse with her Spouse 
in the solitude of her cell." ] Father Vincent Carafa, 
General of the Society of Jesus, stole as many little mo 
ments of time as he could, and employed them in prayer. 

Mental prayer is tedious to those who are attached to 
the world, but not to those who love God only. Ah! con 
versation with God is not painful nor tedious to those who 
truly love him. His conversation has no bitterness, his com 
pany produces not tediousness, but joy and gladness? Mental 
prayer, says St. John Climacus, is nothing else than a 
familiar conversation and union with God. 3 In prayer, 
as St. Chrysostom says, the soul converses with God, 
and God with the soul. No, the life of holy persons who 
love prayer, and fly from earthly amusements, is not a 

1 "Cum charitas urget, se exponit proximo, sic tamen lit continue 
anhelet ad cubile Sponsi reditum." De Casto Conn. c. 12. 

2 " Non enim habet amaritudinem conversatio illius, nee tsedium 
convictus illius, sed laetitiam et gaudium." Wisd. viii. 16. 

3 " Oratio est familiaris conversatio et conjunctio cum Deo." 
Scala sp. gr. 28. 

* Homo apost. App. 4, 3. Pope Benedict XIV. grants to all the 
faithful who make mental prayer devoutly for half an hour, or at least 
for a quarter of an hour, every day, for a month, a plenary indulgence 
when truly penitent, after confession and Communion they devoutly 
pray to the intentions of the Church. This indulgence is applicable 
to the souls in purgatory. 

Manner of making Mental Prayer. 


life of bitterness. If you do not believe me, Taste and 
see that the Lord is sweet. 1 Try it, and you shall see how 
sweet the Lord is to those who leave all things in order 
to converse with him only. But the end which we ought 
to propose to ourselves in going to meditation should 
be, as has been said several times, not spiritual consola 
tion, but to learn from our Lord what he wishes from 
us, and to divest ourselves of all self-love. " To prepare 
yourself for prayer," says St. John Climacus, "put off 
your own will." : To prepare ourselves well for medita 
tion, we must renounce self-will, and say to God, Speak, 
Lord, for thy servant heareth? . Lord, tell me what Thou 
wishest me to do; I am willing to do it. And it is necessary 
to say this with a resolute will, for without this dispo 
sition the Lord will not speak to us. 

Manner of making Mental Prayer. 

Mental prayer contains three parts: the preparation, 
the meditation, and the conclusion. 


Begin by disposing your mind and body to enter into 
pious recollection. 

Leave at the door of the place where you are going to 
converse with God all extraneous thoughts, saying, with 
St. Bernard, O my thoughts! wait here: after prayer we 
shall speak on other matters. Be careful not to allow 
the mind to wander where it wishes; but should a dis 
tracting thought enter, act as we shall tell you to do in 7. 

The posture of the body most suitable for prayer is to 

1 " Gustate, et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus." Ps. xxxiii. 9. 

2 "Ad prseparandum te ad orationem, exue voluntates tuas." 

3 " Loquere, Domine, quia audit servus tuus." I Kings, iii. 10. 


274 Mental Prayer. [PARTII. 

be kneeling; but if this posture becomes so irksome as 
to cause distractions, we may, as St. John of the Cross 
says, make our meditation while modestly sitting down. 
The preparation consists of three acts: i. Act of faith 
in the presence of God; 2. Act of humility and of con 
trition; 3. Act of petition for light. We may perform 
these acts in the following manner: 

Act of Faith in the Presence of God, and Act of Adoration. 

My God, I believe that Thou art here present, and 
I adore Thee with my whole soul. 

Be careful to make this act with a lively faith, for a 
lively remembrance of the divine presence contributes 
greatly to remove distractions. Cardinal Carracciolo, 
Bishop of Aversa, used to say that when a person is dis 
tracted in prayer there is reason to think that he has 
not made a lively act of faith. 

Act of Humility and of Contrition. 

Lord, I should now be in hell in punishment of 
the offences I have given Thee. I am sorry for them 
from the bottom of my heart; have mercy on me. 

Act of Petition for Light. 

Eternal Father, for the sake of Jesus and Mary, 
give me light in this meditation, that I may draw 
fruit from it. 

We must then recommend ourselves to the Blessed 
Virgin by saying a Hail Mary, to St. Joseph, to our 
guardian angel, and to our holy patron. 

These acts, says St. Francis de Sales, ought to be 
made with fervor, but should be short, that we may 
pass immediately to the meditation. 

Manner of making Mental Prayer. 275 


When you make meditation privately you may always 
use some book,* at least at the commencement, and stop 

* Rule of Life, ch. 2, 2. 

It may be useful to mention here what the author himself wrote to 
his religious in a circular dated February 26, 1771: "I recommend 
that, for the most part, the meditations should be taken from my 
books, The Preparation for Death, Meditations on the Passion, Darts 
of Fire, the meditations from Advent to the octave of the Epiphany. 
I say this, not in order to put forward my own poor books, but 
because these meditations are made up of devout affections, and, 
what is of more importance, are full of holy prayers, of which I do 
not find many in other books ; hence I make the request that the 
second part of the Meditations, consisting of affections and prayers, 
be always read." 

Let us remark that St. Alphonsus renders the practice of medita 
tion extremely simple, clear, easy, and not less profitable. Thanks 
to the method that he teaches, this exercise, which is indispensable to 
every one that wishes to sanctify himself, is, in fact, adapted to the 
comprehension of all. The Saint wishes that every one should learn 
how to meditate; he earnestly recommends that special instructions 
should be given to the people for this purpose; and that every day 
mental prayer should be made in the church, in common for persons 
in every condition of life, and particularly for those who do not know 
how to read. He moreover explains the method that should be fol 
lowed in its exercise, that it may produce lasting fruits. (See Mis 
sions, ch. 7-9.) 

Pope Benedict XIV. grants an indulgence of seven years and seven 
times forty days, every time, to all those who, in a church or elsewhere, 
either in public or in private, shall teach the manner of making men 
tal prayer, as well as to those who attend such instruction, provided 
that each time, being truly penitent, they confess their sins and 
receive Holy Communion. To those who shall teach assiduously 
the way to make mental prayer, as well as to those who shall, with 
the same assiduity, learn how to make it, the same Pope grants a 
plenary indulgence once a month, on any day, when, being truly peni 
tent, after confession and Communion, they shall pray for peace and 
union among Christian princes, for the extirpation of heresy, and for 
the triumph of the Church. These indulgences are applicable to the 
souls in Purgatory. ED. 

276 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

when you find yourself most touched. St. Francis de 
Sales says that in this we should do as the bees that stop 
on a flower as long as they find any honey on it, and then 
pass on to another. St. Teresa used a book for seven 
teen years; she would first read a little, then meditate 
for a short time on what she had read. It is useful to 
meditate in this manner, in imitation of .the pigeon that 
first drinks and then raises its eyes to heaven. 

When mental prayer is made in common, one person 
reads for the rest the subject of meditation and divides 
it into two parts: the first is read at the beginning, after 
the preparatory acts; the second, towards the middle of 
the half hour, or after the Consecration if the medita 
tion is made during the Mass. One should read in a loud 
tone of voice, and slowly, so as to be well understood. 

It should be remembered that the advantage of mental 
prayer consists not so much in meditating as in making 
affections, petitions, and resolutions: these are the three 
principal fruits of meditation. " The progress of a soul," 
says St. Teresa, " does not consist in thinking much of 
God, but in loving him ardently; and this love is ac 
quired by resolving to do a great deal for him." 1 Speak 
ing of mental prayer, the spiritual masters say that medi 
tation is, as it were, the needle which, when it has passed, 
must be succeeded by the golden thread, composed, as 
has been said, of affections, petitions, and resolutions; 
and this we are going to explain. 


When you have reflected on the point of meditation, 
and feel any pious sentiment, raise your heart to God 
and offer him acts of humility, of confidence, or of thanks 
giving; but, above all, repeat in mental prayer acts of 
contrition and of love. 

1 Book of the Foundations^ ch. 5. 

Ma 11 ner of making Men ta I Prayer. 277 

The act of love, as also the act of contrition, is the 
golden chain that binds the soul to God. An act of 
perfect charity is sufficient for the remission of all our 
sins: Charity cover eth a multitude of sins. 1 The Lord has 
declared that he cannot hate the soul that loves him: 
/ love them that love Me: The Venerable Sister Mary 
Crucified once saw a globe of fire, in which some straws 
that had been thrown into it were instantly consumed. 
By this vision she was given to understand that a soul, 
by making a true act of love, obtains the remission of all 
its faults. Besides, the Angelic Doctor teaches that by 
every act of love we acquire a t new degree of glory. 
" Every act of charity merits eternal life." 

Acts of love may be made in the following manner : 

My God, I esteem Thee more than all things. 

I love Thee with my whole heart. 

I delight in Thy felicity. 

I would wish to see Thee loved by all. 

I wish only what Thou wishest. 

Make known to me what Thou wishest from me, 
and I will do it. 

Dispose as Thou pleasest of me and of all that I 

This last act of oblation is particularly dear to God. 

In meditation, among the acts of love towards God, 
there is none more perfect than the taking delight in 
the infinite joy of God. This is certainly the continual 
exercise of the blessed in heaven; so that he who often 
rejoices in the joy of God begins in this life to do that 
which he hopes to do in heaven through all eternity.* 

1 " Charitas operit multitudinem peccatorum." i Peter, iv. 8. 

2 " Ego diligentes me diligo." Prov. viii. 17. 

3 " Quilibet actus charitatis meretur vitam seternam." i. 2. q. 
114. a. 7. 

* Pious Reflections, 33. 

2 78 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

It may be useful here to remark, with St. Augustine, 
that it is not the torture, but the cause, which makes the 
martyr. 1 Whence St. Thomas 2 teaches that martyrdom 
is to suffer death in the exercise of an act of virtue. 
From which we may infer, that not only he who by the 
hands of the executioner lays down his life for the faith, 
but whoever dies to comply with the divine will, and to 
please God, is a martyr, since in sacrificing himself to the 
divine love he performs an act of the most exalted vir 
tue. We all have to pay the great debt of nature; let us 
therefore endeavor, in holy prayer, to obtain resignation 
to the divine will to receive death and every tribula 
tion in conformity with the dispensations of his Provi 
dence. As often as we shall perform this act of resigna 
tion with sufficient fervor, we may hope to be made 
partakers of the merits of the martyrs. St. Mary Mag 
dalene, in reciting the doxology, always bowed her head 
in the same spirit as she would have done in receiving 
the stroke of the executioner.* 

Remember that we here speak of the ordinary mental 
prayer; for should any one feel himself at any time united 
with God by supernatural or infused recollection, without 
any particular thought of an eternal truth or of any di 
vine mystery, he should not then labor to perform any 
other acts than those to which he feels himself sweetly 
drawn to God. It is then enough to endeavor, with 
loving attention, to remain united with God, without 
impeding the divine operation, or forcing himself to 
make reflections and acts. But this is to be understood 
when the Lord calls the soul to this supernatural prayer; 
but until we receive such a call, we should not depart 
from the ordinary method of mental prayer, but should, 

1 " Marty res veros, non poena facit, sed causa." Epist. 89, E. B. 

2 2. 2. q. 124, a. 5. 

* Viet, of the Martyrs, Introd. 2. 

Ma n ner of ma king Me n tal Prayer. 279 

as has been said, make use of meditation and affections. 
However, for persons accustomed to mental prayer, it is 
better to employ themselves in affections than in con 


Moreover, in mental prayer it is very profitable, and 
perhaps more useful than any other act, to repeat peti 
tions to God, asking, with humility and confidence, his 
graces; that is, his light, resignation, perseverance, and 
the like; but, above all, the gift of his holy love. St. 
Francis de Sales used to say f that by obtaining the 
divine love we obtain all graces; for a soul that truly 
loves God with its whole heart will, of itself, without 
being admonished by others, abstain from giving him 
the smallest displeasure, and will labor to please him to 
the best of its ability. 

When you find yourself in aridity and darkness, so 
that you feel, as it were, incapable of making good acts, 
it is sufficient to say: 

My Jesus, mercy. Lord, for the sake of Thy mercy, 
assist me. And the meditation made in this manner 
will be for you perhaps the most useful and fruitful. 

The Venerable Paul Segneri used to say that until he 
studied theology, he employed himself during the time of 
mental prayer in making reflections and affections; but 
"God" (these are his own words) afterwards opened 
my eyes, and thenceforward I endeavored to employ 
myself in petitions; and if there is any good in me, I 
ascribe it to this exercise of recommending myself to 
God." Do you likewise do the same; ask of God his 
graces, in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will obtain 
whatsoever you desire. This our Saviour has promised, 
and his promise cannot fail: Amen, amen, I say to you, if 
you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. 

In a word, all mental prayer should consist in acts 

2 8o Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

and petitions. Hence, the Venerable Sister Mary Cru 
cified, while in an ecstasy, declared that mental prayer 
is the respiration of the soul; for, as by respiration, the 
air is first attracted, and afterwards given back, so, by 
petitions, the soul first receives grace from God, and 
then, by good acts of oblation and love, it gives itself 
to him. 


In terminating the meditation it is necessary to make 
a particular resolution; as, for example, to avoid some 
particular defect into which you have more frequently 
fallen, or to practise some virtue, such as to suffer the 
annoyance which you receive from another person, to 
obey more exactly a certain Superior, to perform some 
particular act of mortification. We must repeat the 
same resolution several times, until we find that we have 
got rid of the defect or acquired the virtue. Afterwards 
reduce to practice the resolutions you have made, as 
soon as an occasion is presented. You would also do 
well, before the conclusion of your prayer, to renew the 
vows or any particular engagement by vow or otherwise 
that you have made with God. This renewal is most 
pleasing to God; we multiply the merit of the good 
work, and draw down upon us a new help in order to 
persevere and to grow in grace. 


The conclusion of meditation consists of three acts : 

1. In thanking God for the lights received. 

2. In making a purpose to fulfil the resolutions made. 

3. In asking of the Eternal Father, for the sake of 
Jesus and Mary, grace to be faithful to them. 

Be careful never to omit, at the end of meditation, to 
recommend to God the souls in purgatory and poor sin- 

Distractions and A ridities. 2 8 1 

ners. St. John Chrysostom says that nothing more 
clearly shows our love for Jesus Christ than our zeal 
in recommending our brethren to him. 

St. Francis de Sales remarks that in leaving mental 
prayer we should take with us a nosegay of flowers, in 
order to smell them during the day; that is, we should 
remember one or two points in which we have felt par 
ticular devotion, in order to excite our fervor during the 

The ejaculations which are dearest to God are those 
of love, of resignation, of oblation of ourselves. Let us 
endeavor not to perform any action without first offer 
ing it to God, and not to allow at the most a quarter of an 
hour to pass, in whatever occupations we may find our 
selves, without raising the heart to the Lord by some 
good act. Moreover, in our leisure time, such as when 
we are waiting for a person, or when we walk in the 
garden, or are confined to- bed by sickness, let us en 
deavor, to the best of our ability, to unite ourselves to 
God. It is also necessary by observing silence, by seek 
ing solitude as much as possible, and by remembering 
the presence of God, to preserve the pious sentiments 
conceived in meditation. 


Distractions and Aridities. 

If, after having well prepared ourselves for mental 
prayer, as has been explained in a preceding paragraph, 
a distracting thought should enter, we must not be dis 
turbed, nor seek to banish it with a violent effort; but 
let us remove it calmly and return to God. 

Let us remember that the devil labors hard to dis 
turb us in the time of meditation, in order to make us 

282 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

abandon it. Let him, then, who omits mental prayer on 
account of distractions, be persuaded that he gives de 
light to the devil. It is impossible, says Cassian, that 
our minds should be free from all distractions during 

Let us, then, never give up meditation, however great 
our distractions may be. St. Francis de Sales says that 
if, in mental prayer, we should do nothing else than con 
tinually banish distractions and temptations, the medi 
tation would be well made. Before him St. Thomas 
taught that involuntary distractions do not take away 
the fruit of mental prayer. 1 

Finally, when we perceive that we are deliberately 
distracted, let us desist from the voluntary defect and 
banish the distraction, but let us be careful not to dis 
continue our meditation. 


The greatest pain of souls in meditation is to find 
themselves sometimes without a feeling of devotion, 
weary of it, and without any sensible desire of loving 
God; and with this is joined the fear of being in the 
wrath of God through their sins, on account of which 
the Lord has abandoned them; and being in this gloomy 
darkness, they know not how to escape from it, it seem 
ing to them that every way is closed against them. 

When a soul gives itself up to the spiritual life, the 
Lord is accustomed to heap consolations upon it, in 
order to wean it from the pleasures of the world, but 
afterwards, when he sees it more settled in spiritual 
ways, he draws back his hand, in order to make proof 

" Evagatio mentis, qua? fit praeter propositum, orationis fructum 
non tollit." 2. 2. q. 83, a. 13. 

* Pious Reflections, xxxiv. ; Conformity to the Will of God, 5. 

Distractions and Aridities. 283 

of its love, and to see whether it serves and loves God 
unrecompensed, while in this world, with spiritual joys. 
Some foolish persons, seeing themselves in a state of 
aridity, think that God may have abandoned them; or, 
again, that the spiritual life was not made for them; and 
so they leave off prayer, and lose all that they have 

In order to be a soul of prayer, man must resist with 
fortitude all temptations to discontinue mental prayer 
in the time of aridity. St. Teresa has left us very ex 
cellent instructions on this point. In one place she says, 
"The devil knows that he has lost the soul that perse- 
veringly practises mental prayer." In another place she 
says, " I hold for certain that the Lord will conduct to 
the haven of salvation the soul that perseveres in men 
tal prayer, in spite of all the sins that the devil may op 
pose." Again, she says, " He who does not stop in the 
way of mental prayer reaches the end of his journey, 
though he should delay a little." Finally she concludes, 
saying, " By aridity and temptations the Lord proves 
his lovers. Though aridity should last for life, let not 
the soul give up prayer: the time will come when all 
shall be well rewarded." 

The Angelic Doctor says that the devotion consists not 
in feeling, but in the desire and resolution to embrace 
promptly all that God wills. Such was the prayer that 
Jesus Christ made in the Garden of Olives; it was full 
of aridity and tediousness, but it was the most devout 
and meritorious prayer that had ever been offered in this 
world. It consisted in these words: My Father, not 
what I will, but what Thou wilt. 

Hence, never give up mental prayer in the time of arid 
ity. Should the tediousness which assails you be very 
great, divide your meditation into several parts, and 
employ yourself, for the most part, in petitions to God, 
even though you should seem to pray without confidence 

284 Mental Prayer. [PART n. 

and without fruit. It will be sufficient to say and to 
repeat: My Jesus, mercy. Lord, have mercy on us. Pray, 
and doubt not that God will hear you and grant your 

In going to meditation, never propose to yourself your 
own pleasure and satisfaction, but only to please God, 
and to learn what he wishes you to do. And, for this 
purpose, pray always that God may make known to you 
his will, and that he may give you strength to fulfil it. 
All that we ought to seek in mental prayer is, light to 
know, and strength to accomplish, the will of God in our 


Ah ! my Jesus, it appears that Thou couldst do nothing more, 
in order to gain the love of men. It is enough to know that 
Thou hast wished to become man ; that is, to become, like us, a 
worm. Thou hast wished to lead a painful life, of thirty-three 
years, amid sorrow and ignominies, and in the end to die on an 
infamous gibbet. Thou hast also wished to remain under the 
appearance of bread, in order to become the food of our souls ; 
and how is it possible that Thou hast received so much ingrati 
tude, even from Christians who believe these truths, and still 
love Thee so little ? Unhappy me ! I have hitherto been among 
those ungrateful souls ; I have attended only to my pleasures, 
and have been forgetful of Thee and of Thy love. I now know 
the evil I have done ; but I repent of it with my whole heart : 
my Jesus, pardon me. I now love Thee ; I love Thee so ar 
dently that I choose death, and a thousand deaths, rather than 
cease to love Thee. I thank Thee for the light which Thou 
givest me. Give me strength, O God of my soul ! always to ad 
vance in Thy love. Accept this poor heart to love Thee. It is 
true that it has once despised Thee, but now it is enamoured of 
Thy goodness ; it loves Thee and desires only to love Thee. O 
Mary, mother of God, assist me : in thy intercession I place 
great confidence. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 285 

Advantages of the Spiritual Exercises made in Retreat. 


I have received your last favor, in which you tell me 
that you are still undecided as to the state of life you 
should choose, and that, having communicated to your 
pastor the counsel I gave you, namely, to go for that 
purpose to perform the spiritual exercises in that house 
which your father has in the country, the said pastor 
answered you that it was not necessary for you to go to 
that house to torture your brains during eight days in 
solitude, but that it was enough for you to attend the 
exercises he would soon give to the people in his own 
church. Since, then, on this last point of the exercises, 
you again ask my advice, it is necessary that I should 
answer you more at length, and show you, first, how 
much greater the fruit of the spiritual exercises is, when 
they are performed in silence, in some retired place, than 
when performed whilst they are given in public, when 
one is obliged during that time to go to one s own 
house, and continues to converse with one s parents and 
friends ; and the more so in your case, as you write to 
me, you have in your house no room to which you may 
retire. On the other hand, I am very much in favor of 
those exercises when performed in solitude, as I know it 
is to such I owe my own conversion and my resolution 

* St. Alphonsus wrote this letter, as also the meditations that follow 
it, during the last years of his life, according to Tannoia, book 4, 
ch. 1 8. 

286 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

to leave the world. I will then, in the second place, sug 
gest to you the means and precautions to be taken dur 
ing the exercises, in order to derive from them the fruit 
you desire. I beg you, when you have read this letter 
yourself, to give it to your Rev. Pastor, that he may read 
it also. 


Let us then speak first of the great benefit of the ex 
ercises, when they are performed in solitude, where one 
treats with no person but God; and, first of all, let us see 
the reason for it. 

The truths of eternal life, such as the great affair of 
our salvation, the value of the time that God gives us 
that we may amass merits for a happy eternity, the obli 
gations under which we are to love God for his infinite 
goodness and the immense love he bears towards us, 
these and similar things are not seen with the eyes of 
the flesh, but with the eyes of the mind. It is, on the 
contrary, certain that, unless our intellect represents to 
the will the value of a good or the greatness of an evil, 
we shall never embrace that good nor reject that evil. 
And this is the ruin of those who are attached to the 
world. They live in darkness ; whence it happens that, 
not knowing the greatness of eternal good and evil, and 
allured by the senses, they give themselves up to forbid 
den pleasure and miserably perish. 

Wherefore the Holy Ghost admonishes us that in order 
to avoid sin, we must keep before our eyes the last things 
which are to come upon us; that is, death, with which all 
the goods of this earth will come to an end for us, and 
the divine judgment, in which we shall have to give an 
account of our whole life. Remember thy last end, and 
thou shalt never sin. 1 And in another place he says, 

1 " Memorare novissima tua, et in seternum non peccabis." Ecclus. 
vii. 40. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 287 

Oh, that they would be wise and would understand, and would 
provide for their last end. 1 By which words he wishes to 
give us to understand that if men would consider the 
things of the other life, they would all certainly take care 
to sanctify themselves, and would not expose themselves 
to the danger of an unhappy life through all eternity. 
They shut their eyes to the light and thus, remaining 
blind, precipitate themselves into so great evils. For 
this reason the saints always prayed the Lord to give 
them light. Enlighten my eyes, that I never sleep in death? 
May God cause the light of His countenance to shine upon 
us? Make the way known to me wherein I should walk? 
Give me understanding and I will learn Thy command- 

But to obtain this divine light, we must go near to 
God. Come ye to Him and be enlightened? " For," says 
St. Augustine, " as we cannot see the sun without the 
light of the sun itself, so we cannot see the light of God 
but by the light of God himself." T This light is obtained 
in the spiritual exercises; by them we approach to God, 
and God enlightens us with his light. The spiritual ex 
ercises mean nothing else than that we retire for that 
time from intercourse with the world, and go to converse 
with God alone, where God speaks to us by his inspira 
tions, and we speak to God in our meditations by acts of 
love, by repenting of our sins by which we have displeased 

1 " Utinam saperent, et intelligerent, ac novissima providerent!" 
Deut. xxxii. 29. 

2 " Illumina oculos meos, ne unquam obdormiam in morte." Ps. 
xii. 4. 

" Deus illuminet vultum suum super nos." Ps. Ixvi. 2. 

" Notam fac mihi viam, in qua ambulem." Ps. cxlii. 8. 

" Da mihi intellectum, et discam mandata tua." Ps. cxviii. 73. 

" Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

" Sicut solem non videt oculus, nisi in lumine solis, sic lumen 
verum et divinum non poterit intelligentia videre, nisi in ipsius 
lumine." De Sp. et An. c. 12. 

288 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

him, by offering ourselves to serve him for the future 
with all our heart, and by beseeching him to make known 
to us his will, and to give us strength to accomplish it. 

Holy Job says, Now I should have rest in my sleep with 
kings and consuls of the earth, who build themselves solittides. * 
Who are those kings that build themselves solitudes ? 
They are, as St. Gregory says, those despisers of the 
world, who go from its tumults to render themselves fit 
to talk alone with God. "They build solitudes, that is, 
they separate themselves as far as possible from the 
tumult of the world, in order to be alone and to become 
fit to speak with God." 2 

When Arsenius was reflecting on the means that he 
should take to become a saint, God caused him to hear 
these words : "Fly, be silent, and rest." 1 Fly from the 
world, be silent, cease to talk with men, and talk alone 
with me, and thus rest in peace and solitude. In confor 
mity with this, St. Anselm wrote to one worried by many 
worldly occupations, who complained that he had no 
moment of peace, the following advice : " Leave a little 
your occupations ; hide yourself for a while from your 
tumultuous thoughts; apply yourself a little to contem 
plate God and rest in him ; say to God, Now teach my 
heart where and how I may seek Thee, where and how I 
shall find Thee."" Words that are applicable each and 
all to yourself. Fly, says he, for a short time from those 
earthly occupations which render you so unquiet, and 

1 " Nunc enim . . . requiescerem cum regibus et consulibus terrae, 
qui aedificant sibi solitudines." Job, iii. 13. 

2 ". Edificant solitudines, id est, se ipsos a tumultu mundi quantum 
possunt, elongant, ut soli sint, et idonei loqui cum Deo." In Job, 
loc. cit. 

3 " Fuge, tace, quiesce." 

4 "Fuge Daululum occupationes terrenas, absconde te modicum a 
tumu ltuosis cogitationibus tuis ; vaca aliquantulum Deo, et requiesce 
in eo. Die Deo: Eia, nunc doce cor meum, ubi et quomodo te quaerat, 
ubi et quomodo te inveniat." Medit. 21. 

TJic Exercises of a Retreat. 289 

rest in retirement with God ; say to him, O Lord, show 
me where and how I may find Thee, that I may speak 
alone to Thee, and at the same time hear Thy words. 

God speaks indeed to those who seek him, but he does 
not speak in the midst of the tumult of the world. The 
Lord is not in the commotion of the earthquake? as was said 
to Elias, when God called him to solitude. The voice of 
God, as it is said in the same place, is -as the whistling of 
a gentle air? which is scarcely heard, not, however, by the 
ear of the body, but by that of the heart, without noise 
and in a sweet rest. This is exactly what the Lord says 
through Osee: / will lead hey into solitude, and I will 
speak to her heart? When the Lord wishes to draw a 
soul to himself, he leads it into solitude, far from the 
embarrassment of the world and intercourse with men, 
and there speaks to it with words of fire. 4 The words of 
God are said to be of fire, because they melt a soul, as 
the sacred Spouse says: My soul melted, when He (my 
Beloved) spoke? In fact, they prepare the soul to submit 
readily to the direction of God, and to take that form of 
life which God wishes it to take; they are words exceed 
ingly efficacious, and so efficient that at the very time 
they are heard they operate in the soul that which God 
requires of it. 

One day the Lord said to St. Teresa: "Oh, how will 
ingly would I speak to many souls, but the world makes 
so great a noise in their hearts that my voice cannot be 
heard ! Oh, if they would but separate themselves a 
little from the world!" Thus, then, my very dear friend, 
the Lord wishes to speak to you, but alone and in soli- 

1 " Non in commotione Dominus." 3 Kings, xix. n. 

2 " Sibilus aurae tenuis." Ibid, 

3 " Ducam earn in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus." Os. ii. 14. 

4 " Ignitum eloquium tuum." Ps. cxviii. 140. 

8 " Anima mea liquefacta est, ut (Dilectus meus) locutus est." 
Cant. v. 6. 

290 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

tude; since if he should speak to you in your own house, 
your parents, your friends, and your domestic occupa 
tions would continue to make a noise in your heart, and 
you would be unable to hear his voice. The saints have 
for this reason left their homes and their country, and 
gone to hide themselves in caverns or deserts, or at 
least in a cell of a religious house, there to find God and 
hear his words. St. Eucherius 1 relates that a certain 
person seeking a place in which he could find God, went 
for this purpose to ask counsel from a master of the 
spiritual life. The man of God led him to a solitary 
place and then said: "Behold, here God may be found," 
without saying anything more. By this he wished to 
give him to understand that God is not to be found in 
the midst of the noise of the world, but in solitude. St. 
Bernard says that he learned to know God among the 
beech-trees and oaks better than in all the learned 
books he had read. 

The inclination of worldlings is to be in company with 
friends, to talk and divert themselves; but the desire of 
the saints is to be in solitary places, in the midst of 
forests, or in caverns, there to converse alone with God, 
who in solitude familiarly converses with souls, as a 
friend with his friend. " Oh, solitude !" .exclaims St. 
Jerome, " in which God familiarly converses with his 
servants." ; The Venerable Vincent Caraffa said that if 
it had been free to him to wish for anything in this 
world, he would have asked for nothing but a little 
grotto with a piece of bread and a spiritual book; there 
always to live far from men and conversing alone with 
God. The Spouse of the Canticles, praising the beauty 
of a soul living in solitude, compares it to the beauty of 
the turtle-dove: Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-dove s? 

1 Epist. ad Hilar. 

2 "O solitude, in qua Deus cum suis familiariter loquitur et conver- 

3 " Pulchrae sunt gense tuae sicut turturis." Cant. i. 9. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 291 

Precisely because the turtle-dove avoids the company of 
other birds, and always lives in the most solitary places. 
Hence it is that the holy angels admire with joy the 
beauty and splendor which embellish on its flight to 
heaven a soul, that in this life has lived hidden and soli 
tary as in a desert: Who is this that cometh up from the 
desert, flowing with delights ? 

I have wished to write all these things to you in order 
to inspire you with a love for holy solitude, for I hope 
that in the exercises which you will perform, you will 
not have to torture your brains, as your pastor said, but 
that the Lord will make you taste so great a spiritual 
delight, that you will come out of your retreat with such 
an affection for them that you will not fail hereafter to 
go through them every year; a thing which will be of 
immense advantage to your soul, whatever state of life 
you may choose, because in the midst of the world, 
the various occupations, disturbances, and distractions 
always produce dryness of spirit, so that it is necessary 
from time to time to irrigate, as it were, and renew it, as 
St. Paul exhorts: Be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind? 

King David, troubled by earthly cares, wished to have 
wings and to fly away from the bustle of the world in 
order to find rest: Who will give me wings, and I will fly 
away, and be at rest? 3 But being unable to leave the 
world with his body, he at least sought from time to 
time to disengage himself from the affairs of the realm 
he governed, and dwell in solitude conversing with God, 
and thus his spirit found peace. I have gone far off flying 
away, and I abode in the wilderness? 

1 " Quae est ista quse ascendit de deserto, deliciis affluens ?" Cant. 
viii. 5. 

* " Renovamini autem spiritu mentis vestrae." Ephes. iv. 23. 

3 " Quis dabit mihi pennas, sicut columbae, et volabo et requies- 
cam?" Ps. liv. 7. 

4 " Ecce, elongavi fugiens, et mansi in solitudine." Ibid. v. 8. 

292 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

Jesus Christ also, who had no need of solitude to be 
recollected and united with God, but wished to set us 
an example, often retired from intercourse with man and 
went away to mountains or into deserts to pray: Hav 
ing dismissed the multitude, He went into a mountain alone to 
pray? and He retired into a desert and prayed? And 
he desired that his disciples, after the fatigue of their 
missions, should retire to some solitary place to rest in 
spirit: Come apart into a desert place and rest a little;* de 
claring by this that the spirit, even amidst spiritual oc 
cupations, being obliged to treat with men, becomes 
somewhat relaxed, whence it becomes necessary to re 
new it in solitude. 

Worldlings, who are accustomed to divert themselves 
in conversations, at banquets and plays, believe that in 
solitude, where no such things are found, one must suffer 
an insupportable tediousness. This is really the case 
with those who have a conscience defiled by sin; for 
when they are occupied in the affairs of this world, they 
do not think of the things of the soul; but when they are 
disengaged and in solitude, as they do not seek God, 
they feel at once the remorse of their conscience, and 
thus find not peace, but tediousness and pain. But give 
me one who seeks God; and he will find in solitude not 
tediousness, but contentment and joy. This the Wise 
Man assures us of: For her (wisdom s) conversation hath 
no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and 
gladness* Oh no! to converse with God causes no bitter 
ness, no tediousness, but joy and peace. 

1 " Dimissa turba, ascendit in montem solus orare." Matt. xiv. 


* " Ipse autem secedebat in desertum, et orabat." Luke, v. 16. 

3 " Venite seorsum in desertum locum, et requiescite pusillum." 
Mark, vi. 31. 

4 " Non enim habet amaritudinem conversatio illius, nee tsedium 
convictus illius, sed Isetitiam et gaudium." Wisd. viii. 16. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 293 

The venerable Cardinal Bellarmine used, during the 
season, when the other cardinals went to divert them 
selves in country-seats and villas, to go to some solitary 
house to make the exercises during a month, and these 
he called his country diversions, and certainly his heart 
found more delight in them than all the others did in 
their amusements. 

St. Charles Borromeo made the exercises every year 
and found in them his paradise on earth; and it was 
whilst he was one year engaged in these exercises on 
Mount Varalla that his last illqess came upon him and 
brought him to his blessed end. For this reason St. 
Jerome says that solitude was a paradise which he had 
discovered on earth: " Solitude is a paradise to me." 1 

But, perhaps, some one will say, What contentment 
can a person find, being alone and having no one to con 
verse with ? St. Bernard answers, " He who seeks God 
is by no means alone in solitude, for God himself is there 
with him,, and renders him more content than if he had 
the company of the first princes of the world." " I was 
never less alone," writes the holy abbot, " than when I 
was alone." z 

The prophet Isaias, describing the sweetness which 
God gives those to taste who go to seek him in solitude, 
says: The Lord therefore will comfort Sion, and will com 
fort all the ruins thereof; and He will make her desert as a 
place of pleasure, and her wilderness as the garden of the 
Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving 
and the voice of praise* The Lord well knows how to 
comfort a soul who retires from the world; he recom- 

1 " Solitude mihi paradisus est." Epist. ad Rust. 
" Nunquam minus solus, quam cum solus." De Vila sol. 

3 " Consolabitur Dominus Sion, et consolabitur omnes ruinas ejus: 
et ponet desertum ejus quasi delicias, et solitudinem ejus quasi hor- 
tum Domini: gaudium et laetitia invenietur in ea, gratiarum actio et 
vox laudis." Isa. li. 3. 

2Q4 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

penses a thousand-fold all the pleasures of the world it 
foregoes, and makes solitude become for it a garden of 
delight, where all the tumult of the world being excluded 
and there being only thanksgiving and praise to that 
God who treats it so lovingly, it finds a peace that 
satiates it. If there were no other contentment in soli 
tude than that of knowing the eternal truths, this alone 
should be sufficient to induce us to desire it. Divine 
truth, when known, truly satiates the soul, and not the 
vanities of the world, which are but lying and deceitful 
things; and this is precisely that great delight which is 
found in the exercises made in solitude and silence. In 
them we see in their purest light the Christian maxims, 
the importance of eternal salvation, the ugliness of sin, 
the value of grace, the love of God towards us, the vanity 
of the goods of this world, and the foolishness of those 
who, in order to acquire them, lose eternal goods and 
prepare for themselves an eternity of pains. Whence it 
happens that man, at the sight of these truths, takes the 
most efficacious means to secure his eternal salvation, 
and rises above himself, as Jeremiah says: He shall sit 
solitary and hold his peace, because he raised himself above 
himself. 1 There man disengages himself from earthly 
affections, and unites himself to God in prayer, by the 
desire of belonging to him altogether, by offering him 
self to him, and by other repeated acts of sorrow, love, 
and resignation, and thus finds himself raised so high 
above all created things that he laughs at those who so 
much prize the goods of this world which he despises, 
knowing them to be too little and too unworthy of the 
love of a heart created to love the infinite good, which is 

It is certain that he who comes out of the exercises, 
comes out of them much changed and better than he 

1 " Sedebit solitarius et tacebit, quia levavit se supra se." Lam. 
iii. 28. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 295 

was when he began them. It was the sentiment of St. 
John Chrysostom that retirement is a great help towards 
the acquisition of perfection. 1 Therefore a learned au 
thor speaking of the exercises, writes thus : " Happy 
the man whom Christ leads from the noise of the world 
to the spiritual exercises, and into the solitude filled with 
heavenly sweetness." 2 Happy indeed is the man who, 
flying from the tumult of the world, lets the Lord lead 
him to the spiritual exercises, where he enjoys a solitude 
which gives him a foretaste of the delights of paradise. 
The sermons preached in churches are good ; but if the 
hearers do not apply themselves to reflect on them, little 
will be the fruit they will derive from them. Our re 
flections on them will never be made as they ought, if 
we do not make them in solitude. The sea-shell, after 
having received the dew of heaven, suddenly shuts itself 
and goes down to the bottom of the sea, and there the 
pearl is formed. It is an undoubted fact that what makes 
the fruit of the exercises perfect is the reflecting in silence 
(treating alone with God) on the truths heard in the ser 
mon or read in a book. Therefore St. Vincent of Paul, 
in the missions he gave, always invited the hearers to 
perform the exercises, retired in some solitary place. 
One single holy maxim, well ruminated, is sufficient to 
make a saint. St. Francis Xavier left the world in con 
sequence of the impression made on him by that sentence 
of the Gospel : " What doth it profit a man, if he gain tJie 
whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul ?" A certain 
student in consequence of one single sentiment on death, 
suggested to him by a good religious, changed his bad 
life and became virtuous. St. Clement of Ancyra was 

"Ad adipiscendam perfectionem, magnum in secessu subsidium." 
* " Felix homo, quern Christus e mundi strepitu in spiritualia exerci- 

tia et solitudinem coelesti amoenitate florentem inducit." 

3 "Quid prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animae 

vero suae detrimentum patiatur?" Matt. xvi. 26. 

296 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PARTII. 

encouraged by another consideration on eternity sug 
gested to him by his mother, namely, "The thing we 
contend for is life eternal," l and joyously suffered for 
Jesus Christ many torments inflicted on him by the 

To conceive, then, a just idea of the fruit which the ex 
ercises produce when performed in solitude, read a book 
on this subject, if you have one, and see there the stu 
pendous conversions occasioned by them. I will here 
mention a few. 

Father Maffei relates that there was in Sienna a priest 
who gave public scandal. This priest having made the* 
exercises with a missionary who passed by accident 
through Sienna, was not only converted and made a good 
confession, but on a certain day, whilst a great number 
of people was present in the church, he went into the 
pulpit weeping and having a cord round his neck, and 
asked pardon for all the scandals he had given, and after 
this he went away to become a Capuchin and died as a 
saint. On his death-bed he confessed that for all the 
graces he had received he was indebted to those spiritual 

Moreover, Father Bartoli relates of a certain German 
knight who had given himself up to all kinds of vice, so 
far as to give his soul to the devil by a written contract 
signed with his own blood, that, having afterwards per 
formed the exercises, he conceived so great a sorrow for 
his sins that he fainted several times, and thenceforth he 
continued to lead a penitential life as long as he lived. 

F. Rossignoli relates that, in Sicily, a son of a certain 
Baron became so debauched that his father, after having 
tried without effect many means to correct him, was ob 
liged to put him in chains in a galley with the slaves. 
But a certain good religious, moved by compassion, went 

" Negotium pro quo contendimus, vita aeterna est." 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 297 

to see him, and by his winning manners and good advice 
induced him to meditate on certain eternal truths in the 
galley where he was confined. The young man having 
done so, wished to make a general confession, and showed 
such a change in his conduct that his father with much 
joy received him again into his house, and never after 
wards had any reason to be displeased with him. 

Another youth of Flanders, having made the exercises 
and being converted by them from a most wicked life he 
had been leading, said afterwards to his companions who 
were wondering at this : "You wonder at me, but I tell 
you that the d-evil himself, if he could make the ex 
ercises, would be brought to penance." 

Another, a religious, but of so bad conduct that he 
had rendered himself insupportable to all, was by his 
Superiors sent to make the exercises. Being about to 
leave, he jestingly said to his friends, "Keep your beads 
ready to touch my body when I come back." But after 
the exercises he was so much changed that he became an 
example to all the other religious, who, seeing this change, 
wished to make them also. 

Certain young men seeing other young men, their 
friends, going to make the exercises, wished to accom 
pany them, not to profit, but to jest afterwards in their 
conversations about their devotions. But exactly the 
contrary happened ; for during the exercises they were 
filled with such compunction that they all began to sigh 
and weep, confessed their sins, and changed their lives. 

I could adduce such facts by thousands, but I shall 
relate only one more, that of a nun in the monastery of 
Torre di Specchi in Rome, who pretended to learning, 
but led a very imperfect life. This nun began, though 
with a bad will, to assist at the exercises that were 
given in the monastery; but the first meditation she 
made on the end of man made such an impression on 
her that she began to weep, went to her spiritual Father 

298 The Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

and said to him " Father, I wish to become a saint, and 
this promptly." She wanted to say more, but the tears 
prevented her from speaking. Having then retired to her 
cell, she made a writing by which she gave herself en 
tirely to Jesus Christ, and began to live a penitent and 
retired life, in which she persevered until death. 

But when we see the esteem in which the exercises 
have been held by so many holy men, this, if we had no 
other reason, should be enough to make us prize them 
highly. St. Charles Borromeo, from the first time he 
made the spiritual exercises in Rome, began to lead a 
perfect life, St. Francis de Sales confessed that it was 
to the exercises he owed the beginning of his holy life. 
Father Louis of Granada, a holy man, said that his 
whole life would not suffice to explain the knowledge of 
heavenly things that he had received in making the 
spiritual exercises, Father Avila called the exercises a 
school of heavenly wisdom, and wished that all his 
spiritual children should go to make them. Father 
Louis Blosius, a Benedictine, said that we should give 
to God special thanks for having in these latter times 
made known to his Church this treasure of the exercises. 


But if the exercises are of a great help to persons in 
every state or condition, they are of an especial help to 
him who wishes to make the choice of the state of life he 
should embrace. For I find it stated that the first end 
for which the exercises were instituted was that of mak 
ing the choice of a state of life, because upon this choice 
depends the eternal salvation of each one. We cannot 
expect that an angel from heaven should come to assure 
us of the state which, according to the will of God, we 
should choose. It is sufficient to place before our eyes 
the state we think of choosing, and then we ought to 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 299 

consider the end we have in view in that choice, and 
weigh all the circumstances of the case. 

This is the principal reason for which I wish you to 
make the exercises in silence; namely, for making the 
choice of the state of life. When, then, you have entered 
upon the exercises, as I hope you will, I beg of you to 
follow the advice I am going to subjoin: 

1. The only intention you should have in making these 
exercises is that you may know what God will have you 
to do; and, therefore, in going to that solitary house, say 
within yourself, / will hear what the Lord God shall speak 
in me. 1 I go to know what the Lord will tell me and 
what he wishes from me. 

2. Besides, it is necessary that you have a determined 
will to obey God and to follow without reserve the voca 
tion he will make known to you. 

3. It is, moreover, necessary that you pray earnestly to 
the Lord, that he may make known to you his will, 
namely, in what state of life he wishes you to live. But 
remember that in order to obtain this light you ought to 
pray with indifference of mind. He who prays to God 
to enlighten him on his state of life, but does so without 
this indifference, and, instead of wishing to conform to 
the will of God, wishes rather that God should conform to 
his own will, is like a pilot who feigns to will, but indeed 
wills not that his vessel should advance, since he casts the 
anchor and then hoists the sail. God does not enlighten 
or speak to. such a person. But if you will supplicate 
him with this indifference and the resolution to accom 
plish his will, he will make you see clearly the state 
which is best for you. And if you should then feel any 
repugnance to it, you ought to place before your eyes 
the hour of your death, and reflect which state you 
would in that hour wish to have embraced, and then em 
brace it. 

1 <l Audiam quid loquatur in me Dominus Deus." Ps. Ixxxiv. Q. 

300 T/ie Exercises of a Retreat. [PART n. 

4. Take with you to your house of retreat a book con 
taining the meditations which are commonly made dur 
ing the exercises; read these meditations and let them 
be instead of sermons, reflecting on them for half an 
hour, as well in the morning as in the evening. Take 
also with you the Life of some saint or some other 
spiritual books out of which to make your spiritual 
reading; and these ought to be your only companions in 
solitude during the eight days. It is also necessary, in 
order to obtain that light and to hear what the Lord 
will speak to you, to avoid every distraction: Be still, and 
see that I am God. 1 To hear the divine voice, we must 
cease all intercourse with the world. To a sick man no 
remedies will be of any use if he does not take them 
with the proper precaution, as avoiding exposure to the 
cold air, unwholesome food, or too much application of 
mind. In the same manner, in order that the exercises 
may be useful for the health of your soul, you must re 
move hurtful distractions, such as the receiving of visits 
from friends, messages from without, or letters which 
are sent to you. St. Francis de Sales, when he was en 
gaged in the exercises, laid aside all the letters he re 
ceived, and did not read them until after the exercises. 
It is also necessary to read no books of amusement, and 
not even of study; for then we ought only to study the 
crucifix. Therefore, have in your room none but spiritual 
books, and, reading in them, read not for curiosity s sake, 
but only for this one end, namely, to decide on the state 
of life which God will make known to you as the one 
that he wishes you to embrace. 

6. Moreover, it is not enough to avoid distractions 
from without, you must also avoid those from within, 
for if you should there deliberately allow your mind to 
think on the things of the world, or of study, or the like, 
the exercises and the solitude will be of little use to you. 
St. Gregory says, " What avails the solitude of the body 
"Vacate, et videte quoniarn ego sum Deus." Ps. xlv. u. 

The Exercises of a Retreat. 301 

if the solitude of the heart is wanting ?" ! Peter Ortiz, 
an envoy of Charles V., wished to go to the monastery of 
Monte Cassino, to make the exercises. Having arrived 
at the door of the monastery, he said to his thoughts 
what our Lord said to his disciples: Sit ye here till I go 
yonder and pray. * Thoughts of the world, wait here out 
side; having finished the exercises, I shall again see you, 
and we will again talk together. Whilst one is engaged 
in the exercises, one ought to make use of the time only 
for the good of his soul, without losing any moment of it. 

7. I beg of you to recite during the exercises the fol 
lowing short prayer: 

My God, I am that miserable one who in the past 
have despised Thee; but now I esteem and love 
Thee above everything, nor will 1 love any other 
but Thee. Thou wouldst have me belong entirely 
to Thee, to Thee I will belong entirely. Speak, O 
Lord ; for t/iy servant hearetli? Let me know what 
Thou wishest from me, and I will do all ; and let me 
especially know in what state Thou wishest me to 
serve Thee : Make Thou known to me the way in which 
I should walk .* 

During the exercises recommend yourself also in an 
especial manner to the divine Mother Mary, praying her 
to obtain for you the grace perfectly to accomplish the 
will of her Son. 

And do not forget, when you make the exercises, to 
recommend me to Jesus Christ, as I will not omit to do 
in a particular manner for you, that he may make you a 
saint, as I heartily wish. In which sentiment I sign my 
self to be your most devoted and obliged servant, etc. 

1 " Quid prodest solitude corporis, si desit solitudo cordis ?" Mor. 
1. 30, c. 23. 

9 "Sedete hie. donee vadam illuc, et orem." Matt. xxvi. 36. 

3 "Loquere, Domine. quia audit servus tuus." I Kings, iii. 10. 

4 " Notam fac mihi viam in quaambulem." Ps. cxlii. 8. 

Hymn. [PART IL 


I will lead her into solitude, and I will speak to her heart." Osee, ii. 14. 

Fly hither from the storm that rages round ; 
Fly, where true peace in solitude is found; 
Where cares and strife and worldly troubles cease, 
Here I invite thee to repose in peace. 
A gift awaits thee here : My light divine, 
To loving souls so dear, on thee shall shine ; 
Here thou shalt see how vile is all the earth, 
How sweet My love to those who know its worth. 

Then from My lips that sweet inviting word, 
That bids thee love Me, shall by thee be heard ; 
How much I always loved thee thou shalt see, 
And how ungrateful thou hast been to Me. 
Sweet contrite tears thy wounds of sin shall heal, 
The ardor of My love thou then shalt feel. 
And here I wait thee to bestow in love 
A foretaste of the joys of heaven above. 

Introduction. 303 

ItteMtatiotts for ci JJriuate Eelreat of (igl)t 


i. There can be no doubt that retreats made in com 
munity, in which meditations and instructions are given 
by the clergy, are very profitable; but for persons who 
desire to advance in divine love, one great means is to 
go through the same spiritual exercises in private re 
treats. It is in total solitude that God speaks most 
efficaciously to the souls of his beloved; and it is impos 
sible for a Christian to make such retreats, and not, 
each time, come out a different man from w 7 hat he was 
when he entered into them. The saints, in order the 
more to enjoy God, who in solitude communicates him 
self more familiarly to those who seek him, retired into 
caves and deserts. St. Bernard says that he learned more 
of divine things amidst the beeches and oaks of the 
desert than he ever learned from masters and from books. 
You may have the same desert, if you will, in your own 
house; strive to avail yourself of it for at least eight 
days. But others do not make such retreats. What 
then ? If others do not make them, do you at least make 
them; and by so doing, you may induce others to follow 
your example. Such singularities are pleasing to God. 
No one, says St. Bernard, can become a saint, if he leads 
not a singular life in the practice of virtue and in the 
availing himself of the means of salvation: "That can 
not be perfect which is not singular." 1 

1 " Non potest esse perfectum nisi singulare." 

* For a method of making a retreat, see Appendix at the end of 
this treatise. ED. 

304 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

It is necessary, in order to make these retreats in a 
proper manner, to relinquish, during the time, all tem 
poral affairs and worldly thoughts; to keep silence as 
much as possible, and to remain only in the church or 
in your own house. You may, however, take a walk 
occasionally for the sake of recreation. 

For the purpose of such retreats I here add the follow 
ing meditations, which are not in the way of discourses, 
but only collections of eternal maxims, of devout senti 
ments and affections, in order that you may stay on any 
point from which the soul seems to derive most nourish 
ment, without obliging yourself to read the whole medi 
tation. Sometimes our Lord will enlighten you at the 
first or second sentiment that you read; if so, stop there, 
without going farther, in order that the mind and heart 
may find that on which to feed. 

Take care not to enter into these retreats with an 
anxiety for sensible tenderness and devotion, but solely 
to learn and to accomplish what God desires of you. If 
you have purely this object in view, although you should 
experience nothing but tediousness and aridity, God 
will not fail to enlighten you and to inflame you with 
his holy love; and the greater your fidelity in desolation, 
the greater will be the divine graces with which your 
soul will be enriched. 

As to the distribution of time and the different exer 
cises, you may make use of the following, which every 
person may adapt to his circumstances. 

In the Morning. After rising, first meditation for half 
an hour. Recitation of the office. Preparation for Com 
munion for half an hour. Communion, after which, an 
hour s thanksgiving, and during this time hear one or 
more masses. Work for half an hour. Spiritual read 
ing for half an hour, to be followed by the second 
meditation. Particular examination of conscience, and 

The Importance of Salvation. 305 

After Dinner. Vespers and Complin. Second lecture 
of the Lives of the saints, for half an hour. Third 
meditation. Work for half an hour. Visit to the Most 
Holy Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin. 

/// the Evening. Fourth meditation for half an hour. 
The noting-down of resolutions. The Rosary. Supper. 
General examination of conscience. The Litany of the 
Blessed Virgin, and other vocal prayers. 

The Importance of Salvation.* 

Salvation is our only Btisiness in this World. 

I. Of all our affairs there is none more important than 
that of our eternal salvation, on which depends our hap 
piness or misery for eternity. 

One thing is necessary? It is not necessary that we 
should be rich, honored, or in the enjoyment of good 
health, but it is necessary that we should be saved. For 
this end alone has God placed us in the world; and woe 
to us if we do not attain it ! 

St. Francis Xavier said that the only good to be ob 
tained in this world is salvation; and the only evil to be 
dreaded, damnation. What matter if we are poor, de 
spised, or infirm ? If saved, we shall be happy forever. 
On the contrary, what does it avail to be great, or to be 
monarchs ? If lost, we shall be miserable for eternity. 

O God, what will become of me? I maybe saved, 

1 " Porro unum est necessarium." Luke, x. 42. 

* We have divided these meditations into three points, according to 
the usual method of the saintly Author. Though these meditations 
have been composed for the time of a retreat, yet they may be used 
at any other time. ED. 

306 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

and I may also be lost. And if I may be lost, why do I 
not resolve to adhere more closely to Thee ? 

My Jesus, have pity on me. I will amend my life. 
Give me Thy assistance. Thou hast died to save me, 
and shall I, notwithstanding, forfeit my salvation ? 

II. Have we already done enough to secure salvation ? 
Are we already secure of not falling into hell ? 

What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? J If he 
lose his soul, what will compensate him for its loss ? 

What have not the saints done to secure their salva 
tion ? How many kings and queens have renounced 
their kingdoms and shut themselves up in cloisters ! 
How many young men have left their country, and have 
gone to live in deserts ! How many young virgins have 
renounced marriage with the great ones of the world, 
to go and give their lives for Jesus Christ? And what 
do we do ? 

O my God, how much has Jesus Christ done for our 
salvation ! He spent thirty-three years in toil and labor; 
he gave his blood and his life: and shall we, through our 
own fault, be lost? 

Lord ! I give Thee thanks for not having called me 
out of the world when I had forfeited Thy grace. Had 
I then died, what would have become of me for all 
eternity ? 

III. God desires that all should be saved: " He will 
have all men to be saved." 2 If we are lost, it will be 
entirely our own fault. And this will be our greatest 
torment in hell. 

St. Teresa says that even the loss of a trifle, of an orna 
ment, of a ring, when it has happened through our own 
carelessness, occasions us the greatest uneasiness. What 

1 " Quam dabit homo commutationem pro anima sua?" Matt. xvi. 

2 " Omnes homines vult salvos fieri." I Tim. ii. 4. 

The Importance of Salvation. 307 

a torment, then, will it be to the damned to have wilfully 
lost all, their souls, heaven, and God ! 

Alas ! death approaches; and what have I done for life 
eternal ? 

O my God ! for how many years have I deserved to 
dwell in hell, where I could not repent, nor love Thee ! 
Now, that I can do both, I will repent and will love 


Damnation is an Irreparable Evil. 

I. And how long shall we delay ? Until we weep with 
the damned, saying, We therefore have erred, 1 and there 
is now no longer, nor will there ever be, any remedy for 

For every other error in this worlcj there is a remedy, 
but for the loss of the soul there is none. 

What pains and trouble do men take to obtain wealth, 4 
dignities, or pleasures ! But what do they do to save 
their souls ? Nothing: as though the loss of the soul 
were but of little consequence. 

How much diligence in preserving bodily health ! 
The best physicians, the best remedies, the best climate 
are sought after. And as regards the health of the soul, 
what great negligence ! 

O my God ! I will no longer resist Thy calls. Who 
knows but that the words which I am now reading may 
be my last call from God ? 

II. Can we be sensible of the danger of being lost for 
ever and not tremble ? and do we delay to apply a remedy 
to the disorders of our consciences? 

My soul, how many graces has our Lord bestowed 
upon you that you might be saved ! he has caused you 
to be born in the bosom of the true Church. How many 

1 "Ergo erravimus." Wisd. v. 6. 

308 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

advantages for becoming a saint ! sermons, confessions, 
the good example of companions. How many lights, 
how many loving calls in spiritual exercises, in medita 
tion, in holy Communion ! How many mercies has he 
shown you ! how long has he waited for you ! how many 
times has he pardoned you ! graces which he has not 
bestowed on so many others. 

What is there that I ought to do more for My vineyard that 
I have not done to it? 1 What more, says the Almighty, 
ought I to do for your soul ? For how many years 
have you been in the world, and what fruit have you 
hitherto brought forth ? 

If we had been allowed to choose the means of salva 
tion, what more easy and effectual means could we have 
chosen ? 

Alas! if we do not avail ourselves of so many graces, 
they will serve only to render our death the more miser 

To become a saint it is not necessary to have ecstasies 
and visions; sufficient for you are the ordinary means 
which you possess. Meditate, communicate frequently, 
read spiritual books, fly all sinful occasions, and you will 
become a saint. 

O God, already have I lived many years in the world, 
and what have I hitherto gained ? O Jesus ! Thy pre 
cious blood, Thy death upon the cross, are my hope. 

III. If this night I were to die, should I be satisfied 
with my past life? No; and why do I delay ? that death 
may arrive, and I may lament and say, Alas ! my life is 
now at an end, and I have done nothing? 

What a grace would it be for a sick man, already de 
spaired of by his physicians, to be allowed another year, 
or even another month ! And God grants me this time; 
and in what shall I employ it for the future ? 

1 "Quid est quod debui ultra facere vineae mese, et non feci ?" /JYZ. 
v. 4. 

TJie Importance of Salvation. 309 

O Lord ! since Thou hast waited for me until now, I 
will no longer disregard Thee. Behold me; tell me 
what Thou requires! of me, and I will do it. I will not 
wait to give myself to Thee until that time when time 
for me will be no more. O Jesus ! I will nevermore 
offend Thee. I will spend the remainder of my life in 
bewailing my past sins, and in loving Thee, the God of 
my soul. 

We must, before all, secure our Salvation. 

I. Let us proceed quickly, for death is at hand. What 
we can do to-day let us not put off till to-morrow. To 
day passes on and returns not. 

Every one says, at the hour of death, Oh that I had 
been a saint! But of what avail will such regrets be, 
when the lamp will soon be extinguished for want of 

We shall say when death comes, What would it have 
cost me to have avoided that occasion, to have borne 
with that person, to have broken off that correspondence, 
to have yielded that punctilio ? But I did not do so; and 
now what will become of me ? 

O Lord, help me. I will say to Thee, with St. Catha 
rine of Genoa, "My Jesus, no more sins, no more sins!" 
I renounce all things to please Thee. 

II. Let us not think that we can do too much to gain 
eternal salvation. "No security can be too great," says 
St. Bernard, " where, eternity is at stake." 1 

To secure our salvation, we must be resolved to adopt 
the means. Inclination will not be sufficient; nor will it 
serve us to say, I will do it by and by. Hell is filled 
with souls who said by and by, by and by. Death came 
in the mean time, and they were lost. 

1 " Nulla nimia securitas, ubi periclitatur aeternitas." 

310 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

The Apostle says, With fear and trembling work out your 
salvation? He who trembles at the thought of being lost, 
always recommends himself to God, avoids the occasions 
of sin, and will be saved. 

To be saved we must use violence. Heaven is not 
given to indolent cowards. The violent bear it away? 

Lord ! how many promises have I made Thee ? but 
my promises have all been treasons. I will never betray 
Thee more; help me, grant that I may die rather than 
offend Thee. 

III. Ask, says our Lord, and you shall receive; 3 by which 
he manifests to us his great desire that we should be 
saved. If any one should say to his friend, Ask of me 
what you please, he could say nothing more. Let us, 
then, ever pray to God, and we shall be enriched with 
graces, and secure of salvation. 

My dear Jesus, cast Thine eyes on my miseries and 
have pity on me. I have been forgetful of Thee, but 
Thou hast not forgotten me. I love Thee, my love, with 
all my soul; I detest all the offences that I have com 
mitted against Thee above every evil. Pardon me, my 
God, and forget my many ingratitudes. And since 
Thou knowest my weakness, do not abandon me; en 
lighten me, and strengthen me to conquer all things to 
please Thee. Grant that I may forget all, that I may 
think only of Thy love, and the mercies by which Thou 
hast so powerfully obliged me to love Thee. Mary, 
Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. 

1 "Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem operamini. Phil. ii. 

2 "Violenti rapiunt illud." Matt. xi. 12. 
" " Petite et accipietis." John, xvi. 24. 

The Vanity of t lie World. 31 

The Vanity of the World. 

The Goods of this World are False Goods. 

I. What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world 
and suffer the loss of his own soul. 1 O great maxim, which 
has conducted so many souls to heaven, and bestowed 
so many saints on the Church ! t What doth it profit to 
gain the whole world, which passes away, and lose the 
soul, which is eternal ? 

The world ! And what is this world but outside show 
a scene which quickly passes away ? The fashion of this 
world passeth away? Death approaches, the curtain falls, 
the scene closes, and thus all things come to an end. 

Alas ! at the hour of death, how will all worldly things 
appear to a Christian those vases of silver, those heaps 
of money, that rich and vain furniture when he must 
leave them all forever ? 

O Jesus ! grant that henceforward my soul may be 
wholly Thine; grant that I may love no other but Thee. 
I desire to renounce all things before death tears me 
away from them. 

II. St. Teresa says, " Nothing ought to be considered 
of consequence which must have end." Let us, there 
fore, strive to gain that fortune which will not fail with 
time. What does it avail a man to be happy for a few 
days (if anything can be called happiness without God), 
if he must be unhappy forever. 

David says that earthly goods, at the hour of death, 

"Quid prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animae 
vero suse detrimentum patiatur?" Matt. xvi. 26. 

a " Praeterit enitn figura hujus mundi." I Cor. vii. 31. 

312 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

will seem as a dream to one waking from sleep: As the 
dream of them that awaked What disappointment does 
he feel who, having dreamt that he was a king, on awak 
ing, finds himself still lowly and poor as ever ? 

my God ! who knows but that this meditation which 
I am now reading may be the last call for me ? Enable 
me to root out of my heart all earthly affections, before I 
enter into eternity. Grant that I may be sensible of the 
great wrong that I have done Thee, by offending Thee, 
and by forsaking Thee for the love of creatures. Father, 
I am not wortJiy to be called Thy Son? I am grieved for 
having turned my back upon Thee; do not reject me, 
now that I return to Thee. 

III. No posts of honor, no pomps, no riches, no amuse 
ments, no punctilios, will console a Christian at the hour 
of death; the love of Jesus Christ, and the little that he 
has suffered for his love, will alone console him. 

Philip II., while dying, said, " Oh that I had been a lay 
brother in some monastery, and not a king !" Philip 
III. said, "Oh that I had lived in a desert! for now I 
shall appear but with little confidence before the tribunal 
of God." Thus, at the hour of death, do those express 
themselves who have been esteemed the most fortunate 
in this world. 

In short, all earthly goods acquired during life, at the 
hour of death, generally end in remorse of conscience 
and fears of eternal damnation. O God ! will the dying 
sinner say, I have had sufficient light to direct me to 
withdraw myself from the world, but yet I have followed 
the world, and the maxims of the world; and now what 
sentence will be pronounced upon me ? He will say, 
Fool that I have been ! I might have been a saint, with 
the means and advantages that I enjoyed ! I might have 
led a happy life in union with God; and now what do I 

1 " Velut somnium surgentium." Ps. Ixxii. 20. 

8 " Pater, . . . non sum dignus vocari filius tuus." Luke, xv. 21. 

77ie Vanity of the World. 313 

find from my past life? But when will he say this? 
when the scene is about to close, and himself about to 
enter into eternity, at that moment on which will depend 
his happiness or misery forever. 

O Lord, have pity on me ! For the past I have not 
been so wise as to love Thee. From this day forward 
Thou alone shalt be my only good : My God and my all. 
Thou alone deservest all my love, and Thee only will I 


The Goods of this World are of Short Duration. 

I. Ye great ones of the world, who are now tormented 
in the flames of hell, what remains of your honors and 
riches ? They answer, weeping, Nothing, nothing ; we 
have nothing but torments and despair. All is passed 
but our punishment, which will never end. 

They will say, What Jiath pride profited us? or what 
advantage hath tJie boasting of riches brought its ? All those 
things are passed away like a shadow? Alas ! the remem 
brance of the good tilings which we have enjoyed in this 
world will not, at the hour of death, inspire us with con 
fidence, but will fill us with terror and confusion. 

Woe to me ! how many years have I been in the world, 
and what have I hitherto done for God ? O Lord, have 
pity on me, and cast me not away from Thy face.* 

The time of death is the time of truth : then do all 
worldly things appear as they really are, vanity, smoke, 
and dust. 

my God ! how frequently have I exchanged Thee 
for nothing ! I should not dare to hope for pardon, were 
it not that Thou hast died in order to pardon me. Now 

1 " Deus meus, et omnia." 

2 " Quid nobis profuit superbia? aut divitiarum jactantia quid con- 
tulit nobis? Transierunt omnia ilia tamquam umbra." Wisd. v. 8. 

3 " Ne projicias me a facie tua." Ps. 1. 13. 

314 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

will I love Thee above all things, and will esteem Thy 
grace of greater value than all the kingdoms of the 

II. Death is compared by St. Paul to a thief, 1 because 
it robs us of all things, possession, beauty, dignity, 
parents, even of our own flesh. 

The day of death is called also the day of destruction? 
Then shall we lose all that we have ever acquired, and 
all that we can hope for from this world. O my Jesus ! 
I am not concerned about the loss of earthly goods, but 
only lest I should lose Thee, the infinite good. 

We extol the saints, who, for the love of Jesus Christ, 
despise the goods of this earth ; and do we continue to 
be attached to them at the imminent danger of our 
salvation ? 

We have a great esteem for the advantages of this life; 
and why do we make so little account of the advantages 
of eternity ? 

Enlighten me, O my God ! and make me sensible that 
aFl creatures are nothing, and that Thou art my all, the 
infinite good. Grant that I may leave all things to gain 
only Thee. My God, my God, Thee only do I desire, 
and besides Thee nothing. 

III. St. Teresa says that all our faults and attachments 
to the goods of this earth arise from a want of faith. 
Let us then reanimate our faith, that we shall one day 
have to leave all and to go into eternity. And hence let 
us leave all now, while we can obtain merit by so doing, 
which we shall one day be forced to leave. What are 
riches, honors, parents ? God, God, let us seek only God, 
and God will be our all. 

That eminent servant of God, Sister Margarita of St. 
Ann, daughter of the Emperor Rudolf II., and a discal- 

1 " Dies ilia tamquam fur." I Thess. v. 4. 

2 "Dies perditionis." Dent, xxxii. 35. 

The Vanity of the World. 315 

ceated nun, said, " What will kingdoms avail at the hour 
of death ?" 

The death of the Empress Isabella induced St. Francis 
Borgia to renounce the world, and to give himself en 
tirely to God; at the sight of her corpse he said, It is 
thus, then, that the grandeurs and the crowns of this 
world terminate ? 

O my God ! Thou hast always loved me ! Grant that 
I may become wholly Thine before death overtakes me. 

Death discloses the Vanity of the World. 

I. O the great secret of death ! how does it destroy all 
worldly desires! how does it expose all worldly grandeur 
as smoke and deceit ! Things the most desired of this 
earth lose all their splendor when beheld from the bed 
of death. The shadow of death obscures the beauty of 
all things here below. 

Of what avail are riches when nothing remains but a 
winding-sheet ? Of what avail is bodily beauty, when 
all is reduced to a heap of worms? Of what avail is 
authority, when nothing remains but to be thrown into 
the grave, and be forgotten by all ? 

St. Chrysostom says, "Go to a sepulchre, contemplate 
dust and worms; and sigh." Look on the graves of the 
dead ; see those skeletons gnawed by worms and crumb 
ling into dust, and say, with a sigh, Such must I be 
come, and why do I not think of this ? why do I not give 
myself to God ? Alas ! who knows but that the senti 
ments which I am now reading may be the last call for 
me ? 

My dear Redeemer, I accept of my death, and I accept 
of it in whatever way it may please Thee to send it to 
me ; but I beseech Thee, before Thou judgest me, to 
allow me time to bewail the offences which I have com- 

3 1 6 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

mitted against Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus! and I am 
truly sorry for having despised Thee. 

II. O God! how many miserable beings, to obtain 
worldly things, pleasures, or vanities, have lost their 
souls, and, by losing their souls, have lost all ! 

Do we believe or not believe that we must die? and 
that only once ? And why do we not leave all, to secure 
a happy death ? Let us leave all, to secure all. 

Is it possible to know that the remembrance of a dis 
orderly life will at the hour of death be an insufferable 
torment, and still continue to live on in sin? 

O my God ! I thank Thee for the light which Thou 
affordest me. But, O Lord ! what have I done? Have 
I multiplied my sins, and hast Thou augmented Thy 
graces? Woe to me, if I do not avail myself of them ! 

He who reflects that in a short time he must leave the 
world will not be attached to it. 

Oh, with what peace of soul do those live and die who, 
despoiled of all things, are contented to say, My God 
and my all ! 

Solomon said that all the goods of this earth are only 
vanity and affliction of spirit ; since the more any one 
possesses of them, the more he suffers. 

St. Philip Neri called those fools whose hearts are 
attached to this world. Fools, because even here they 
lead miserable lives. 

O my God ! what now remains of the many offences 
of which I have been guilty, but the pain and remorse 
which now torment me, and will torment me still more 
at the hour of death ? Oh, do Thou make haste to pardon 
me. Thou desirest that I should be all Thine, and such 
do I desire to be. Behold, from this moment, I give my 
self to Thee, and I desire nothing in return but Thyself. 

III. Let us not imagine that to be detached from all, 
in order to love only God, is to live a disconsolate life. 
Who on this earth is so contented and happy as the man 

Our Journey to Eternity. 317 

that loves Jesus Christ with his whole heart? Find me 
one amongst all the kings of the world who is more 
happy than the soul that gives itself wholly to God. 

My soul, if now thou wert to depart out of this world, 
wouldst thou die satisfied with thy past life? And for 
what dost thou delay? that the light which God in his 
mercy now affords thee may serve to reproach thee at 
the great accounting day ? 

O Jesus ! I renounce all to give myself to Thee. Thou 
didst seek me when I fled from Thee ; and now that I 
seek Thee, do not reject me. Thou didst love me when 
I did not love Thee, nor even Desire that Thou shouldst 
love me: and now that I have no other desire but to love 
Thee, and to be loved by Thee, cast me not away from 
Thy face. O my God ! I am now convinced that Thou 
desirest to save me, and I desire to work out my salvation 
to please Thee. I leave all, and give my whole self to 
Thee. Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me. 

Our Journey to Eternity. 

We are Travellers on this Earth. 

I. We have not here a lasting citv, but we seek one that is to 
come. 1 In this world we are not citizens, but pilgrims ; 
\ve are on our way to eternity : Man shall go into the house 
of his eternity? 

Soon, therefore, must we be dislodged from this world. 
The body must soon go down into the grave, and the 
soul into el rnity. 

Would not that traveller be guilty of great folly, who 

" Non habemus hie manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus." 
Heb. xiii. 14. 

2 " Quoniam ibit homo in domum aeternitatis suae." Eccles. xii. 5. 

318 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

should consume all he had in building himself a dwelling 
in a place which he must soon leave? 

O my God! my soul is eternal; I must, then, either en 
joy Thee or lose Thee for eternity. 

In eternity there are two places of abode, one over 
flowing with all delights, the other replete with every 
torment. And these delights and torments will be eter 
nal. If the tree fall to the south, or to the nortli, in what 
place soever it shall fall, there shall it be. 1 If the soul go to 
the place of salvation, it will be happy there forever; but 
if it fall into hell, it will remain there to weep and lament 
as long as God shall be God. 

There is no medium: either forever a king in heaven, 
or forever a slave of Lucifer; either forever blessed in 
heaven, or forever in despair in hell. 

Which of these abodes will fall to the lot of each one 
of us? That which each one voluntarily chooses. Man 
shall go* He who goes to hell, goes of his own accord. 
Every one that is damned, is damned because he wills 
his own damnation. 

my Jesus, would that I had always loved Thee ! 
Too late have I known Thee; too late have I loved Thee, 
O Thou, the God of my heart, and the God that is ?ny portion 

forever ! 3 

II. Every Christian, in order to live well, ought always 
to keep eternity before his eyes. Oh, how well regulated 
is the life of that man who lives and sees all things in 
the light of eternity ! 

If heaven, hell, and eternity were doubtful things, 
surely we ought to do all in our power not to run the 
risk of being lost forever. But no; they are not doubtful 
things, but articles of faith. 

1 " Si ceciderit lignum ad austrum aut ad aquilonem, in quocumque 
loco ceciderit, ibi erit." Eccles. xi. 3. 

2 " Ibit homo." 

3 "Deus cordis mei, et pars mea Deus in seternum." Ps. Ixxii. 

Our Journey to Eternity. 319 

To what will all the fortunes of this world come? To 
a funeral, to a descent into the grave. Blessed is he 
who obtains eternal life ! 

O Jesus ! Thou art my life, my riches, my love. 
Grant me a great desire to please Thee during the re 
mainder of my life; and give me Thy assistance to fulfil 

III. One thought of eternity is sufficient to make a 
saint. St. Augustine called it the "great thought." It 
is this thought that has sent so many young persons 
into cloisters, so many anchorites into deserts, and so 
many martyrs to cruel deaths 1 . 

Father Avila converted a lady who was attached to 
the world, by only saying, "Consider, always, forever." 

Oh, how much depends on the last moment of our 
lives ! On our last breath depends an eternity, either of 
happiness or misery; a life of eternal bliss, or of eternal 
woe. Jesus Christ died upon the cross, in order to se 
cure for us his grace at this last moment. 

My dear Redeemer, if then Thou hadst not died for 
me, should I have been lost forever? I thank Thee, O 
my love ! I confide in Thee, and love Thee. 

Folly of those who do not think of Eternity. 

I. Either we believe or we do not believe. If we do not 
believe, we do too much for things which we regard as 
fables. But if we do believe, we do too little to obtain 
a happy eternity, and to avoid eternal misery. 

Father Vincent Carafa said that if men thoroughly 
knew the truths of eternity, and compared the goods and 
evils of this life with those of the next, the world would 
become a desert, because there would be none that would 
attend to the affairs of this life. 

When the last moment of life is near at hand, how shall 

320 Meditations for an Eig/it Days Retreat. 

we tremble at the thought that on that moment will de 
pend our eternal happiness or misery ! 

O God ! months and years pass away; we are approach 
ing eternity, and we think not of it ! And who knows 
but that this year or month may be my last? Who 
knows but that this may be the last warning I may re 
ceive from God ? 

O my God ! I will no longer abuse Thy graces. Be 
hold me; make known to me what Thou wouldst have 
me do, and in all things I will obey Thee. 

II. And why should we delay after so many lights 
and calls from God ? Unless we desire to lament with 
the damned, saying, The summer is ended, and we are not 
saved. 1 Now is the time for reconciliation with God; 
after death no remedy will be left us. 

With good reason did Father Avila say that Chris 
tians who believe eternal life, and live at a distance 
from God, ought to be shut up within an asylum as in 

The business of eternity is indeed a great point. It is 
not whether we shall inhabit a house less commodious 
or lightsome; but whether we shall dwell in a palace of 
all delights, or in an abyss of the worst of torments. 

It is whether we shall be happy with the saints and 
angels, or live in despair with the multitude of the 
enemies of God. And for how many years? For a 
thousand ? No, forever, forever, as long as God shall be 

If then, O God, I had died in my sins, should I have 
lost Thee forever? If as yet, O Lord, Thou hast not 
pardoned me, pardon me now, I beseech Thee. I love 
Thee with all my soul, and I am sorry above every other 
evil for having offended Thee. I will never lose Thee 
more. I love Thee with all my heart, and will forever 
love Thee. Have pity on me. 

1 " Finita est aestas, et nos salvati non sumus." Jer. viii. 20. 

Our Journey to Eternity. 321 

III. Upon many, during life, it makes little impression 
to hear of judgment, hell, or eternity. But in death, 
what dread and terror do these truths excite ! but, alas ! 
with but little fruit; because then they serve only to in 
crease their remorse and confusion. 

St. Teresa said to her religious, " Daughters, one soul, 
one eternity;" by which she meant that if the soul is 
lost, all is lost, and that the soul once lost is lost for 

O Lord ! wait yet awhile, that I may weep for my 
sins. Too many years have I spent to Thy displeasure; 
the time which yet remains to me shall be given all to 
Thee. Accept of me, that I may serve Thee, my God, 
my God ! 

The Lord waits for us; let us highly prize the time 
which, in his mercy, he bestows upon us, that we may 
not have to regret it when it will be no more for us. 

O God ! what would not a dying man give for another 
day, or even another hour ! but another day or hour, 
with his sound senses, for the time which remains to the 
dying is but little adapted to the settling of affairs of 
conscience. Giddiness of head, pains of body, oppres 
sions at the chest, hinder the mind from doing anything 
in a proper manner. Then the soul, as it were, buried 
in obscurity, is alive to nothing but the distress which 
overpowers it, and which it cannot alleviate; it would 
that there were time, but sees that there is no more time 
for it. 

At what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come. 1 
God conceals from us the time of death, that we may 
always be ready. The time of death is not the time to 
prepare ourselves to give in our accounts, but the time 
when we should find ourselves prepared to do so. St. 
Bernard said, " In order to die well, we must be ever pre 
pared to die. ; 

" Qua hora non putatis, Filius hominis veniet." Luke, xii. 40. 

322 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

O Jesus ! too long have I offended Thee. It is surely 
now time that for the future I should prepare for death. 
I will no longer abuse Thy patience. I desire to love 
Thee with all my power. I have very much offended 
Thee; I desire now in like manner to love Thee. 

IVe must profit by the Time. 

Oh, what a torment, to repent of our carelessness 
when there is no longer time to do what has been left 
undone ! 

St. Laurence Justinian says that worldlings, in death, 
will willingly give all their riches to obtain but one more 
hour of life. But it will be said to them, Time shall be 
no more. It will be intimated to them to depart without 
delay: Go forth, Christian soul, out of this world? 

St. Gregory relates that a certain Crisorius, being at 
the point of death, cried out to the demons, "Give me 
time until to-morrow." But they replied, "Fool ! thou 
hast had it, and why didst thou lose it? Now there is 
no more time for thee." 

Ah, my God, how many years have I lost ! The re 
mainder of my time shall be entirely devoted to Thee. 
Grant that Thy holy love may abound in me, in whom 
sin has long abounded. 

St. Bernardine of Sienna said that every moment of 
time in this life is as precious as God; because at every 
moment, by an act of love or contrition, we may acquire 
new degrees of grace. 

St. Bernard says that time is a treasure to be found 
only in this life. In hell, the lamentation of the damned 
is: "Oh, if one hour were given us !" 3 Oh, if we had 

1 "Tempus non erit amplius." Apoc. x. 6, 

2 " Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo." 

3 " Oh! si daretur hora." 

Our Journey to Eternity. 323 

but one hour in which to escape from eternal ruin ! In 
heaven there is no weeping; but if the blessed could 
weep it would be at the thought of having lost, during 
their lives, portions of time in which they might have 
acquired higher degrees of glory. 

My beloved Redeemer, I do not deserve Thy pity; 
but Thy Passion is my hope. Help me, therefore, and 
stretch out Thy hand to a miserable sinner, who now 
desires to become wholly Thine. 

II. And who knows but that a sudden death may 
surprise us, and deprive us of all time for the making- 
up of our accounts ? The many who have died suddenly 
did not expect so to die; and if they were in sin, what 
has become of them for all eternity ? 

The saints thought that they did but little, in pre 
paring themselves during their whole lives to secure a 
good end. Father Avila, when it was announced to him 
that he was about to die, said: " Oh that I had but a 
little more time to prepare myself !" 

And we, why do we delay ? That we may make a 
wicked and miserable end, and leave to others an exam 
ple of the divine justice ? 

No, my Jesus, I will not oblige Thee to abandon me. 
Tell me what Thou requirest of me, and in all things I 
will do it. Grant that I may love Thee, and I ask for 
nothing more. 

III. He will call against me the time. 1 Let us tremble, 
and let us not so live that God may hereafter, as judge 
of our ingratitude, call against us the time which, in his 
mercy, he now bestows upon us. Walk, says our Lord, 
whilst you have the light? The night cometh when no man can 

St. Andrew Avellino trembled, saying, " Who knows 

1 " Vocavit adversum me tempus." Lam. i. 15. 

"Ambulate, dum lucem habetis." John, xii. 35. 

3 " Venit nox quando nemo potest operari." John, ix. 4. 

324 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

whether I shall be saved or lost ?" But so saying, he ever 
united himself the more closely to God. But we, what 
do we do ? How is it possible that he who believes 
that he must die and go into eternity should not give 
himself wholly to God ? 

My beloved Redeemer, my crucified love, I will not 
wait to embrace Thee until Thou consignest me to death: 
from this moment I embrace Thee, I bind Thee to my 
heart, and leave all to love Thee alone, my only good. O 
Mary, my Mother, unite me to Jesus, and obtain for me, 
that I may never more separate myself from his love. 



Malice of Mortal Sin. 

I. What is mortal sin ? According to St. Thomas and 
St. Augustine, // is a turning-away from God ; an act of 
contempt for his grace and love; and a throwing-off of 
all respect for him before his face, by which the sinner 
declares, I will not serve Thee; I will do as I please, 
and it matters not to me if by so doing I displease 
Thee, and forfeit thy friendship. 

To understand how great is the malice of mortal sin, 
we must first know what God is, and what man is who 
contemns him. Before God all the saints and angels 
are as nothing, and shall a worm of the earth have the 
insolence to contemn him? 

But what more ? Man by committing sin, not only 
contemns a God of infinite majesty, but a God who has 
so loved him as to die for the love of him. An eternity, 
therefore, would not be sufficient to bewail but one mor 
tal sin. 

He who commits it, dishonors God by preferring a 

Sm. 325 

vapor, a fit of madness, a wretched gratification before 
him. A God so great ! a God so good ! 

O Lord ! if Thou hadst not sacrificed Thyself on the 
cross for the love of me, I should lose all hope of par 
don; but Thy death gives me confidence. Into thy hands 
I commend my spirit* I commend to Thee my soul for 
which thou hast been pleased to shed Thy blood and 
sacrifice Thy life; grant that it may love Thee and never 
more lose Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus, my love, and 
my hope. And how shall I ever be able, after having 
learned how much Thou hast loved me, to separate my 
self from Thee, my only good ? 

II. What an affliction is it to us to be injured by one 
for whom we have done much ? God is not capable of 
grief; but could he grieve, he would die of grief and sor 
row, at being despised by a creature for whom he has 
given even his own life. 

O my accursed sins ! a thousand times do I detest 
and abhor you: you have caused me to offend my Re 
deemer, who has so much loved me. 

Unhappy souls, who are now confined in hell, you who, 
during life, said that sin was a slight evil, acknowledge 
now that all your torments are not equal to what you 
have deserved. 

It must be that sin is a great evil, since God, who is 
mercy itself, is obliged to punish it with an eternal hell. 
But what more ? In order to satisfy divine justice for 
sin, a God was obliged to sacrifice his own life. 

O God, we know that hell is the most horrible pun 
ishment, and have we no fear of sin, which may cast us 
into hell ? We know that God has died, in order that 
he might be able to pardon our sins; and do we con 
tinue to commit sin. 

The loss of the least worldly good makes us uneasy 

" In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Dp- 
mine." Ps. xxx. 6. 

326 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

and sad; and does the loss of God by sin fail to over 
whelm us with affliction and grief for the remainder of 
our lives ? 

I give Thee thanks, O Lord ! for having given me 
time to bewail my offences against Thee. O Jesus! I 
abhor them with the greatest hatred: give me still 
greater sorrow, still greater love, that I may lament all 
my sins, not so much on account of the punishments 
which I have deserved by them, as for having offended 
Thee, my most amiable God. 

III. What disquiet and fears agitate a courtier who is 
afraid of having offended his prince ? And do we, who 
know for certain that we have displeased God, and have 
for a time forfeited his friendship, live tranquil and 
without being in continual grief ? 

What care do not men take to avoid poison, which 
destroys the body ? And yet what great negligence in 
avoiding sin, which is the poison of the soul, and robs 
us of God ! 

Let us not be ensnared to commit sin by that fraud 
of the devil, by which he suggests to us that we may 
afterwards confess it. Oh, how many has the enemy 
drawn into hell by this stratagem ! 

O my God ! for how many years have I deserved to 
dwell in hell ! Thou hast waited for me, that I may for 
ever bless Thy mercy and love Thee. Yes, my Jesus, 
I bless Thee and love Thee; and I trust in Thy merits 
that I shall nevermore be separated from Thy love. 
But if after so many graces I should again offend Thee, 
how shall I be able to presume that Thou wilt not aban 
don me, but again forgive me ? Permit it not, O Lord. 

Abuse of the Divine Mercy. 

I. God has pity on them that fear him, but not on 
them that despise him. To offend God because he shows 

Sin. 327 

mercy is to provoke him in the highest degree to chas 
tise us. 

Again, to offer an outrage to God, because God is 
forgiving, is to deride him; but God is not mocked? 

The devil will say to you: "But who knows? even 
with this sin it may be that you may still be saved." 
But meanwhile, if you sin, you yourself may condemn 
yourself to hell. Who knows ? It may be that as yet you 
may be saved; but it may also be, and that more easily, 
that you may be lost. And is the affair of eternal sal 
vation to be risked on a who knows? If in the mean 
time death should come upon you ! if God should aban 
don you! What will become of you ? 

No, my God, I will nevermore offend Thee. How 
many are now suffering in hell for fewer sins than mine? 
I will no longer be devoted to self, but will be Thine and 
entirely Thine. To Thee I consecrate my whole liberty 
and will. / am Thine; do Thou save me? Save me from 
hell, but first save me from sin. I love Thee, my Jesus, 
I will nevermore forsake Thee. 

II. The holy Fathers say, that God has determined 
the number of sins which he will forgive each one. 
Hence, as we know not this number, we ought to fear 
lest at every additional sin God should abandon us. 
This fear Who knows whether God will any more par 
don me? ought to be a great restraint upon us to keep 
us from again offending God: with this fear we should 
be secure. 

And he who has been the more favored by God with 
his lights and graces ought to be the more afraid of 
being abandoned by him. The Angelic Doctor says 
that the grievousness of sin increases in proportion to 
the ingratitude with which sin is committed. Woe, then, 

l " Deus non irridetur." Gal. vi. 7. 

8 " Tuus sum ego, salvum me fac." Ps. cxviii. 94. 

328 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

to the Christian who, after having been enriched with 
the graces of God, offends him mortally! 

O my Jesus, while Thou hast shown me numberless 
mercies, I have repaid them by multiplied offences ! 
Thou hast bestowed favors upon me, and I, in return, 
have despised Thee ! But now I love Thee with my 
whole heart, and I desire to make amends by my love 
for all the offences that I have committed against Thee. 
O do Thou enlighten and strengthen me. 

III. "Sin," said Sister Mary Strozzi, " in a religious 
person, strikes heaven with horror, and obliges God to 
turn himself away." 

He who has not a great dread of mortal sin is not far 
from falling into it. Hence it is necessary to fly from 
dangerous occasions as much as possible. 

It is necessary also to fly from all deliberate venial 
sins. Father Alvarez said, " Little negligences, but 
voluntary, do not kill the soul, but they weaken it; so 
that, on occasion of a grievous temptation, it will not 
have strength to resist, and will fall." 

St. Teresa has written: "From known sin, however 
small it be, may God deliver us !" 2 Because, said the 
saint, a deliberate venial sin does us more harm than all 
the devils in hell can do. 

No, my Jesus, no, I will no more offend Thee; neither 
in great nor in small things. Thou hast done too much 
to oblige me to love Thee. I desire rather to die than 
to give Thee the least offence. Thou hast not deserved 
it; but hast deserved all my love, and I desire to love 
Thee with all my strength. Give me Thy assistance. 

1 De Perf. 1. 5, p. 2, c. 16. 

2 Way of Perf . ch. 42. 

Sin. 329 

Venial Sins. 

I. Unhappily, venial sins are regarded as slight evils: 
but how can that be called a slight evil which is an of 
fence against God ! 

He who commits venial sins without restraint says: I 
may do this and still be saved. But I say: by continu 
ing such a course, you will not be saved; for, says St. 
Gregory: " The soul never remains where it falls, but 
always descends lower." St. Isidore 1 writes that he 
who makes no account of venial sins is permitted by 
Almighty God to fall into mortal sins, in punishment of 
his want of love. And our Lord himself said to the 
Blessed Suso, that those who make no account of venial 
sins expose themselves to much greater danger than they 
are aware of; because it thus becomes much more diffi 
cult for them to persevere in grace. 

The Council of Trent 2 teaches that we cannot perse 
vere in grace without the special assistance of God; but 
he is too undeserving of such special assistance who of 
fends God by voluntary venial sins, without any thought 
of amendment. 

Chastise me not, O Lord ! as I have deserved. Re 
member not the many offences which I have committed 
against Thee, and deprive me not of Thy light and as 
sistance. I desire to amend, I desire to be Thine. O 
omnipotent God, accept of me and change me. This is 
my hope. 

II. Our Lord said to Blessed Angela de Foligni, " Those 
who are enlightened by me to aim at perfection, but, 
debasing their souls, walk in the ordinary way, will be 
abandoned by me." 

1 Sent. 1. 2, c. 19. 2 Sess. 6, can. 22. 

330 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

He who serves God, but is not afraid of offending 
him by venial indulgences, would seem to think that 
God is not worthy of being served with greater atten 
tion. He declares, in fact, that God is not deserving of 
so much love as to oblige us to prefer his pleasure to our 
own satisfaction. 

Habitual defects, says St. Augustine, 1 are a kind of 
leprosy, which renders the soul so disgusting as to de 
prive it of God s embraces. 

I am sensible, O Lord ! that Thou hast not as yet 
abandoned me, as I have deserved; strengthen me, 
therefore, to shake off tepidity. I desire nevermore de 
liberately to offend Thee. I desire to love Thee with 
my whole soul. O Jesus ! help me; in Thee do I confide. 

III. St. Francis says that it is the devil s art to bind 
souls first with a hair, that he may afterwards bind them 
with a chain, and secure them. Let us therefore be on 
our guard not to be entangled by any of the passions. 
A soul that is entangled by passion is either lost, or in 
great danger of being lost. 

" The devil," said Mary Victoria Strada, " when he 
cannot have much, is content with little, but by that lit 
tle he gains much." 

Our Lord declares that the lukewarm are loathsome 
and disgusting to him: Because thou art lukewarm, . . . I 
will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth: 1 This means aban 
donment on the part of God. 

Tepidity is a hectic fever, which is scarcely perceived, 
but if neglected becomes fatal; inasmuch as tepidity 
renders the soul insensible to remorse of conscience. 

Jesus ! do not cast me off, as I have deserved; look 
not on my ingratitude, but on the sufferings which Thou 
hast end tired for my sake. I am sorry for all my offences 

1 Serm. 351, E. B. 

2 " Quia tepidus es, . . . incipiam te evomere ex ore meo. " Apoc. 
Hi. 16. 

Death. 331 

against Thee. I love Thee, O my God ! and from this 
day forward I desire to do my utmost to please Thee. 
O love of my soul ! I have very much offended Thee; 
grant that for the remainder of my life I may very much 
love Thee. O Mary, my hope, help me by thy holy 



The Worldling at the Approach of Death. 

I. We must die. Sooner or later we must die. In 
every age, houses and cities are filled with new inhabi 
tants, and their predecessors consigned to the grave. 

We are born but to die. However long our life may 
be, a day, an hour, will come which will be our last, and 
this hour is already determined. 

I thank Thee, O God ! for the patience with which 
Thou hast borne me. Oh that I had died rather than 
have ever offended Thee ! But since Thou givest me 
time to repair what is past, make known to me what 
Thou requirest of me, and I will obey Thee in all things. 

In a few years, neither I who write, nor Thou that 
readest, will be living on this earth.- As we have heard 
the bell toll for others, so will others one day hear it toll 
for us. As we now read the names of others inscribed 
in the lists of the dead, so will others read ours. 

In a word, there is no alternative; we must die. And, 
what is more terrible, we can die but once; and if once 
lost, we shall be lost forever. 

What will be your alarm when it is announced to you 
that you must receive the last sacraments, and that there 
is no time to be lost ! Then will you see your relatives 
and friends leave your room, and none remain but your 
confessor, and the servants to attend you. 

332 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

O Jesus ! I will not wait until death to give myself to 
Thee. Thou hast said that Thou knowest not how to 
reject the soul that seeks Thee: Seek and you shall find. 1 

Now, therefore, do I seek Thee; grant that I may find 
Thee. I love Thee, O infinite goodness ! Thee alone do 
I desire, and besides Thee, nothing. 

II. In the midst of his schemes and intrigues the man 
of the world shall hear it said to him : " Christian Brother, 
you are fatally ill, and must prepare to die." He would 
put his accounts in order; but, alas ! the terror and con 
fusion which agitate him render him incapable of doing 

Whatever he sees or hears adds to his fears and dis 
tress. All worldly things become to him as thorns; the 
remembrance of past pleasures, punctilios of honor, van 
ities, ostentation, friends who have withdrawn him from 
God, vain apparel, and all such things, alarm and tor 
ment him. 

What will be his terror when he reflects: " In a short 
time I shall be no more; and I know not whether I shall 
be happy, or miserable, for eternity !" O God, what 
consternation will the bare words judgment, hell, eter 
nity, strike into the souls of poor dying worldlings. 

My Redeemer, I believe that Thou hast died for me. 
From Thy precious" blood do I hope for salvation. I 
love Thee, O infinite goodness ! and I am grieved for 
having offended Thee. O Jesus, my hope, my love ! 
have pity on me. 

III. Imagine to yourself a man seized with his last 
illness. He who but a little while ago went about slan 
dering, threatening, and ridiculing others is suddenly 
paralyzed, and deprived of his strength and bodily senses, 
so that he cannot speak, nor see, nor hear. 

Alas ! the unhappy man thinks now no more of his 
engagements, or his schemes of vanity ; the thought of 
1 Quserite et invenietis." Matt. vii. 7. 

Death. 333 

the account which he must soon render to God alone 
occupies his mind. His relatives, weeping, sighing, or 
in sad silence surround him, and his confessor tries to 
assist him. 

Physicians consult together and increase his alarm. 
In such a state, he thinks no longer of his amusements ; 
he thinks only of the news which is brought him, that his 
malady is mortal. 

But there is no remedy ; in this state of confusion, in 
this tempest of pain, affliction, and fear, he must prepare 
himself to depart out of this world. But how is he to 
prepare himself in so short a time ? His mind is almost 
gone. But there is no remedy, he must depart. What 
is done is done. 

O God ! what will my death be? No, I desire not to 
die in so great uncertainty as to my salvation. I will 
change my life. O Jesus ! help me, for I am resolved to 
love Thee henceforward, with my whole heart. Unite 
me to Thyself, and never suffer me to be separated from 

Last Preparations. 

I. If you were about to die, what would you not give 
for another year, or another month ? Resolve, therefore, 
to do now what you will not be able to do at the hour of 

Who knows but that this year, or this month, or even 
this day, may be your last ? 

You would not wish to die in the state in which you 
now are ; and will you dare to continue to live on in the 
same state ? You lament over those who die suddenly, 
because they have no time to prepare themselves for 
death ; and have you time, and will not prepare your 
self ? 

334 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

my God ! I will not oblige Thee to forget me. I 
thank Thee for the mercies which Thou hast bestowed 
upon me ; assist me in my endeavors to change my life. 
I see that Thou desirest to save me ; and I desire to be 
saved that I may praise and love Thee for all eternity. 

At the approach of death the crucifix will be presented 
to you, and you will be admonished that Jesus Christ 
must be your only refuge and consolation. To those 
who have had but little love for the crucifix, it will be a 
subject of fear rather than of encouragement. On the 
contrary, what a consolatiou will it be to those who have 
left all for the love of their crucified Jesus ! 

My beloved Jesus, Thou shalt be my only love in life 
and in death : My God and my all. 

II. How are the dying, whose consciences reproach 
them, filled with terror at the sole mention of eternity ! 
Hence they will not hear anything else spoken of but 
their malady, physicians, and remedies; and if the affairs 
of their souls be mentioned, they soon grow tired, change 
the subject, and beg of you to let them rest. 

The sinner will exclaim : " Oh that I had time to amend 
my life !" But it will be said to him, 1 Depart out of this 
world* " Call in additional medical aid," will he answer; 
" try other remedies." But of what avail will these be ? 
His hour is come; he must depart and go into eternity. 

To him who loves God how consoling will it be to hear 
it said, Depart / He will not be terrified, but rejoice at 
the thought of being soon out of all danger of losing his 
sovereign and beloved good. 

Let thy place be this day in peace , and thy abode in holy Sion? 
What a joyful announcement to him who dies in a well- 
grounded confidence of being in the grace of God ! 

1 " Proficiscere de hoc mundo." 

2 " Hodie sit in pace locus tuus, et habitatio tua in sancta Sion." 

* This and the following texts are taken from the prayers of the 
Church for the recommendation of a soul departing. ED. 

Death. 335 

O Jesus ! in Thy precious blood do I place my hope, 
that Thou wilt conduct me into that place of peace, 
where I shall be able to say, My beloved God, I have 
now no longer any fear of losing thee. 

Have compassion, O Lord, on his sighs : have compassion 
on his tears. 1 My God, I will not wait until death to be 
wail my offences against Thee ; I now detest and abhor 
them, and am sorry for them with my whole heart, and 
would willingly die of sorrow for having committed 
them. I love Thee, O infinite goodness! I desire to live 
and to die in sorrow and in love. 

Remember, O Lord, he is Thy creature; not made by strange 
gods, but by Thee, the only living and true God: 1 O my God, 
Thou who hast created me for Thyself, cast me not away 
from Thy face. If I have despised Thee, I now love Thee 
more than myself, and I desire to love only Thee. 

III. He who has had but little love for Jesus Christ 
will tremble at the appearance of the holy Viaticum ; 
but he, on the contrary, who has loved only Jesus, will 
be filled with confidence and love, when he beholds his 
Lord at hand to accompany him in his passage to 

While Extreme Unction is received, the devil will re 
mind the dying man of all the sins committed by means 
of the senses. Let us therefore be careful to bewail 
them before the approach of death. 

When he has received all the sacraments, his relatives 
and friends will retire, and he will be left alone with the 

Jesus! when all have abandoned me, do not Thou 
depart from me. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me 
never be confounded? 

1 " Miserere, Domine, gemituum, miserere lacrymarum ejus." 

2 "Agnosce, Domine, creaturam tuam, non a diis alienis creatam, 
sed a te solo Deo vivo et vero." 

8 " In te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum." Ps. xxx. 2. 

336 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

The Agony of Death. 

I. A cold sweat spreads itself over him, his eyes be 
come dim, his pulse intermits, his extremities become 
cold, he stretches himself out like a corpse, and his 
agony begins. Alas ! he is already rapidly passing away 
into eternity. 

His breath fails him, his respirations become much 
less frequent, and death is near at hand. The priest 
lights a blessed candle and places it in his hand, and be 
gins to repeat for him acts suitable for the soul s im 
mediate departure. O light, enlighten now our souls, 
for then thou wilt be of but little service to us when the 
time has gone for repairing the evil which we have 

O God ! how will our offences and the vanities of this 
world appear by this last light? 

The dying man expires ; and in the same moment in 
which he breathes his last, time for him concludes and 
eternity begins. O moment which will decide our hap 
piness or misery for eternity ! 

O Jesus ! have mercy ; pardon me and unite me to 
Thee, that I may not at my last moment be lost forever. 

II. The soul being departed, the priest says to the by 
standers, He is gone. Is he dead ? Yes, he is dead. 
May he rest in peace. He rests in peace if he has died 
in peace with God; but if not, he will never enjoy peace 
so long as God shall be God. 

As soon as he is dead the news spreads abroad. One 
says, He was a man of address, but not very devout. 
Another, Who knows whether he is lost? His relatives 
and friends, to save their feelings, will not hear him 
spoken of, and say to those who mention his name, " For 
pity s sake, do not mention him." 

Thus, he who was the life of conversation becomes the 

Death. 337 

horror of all. Go into his house, he is no longer there ; 
his room, his bed, his furniture, are divided amongst 
others. And he, where is he ? His body is in the grave, 
his soul in eternity. 

If you wish to see him, open that grave; he is no 
longer blooming and feasting, but a heap of corruption, 
in which are engendered multitudes of worms, which 
will soon eat away the lips and the cheeks, so that in a 
little while nothing more will remain of him but a fetid 
skeleton, which, in time, will fall to pieces, the head from 
the trunk, and the bones from one another. 

See then to what this body of ours will one day be re 
duced, on account of which we so often offend God ! 

O saints of God ! you remembered this, and kept your 
bodies in subjection by mortification ; now are your 
bones venerated upon altars, and your souls are enjoy 
ing the sight of God, waiting for the day of final retribu 
tion, when your bodies will become your companions 
in glory, as they were formerly your companions in 

III. Were I now in eternity, what should I not wish to 
have done for God ? 

St. Camillus de Lellis, looking on the graves of the 
dead, was accustomed to say: "Oh, if these were alive, 
what would they not now do for eternal life ? And I 
who am alive, what do I do ?" 

Lord ! do not condemn me with the reprobate on 
account of my ingratitude. Others have offended Thee 
in the midst of darkness and ignorance, but I have of 
fended Thee in the midst of light. Thou hast more than 
sufficiently enlightened me to know the wrong which I 
did in committing sin; and yet I closed my eyes to Thy 
lights, trampled on Thy graces, and turned my back 
upon Thee. O Thou who art my hope, be not to me a subject 
of dread, in the day of affliction? 

1 " Non sis tu mihi formidini; spes mea tu in die afflictionis." /<rr. 
xvii. 17. 


338 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

The Death of the Just. 

I. Precious. . . . the death of His saints? St. Bernard 
says that the death of the just is called precious, because 
it is the end of labor and the gate of life. To the saints 
death is a reward, because it is the end of sufferings, 
pains, struggles, and the fear of losing God. 

That word Depart, which is such a terror to worldlings, 
alarms not the just; because to them it is not painful to 
leave all worldly goods, for God has been their only 
riches: nor honors, for they have despised them: nor 
relatives, for they have loved them only in God. Hence, 
as they frequently repeated in life, so now with re 
doubled joy do they exclaim in death, My God and my 

Nor do the pains of death afflict them; they rejoice in 
offering to God the last moments of life in testimony 
of their love for him, uniting the sacrifice of their lives 
to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the cross, for 
the love of them. 

II. Oh, what a consolation for the saints is the thought 
that now the time is over when they might have offended 
God, and were in constant danger of losing him ! Oh, 
what joy to be able then to embrace the crucifix, and to 
say, In peace, in the self same, I will sleep and I will rest ! 2 

The devil will endeavor at that time to disquiet us by 
the sight of our sins; but if we have bewailed them, and 
have loved Jesus Christ with our whole heart, Jesus 
will console us. God is more desirous of our salvation 
than the devil is for our perdition. 

Moreover, death is the gate of life. God is faithful, 
and will indeed at that time console those who have 

1 " Pretiosa . . . mors sanctorum." Ps. cxv. 15. 

2 " In pace, in idipsum, dormiam et requiescam." Ps. iv. 9. 

Death. 339 

loved him. Even in the sorrows of death he will bestow 
upon them foretastes of heaven. Their acts of confi 
dence, of love of God, of desire soon to behold him, will 
begin for them that peace which they will enjoy through 
out eternity. What joy, in particular, will the holy 
Viaticum afford to those who can say, with St. Philip 
Neri, "Behold my love, behold my love." 

III. We ought therefore not to fear death, but sin, 
which alone makes death so terrible. A great servant 
of God, Father Colombiere, said, " It is morally impos 
sible for one who in life has been faithful to God to die 

He who loves God is desirous of death, which will 
unite him eternally to God. It is a sign of but little 
love for God, not to desire soon to behold him. 

Let us accept of the hour of death with the loss of 
worldly things. We may do this now meritoriously, but 
then, it must be done forcibly and with danger of being 
lost. Let us live as though every day were to be the 
last of our lives. Oh, how well does he live who lives al 
ways with the remembrance of death present to his 
mind ! 

O my God ! when will the day arrive, in which I shall 
see Thee and love Thee face to face ? I do not deserve 
it; but Thy wounds, O my Redeemer ! are my hope. I 
will say to Thee with St. Bernard: Thy wounds are my 
merits. And hence I will take confidence, and will also 
say to Thee with St. Augustine: Would that I may die, O 
Lord, that I may behold Thee ! J O Mary, Mother, in the 
blood of Jesus Christ, and in thy holy intercession, do I 
hope for salvation, and to come to praise thee, thank 
thee, and love thee forever in heaven. 

1 " Eia, Domine ! moriar, ut te videam." Sol. an. c. I. 

34-O Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 




Particular Judgment. 

I. Place yourself, in imagination, in the same situation 
in which you will be when dying and in your agony, 
when not more than an hour or less will remain for you. 
Imagine that in a very short time you will have to be 
presented before your Judge, Jesus Christ, to render an 
account of your whole life. Nothing will then so much 
alarm you as remorse of conscience. Put, therefore, 
your accounts in order, before the arrival of the great 
accounting day. 

When you are on the point of entering into eternity, 
how will remorse for past sins, diffidence, increased by 
the suggestions of the devil, and uncertainty as to our 
future lot, cast us into a tempest of confusion and fear ! 
Let us therefore now unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, 
and to Mary, that at that critical moment they may not 
abandon us. 

How terrified shall we be at the thought, that in a few 
moments we shall be judged by Jesus Christ ! St. Mary 
Magdalen of Pazzi, being ill, and being asked by her 
director why she trembled, answered: " How terrible is 
the thought of being obliged to appear before Christ as 
our Judge." 

Jesus ! remember that I am one of those whom Thou 
hast redeemed with Thy blood. We beseech Thee, there 
fore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy 
precious blood.^ 

II. It is the common opinion among divines that in 

1 " Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni, quos pretioso sanguine 

Judgment. 341 

the same place and moment in which the soul departs, 
it is judged by Jesus Christ. So that in that same 
moment the trial is gone through, and the sentence 
passed and put in execution. 

O fatal moment, in which is decided the happy or 
miserable lot of each one for eternity ! 

The Ven. Father da Ponte, when he thought of judg 
ment, trembled to such a degree as to shake the room in 
which he was. 

O Jesus ! if now Thou wert to judge me, what would 
become of me? Eternal Father, look upon the face of 
thy Christ? I sincerely repent of all the sins that I have 
committed against Thee: look on the blood, the wounds 
of Thy Son, and have pity on me. 

III. The soul goes forth and leaves the body, but it is 
some time doubtful whether the person is alive or dead. 
While the bystanders are doubting, the soul enters into 
eternity. The priest, satisfied at length that the man is 
dead, sprinkles the corpse with holy water and repeats 
the prayer of the Church: " Come to his assistance, all 
ye saints of God; meet him, ye angels of the Lord." 2 But 
if the soul be lost, the saints and angels can no longer 
assist it. 

Jesus will come to judge us appearing with the same 
wounds that -he received for us in his Passion. These 
wounds will be a source of great consolation to peni 
tents, who with true sorrow have bewailed their sins 
during life, but will be a source of great terror to sin 
ners who have died in their sins. 

O God ! how painful will it be for man to behold him 
for the first time as his indignant Judge ! It will be 
more painful than hell itself. 

Man will then behold the majesty of the Judge: he 
will see how much He has suffered for the love of him; 

" Respice in faciem Christi tui." Ps. Ixxxiii. 10. 
2 " Subvenite, Sancti Dei; occurrite, Angeli Domini." 

342 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

he will see the many mercies which He has exercised 
toward him, the many and great means which He has 
afforded him of gaining salvation; he will see the vanity 
of all worldly things, and the greatness of those which 
are eternal; he will see, in a word, all these truths, but 
without any advantage. Then will there be no more 
time to repair past errors. What is done is done. 

My beloved Redeemer ! grant that when I first behold 
Thee, I may see Thee with an appeased countenance; 
and for this end give me now light, give me strength 
to reform my life. I desire always to love Thee. If 
hitherto. I have despised Thy graces, I now esteem them 
above all the kingdoms of the world. 

The Sentence depends on us. 

I. What great consolation will he enjoy at the hour in 
which he is to be judged, who, for the love of Jesus 
Christ, has been detached from all worldly things, who 
has loved contempt, and mortified the body; who, in a 
word, has loved nothing but God ! 

What joy will he experience in hearing it said to him: 
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou 
into the joy of thy Lord. Be glad and rejoice, for now 
thou art saved, and there is no longer any fear of thy 
being lost." 

On the contrary, the soul which leaves this life in a 
state of sin, before Jesus condemns it, will condemn 
itself, and will declare itself deserving of hell. 

O Mary, my powerful advocate, pray to Jesus for me. 
Help me, now that thou art able to help me. Then thou 
wouldst behold me perish and wouldst not be able to 
assist me. 

II. What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. 1 

1 " Quse seminaverit homo, haec et metet." Gal. vi. 8. 

Judgment. 343 

Let us examine what things we have hitherto sown. 
And let us do now what we shall then wish to have 

If now, within an hour, we had to appear for judg 
ment, how much should we be willing to give to pur 
chase another year ? And in what shall we spend the 
years which remain for us ? 

The abbot Agatho, after many years of penance, when 
he thought of judgment, said, "What will become of 
me when I shall be judged ?" And holy Job exclaimed: 
What shall I do when God shall rise Jo judge ? and when He 
shall examine, what shall I answer Him ? 1 And what shall 
we answer when Jesus Christ calls us to account for the 
graces which he has bestowed upon us, and for the bad 
use which we have made of them ? 

O God, deliver not up to beasts the souls that confess to 
Thee? I do not deserve pardon, but Thou wouldst not 
have me lose confidence in Thy mercy. Save me, O 
Lord ! raise me up from the mire of my miseries. I de 
sire to amend my life, do Thou assist me. 

III. The cause to be decided at the hour of death will 
be one that will involve our eternal happiness or misery. 
Hence we should be most careful in using our utmost en 
deavors to secure a favorable issue. Each one, consider 
ing this, should say to himself, So it is. Why, therefore, 
do I not leave all things to give myself entirely to God ? 
Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found* He who at his 
judgment after death loses God will never again find 
him; but, in life, he who seeks him finds him. 

O Jesus ! if hitherto I have despised Thy love, I now 
seek for nothing but to love Thee and to be loved by 

Quid faciam, cum surrexerit ad judicandum Deus ? et cum 
quaesierit, quid respondebo illi ?" Job, xxxi. 14. 

2 " Ne tradas bestiis animas confitentes tibi." Ps. Ixxiii. 10. 

3 " Quserite Dominum, dum inveniri potest." Isa. Iv. 6. 

344 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

Thee. Grant that I may find Thee, O Thou the God of 
my soul ! 

General Judgment. 

I. O the folly of worldings ! I look forward to your 
appearance in the valley of Josaphet. There you will 
change your sentiments, there you will bewail your folly; 
but to no purpose. 

And you, who are afflicted in this world, be of good 
heart. On that last day all your pains will be changed 
into the delights and enjoyments of paradise: Your sor 
row shall be turned into joy? 

What a glorious appearance will the saints then make 
who in this world were so much despised ! And what a 
horrible appearance will so many nobles, kings, and 
princes make, who will then be condemned ! 

My crucified and despised Jesus, I embrace Thy cross. 
What is the world, what are pleasures, what are honors ? 

my God, Thee only do I desire, and besides Thee, 

II. What horror will the reprobate in that day experi 
ence at being separated from Jesus Christ by that terri 
ble sentence, publicly pronounced: Depart from Me, ye 
cursed ! 2 

O my Jesus ! I also at one time deserved such a sen 
tence. But now I hope that Thou hast pardoned me. 
Oh, do not suffer me to be any more separated from Thee. 

1 love Thee, and hope to love Thee forever. 

What joy, on the other hand, will the elect experience, 
when they hear themselves invited by Jesus Christ to 
partake of the bliss of heaven in those sweet words: 
Come, ye blessed! 

My beloved Redeemer, I hope in Thy precious blood 

1 " Tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium." John, xvi. 20. 

2 " Discedite a me, maledicti." Matt. xxv. 41. 

Remorse of the Christians in Hell. 345 

that I also shall be numbered with these happy souls, 
and, embracing Thy feet, shall love Thee for all eternity. 

III. Let us reanimate our faith, and reflect that one 
day we shall meet in that valley, and be placed either 
on the right hand with the elect, or on the left with the 
reprobate. Let us cast ourselves at the feet of the cruci 
fix, and turn our attention to the state of our souls; and 
if we find them unprepared to appear before Jesus Christ, 
let us correct and amend them now, whilst we have time. 
Let us detach ourselves from everything which is not 
God, and unite ourselves to Jesus Christ as much as we 
are able, by meditation, the holy Gommunion, mortifica 
tion of the senses, and, above all, by prayer. The use of 
these means which God affords us for our salvation will 
be a great sign of our predestination. 

O my Jesus and my Judge ! I do not desire to lose 
Thee, but to love Thee forever. I love Thee, my Lord, 
I love Thee; and thus I hope to be able to address Thee 
when I shall first behold Thee as my Judge. I now say 
to Thee: Lord, if Thou desirest to chastise me, as I have 
deserved, chastise me, but do not deprive me of Thy 
love; grant that I may always love Thee, and may be 
always loved by Thee, and then do with me what Thou 

Remorse of the Christians in Hell. 

For very Little have those in Hell damned Themselves. 

I. The greatest torment that the damned will have 
to endure in hell will be, themselves ever preying on 
themselves by remorse: Their worm dieth not. Alas ! 
what a cruel worm will it be to Christians who are lost, 
to think for how very little they have condemned them 
selves ! Have we then, will they say, for such trifling, 

346 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

transitory, and poisonous gratifications, lost heaven and 
God, and condemned ourselves to this prison of tor 
ments forever ? 

We had the happiness of being of the true faith; but, 
forsaking God, we led miserable lives, to be succeeded 
by others still more miserable in this pool of fire ! God 
favored us with so many lights, so many means of salva 
tion, and we miserably chose to damn ourselves. 

O my Jesus ! thus should I now have been bewailing 
my misery in hell, if Thou hadst caused me to die when 
I was in sin. I thank Thee for the mercies which Thou 
hast shown me, and detest all the sins that I have com 
mitted against Thee. Had I been in hell, I could no 
longer have loved Thee; but since I can still love Thee, 
I desire to love Thee with all my heart. I love Thee, my 
God, my love, my all. 

II. At present what does our past life appear, but as a 
dream, a moment ? But what will a life of forty or fifty 
years appear to the damned, when, after hundreds and 
thousands of millions of years have passed away, they 
will find that their eternity is still to come ? 

What will those miserable pleasures for which they 
have sacrificed their salvation appear to them ? They 
will say, " Have we, then, for these accursed gratifica 
tions, which were scarcely tasted before they were ended, 
condemned ourselves to burn forever in this furnace of 
fire, abandoned by all, for all eternity ?" 

III. Another subject of remorse will be the thought of 
the little that they were required to do in order to be 
saved. They will say, "Had we pardoned those injuries, 
had we overcome those human respects, had we avoided 
those occasions, we should not have been lost." 

What would it have cost us to avoid those conversa 
tions ? to deprive ourselves of those accursed gratifica 
tions ? to yield that punctilio ? Whatever they have 
cost us, we ought to have been willing to do everything 

Remorse of the Christians in Hell. 347 

to obtain salvation; but we did not do so, and now there 
is no remedy for our eternal ruin. 

Had we frequented the sacraments, had we not neg 
lected meditation, had we recommended ourselves to 
God, we should not have fallen into sin. We frequently 
proposed to do this, but we did it not. We sometimes 
began a good course, but we soon discontinued it; hence 
we are lost. 

O God of my soul ! how many times have I promised 
to love Thee, and again turned my back upon Thee ? Oh, 
by that love with which Thou didst die for me on the 
cross, grant me sorrow for my sins, grant me grace to 
love Thee, and ever to have recourse to Thee in the 
time of temptation ! 

The Christian in Hell had very Many Graces to save Himself. 

I. What cruel swords will the lights, the calls, and all 
the other graces of God be to the damned ! Of these they 
will say, " We might have been saints and happy forever 
in heaven; but now we must be forever miserable !" 

The greatest torment of the damned will be to reflect 
that they are lost wilfully, through their own fault, not 
withstanding Jesus Christ died to save them. " God," 
will they say, "gave his life for our salvation, and we 
fools wilfully cast ourselves into this furnace of fire to 
burn forever ! Heaven lost ! God lost ! ourselves eter 
nally miserable !" 

Such will be the eternal lamentations of the damned. 

O my God ! despised and forsaken by me, grant that 
I may now find Thee whilst time yet remains for me. 
For this end, grant me, O my Redeemer ! to share in 
that sorrow which overwhelmed Thee in the garden of 
Gethsemani for my sins. I am sorry above every evil 
for having offended Thee. Receive me into Thy favor, 

348 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

O Jesus ! now that I promise to love Thee, and to love 
no other but Thee. 

II. Represent to yourself a sick man in great pain and 
suffering, who has none to pity him, but many to load 
him with injuries, to reproach him with his disorders, 
and to scorn him with great bitterness. The damned 
are treated much worse. They suffer all kinds of tor 
ments, without the slightest compassion from any one. 

But, at least, cannot the damned love God who justly 
punishes them ? Ah, no; while they know that he is sov 
ereignly amiable, they are constrained to hate him. This 
is hell, not to be able to love the sovereign good, which 
is God. 

If the damned could resign themselves to the divine 
will, as pious souls in their sufferings are now able to do, 
hell would no longer be hell. But no; the damned shall 
rage like wild beasts under the scourge of divine justice, 
and their rage shall serve but to increase their torments. 

If, then,O Jesus ! I were in hell, should I be incapable 
of loving Thee and hate Thee forever? And what evil 
hast Thou done me, for which I should hate Thee ? 
Thou hast created me, Thou hast died for me; Thou 
hast bestowed upon me many special graces: these are 
the evils which Thou hast done me. Chastise me as 
Thou pleasest, but do not deprive me of the power of 
loving Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus, and I desire ever 
to love Thee. 

III. Think of the horror of a soul on its first entrance 
into hell. " Am I then," will it say, " really damned ? 
or am I mistaken?" It will think whether there can be 
any remedy; but will find that there can be none for all 

Millions of ages will pass away, as many as there are 
drops of water in the sea, or grains of sand on the earth, 
or leaves upon the trees; and hell will still be hell, eter 
nity will be still to come. 

Love for Jesus Crucified. 349 

At least, will not the damned be able to flatter them 
selves saying, "Who knows but that hell may one day 
have an end ?" No, for in hell there can be no one who 
knows. The damned will be most certain that all the tor 
ments which they surfer every moment will continue 
throughout all eternity. O God ! is hell believed, and 
are there any that commit sin ? 

Greater will be the torment of those who have often 
meditated on hell, and yet by sin have consigned them 
selves to its torments. Ah ! let us not lose time, let us 
renounce all and unite ourselves to Jesus Christ. All 
that we can do to avoid hell will tbe but little. And let 
us tremble; he that trembles not, will not be saved. 

O my Jesus ! Thy precious blood, Thy death, are my 
hope. All others may abandon me, but do not Thou 
abandon me. I see that Thou hast not as yet abandoned 
me, since Thou still invitest me to pardon, if I will but 
repent of my sins, and still offerest me Thy grace and 
Thy love, if I will but love Thee. Yes, my Jesus, my 
life, my treasure, my love, I will ever bewail my offences 
against Thee, and will ever love Thee with my whole 
heart. My God, if I have lost Thee, I will lose Thee no 
more. Tell me what Thou requires! of me, and I will 
endeavor to comply with Thy will in all things; grant 
that I may live and die in Thy grace, and then dispose 
of me as Thou pleasest. O Mary, my hope, be thou my 
protectress, and suffer me not any more to lose God. 

Love for Jesus Crucified. 
Our Ingratitude towards Jesus Crucified. 

I. O my Jesus ! what greater proof of Thy love couldst 
Thou have given me, than the sacrificing of Thy life 
upon the disgraceful gibbet of the cross, to make satis- 

350 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

faction for my sins, and to conduct me with Thee into 

He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the 
death of the cross. 1 The Son of God therefore, for the 
love of man, obedient to his Eternal Father, whose will 
it was that he should die for our salvation, humbled 
himself to die, and to die on a cross ! and are there those 
to be found who believe this and love not such a God ? 

O Jesus ! how much has it cost Thee to make me un 
derstand that Thou ardently lovest me; and I have basely 
repaid Thee with ingratitude. Oh, accept of me now and 
suffer me to love Thee, since now I will no more abuse 
Thy love. I love Thee, my sovereign good, and desire 
to love Thee forever. Remind me continually of the 
pains which Thou suffered for me, that I may never for 
get to love Thee. 

II. O God ! the Passion of Jesus Christ is spoken of, 
and is listened to as though it were a fable, or the 
sufferings of some one unknown to us, and not at all be 
longing to us. 

ye sons of men, why do ye not love Jesus Christ ? 
Tell me, what more could our blessed Redeemer have 
done to make us love him than to die in the midst of 
grief and torments? 

If the vilest of mankind had suffered for us the tor 
ments which Jesus Christ has suffered, could we help 
giving him our affection and showing him our grati 
tude ? 

But, my Jesus, why do I speak of others and not rather 
of myself? What has hitherto been my ingratitude 
towards Thee ? Alas, I have repaid Thy love only with 
offences against Thee ! 

Pardon me; for, from this day, I desire to love Thee, 

1 " Humiliavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mor 
tem autem crucis." Phil. ii. 8. 

Love for Jesus Crucified. 351 

and to love Thee much. I should be too ungrateful, if, 
after so many favors and mercies, I loved Thee but little. 

III. Let us reflect that this man of sorrows, nailed to 
the disgraceful wood of the cross, is our true God, and 
suffers and dies there for no other motive but love for 

Do we, then, believe that Jesus Christ crucified is our 
God, and really dies for us, and can we love anything 
but him ? 

O beautiful flames of love which consumed the life of 
my Saviour on Calvary ! come and consume in me all 
worldly affections; cause me ever to burn with love for 
such a God, who was pleased to die and to sacrifice his 
whole self for the love of me. 

What a spectacle, for the angels of heaven to behold 
the divine Word fastened to a gibbet, and dying for the 
salvation of us his miserable creatures ! 

O my Saviour ! Thou hast not refused me Thy blood 
and Thy life, and shall I refuse Thee my affections? 
Shall I refuse Thee anything that Thou askest of me? 
No; Thou hast given Thy whole self to me, and I will 
give my whole self without reserve to Thee. 

The Love of Jesus for us demands our Love. 

I. My soul, behold on Calvary Thy God crucified and 
dying; see how much he suffers, and say to him, 

Why, O Jesus ! why dost Thou so much love me, why 
art Thou so much afflicted and tormented on the cross ? 
Oh. Thou wouldst be less afflicted if Thou didst love me 

Ah, my dear Redeemer ! what a multitude of sorrows, 
ignominies, and internal afflictions torment Thee upon 
the cross ! Thy most sacred body hangs from three nails, 
and bears only on Thy wounds; the people who surround 

352 Meditations for an Eight Days Retreat. 

Thee deride and blaspheme Thee; and Thy immaculate 
soul is internally much more afflicted than Thy body. 
Tell me, why dost Thou suffer so much ? Thou answerest 
me: I suffer all for the love of thee; remember, then, the 
affection which I have borne thee, and love Me. 

Yes, my Jesus, I will love Thee. And whom shall I 
love, if not God who dies for me ? Hitherto I have de 
spised Thee, but now my greatest grief is the remem 
brance of my offences against Thee, and I desire nothing 
but to be entirely Thine. O my Jesus ! pardon me, and 
draw my heart to Thee; pierce and inflame it thoroughly 
with Thy love. 

II. Let us consider how loving were the sentiments of 
Jesus Christ, with which he presented his hands and 
feet to be nailed to the cross, offering at the same time 
his divine life to his Eternal Father for our salvation. 
My beloved Saviour, when I think how much my soul 
has cost Thee, I cannot despair of pardon. However 
great and numerous my sins, I will not despair of being 
saved, since Thou hast already superabundantly satisfied 
for me. My Jesus, my hope, and my love, as much as I 
have offended Thee, so much will I love Thee: I have 
exceedingly offended Thee, I desire also exceedingly to 
love Thee; Thou who givest me this desire, help me. 

Eternal Father, look on the face of thy Christ? Behold 
Thy dying Son upon the cross; look on that livid coun 
tenance, that head crowned with thorns, those hands 
pierced with nails, that body all bruised and wounded ; 
behold the victim sacrificed for me, and which I now 
present to Thee; have pity on me. 

III. He hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his 
own blood? Why should we fear that our sins will hinder 
us from becoming saints, when Jesus Christ has instituted 

1 " Respice in faciem Christ! tui." Ps. Ixxxiii. 10. 
2 " Dilexit nos. et lavit nos a peccatis nostris in sanguine suo." 
Apoc. i. 5. 

Love for Jesus Crucified. 353 

a bath of his own blood, to wash our souls from them ? 
It is sufficient that we repent of them and desire to 

Jesus, on the cross, had us in his thoughts, and thence 
prepared for us all those graces and mercies that he now 
bestows upon us, with as much love as though he had had 
to save only the soul of each one in particular. 

O my Saviour ! Thou didst foresee upon the cross the 
offences which I should commit against Thee, and in 
stead of punishments Thou didst prepare for me lights, 
loving calls, and pardon. O my Jesus ! shall I ever again, 
after so many graces, offend Thee and separate myself 
from Thee ? O my Lord ! permit it not. Grant that I 
may die rather than not love Thee. I will say to Thee, 
with St. Francis de Sales, " Either to die, or to love; 
cither to love, or to die." 1 

1 Love of God, book 12, ch. 13. 

354 Hymn. 

To God the Creator. 

Why didst Thou not create my soul 

From all eternity, 
Since from eternity, dear Lord ! 

Thou always lovedst me ? 

For then to Thee a grateful love 
My heart could have returned 

From that first moment all unsought 
Thy love for me thus burned. 

I pine not now for the delights 

Of paradise above, 
But only to behold Thy face, 

And gaze on Thee with love. 

I long to be forever fixed 
In that blest changeless state, 

Where I might love Thee with a love 
Immeasurably great. 

I look around, amazed, I cry, 

Is it, alas ! for this 
This lump of earth, this ant-hill vile 

Men lose eternal bliss ? 

To suffer or to die, my soul ! 

For if thou canst not gain 
The battle to be fought on earth, 

In heaven thou canst not reign. 

God sees me and he is my judge ; 

The sentence, heaven or hell ; 
And there where er my doom decides, 

Forever shall I dwell. 

Rules for leading a Good Life. 355 



Rules for leading a Good Life.* 

1. In the morning, on rising from bed, make the Chris 
tian acts. Every day make mental prayer for half an 
hour; read at least for a quarter of an hour some spirit 
ual book. To hear Mass. To make a visit to the Most 
Blessed Sacrament and to the Divine Mother. To say 
the Rosary. And in the evening to make the examina 
tion of conscience, with the act of contrition, and the 
Christian acts, together with the Litany of the Ever- 
Blessed Mary. 

2. To go to confession and Communion at least every 
week, and oftener if possible, with the advice of your 
spiritual director. 

3. To choose a good, learned, and pious confessor, and 
to be directed always by him, as well in your exercises 
of devotion, as in all affairs of importance; and not to 
leave him without a good reason. 

4. To avoid idleness, bad companions, immodest con 
versations, and, above all, the occasions of sin, especially 
where there is danger of incontinency. 

5. In temptations, of impurity particularly, to sign 
yourself immediately with the sign of the holy Cross, 
and to invoke the most holy names of Jesus and Mary 
as long as the temptation lasts. 

6. When you commit any sin, to repent of it at once, 
and resolve to amend; and if it is a grievous sin, to con 
fess it as soon as possible. 

7. To hear sermons as often. as you can, and to belong 

* These rules are a summary of the Rule of Life, which is found 
entire in Volume I., and abridged in Volume H. ED. 

356 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

to some confraternity, with no other end than to attend 
to the affair of your eternal salvation. 

8. To fast in honor of the Ever-Blessed Mary on Sat 
urday, and on the vigils of her seven feasts, observing 
some other corporal mortification, according to the ad 
vice of your spiritual Father; to make the novenas of 
the above-named feasts of Mary, as well as of the Na 
tivity, Pentecost, an.d that of your holy patron. 

9. In adverse circumstances, as in sickness, losses, per 
secutions, you must unite yourself in all things to the 
will of God, and be resigned; saying always, " This is 
(or has been) the will of God; may his will be done !" 

10. To make the spiritual exercises every year in some 
religious house, or in some place apart; or at least to 
make them in your own house, applying yourself during 
those days as much as possible to prayer, spiritual read 
ing, and to silence. And in the same way to make a 
day of retreat every month, by going to Communion, 
and by avoiding all conversation. 


Devout Acts to be made Every Day. 

I adore Thee, my God, Most Holy Trinity, Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons and one only God ! 

I humble myself in the abyss of my nothingness to 
the will of Thy infinite majesty. 

I firmly believe all that Thou hast deigned to make 
known to me by means of the Holy Scripture and Thy 
holy Church, because Thou hast said so; and I am ready 
to give my life a thousand times for this faith. 

I place all my hope in Thee. Whatever good I may 
have, whether spiritual or temporal, either in this life or 
in the next, I hope for from Thee, through the merits of 
Jesus Christ, O God, my life and my only hope ! 

I love Thee, Infinite Goodness, with all the affection 
of my heart and of my soul, because Thou dost merit 

Devout Acts to be made Every Day. 357 

all my love. I wish I knew how to love Thee as the 
angels, the saints, and just men love Thee. I unite my 
imperfect love to that which all the saints, Most Holy 
Mary, and Jesus Christ, bear to Thee. 

My God, because Thou art the supreme good, infinitely 
worthy of being loved and served, I am sorry and repent 
of all my sins, detesting them as much as possible above 
every other evil. I resolve for the future rather to die 
than to consent to anything that may give Thee the 
slightest displeasure. 

I offer Thee now and forever my body, my soul, and 
all my senses and faculties, my memory, my understand 
ing, and my will. Do with me, Lord, and with all that 
belongs to me, what Thou pleasest. Give me Thy love 
and final perseverance, and grant that in all temptations 
I may always have recourse to Thee. 

I resolve to employ myself entirely in those things 
which are pleasing to Thee, being ready to suffer any 
pain and labor in order to please Thee, saying always, 
Lord, may Thy will be done ! 

I desire that all should serve and love Thee. I would 
gladly spend my time in persuading all mankind to love 
and honor Thy Majesty. 

I offer to Thy Majesty all the works I shall ever do, 
steeping them in the blood of Jesus, my Redeemer. 

I intend to gain all the indulgences that I can in my 
actions this day, and to apply them by way of suffrage 
to the souls in purgatory. 

I recommend to Thee all the souls in purgatory, as 
also all sirmers; enlighten and strengthen these unhappy 
creatures, that they may know and love Thee. 

I rejoice exceedingly that Thy happiness is infinite, 
and will never have an end. 

I thank Thee for all the graces and benefits that Thou 
hast bestowed upon all mankind, but especially upon 
me, who have been more ungrateful than others. 

358 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

My beloved Jesus, I take refuge within Thy sacred 
wounds: do Thou there defend me this day, and forever, 
from all temptations, till Thou shalt grant me to see 
Thee and love Thee eternally in paradise. Amen. This 
is my hope, and so may it be. 

Spiritual Maxims for a Christian. 

Of what use will it be to gain the whole world and to 
lose one s soul ? 

Everything has an end ; but eternity has no end. 

All may be lost, provided God be not lost. 

No sin, however small, is a light evil. 

If we desire to please God, we must deny ourselves. 

That which is done for our own satisfaction is all loss. 

In order to save ourselves we must be in constant fear 
of falling. 

Let me die, so that I may please God. 

The only evil that we ought to fear is sin. All that 
God wills is good, and therefore to be desired. 

He who desires* nothing but God is happy and con 
tented with everything that happens. 

I ought to imagine to myself that there are no others 
in the world but God and myself. 

The whole world cannot satisfy our heart ; God alone 
can satisfy it. 

All good consists in loving God. And loving God 
consists in doing his will. 

All our riches are in prayer. He who prays obtains 
everything that he can desire. 

Let us consider that day lost on which we omit our 
mental prayer. " He who leaves off praying," says St. 
Teresa, " casts himself into hell of his own accord." 

Let us not pass a day without reading some spiritual 

Spiritual Maxims for a Christian. 359 

Points of honor are the plague of spirituality. 

To be humble of heart, and not merely in word, it is 
not sufficient to say that we are deserving of all con 
tempt, but we must also be glad when we are despised. 
And what has a Christian learnt to do, if he cannot suffer 
an affront for God s sake? When you are insulted, take 
it all cheerfully. 

He who thinks of hell, which he has deserved, finds 
every trouble easy to bear. 

He who loves poverty possesses all things. In the 
things of this world we must choose the worst ; in the 
things of God we must choose the best. 

An obedient soul is the delight of God. 

True charity consists in doing good to those who do 
us evil, and in thus gaining them over. 

Of what use are the riches and honors of this world at 
the hour of death ? 

It is a great grace of God to be called to his holy love. 

God does not leave a single good desire unrewarded. 

All attachment, even to good things (except to God), 
is bad. 

Let us be grateful, and first of all to God. Let us 
therefore resolve to deny him nothing, making choice of 
those things which are most pleasing to him. 

The most beautiful prayer is when in sickness we unite 
ourselves to the will of God. 

A holy life and sensual pleasures cannot agree to 

He who trusts in himself is lost; he who trusts in God 
can do all things. 

And what greater delight can a soul have than to know 
that it is pleasing God. 

God is ready to give himself to those who leave all for 
his love. 

The only way by which we can become saints is the 
way of suffering. 

360 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

It is by aridity and temptations that God tries those 
who love him. 

No one can be lost who loves God and trusts in him. 

Let us beg of God to give us a tender devotion to his 
Divine Mother. 

He who looks on Jesus crucified suffers everything in 

He who loves God most in this world is the happiest. 
All that is not done for God, turns to pain. 

No kind of disquietude, although for a good end, 
comes from God. 

It is enough that we do not stand still; we shall arrive 
in the end. 

He who desires only God is rich and happy: he is in 
want of nothing, and may laugh at all the world. 

Nothing can satisfy one whom God does not satisfy. 

God, God, and nothing more. 

We must overcome all to gain all. 


An Epitome of the Virtues in which a Christian Soul, that desires 
to lead a Perfect Life and become a Saint, should exercise 

It would be useful to read this epitome every time you make your day s retreat, 
that you may see in what virtues you are wanting. 

1. To desire always to increase in love towards Jesus 
Christ. Holy desires are wings with which souls fly to 
God. St. Aloysius Gonzaga made himself a saint in a 
short time, through the great desire he had of loving 
God ; and as he knew he should -never be able to love 
him as much as he was worthy of being loved, he con 
sumed himself in ardent desires. On this account, St. 
Mary Magdalene of Pazzi called St. Aloysius a martyr 
of love. 

2. To meditate often on the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

Virtues a Pious Soul should exercise. 361 

St. Bonaventure said that the wounds of Jesus Christ are 
wounds which pierce every heart, and inflame them with 
holy love. 

3. Often during the day to make acts of love towards 
Jesus Christ, beginning from the time you wake in the 
morning, and trying to make an act of love as you fall 
asleep. Acts of love, says St. Teresa, are the fuel with 
which the fire of divine love is kept burning in our 

4. Always to ask Jesus Christ to give ,you his holy 
love. The grace of loving God, says St. Francis de 
Sales, is the grace which contains and brings along with 
it all the other graces; because he who truly loves God 
will endeavor to avoid anything that might be displeas 
ing to him, and will study how to please him. in all 
things. It is, therefore, necessary above all things to 
ask of God the grace to love him. 

5. To frequent Holy Communion. A soul can do 
nothing that is more pleasing to God than to communi 
cate in a state of grace. The reason of this is, that love 
tends to perfect union with the object beloved; as then 
Jesus Christ loves a soul that is in grace with an im 
mense love ; he ardently desires to unite himself to it. 
This is what Holy Communion does ; by it Jesus Christ 
is wholly united to the soul: He that eats my flesh dwells in 
Me, and I in him. 1 Consequently the soul can perform 
no action that is dearer to Jesus Christ than that of re 
ceiving him in the Holy Eucharist. For this reason let 
spiritual souls endeavor to communicate many times in 
the week, and if possible every day, but always with the 
permission of their director; for Communions and mor 
tifications done out of a person s own head lead to pride 
rather than spirituality. For the rest, the penitent should 
earnestly ask his director both for Communions and 

1 " Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me 
manet, et ego in illo." John, vi. 57. 

362 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

mortifications ; because directors are induced to grant 
them, more or less frequently, according to the greater 
or less desire which they discover in their penitents. 

6. To make during the day many spiritual Com 
munions; at least three. 

7. Often to visit the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, 
at least once or twice a day; and in the visit, after the 
acts of faith, of thanksgiving, of love, and of contrition, 
to ask fervently for perseverance and holy love. 

8. When disturbances, losses, affronts, or other adverse 
things happen, to have recourse to the ever-blessed Sacra 
ment, at least in spirit, if you cannot go to the church. 

9. Every morning on rising to offer yourself to God 
to suffer in peace, and to accept from his hands all the 
crosses that will befall you on that day; embracing also 
in peace all contradictions. Fiat voluntas tua" is the 
word which is constantly in the mouths of the saints: 
Lord, may Thy will always be done ! 

10. To be glad, and to rejoice that God is infinitely 
happy and blessed. If we love God more than ourselves, 
as we are bound to love him, we ought to rejoice more 
at God s happiness than at our own. 

n. To desire heaven and death, that we may be de 
livered from the danger in which we are of losing God, 
and to go and love Jesus Christ with all our strength 
and forever, without the fear of losing him again. 

12. Often to speak with others of the love which Jesus 
Christ has borne us, and of the love we owe to him. 

13. To go to God without reserve, not denying him 
anything that we know to be pleasing to him; but rather 
choosing such things as are most agreeable to him. 

14. To desire and endeavor to persuade all to love 
Jesus Christ. 

15. Always to pray for the souls in purgatory, and for 
poor sinners. 

Virtues a Pious Soul shoiild Exercise. 363 

1 6. To drive away from your heart all affections that 
have not God for their object. 

17. Often to have recourse to the saints, and especially 
to the Ever-blessed Mary, that they may obtain for you 
the love of God. 

18. To honor Mary in order to please God. 

19. To do all your actions with the sole end of pleas 
ing Jesus Christ ; saying at the commencement of each 
action, O Lord, let it be all for Thee ! 

20. To offer yourself many times during the day to 
God and to Jesus Christ, as willing to suffer any pain 
for his love, and say: My Jesus, I give myself all to Thee; 
here I am, do with me what Thou wilt. 

21. To be resolved to die a thousand times rather than 
commit a deliberate sin, even though only a venial one. 

22. To deny yourself even lawful satisfactions ; doing 
so at least once or twice a day. 

23. When we hear people talk of riches, honors, and 
amusements of the world, let us remember that all things 
have an end, and let us then say, My God, I wish only 
for Thee, and nothing more! 

24. To make two hours of mental prayer, or at least 
one hour during the day. 

25. To make use of all those external mortifications 
that obedience permits; but to pay particular attention 
to interior mortification, such as abstaining from gratify 
ing our curiosity, from answering when we are re 
proached, from saying witty things, and the like, and 
never to do anything for your own satisfaction. 

26. Whatever devout exercise you may perform, to do 
it as if it. were the last time you had to do it. To this 
end in your meditation you should often think of death; 
and when you go to bed, think that you will one day 
there expire. 

27. Not to leave off your usual devotions, or any other 
good work, on account of any aridity or weariness that 

364 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

you may experience. He who begins to leave them off 
for a slight cause is in danger of giving them up entirely. 

28. Not to leave undone any good action out of human 
respect. Not to complain in sickness of any want of at 
tention on the part of the doctors, servants, or assistants, 
and to try and conceal even our sufferings as much as 
we can. To love solitude and silence, in order to be 
able to discourse only with God. And for this reason 
we must shun the conversations of this world. 

29. To drive away sadness, preserving our tranquillity 
and a cheerful countenance in all events with a constant 
uniformity. One who wills what God wills should never 
be afflicted. 

30. To recommend yourself often to spiritual persons. 

31. Always to have recourse immediately to Jesus and 
Mary with great confidence in your temptations ; con 
tinuing to pronounce the names of Jesus and Mary as 
long as the temptation lasts. 

32. To have great confidence, first in the Passion of 
Jesus Christ, and then in the intercession of Mary; and 
to ask God every day to give you this confidence. 

33. After a fault, not to be disturbed and never to de 
spair, even though you should know yourself to be want 
ing in fidelity, and though you should fall again and 
again into the same fault; but to repent immediately, 
and to renew your promise of amendment, with con 
fidence in God. 

34. To render good to any one who does you evil, or 
at least to pray to the Lord for him. 

35. To answer with meekness when any one says or 
does anything to injure you; and so you will gain him 
over to you. Moreover, when you feel yourself annoyed, 
it is well to be silent until you are composed, otherwise 
you will commit many faults without perceiving it. 

36. When you have to correct any one, you should 
choose a time when neither you nor the person who is 

Virtiies a Pioiis Soul should Exercise. 365 

to be corrected are excited, otherwise the correction will 
prove more hurtful than useful. 

37. To speak well of all; and to excuse the intention, 
when you cannot justify the action. 

38. To help your neighbor as much as you can, 
especially one who has been opposed to you. 

39. Not to say or do anything that may be displeasing 
to any one ; and except it were necessary in order to 
please God rather than men. 

40. And if sometimes you are wanting in charity tow 
ards any one, ask his pardon, or at least speak kindly 
to him. 

41. To speak always with meekness and in a low voice. 

42. To offer to God the contempt you meet with, and 
not to complain afterwards to others of it. 

43. To observe carefully the rules given you by your 

44. To consider and honor in your Superiors the per 
son of Jesus Christ himself. 

45. To love the most humble employments. 

46. To choose the poorest things for yourself. 

47. To obey without replying, and without showing 
repugnance; and, on the other hand, not to ask anything 
for your own satisfaction. 

48. Not to speak of yourself, whether it be good or 
evil; sometimes to speak in disparagement of ourselves 
fosters pride. 

49. To humble yourself even towards your inferiors. 

50. Not to excuse yourself when you are reproved or 
calumniated, unless it should be absolutely necessary for 
the common good, or to avoid giving scandal to others. 

51. To visit and assist the sick as much as possible, 
and especially the most abandoned. 

52. Often to say to yourself, If I wish to become a 
saint, I must suffer; if I wish to please God, I must do 
his will, and not my own. 

366 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

53. Always to renew your resolution of becoming a 
saint, and not to lose courage in whatever state of tepid 
ity you may find yourself. 

54. To renew each day the resolution that you have 
taken of advancing in perfection. 

55. Let religious endeavor every day to renew the 
vows of their profession. The Doctors of the Church 
say that a person who renews his vows of religion gains 
a plenary indulgence, as he does the first time that he 
makes them. 

56. The exercise which is most essential to be practised 
by a soul that desires to please God is to conform itself 
in all things to the divine will, and to embrace with peace 
all things that are contrary to the senses in pains, sick 
nesses, affronts, contradictions, loss of property, the 
death of relatives or of other persons who are dear to us; 
and to receive them each day when we awake as coming 
from God. Tribulations are those blessed treasuries in 
which the saints find such stores of merits. We cannot 
give greater glory to God than by conforming ourselves 
in all things to his holy will. This is the continual 
practice of devout souls. And it is the end to be attained 
by mental prayer. St. Teresa says that "all that a 
person who gives himself up to prayer ought to seek is 
conformity to the divine will; and let him be sure that 
in this consists the highest perfection." This, then, must 
be our only intention in all our actions, in our medita 
tions, and in our prayers; we must always pray, O Lord, 
teach me to do Thy will. 1 Tell me, Lord, what Thou dost 
desire of me, and I will do it all. Thy will be done:" 
such is the prayer continually on the lips of the saints. 
And this is all that God requires of us: My son, give me 
thy heart? 

1 " Doce me facere voluntatem tuam." Ps. cxlii. 10. 

2 " Domine, quid me vis facere?" Acts, ix. 6. 

3 " Prsebe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi." Prov. xxiii. 26. 

Prayer to obtain all Holy Virtues. 367 

But perfection consists in conforming ourselves to the 
will of God in those things which are disagreeable to us. 
The Ven. F. Avila says, "It is of more use to say once, 
Blessed be God, in any contradiction, than to thank him 
six thousand times when we are pleased." We must 
also be conformed to those crosses which come to us by 
means of others, as in calumniations, deceptions, and 
contempt, because it all comes from God. Not that the 
Lord then wills the fault of the person who offends us, 
but he does will that we should be humble and mortified: 
Good things and evil are from God. 1 We call tribulations 
evils and misfortunes; and we make them so by suffer 
ing them with impatience; but if we received them with 
resignation, they would become graces and jewels to 
enrich our crown in heaven. In a word, he who is always 
united with the will of God becomes a saint, and enjoys 
even here on earth a perpetual peace: Whatever shall 
befall the fust man, it shall not make him sad? 

57. To recommend ourselves to the pra)^ers of devout 
people: but still more to recommend ourselves to the 
saints in heaven, and especially to the Ever-blessed Mary, 
setting great value on devotion towards this divine 
Mother; and not omitting any opportunity of inducing 
others to practise it. Those who have a great confidence 
in the patronage of Mary ought to be very grateful to 
God for it, for it is a great pledge of their salvation; and 
those who have it not, ought to pray that he would grant 
it to them. 

Prayer to obtain all Holy Virtues. 

My Lord and my God, by the merits of Jesus Christ, 
I ask Thee first to enlighten me; make me know the 
vanity of the goods of this world, that there is no other 

1 " Bona et mala ... a Deo sunt." Ecclus. xi. 14. 

- " Non contristabit justum, quidquid ei accident." Pro- , xii. 21. 

368 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

good but to love Thee, the supreme and infinite good. 
Make me know my unworthiness, and how worthy Thou 
art of being loved by all, and especially by me for the 
love Thou hast borne me. Give me holy humility to 
embrace with cheerfulness all the contempt that I may 
receive from men. Give me a great sorrow for my sins. 
Give me the love of holy mortification, that by it I may 
curb my passions and punish my rebellious senses. Give 
me a love for the obedience I owe to my Superiors. 
Give me grace to direct all that I do to the sole end of 
pleasing Thee. Give me holy purity of mind and body, 
and a detachment from everything that does not tend to 
the love of Thee. Give me great confidence in the 
Passion of Jesus Christ, and in the intercession of the 
Ever-blessed Mary. Give me, above all, a great love tow 
ards Thee, and a perfect conformity to Thy divine will. 
I recommend to Thee also the souls of purgatory, my 
relatives, benefactors, and friends, and all those from 
whom I have received any affront or injury; I pray Thee 
shower clown upon them all blessings. Finally, I recom 
mend to Thee infidels, heretics, and all those who are in 
a state of sin. Since Thou, my God, art worthy of in 
finite love, make Thyself known and loved by all; but 
especially by me, who have been most ungrateful to 
Thee. I have offended Thee enough; make me love 
Thee exceedingly, and take me to Heaven, where I shall 
sing Thy mercies for all eternity. Blessed Mary, pray 
to Jesus for me ! Amen. 

Prayer to obtain Holy Perseverance. 

My God, I thank Thee for having pardoned me, as I 
trust Thou hast, all the offences that I have committed 
against Thee. I love Thee above all things; and I am 
more sorry for having despised Thy infinite majesty than 

Prayer of a Devout Soul to Mary and Jesus. 369 

for any other evil that has happened to me. I resolve 
rather to die than ever to offend Thee again; but I fear 
lest through my weakness I should fall again, and lose 
Thy grace. Ah, by the merits of Jesus Christ, never 
permit me to fall again under Thy displeasure ! And 
Thou, Jesus, my Redeemer, since Thou hast died on the 
cross to save me, never let me separate myself from Thee 
again. My Jesus, my Jesus, hear me ! " Ne permittas me 
separari a Te; ne permittas me separari a Te." Such is my 
hope in that blood which Thou hast shed for me with so 
much grief. And thou, Mary, my mother and my hope, 
pray for me; and when thou seest me assailed by any 
temptation, obtain for me that I may always have re 
course immediately to thy Son and thee, saying, Help 
me, my Jesus: My mother, come to my aid, that I may 
not lose God. Thus I hope to die loving God and thee, 
in order to love thee eternally in paradise. 

Prayer of a Devout Soul to Mary and Jesus. 

My Queen and my Mother, if thou protect me I fear 
not that I shall go to hell; because thou dost interpose 
thy prayers and thy merits for those whom thou dost 
protect, and Jesus Christ knows not how to deny any 
thing that thou dost ask him. My dear Lady, for the 
love thou hast for thy Son, pray to him, and have pity 
on me ! And Thou, my Jesus, by the prayers and merits 
of Thy Mother, and by the blood which Thou hast shed 
for me, deliver me from hell; because in hell I cannot 
love Thee. From this hell I pray Thee to deliver me, 
by that compassion which forced Thee even to die on 
the Cross for the love of me. Jesus and Mary, you are 
my love and my hope ! 

37 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

Prayers to the Blessed Virgin. 


Behold, O Mother of God, at thy feet a miserable sin 
ner, who has recourse to thee, and trusts in thee ! O 
Mother of mercy, have pity on me ! I hear thee called 
by all the refuge and the hope of sinners; thou art, then, 
my refuge and hope also. By thy intercession thou hast 
power to save me. Help me, for the love of Jesus Christ; 
lend thy hand to a fallen wretch, who recommends him 
self to thee, and who dedicates himself to thee as thy 
faithful servant. I offer myself, then, O Queen of Heaven, 
to serve thee all my life; accept me, and reject me not, 
as I deserve. O my Mother, in thy protection have I 
placed all my hopes. I bless and thank God a thousand 
times for having in his mercy given me this confidence 
in thee, which I consider as an earnest of my salvation. 
Ah, how many times have I not unhappily fallen because 
I had not recourse to thee ! I hope now that, through 
the merits of Jesus Christ and thy prayers, these sins have 
been pardoned. I may still, notwithstanding, again lose 
the divine grace. Do thou, my Lady, protect me; never 
let me again become the slave of hell. Help me always. 
By thy help I know that I shall conquer; and I know 
that thou wilt surely assist me if I recommend myself to 
thee; but my fear is that, in the occasions of falling, I 
should omit to call upon thee, and so should be lost. 
This, then, is the grace I seek from thee, and which I 
beseech and conjure thee to obtain forme, namely, that 
in the assaults of hell I should always have recourse to 
thee, and say, Mary, help me ! help me, O Mary ! my 
Mother, permit me not to lose my God ! 

Prayers to the Blessed Virgin. 371 


O Mary ! what death shall I die ? When I now think 
of my sins, and of that moment in which I shall expire 
and be judged, I am confounded and tremble ! O my 
Mother, in the blood of Jesus Christ, and in thy inter 
cession, do I place my hopes! O comforter of the 
afflicted, abandon me not at that moment, fail not to 
console me in that great affliction ! If thou help me not, 
I shall be lost. Ah, Lady, before death comes, obtain 
for me a great sorrow for my sins, a true amendment, 
and a constant fidelity to God during the remainder of 
my life. And w r hen I come to the last stage of my ex 
istence, O Mary, my hope ! help me in those moments of 
misery; and comfort me, so that I may not despair at 
the sight of my sins, which the devil will then put before 
me. Obtain for me that I may then invoke thee more 
frequently, that I may die with thy name and that of thy 
divine Son on my lips. Pardon my boldness if I ask 
thee even to come thyself to console me by thy presence 
before I expire. I am a sinner, it is true, and I am not 
worthy of such a favor; but I am thy servant; I love 
thee, and have great confidence in thee. O Mary, I shall 
expect thee; leave me not without consolation ! At least, 
if I am unworthy of such a grace, assist me from heaven, 
that I may go forth from this life loving God and thee, 
and come to love you both eternally in paradise. 


O most dear Lady ! I thank thee that thou hast so 
many times delivered me from hell, which I have so often 
merited by my sins. I, a miserable wretch, was at one 
time condemned to that prison; already, perhaps at my 
first sin, the sentence would have been executed on me, 

37 2 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

if thou hadst not mercifully helped me. Without my 
even praying to thee, but out of thy pure compassion, 
thou didst restrain the divine justice, and then, overcom 
ing my hardness of heart, thou didst encourage me to 
have confidence in thee. And, oh, into how many other 
sins should I not have fallen, in the many dangers which 
have occurred to me, if thou, most loving Mother, hadst 
not preserved me by the graces thou didst obtain for me. 
Ah, my Queen, keep me far from hell ! O my Mother, 
leave me not to myself, for I shall then be lost, but make 
me always fly to thee ! Save me, my hope ! save me 
from sin, which can alone condemn me to hell. May I 
come to rejoice with thee in heaven for all eternity. I 
thank God above all things for having given me this 
confidence in the blood of Jesus Christ, and in thee. Yes, 
I hope that thou wilt save me; that thou wilt free me 
from sin, and wilt obtain for me light and strength to 
fulfil the divine will, and finally that thou wilt conduct 
me in safety to the gates of paradise. Thy servants 
have always had this hope, and none have been deceived. 
Neither shall I be. O Mary, it is so; thou must save me. 
Pray to thy Son (as I also pray to him by the merits of 
his passion), and he may ever keep and increase in me 
this confidence; and so I shall be saved. 

Consecration to the Blessed Virgin. 

Most holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, I, N. N., al 
though most unworthy of being thy servant, neverthe 
less, moved by thy wonderful compassion and by a 
desire to serve thee, choose thee this day, in presence 
of my angel guardian, and of all the heavenly court, 
for my special lady, advocate, and mother; and I firmly 
resolve to serve thee always, and to do everything in 
my power to make others serve thee also. I beseech 

Protestation for a Happy Death. 373 

thee, then, most merciful Mother, by the blood of thy 
Son, which was shed for me, to take me into the num 
ber of thy clients as thy servant forever. Protect me 
in my actions, and obtain for me grace so to measure 
my thoughts, words, and works, that I may never offend 
thy most pure eyes, nor those of thy divine Son, Jesus. 
Remember me, and abandon me not at the hour of my 

Protestation for a Happy Death. 

My God, being certain that I shall die, and not know 
ing when it will be, I intend now to prepare myself for 
death; and I therefore declare that I believe all that the 
Holy Church believes, and especially the mystery of the 
Most Holy Trinity, the -incarnation and death of Jesus 
Christ, paradise and hell; because Thou, who art truth 
itself, hast revealed all these truths. 

I deserve a thousand hells: but I hope in Thy mercy, 
through the merits of Jesus Christ, to obtain pardon, 
final perseverance, and the glory of Paradise. 

I protest that I love Thee above all things, because 
Thou art the infinite good; and because I love Thee, I 
am more sorry that I have so often offended Thee than 
for any other evil, and I resolve rather to die than offend 
Thee again. I pray Thee rather to take away my life 
than to permit me to lose Thee by another sin. 

I thank Thee, my Jesus, for all the sufferings Thou 
hast undergone for me, and for the many mercies Thou 
hast shown me, after I had so greatly offended Thee. 

My beloved Lord, I rejoice in that Thou art infinitely 
happy, and that Thou art loved by so many souls in 
heaven and on earth. I desire that all should know and 
love Thee. 

I protest that if any one has offended me, I pardon 

3 74 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

him for the love of Thee, O my Jesus; and I beg of Thee 
to do good to him ! 

I declare that I desire to receive the most holy sacra 
ments, both in life and death: and I intend now to ask 
for absolution of my sins, in case I should not be able to 
give any sign of it at my death. 

I accept my death, and all the pains that will accom 
pany it, in union with the death and sorrows which Jesus 
suffered on the Cross. And I accept, my God, all the 
pains and tribulations which Thou shalt send me before 
my death. Do with me, and witli all that belongs to 
me, what Thou pleasest. Give me Thy love and holy 
perseverance, and I ask nothing more. 

My Mother Man 7 , assist me always, but especially at 
my death; in the mean time, help me and keep me in 
the grace of God. Thou art my hope. Under thy mantle 
I will live and die. St. Joseph, St. Michael Archangel, 
my guardian angel, help me always, but especially in the 
hour of my death. 

And Thou, my dear Jesus, who to obtain for me a 
happy death didst give Thyself to suffer so bitter a 
death, abandon me not in my last hour. From this time 
I embrace Thee, that I may die in Thy arms. I deserve 
hell, but I throw myself on Thy mercy, hoping in Thy 
blood to die in Thy friendship, and to receive Thy bless 
ing when I shall see Thee first as my judge. Into Thy 
hands, wounded for my love, I commend my soul. 1 I 
hope in Thee, that Thou wilt not then condemn me to 
hell. Ah, help me always, but especially at my death; 
grant me to die loving Thee, so that the last sigh of life 
may be an act of love, which shall transport me from 
this earth to love Thee forever in paradise. 

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my agony ! Jesus, 
Mary, and Joseph, I give myself to you; do you receive 
my soul at that moment. 
1 " In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in seternum." Ps. xxx. 2 

77/6 Manner of making a Retreat. 375 

The manner of making a retreat. 

The spiritual exercises are made in public, in common, or in 
private. They are made in public, when all the people of a par 
ish or of a town are invited without distinction to attend them, 
and then the exercises are properly called a mission. They are 
made in common when a certain number of persons as, for ex 
ample, the members of a confraternity, etc. unite to make them 
together. Finally, the spiritual exercises are made in private 
when one makes them by one s self, and then they are called a 
retreat. In the first two, the exercises are directed by preachers. 
Here, however, we wish to give some supplementary instruc 
tions useful to persons who make a retreat in private. 


A retreat being only an extraordinary exercise of mental prayer, 
it has the same ends as has prayer. We make a retreat in order 
t,o be enlightened ; to know, purify, and correct ourselves ; to 
be united with God and to pray to him ; to renew our spirit ; 
to maintain ourselves in virtue and to increase in fervor ; to ob 
tain some special grace, as when there is question of knowing 
one s vocation ; to embrace a state of life ; to enter upon the 
duties of an important office ; to undertake a dangerous voyage, 


Strictly speaking, every one may make the spiritual exercises 
at home, if not in body, at least in spirit. But in order to be 
really in retreat, we must retire from all that may disturb silence 
and recollection, as St. Alphonsus explains this so well. The 
place most suitable is ordinarily a religious house ; there we can 
rind all desirable facilities. 


Let us at first say, in general, that to keep up the fire of divine 
love in the soul, it is advisable to devote to the spiritual exercises 

376 The Exercises of a Retreat. 

at least an hour every day, a day in every month, and a week every 
year. This is the summing-up of all that the Saint teaches on 
this subject in all his works. The annual retreat should there 
fore last about eight days. The same thing holds~good whenever 
we wish to make a regular retreat, though circumstances may 
exact of us a longer or a shorter time. 


Each one may regulate the exercises of the day to suit his 
own convenience. 
To serve as an example, we give the following order : 

The Morning. 

5 or 5.30 A.M. Meditation on the eternal truths. 

6 or 6.30 " Mass. When we go to Communion, we make 

half an hour s preparation and an hour s 

7.30 " Remission or mental rest, during which we 

make take breakfast, perform some manual 
work, or walk about in silence. 

Before Dinner. 
8.30 " The Rosary. 

9 " The Way of the Cross. 

10 " A half hour s spiritual reading. 

10.30 " Meditation on the Blessed Sacrament or some 
other mystery, on the devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin, or on a virtue or a vice. 

11.30 " A quarter of an hour s remission, followed by 
the Particular Examination on a virtue or 
a predominant passion. 

12. Dinner, followed by an hour s remission. 

After Dinner. 

1.30 P.M. Vocal prayers, as Vespers and Compline, Of 
fice of the Blessed Virgin, etc. 

2 " Visit to the Blessed Sacrament and to the 

Blessed Virgin. 

3 " Reading of the Life of a saint. 

3.30 " Meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

4.30 " Remission. 

The Manner of making a Retreat. 377 

The Evening. 

5 P.M. Visit to the Blessed Sacrament and Protesta 

tion for a happy death. 

6 " Meditation on the eternal truths. 

7 " Supper and remission. 

8 " Recollection in the oratory or before the 

Blessed Sacrament. 

8.30 " Evening prayers, during which is made the 

examination of conscience on the faults of 
the day. At the end we read the principal 
points of the next day s meditation. 

We employ the intervals that remain free according to our de 
votion, in praying, in conversing intimately with God, in reading, 
in briefly noting down good thoughts or a good resolution, in ex 
amining our conscience in order to make a good confession, etc. 


If we cannot keep strict silence during the whole retreat, as 
it is advisable for us to do, we should at least avoid every 
thing that may disturb interior recollection, without which there 
would be no retreat. All mental strain is also hurtful ; it is to 
the heart that God speaks in calmness and peace. A retreat is 
not a hardship, but a spiritual repose to which the Lord kindly 
invites us in order that we may sweetly commune with him : 
Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. Mark, vi. 31. 


Each meditation should last at least half an hour, As for the 
subjects of meditation, let every one choose what best suits his 
own spiritual temperament. Besides the meditations on the 
eternal truths, mentioned above, the following are other plans 
of a retreat according to St. Alphonsus, the subjects of which 
are treated in the first two volumes : 


ist DAY. True wisdom. 
2d " Value of time. 
3d " Abuse of the divine mercy. 

4th " Sentiments of a dying person who has neglected 
his conscience. 


The Exercises of a Retreat. 

5th DAY. Judgment. 
6th " Pains of hell. 

7th " Confidence in the protection of the Blessed Virgin. 
8th " The love that Jesus Christ bears us, and our obliga 
tion to love him. 


1st DAY. Malice of mortal sin. 
2d " Value of the grace of God. 
3d " Importance of salvation. 
4th " Happiness of him who loves Jesus Christ. 
5th " What advantage it is to meditation on the Passion 

of Jesus Christ. 

6th " Fruits that are derived from frequent Communion. 
7th " Excellence of the devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 
8th " Necessity of perseverance in doing what is good. 


Prayer is the soul of the retreat ; but in order to make 
prayer well, we must practise not only exterior, but interior, 
mortification ; to this we must add, according to our means, 
corporal and spiritual alms, according to the advice given by 
the angel Raphael to Tobias : Prayer is good with fasting and 
alms. 1 


It would be well to abstain from going to Holy Communion 
during the first days of the retreat, in order to prepare our 
selves for a good general confession, if we have not yet made 
one, or for a review of the faults committed since the last re 
treat. But we should consult our director in regard to this mat 
ter, and conform to his advice. We should also take care to 
consult him about penances that we wish to impose on our 
selves, and about any other important point. The road of 
obedience is always the most sure and the most meritorious 
road to walk on. ED. 

1 "Bona est oratio cum jejunio et eleemosyna." Tab. xii. 8. 

In 1750, St. Alphonsus published the Counsels con 
cerning the Religious State, followed by Considerations 
on the Religious State, having especially in view the 
young men who presented themselves to be admitted 
into the Congregation (Tannoia, book 2, ch. 34). In the 
Counsels, which we divide into five paragraphs instead 
of two, the author treats at first of the necessity of con 
forming to the designs of Divine Providence in the choice 
of a state of life, whatever it may be, and then enlarges 
upon vocation to religious perfection. To this little 
work, which is one of the first productions of the holy 
Author, we unite all that he afterwards wrote about this 
important matter, and we complete the collection by 
adding to it a short treatise on vocation to the priest 
hood, drawn from his well-known work entitled Selva 
(Volume XIII. Ch. 10). ED. 

Choice of a State of Life. 381 

Choice of a State of Cifc, ano tfyc location to 



We ought to conform to the Designs of God in the Choice 
of a State of Life, whatever it may be. 

It is evident that our eternal salvation depends prin 
cipally upon the choice of our state of life. Father 
Granada calls this choice the chief wheel of our whole 
life. Hence, as when in a clock the chief wheel is de 
ranged, the whole clock is also deranged, so in the order 
of our salvation, if we make a mistake as to the state to 
which we are called, our whole life, as St. Gregory 
Nazianzen says, will be an error. 

If, then, in the choice of a state of life, we wish to 
secure our eternal salvation, we must embrace that to 
which God calls us, in which only God prepares for us 
the efficacious means necessary to our salvation. For, 
as St Cyprian says: "The grace of the Holy Spirit is 
given according to the order of God, and not according 
to our own will;" and therefore St. Paul writes, Every one 
hath his proper gift from God." That is, as Cornelius a 
Lapide explains it, God gives to every one his vocation, 
and chooses the state in which he wills him to be saved. 
And this is the order of predestination described by the 
same apostle: Whom he predestinated, them he also called; 

1 " Ordine suo, non arbitrio nostro, virtus Spiritus Sancti minis- 
tratur." De Sing. cler. 

2 " Unusquisque proprium donum habet a Deo." i Cor. vii. 7. 

382 Choice of a State of Life. 

and whom he called, them he also justified^ . . . and them he 
also glorified?* 

We must remark that in the world this doctrine of the 
vocation is not much studied by some persons. They 
think it to be all the same, whether they live in the state 
to which God calls them, or in that which they choose 
of their own inclination, and therefore so many live a 
bad life and damn themselves. 

But it is certain that this is the principal point with 
regard to the acquisition of eternal life. He who dis 
turbs this order and breaks this chain of salvation will 
not be saved. With all his labors and with all the good 
he may do, St. Augustine will tell him, " Thou runnest 
well, but out of the way," 2 that is, out of the way in 
which God has called you to walk for attaining to salva 
tion. The Lord does not accept the sacrifices offered 
up to him from our own inclination, But to Cain and his 
offerings he had no respect* Rather he threatens with 
great chastisement those who, when he calls them, turn 
their backs on him in order to follow the whims of their 

1 "Quos praedestinavit, hos et vocavit; et quos vocavit, hos et jus- 
tificavit; quos autem justificavit, illos et glorificavit." Itom. viii. 30. 

2 "Benecurris, sed extra viam." 

3 "Ad Cain et ad munera ejus non respexit." Gen. iv. 5. 

* In another work (Volume XIII.) the holy Author expresses him 
self in these words: " God wills that all men should be saved, but 
not in the same way. As in heaven he has distinguished different 
degrees of glory, so on earth he has established different states of 
life, as so many different ways of gaining heaven" (Ch. II. 2). The 
choice is not arbitrary: " To enter into any state of life, a divine voca 
tion is necessary; for without such a vocation it is, if not impossible, at 
least most difficult to fulfil the obligations of our state, and obtain sal 
vation" (Ch. X.). The reason of this is evident; for it is God who in 
the order of his Providence assigns to each one of "us his state of life 
and afterwards provides us with the graces and the help suitable to 
the state to which he calls us. We ought to be persuaded and ought 
never to forget that from all eternity God thinks with love of each 
one of us, just as a good father thinks of his only son. ED. 

And tlie Vocation to the Religious State. 383 

own caprice. Woe to you apostate children, he says through 
Isaias, that you would take counsel and not from me, and 
would begin a web and not by my spirit? * 


The Vocation to the Religious State. How Important it is to 
follow it promptly. 


The divine call to a more perfect life is undoubtedly 
a special grace, and a very great one, which God does 
not give to all; hence he has much reason to be indig 
nant against those who despise it. How greatly would 
not a prince think himself offended, if he should call one 
of his vassals to serve him near his person, and this 
vassal should refuse to obey the call ! And should God 
not resent such conduct? Oh, he resents it but too 
much, and threatens such persons by saying, Woe to him 

1 " Vse, filii desertores, dicit Dominus, ut faceretis consilium, et 
non ex me; et ordiremini telam, et non per spiritum meum." Isa. 

XXX. 1. 

* From this it follows that the great and only affair which ought 
to preoccupy the minds of young persons of both sexes is to know the 
designs of God relatively to the state of life that they are to embrace, 
and to obtain from him the strength to conform to it. The means to 
adopt in order to be successful in this affair are indicated in an ap 
pendix to this treatise. 

But we should know that God does not always call one all at once 
and suddenly to the most perfect state. Some he calls sooner, others 
later. There are some who are raised to it gradually, others who are 
led to it by a circuitous road, more or less long. Sometimes when 
we correspond well to a first vocation God grants us a better one; 
and occasionally our Lord is satisfied with making us understand the 
advantages of this or that vocation, in order that by esteeming it we 
may desire it, and by desiring it we may endeavor to obtain it by 
prayer and good works. We must conform to the will of God, and be 
united with it as well during life as at death. ED. 

384 Choice of a State of Life, 

that gainsay eth his maker ^ The word Woe in Scripture 
signifies eternal damnation. The chastisement of the 
disobedient will begin even in this life, in which he will 
always be unquiet, for, says Job, Who hath resisted Him 
and hath had peace ? * Therefore he will be deprived of 
those abundant and efficacious helps necessary to lead a 
good life. For which reason Habert, a divine, writes, 
" He will with great difficulty be able to work out his 
salvation." He will with great difficulty save himself; 
for, being like a member out of his proper place, he will 
with great difficulty be able to live well. " In the body 
of the Church," adds the learned author, " he will be like 
a limb of the human body out of its place, which may be 
able to perform its functions, but only with difficulty and 
in an awkward manner." Whence he concludes, "And 
though, absolutely speaking, he may be saved, he will 
with difficulty enter upon and advance in the road, and 
use the means of salvation." The same thing is taught 
by St. Bernard 5 and St. Leo." St.- Gregory, 7 writing to 
the Emperor Maurice, who by an edict had forbidden 
soldiers to become religious, says that this was an unjust 
law, which shut the gates of paradise to many, because 
many would save themselves in religion who would 
otherwise perish in the world. 

Remarkable is the case related by F. Lancicius. There 

1 "Vse qui contradicit Fictori suo!" Isa. xlv. 9. 

2 "Quis restitit ei, et pacem habuit ?" Job, ix. 4. 

3 " Non sine magnis difficultatibus poterit saluti suse consulere." 
De Ord. p. 3, c. I, 2. 

4 " Manebitque in corpora Ecclesise, velut membrum in corpore 
humano suis sedibus motum, quod servire potest, sed segre, et cum 
deformitate. Licet, absolute loquendo, salvari possit, difficile tamen 
ingredietur viam humilitatis et pcenitentiae, qua sola ipsi patet in- 
gressus ad vitam." Ibid. 

6 De Vit. Cler. c. 5. 

6 Epist. 87. 

7 Epist. 1. 2, c. loo. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 385 

was in the Roman college a youth of great talents. 
Whilst he was making the spiritual exercises, he asked 
his confessor whether it was a sin not to correspond 
with the vocation to the religious life. The confessor 
replied that in itself it was no grievous sin, because this 
is a thing of counsel and not of precept, but that one 
would expose one s salvation to great danger, as it had 
happened to many, who for this reason were finally 
damned. He did not obey the call. He went to study 
in Macerata, where he soon began to omit prayer and 
holy Communion, and finally gave himself up to a bad 
life. Soon after, coming one night from the house of a 
wicked woman, he was mortally wounded by a rival; 
certain priests ran to his assistance, but he expired be 
fore they arrived, and, moreover, in front of the college. 
By this circumstance God wished to show that this chas 
tisement came upon him for having neglected his vo 

Remarkable also is the vision had by a novice, who, 
as F. Pinamonti relates in his treatise of the victorious 
vocation, had resolved on leaving his Order. He saw 
Christ on a throne in wrath, ordering his name to be 
blotted out of the book of life; by this vision he was 
so terrified that he persevered in his vocation. 

How many other similar examples are there, not to be 
found in books! And how many unhappy youths shall 
we not see damned on the day of judgment for not having 
followed their vocation! Such are rebels to the divine 
light, as the Holy Ghost says: They have been rebellious to 
tJie light, they hare not known his ways, 1 and they will be 
justly punished by losing the light; and because they 
would not walk in the way shown them by the Lord, 
they shall walk without light in that chosen by their own 

1 " Ipsi fuerunt rebelles lumini; nescierunt vias ejus." Job, xxiv. 


386 Choice of a State of Life, 

caprice and perish. Behold, I will utter my spirit to you. 1 
Behold the vocation, but because they fail to follow it, 
God adds: Because I called and you refused . . . you have 
despised all my counsel . . . I also will laugh in your destruc 
tion, and I will mock when that shall come upon you which 
you feared? Then shall they call upon me, and I will not hear: 
they shall rise in morning and shall not find me. Because they 
have hated instruction and received not the fear of the Lord. 
Nor consented to my counsel, but despised all my reproof?* 
And this signifies that God will not hear the prayers of 
him who has neglected to obey his voice. St. Augustine 
says, " They who have despised the will of God which 
invited them, shall feel the will of God when it becomes 
its own avenger. 4 


Whenever God calls to a more perfect state, he who 
does not wish to expose his eternal salvation to great 
danger must then obey, and obey promptly. Otherwise 
he will hear from Jesus Christ the reproach be made to 
that young man who, when invited to follow him, said, 
I will follow Thee, Lord, but let me first take my leave of them 

1 "En, proferam vobis spiritum meum." Prov. i. 23. 

2 "Quiavocavi, et renuistis . . . despexistis omne consiliummeum. 
. . . Ego quoque in interim vestro ridebo et subsannabo, cum vobis 
id, quod timebatis, advenerit." Ibid. \. 24-26. 

3 "Tune invocabunt me, et non exaudiam; mane consurgent, et non 
invenient me. Eo quod exosam habuerint disciplinam, . . . nee 
acquieverint consilio meo, et detraxerint universae correptioni meae." 
Ibid. \. 28-30. 

4 " Qui spreverunt voluntatem Dei invitantem, voluntatem Dei 
sentient vindicantem." R. ad obj. Vine. 16. 

* With these last words God reprimands those who set but little 
value on vocation, and who pretend that one can save one s soul in 
differently in every state of life. (Theol, mor. 1. 4, n. 78.) 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 387 

that are at my house? And Jesus replied to him that he 
was not fit for paradise: No man putting his hand to the 
plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God? 

The lights which God gives are transient, not perma 
nent, gifts. Whence St. Thomas says that the vocation 
of God to a more perfect life ought to be followed as 
promptly as possible. 3 He proposes in his summary 4 the 
question whether it be praiseworthy to enter religion 
without having asked the counsel of many and without 
long deliberation ? He answers in the affirmative, saying 
that counsel and deliberation are necessary in doubtful 
things, but not in this matter Which is certainly good; 
because Jesus Christ has counselled it in the Gospel, 
since the religious state comprehends most of the coun 
sels of Jesus Christ. How singular a thing it is, when 
there is question of entering religion to lead a life more 
perfect and more free from the dangers of the world, the 
men of the world say that it. is necessary to deliberate a 
long time before putting such resolutions in execution, 
in order to ascertain whether the vocation comes from 
God or from the devil. But they do not talk thus when 
one is to accept of a place in the magistracy, of a 
bishopric, etc., where there are so many dangers of 
losing the soul. Then they do not say that many proofs 
are required whether there be a true vocation from 

The saints, however, do not talk thus. St. Thomas 
says that if the vocation to religion should even come 
from the devil, we should nevertheless follow it, as a 
good counsel, though coming from an enemy. St. John 

1 "Sequar te, Domine; sed permitte mihi primum renuntiare his 
quae domi sunt." Luke, ix. 61. 

2 " Nemo mittens manum suam ad aratrum, et respiciens retro, 
aptus est regno Dei." Ibid. 62. 

3 " Quanto citius. 

4 2. 2. q. 189, a. 10. 

388 Choice of a State of Life, 

Chrysostom, as quoted by the same St. Thomas, says 
that God, when he gives such vocations, wills that we 
should not defer even a moment to follow them. Christ 
requires from us such an obedience that we should not 
delay an instant. And why this? Because as much as 
God is pleased to see in a soul promptitude in obeying 
him, so much he opens his hand and fills it with his 
blessings. On the contrary, tardiness in obeying him 
displeases him, and then he shuts his hand and with 
draws his lights, so that in consequence a soul will fol 
low its vocation with difficulty and abandon it again 
easily. Therefore, St. John Chrysostom says that when 
the devil cannot bring one to give up his resolution of 
consecrating himself to God, he at least seeks to make 
him defer the execution of it, and esteems it a great gain 
if he can obtain the delay of one day only, or even of an 
hour. 2 Because, after that day or that hour, other oc 
casions presenting themselves, it will be less difficult 
for him to obtain greater delay, until the individual who 
has been thus called, finding himself more feeble and 
less assisted by grace, gives way altogether and loses 
his vocation. Therefore St. Jerome gives to those who 
are called to quit the world this advice: "Make haste, 
I beseech you, and rather cut than loosen the cable by 
which your bark is bound fast to the land." The saint 
wishes to say that as a man who should find himself 
in a boat on the point of sinking, would seek to cut 
the rope, rather than to loosen it, so he who finds him 
self in the midst of the world ought to seek to get out 
of it as promptly as possible, in order to free himself 

1 " Talem obedientiam Christus quaerit a nobis, ut neque instanti 
temporis moremur. " In Matt. horn. 14. 

2 "Si vel levem arripuerit prorogationem." Ad pop. Ant. horn. 56. 

3 " Festina, quaeso te, et hserentis in salo naviculse funem magis 
praecide, quam solve." Ad Paulin. de St. Scr. 

And the Vocation to the Rcligioiis State. 389 

from the danger, which is so great in the world, of losing 
his own soul.* 

Let us also hear what St. Francis de Sales writes in 
his works, on religious vocation, because the whole of it 
will go to confirm what has already been said, and what 
will be said hereafter: " To have a sign of a true voca 
tion, it is not necessary that our constancy be sensible, 
it suffices if it be in the superior part of our soul. And 
therefore we must not judge that a vocation is not a true 
one, if the individual thus called, before putting it in 
execution, does not feel any longer those sensible move 
ments which he felt in the beginning. Even should he 
feel a repugnance and coldness, which sometimes bring 
him to waver, and make it appear to him that all is lost. 

* We must here call to mind what the Author says in the Christian 
Rule of Life, chap, i.: You should choose your director; consult him 
on all more important matters; and obey him in everything. He 
who obeys his confessor need not fear to go astray: He that heareth 
you, heareth Me (Luke, x. 16). The voice of the confessor is the 
voice of God." We should, therefore, consult at least the confessor, 
who may delay giving an opinion when he thinks fit to do so on ac 
count of the importance of the decision he has to render. 

The following are, according to St. Alphonsus, the three principal 
signs of a true vocation to the religious state: " i. We should have a 
good end in view, such as to remove from the dangers of the world, 
the better to assure ourselves of salvation, and to become more closely 
united with God. 2. We should not be subject to any positive im 
pediment, such as the want of health, or of talent, or parents who 
are necessitous (" in necessitate gravi" Theol nior. 1. 4. n. 66) mat 
ters that should be submitted to the judgment of the Superiors, towards 
whom we should be frank in telling the truth. 3. We should be ad 
mitted by the Superiors of the Institute. (Counsels to Novices.)" 

Moreover, in the Church there are different religious Institutes, dif 
ferent kinds of perfection. It is not enough to know that one is called 
to the religious state; one must also examine for what Institute, for 
what Community the Lord has destined us, and one must follow in 
every point the impulse of grace. (See Homo apost. tr. ult. n. 39.) 


390 Choice of a State of Life, 

It is enough that the will remains constant in not aban 
doning the divine call, and also that there remains some 
affection for this call. To know whether God will have 
one become r religious, one ought not to expect that 
God himself should speak or send to one an angel from 
heaven to signify his will. And as little necessary is it 
that ten or twelve Doctors should examine whether the 
vocation is to be followed or not. But it is necessary to 
correspond with the first movement of the inspiration, 
and to cultivate it, and then not to grow weary if dis 
gust or coldness should come on; for if one acts thus, 
God will not fail to make all succeed to his glory. Nor 
ought we to care much from what quarter the first move 
ment comes. The Lord has many means to call his ser 
vants. Sometimes he makes use of a sermon, at other 
times of the reading of good books. Some, as St. An 
thony and St. Francis, have been called by hearing the 
words of the Gospel; others by means of afflictions and 
troubles that came upon them in the world, and which 
suggested to them the motive for leaving it. These 
persons, although they come to God only because they 
are disgusted with the world or out of favor with it, 
nevertheless, failing not to give themselves to him with 
their whole will, become sometimes greater saints than 
those who entered religion with a more apparent voca 
tion. Father Flatus relates that a nobleman, riding one 
day on a fine horse, and striving to make a great dis 
play in order to please some ladies whom he saw, was 
thrown from the horse into the mire, from which he rose 
besmeared and covered with mud. He was so full of 
confusion at this accident that at the same moment he 
resolved to become a religious, saying, Treacherous 
world, thou hast mocked me, but I will mock thee. 
Thou hast played me a game, I will play thee another; 
for I will have no more peace with thee, and from this 
hour I resolve to forsake thee and to become a friar. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 391 

And, in fact, he became a religious, and lived in religion 
a holy life." 


Means to be Employed for Preserving a Religious Vocation 
in the World. 

He, then, who wishes to be faithful to the divine call 
ought not only to resolve to follow it, but to follow it 
promptly, if he does not wish to expose himself to the 
evident danger of losing his vocation; and in case he 
should by necessity be forced tq wait, he ought to use 
all diligence to preserve it, as the most precious jewel 
he could have. 

The means to preserve vocation are three in number: 
secrecy, prayer, and recollection. 


First, generally speaking, he must keep his vocation 
secret from everybody except his spiritual Father, be 
cause commonly the men of the world scruple not to say 
to young men, who are called to the religious state, that 
one may serve God everywhere, and therefore in the 
world also. And it is wonderful that such propositions 
come sometimes out of the mouth of priests, and even of 
religious; but of such religious only as have either be 
come so without vocation, or do not know what vocation 
is. Yes, without doubt, he who is not called to the 
religious state may serve God in every place, but not 
he who is called to it, and then from his own inclination 
wishes to remain in the world; such a one, as I have 
said above, can with difficulty serve God and lead a 
good life. 

It is especially necessary to keep the vocation secret 
from parents. 

1 Entret. 17. 

392 Choice of a State of Life, 

It was, indeed, the opinion of Luther, as Bellarmine 
relates, 1 that children entering religion without the con 
sent of their parents commit a sin. For, said he chil 
dren are bound to obey their parents in all things. But 
this opinion has generally been rejected by Councils and 
the holy Fathers. The tenth Council of Toledo express 
ly says: " It is lawful for children to become religious 
without the consent of their parents, provided they have 
attained the age of puberty;" these are the words: " It 
shall not be lawful for parents to put their children in a 
religious order after they have attained their fourteenth 
year. After this age, it shall be lawful for children to 
take upon themselves the yoke of religious observance, 
whether it be with the consent of their parents, or only 
the wish of their own hearts." 2 The same is prescribed 
in the Council of Tribur, 3 and is taught by St. Ambrose, 
St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Thomas, and 
others, with St. John Chrysostom, who writes in general: 
"When parents stand in the way in spiritual things, they 
ought not even to be recognized." 

Some Doctors then say that when a child called by 
God to the religious state could easily and securely ob 
tain the consent of his parents, without any danger on 
their part of hindering him from following his vocation, 
it is becoming that he should seek to obtain their bless 
ing. This doctrine could be held speculatively, but not 
so in practice, because in practice such a danger always 
exists. It will be well to discuss this point fully, in 

1 De Man. 1. 2, c. 36. 

* " Parentibus filios religioni contradere non amplius quam usque 
ad decimum quartum eorum aetatis annum licentia poterit esse; pos- 
tea vero, an cum voluntate parentum, an susedevotionis sit solitarium 
votum, erit filiis licitum religionis assumere cultum." Cap. 6. 

3 Can. 24. 

4 "Cum spiritualia impediunt parentes, nee agnoscendi quidem 
sunt." In Jo. horn. 84. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 393 

order to do away with certain pharisaical scruples which 
some entertain. 

It is certain that in the choice of a state of life, chil 
dren are not bound to obey parents. Thus the Doctors, 
with common accord, teach with St. Thomas, who says: 
" Servants are not bound to obey their masters, nor chil 
dren their parents, with regard to contracting matri 
mony, preserving virginity, and such like things. 1 Nev 
ertheless, with regard to the state of marriage, F. Pina- 
monti, in his treatise on religious vocation, is justly of 
the opinion of Sanchez, Comminchio, and others, who 
hold that a child is bound to take counsel of his parents, 
because in sucli matters they may have more experience 
than the young. But speaking then of religious voca 
tion, the above-mentioned Pinamonti wisely adds that 
a child is not bound at all to take counsel of his parents, 
because in this matter they have not any experience, 
and through interest are commonly changed into ene 
mies, as St. Thomas also remarks, when speaking of 
religious vocation. " Frequently," he says, " our friends 
according to the flesh are opposed to our spiritual 
good." : For fathers often prefer that their children 
should be damned with themselves, rather than be 
saved away from them. Whence St. Bernard exclaims, 
" O hard father, O cruel mother, whose consolation is 
the death of their son, who wish rather that we perish 
with them than reign without them !" : 

God, says a grave author, Porrecta, when he calls one 
to a perfect life, wishes one to forget one s father, saying, 

1 " Non tenentur, nee servi dominis, nee filii parentibus, obedire 
de matrimonio contrahendo, vel virginitate servanda, vel aliquo alio 
hujusmodi." 2. 2. q. 104, a. 5. 

2 "Frequenter amici carnales adversantur profectui spiritual!." 
2. 2. q. 189, a. 10. 

3 "O durum patrem, o saevam matrem, quorum consolatio mors filii 
est; qui me malunt perire cum eis, quam regnare sine eis!" E$. HI. 

394 Choice of a State of Life, 

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and 
forget thy people and thy fathers house? "By this, then," 
he adds, "the Lord certainly admonishes us that he 
who is called ought by no means to allow the coun 
sel of parents to intervene." "If God will have a 
soul, who is called by him, forget its father and its 
father s house, without doubt he suggests by this, that 
he who is called to the religious state ought not, before 
he follows the call, to interpose the counsel of the carnal 
friends of his household." 2 

St. Cyril, explaining what Jesus Christ said to the 
youth mentioned above, No man putting his hand to the 
plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God* com 
ments on it and says that he who asks for time to con 
fer with his parents in reference to his vocation is exactly 
the one who is declared by our Lord to be unfit for heav 
en. " In order to confer with his parents, he looks 
back who seeks for delay." 4 Whence St. Thomas abso 
lutely advises those who are called to religion, to abstain 
from deliberating on their vocation with their relatives: 
"From this deliberation, the relatives of the flesh are 
before all to be excluded; for it is said, Treat thy cause 
with thy friend (Prov. xxv. 9); but the relatives of the 
flesh are in this affair not our friends, but our enemies, 

1 "Audi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam; et obliviscere popu- 
lum tuum, et domum patris tui." Ps. xliv. n. 

2 " Si Dominus vult animam ad se vocatam oblivisci patrem, domum- 
que patris ejus, suggerit utique per hoc, quod vocatus ab ipso ad re- 
ligionem non debet suorum carnalium amicorumque domesticorum 
consilium interponere talis vocationis exsecutioni." In 2. 2. q. 189, 
a. 10. 

3 " Nemo mittens manum ad aratrum, et respiciens retro, aptus est 
regno Dei." Luke, ix. 61. 

4 " Respicit retro, qui dilationem quaerit, cum propinquis occasione 
conferendi." Ajp. S. Thorn, loc. cit* 

And the Vocation to the Religions State. 395 

according to the saying of our Lord: A man s enemies are 
those of his household^- (Matt. x. 36). 

If, then, for following one s vocation it would be a great 
error to ask the counsel of parents, it would be a greater 
one still to ask their permission, and to wait for it, for 
such a demand cannot be made without an evident dan 
ger of losing the vocation, as often as there is a probable 
fear that parents would exert themselves to prevent it. 
And, in fact, the saints, when they were called to leave 
the world, left their homes without giving their parents 
so much as an intimation of it. Thus acted St. Thomas 
Aquinas, St. Francis Xavier, St. f Philip Neri, St. Louis 
Bertrand. And we know that the Lord has even by 
miracles approved of these glorious flights. 

St. Peter of Alcantara, when he went to the monastery 
to become a religious, and was fleeing from the house of 
his mother, under whose obedience he had lived since 
the death of his father, found himself prevented by a 
wide river from advancing any farther. He recom 
mended himself to God, and at the same instant saw 
himself transported to the other side. 

Likewise, when St. Stanislaus Kostka fled from home, 
without the permission of his father, his brother set out 
after him in great haste in a carriage, but having almost 
overtaken him, the horses, in spite of all the violence 
used against them, would not advance a step farther, till 
turning towards the city, they began to run at full 

In like manner the Blessed Oringa of Waldrano, in 
Tuscany, being promised in marriage to a young man, 
fled from the house of her parents in order to consecrate 
herself to God; but the river Arno opposing itself to her 

1 " Ab hoc consilio, primo quidem, amcvendi sunt carnis propinqui; 
dicitur enim: Causam tuam tracta cum amico tuo. Propinqui autem 
carnis, in hoc negotio, amici non sunt, sed inimici, juxta sententiam 
Domini: Inimici hominis, domestic! ejus. " 

396 Choice of a State of Life, 

course, after a short prayer she saw it divide and form, 
as it were, two walls of crystal, to let her pass through 
with dry feet. 

Therefore, my very beloved brother, if you are called 
by God to leave the world, be very careful not to make 
your resolution known to your parents, and, content to 
be thus blessed by God, seek to execute it as promptly 
as you can, and without their knowledge, if you would 
not expose yourself to the great danger of losing your 
vocation. For, generally speaking, relatives, as has been 
said above, especially fathers and mothers, oppose the 
execution of such resolutions; and although they may be 
endowed with piety, interest and passion nevertheless 
render them so blind that under various pretexts they 
scruple not to thwart with all their might the vocation 
of their children. 

We read in the life of Father Paul Segneri the 
younger that his mother, though a matron much given 
to prayer, left nevertheless no means untried to prevent 
her son from entering the religious state to which he 
was called. We also read in the life of Mgr. Cavalieri, 
Bishop of Troja, that his father, although a man of great 
piety, used every means to prevent his son from enter 
ing the Congregation of Pious Workmen (which, not 
withstanding, he afterwards did), and even went so far 
as to bring against him a lawsuit in the ecclesiastical 
court. And how many other fathers, notwithstanding 
they were men of piety and prayer, have not in such 
cases been seen to change, and to become possessed, as 
it were, of the devil! For under no other circumstance 
does hell seem to employ more formidable arms than 
when there is question of preventing those who are called 
to the religious state from executing their resolution. 

Kor this reason be also very careful not to communi 
cate your design to your friends, who will not scruple to 
dissuade you from it, or at least to divulge the secret, so 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 397 

that the knowledge of it will easily come to the ears of 
your parents. 1 


In the second place, it is necessary to know that these 
vocations are only preserved by prayer; he who gives up 
prayer will certainly give up his vocation. It is neces 
sary to pray, and to pray much; and therefore let him 
who feels himself called, not omit to make every morn 
ing after rising an hour of mental prayer, or at least 
half an hour, in his own room, if he can do so there 
without molestation, and if not, in the church, and like 
wise half an hour in the evening. 

Let him not neglect also to make every day, without 
fail, a visit to the Most Holy Sacrament, as also to the 
Most Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to obtain the grace 

1 The grace of a religious vocation is not only a signal favor for 
him who receives it, but is also a great blessing for the whole family. 
Christian parents should wish it for their children as the most pre 
cious good, by giving thanks to God if he deigns to grant it, and 
should hasten to offer him with their whole heart the happy sacrifice 
that he requires of them. What may they not expect from Him who 
rewards so liberally the least action that we perform out of 4oye for 
Him ? On the other hand, to oppose a vocation is to oppose God. 
What would be the consequence of such an attempt ? 

Happily, we see parents who, giving the good example of an entire 
submission to God s will, have the wisdom to anticipate their chil 
dren with the intention not to oppose their happiness and to leave them 
every liberty in reference to their vocation. Such parents do not 
run the risk of being deceived, and they acquire, moreover, great 
merit before the Lord. 

St. Alphonsus, however, does not wish that young men should act 
thoughtlessly in a matter as important as it is delicate. He requires 
of them that they at least should consult a prudent director who 
will take care to weigh maturely before God all the circumstances, 
and to examine, among other things, whether the parents would not 
have some serious reason to allege; for instance, the grave necessity 
in which they found themselves, etc. We thus remove all danger of 
taking a rash step. (See note, page 388.) ED. 

398 Choice of a State of Life, 

of perseverance in his vocation. Let him likewise not 
omit to receive Holy Communion thrice, or at least 
twice, a week. 

His meditations ought almost always to be on this 
point of the vocation, considering how great a favor 
from God he has- received in being thus called by him; 
how much more easily he will secure his eternal salva 
tion, if he be faithful to God in following his vocation; 
and, on the contrary, to how great a danger of being 
damned he exposes himself if he be unfaithful. Let 
him then especially place before his eyes the hour of 
death, and consider the contentment that he will then 
feel if he shall have obeyed God, and the pains and the 
remorse he would experience if he should die in the 
world. To this end I shall add at the end of this some 
considerations on which he may make his mental 

It is, moreover, necessary that all his prayers to Jesus 
and Mary, and especially those after Communion and in 
the visits, be directed to obtain perseverance. In all his 
prayers and Communions let him always renew the of 
fering of himself to God, by saying, " Behold, O Lord ! 
I am no more mine, I am Thine. Already have I given 
myself to Thee, and now I renew this my offering of my 
whole self. Accept of me and give me strength to be 
faithful to Thee and to retire as quickly as possible into 
Thy house." 


In the third place, it is necessary that he be recollected, 
which will not be possible for him unless he withdraws 
from worldly conversations and amusements. What, in 
short, as long as we are in the world, is enough to cause 
the loss of vocation ? A mere nothing. One day of 
amusement, a word from a friend, a passion we do not 
mortify, a little attachment, a thought of fear, a resent- 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 399 

ment we do not overcome, suffices to bring to nought all 
our resolutions of retiring from the world, or of giving 
ourselves entirely to God. Wherefore we ought to keep 
perfectly recollected, detaching ourselves from every 
thing of this world. We ought during this time to 
think of nothing but prayer and frequenting the sacra 
ments, and to be nowhere but at home and in church. 
Let him who will not do so, but distracts himself by 
pastimes, be persuaded that he will without doubt lose 
his vocation. He will remain with the remorse of not 
having followed it, but he certainly will not follow it. 
Oh, how many by neglecting these precautions have 
lost, first their vocation, and afterwards their souls! 

Disposition required for entering Religion. 

He who feels himself to be called by God to a relig 
ious Institute in which reigns exact observance* ought 
to know that the end of every regular observance is, to 
follow as exactly as possible the footsteps and examples 
of the most holy life of Jesus Christ, who led a life 
entirely detached and mortified, full of suffering and 
contempt. He, then, who resolves to enter such a holy 
state must at the same time resolve to enter it for the 
sake of suffering and denying himself in all things, as 
Jesus Christ himself has declared to those who wish 
perfectly to follow him- If any man will come after Me, 
let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 1 

1 "Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum, et tollat cru- 
cem suam, et sequatur me." Matt. xvi. 24. 

* " I say in which reigns exact observance; for it would be, per 
haps, better to remain in the world than to enter a religious Insti 
tute in which relaxation has been introduced." We see that this 
remark is made by the author himself ; he also says elsewhere, "Si 
institutum relaxatum est, melius erit alicui ordinarie loquendi, quod 
in saeculo r^maneat." (Horn, apost. tr. ttll. n. 39.) 

400 Choice of a State of Life , 

He, then, who wishes to enter religion must firmly es 
tablish within himself this resolution to go to suffer, 
and to suffer much, so that afterwards he may not give 
way to temptations, when, having entered, he feels de 
pressed under the hardships and privations of the poor 
and mortified life which is there led. 

Many, on entering Communities of exact observance 
take not the proper means of finding peace therein, and 
of becoming saints, because they only place before their 
eyes the advantages of the Community life, such as the 
solitude, the quiet, the freedom from the troubles caused 
by relatives, from strife and other disagreeable matters, 
and from the cares consequent on being obliged to think 
of one s lodging, food, and clothing. 

There is no doubt that every religious is only too much 
indebted to his Order, which delivers him from so many 
troubles, and thus procures for him so great a facility to 
serve God perfectly in peace, continually furnishing him 
with so many means for the welfare of his soul, so many 
good examples from his companions, so much good ad 
vice from his Superiors who watch for his benefit, so 
many exercises conducive to eternal salvation. All this 
is true; but with all this he must also, in order not to be 
deprived of so blessed a lot, resolve to embrace all the 
sufferings he may, on the other hand, meet with in the 
Order; for if he does not embrace them with love, he 
will never obtain that full peace which God gives to 
those who overcome themselves: To him that overcomes I 
will give the hidden manna. 1 For the peace which God 
gives his faithful servants to taste is hidden; nor is it 
known by the men of the world, who, seeing their morti 
fied life, know not how to envy them, but pity them and 
call them the unhappy ones of this earth. But " they 
see the cross, the unction they do not see," a says St. 

1 " Vincenti dabo manna absconditum." Apoc. ii. 17. 

2 " Crucem vident, unctionem non vident." In Dedic. s. I. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 401 

Bernard; they see their mortification, but they do not 
see the contentment that God gives them to enjoy. 

It is true that in the spiritual life one has to suffer, 
but. says St. Teresa, when one resolves to suffer, the 
pain is gone. Nay, the pains themselves turn into joy. 
" My daughter," so the Lord said one day to St. Bridget, 
" the treasure of my graces seems to be surrounded with 
thorns; but for him who overcomes the first stings, all 
is changed into sweetness." And then those delights 
which God gives to his beloved souls to enjoy in their 
prayers, in their Communions, in their solitude; those 
lights, those holy ardors and embraces, that quiet of 
conscience, that blessed hope of eternal life, who can 
ever understand them, if he does not experience them ? 
" One drop of the consolations of God," said St. Teresa, 
" is worth more than all the consolations and the pleas 
ures of the world." Our most gracious God knows well 
how to give to him who suffers something for his sake, 
even in this valley of tears, the experience of the fore 
taste of the glory of the blessed; for in this is properly 
verified that which David says: Thou who framest labor 
in commandment? In the spiritual life, God, announcing 
pains, tediousness, death, seems to frame labor, but, in 
fact, afterwards it is not so; for spiritual life brings to 
them who entirely give themselves to God that peace 
which, as St. Paul says, Surpasseth all understanding? It 
surpasses all the pleasures of the world and of worldlings. 
Whence we see a religious more content in a poor cell 
than all the monarchs in their royal palaces. O taste, and 
see that the Lord is sweet? 

But, on the other hand, he must be persuaded that he 
who does not resolve to suffer and to overcome himself in 
the things contrary to his inclinations, will never be able 

1 " Qui fingis laborem in praecepto." Ps. xciii. 20. 

2 " Exsuperat omnem sensum." Phil. iv. 7. 

3 " Gustate, et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus." Ps. xxxiii. 9. 


402 Choice of a State of Life, 

to enjoy this true peace, though he should have already 
entered religion. To him that overcomes, I will give the 
hidden manna? It is, then, necessary that he who wishes 
to be admitted into an Order of exact observance should 
enter with a mind determined to overcome himself in 
everything, by expelling from his heart every inclination 
and desire that is not from God, nor for God, so that he 
must detacli himself from all things, and especially from 
the four following: i. From his comforts. 2. From his 
parents. 3. From self-esteem. 4. From his own will. 


In religion, after the year of novitiate, one makes, be 
sides the vows of chastity and obedience, also the vow 
of poverty, in consequence of which one can never possess 
anything as one s individual property, not even a pin, no 
income, no money or other things. The Community 
will provide him with all that he needs. But the vow of 
poverty does not suffice to make one a true follower of 
Jesus Christ if one does not afterwards embrace with joy 
of spirit all the inconveniences of poverty. "Not pov 
erty, but the love of poverty is a virtue," 2 says St. 
Bernard, and he means to say that for one to become a 
saint it is not enough to be poor only, if one does not 
love also the inconveniences of poverty. " Oh, how many 
would wish to be poor and similar to Jesus Christ !" says 
Thomas a Kempis; "they wish to be poor but without 
any want," 3 but so that they be in want of nothing. In 
a word, they would wish the honor and the reward of 
poverty, but not the inconveniences of poverty. 

It is easy to understand that in religion no one will 
seek for things that are superfluous, cloths of silk, costly 

1 "Vincent! dabo manna absconditum." Apoc. ii. 17. 

v " Non paupertas, sed amor paupertatis virtus est." Epist. 100. 

3 " Volunt esse pauperes, sed sine defectu." 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 403 

food, furniture of value, and the like; but he may desire 
to have all things that are necessary, ami these he may 
be unable to get. For then it is he gives proof that he 
truly loves poverty, when things that are needful, such 
as his necessary clothing, bed-covering or food, happen 
to be wanting, and yet he remains content and is not 
troubled. And what kind of poverty would that be to 
suffer if he were never in want of anything necessary ? 
F. Balthasar Alvarez says that in order truly to love 
poverty we must also love the effects of poverty; that is, 
as he enumerates them, cold, hunger, thirst, and con 
tempt. 1 

In religion, every one ought not only to be content 
with that which is given to him, without ever asking for 
anything of which, through the neglect of the stewards, 
he should be in want, which would be a great defect, 
but he ought also to prepare himself sometimes to bear 
the want even of those simple things that the Rule 
allows. For it may happen that sometimes he is in 
want of clothes, coverings, linen, or such-like things, and 
then he has to be satisfied with that little which has been 
given him, without complaining or being disquieted at 
seeing himself in want even of what is necessary. He 
who has not this spirit, let him not think of entering 
religion, because this is a sign that he is not called there 
to or that he has not the will to embrace the spirit of 
the Institute. He who goes to serve God in his house, 
says St. Teresa, ought to consider that he is going not 
to be well treated for God, but to suffer for God. 


He who wishes to enter religion must detach himself 
from his parents and forget them altogether. For, in 
religious houses of exact observance, detachment from 
1 " Frigus, famem, slum, et contemptum." 

404 Choice of a State of Life, 

parents is put in practice in the highest degree, in order 
perfectly to follow the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who 
said, / came not to send peace, but the sword: I came to set a 
man at variance with his father, etc.; and then added the 
reason: A man s enemies shall be they of his own household? 
And this is especially the case, as has been remarked 
above, in this point of religious vocation. When one s 
leaving the world is in question, there are no worse 
enemies than parents, who, either through interest of 
passion, prefer to become enemies of God, by turning 
their children away from their vocation, rather than to 
give their consent to it. Oh ! how many parents shall 
we see in the valley of Josaphat damned for having 
made their children or nephews lose their vocation! 
and how many youths shall we see damned who, in 
order to please their parents, and by not detaching them 
selves from them, have lost their vocation and after 
wards their souls! Whence Jesus declares to us, If any 
man hate not his father, etc., he cannot be my disciple? Let 
him, then, who wishes to enter a religious Order of per 
fect observance, and to become a true disciple of Jesus 
Christ, resolve to forget his parents altogether. 

When any one has already entered religion, let him 
remember that he must practise then the same detach 
ment from parents. Let him know that he cannot go 
to visit his parents in their own house, except in the 
case of some dangerous illness of his father or mother, 
or of some other urgent necessity, though always with 
the permission of the Superior, Otherwise to go to the 
house of one s parents without the most express permis- 

" Non veni pacem mittere sed gladium; veni enim separare homi- 
nem adversus patrem suum et filiam adversus matrem suam."- 
Matt. x. 34. 

2 " Inimici hominis, domestic! ejus." Ib. 36. 

" Qui non odit patrem suum, et matrem, . . . etc., non potest 
esse meus discipulus." Luke, xiv. 26. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 405 

sion would be considered in religion as a most notable 
and scandalous fault. In religion it is also considered a 
great defect even to ask permission or to show a desire 
of seeing parents or of speaking with them. 

St. Charles Borromeo said that when he visited the 
house of his parents he always, after his return, found 
himself less fervent in spirit. And thus, let him who 
goes to the house of his parents by his own will and not 
through a positive obedience to his Superiors, be per 
suaded that he will leave it either under temptation oi j 
be cold and lukewarm. t 

St. Vincent of Paul could only be induced once to 
visit his country and his parents, and this out of pure 
necessity; and he said that the love of home and coun 
try was a great impediment to his spiritual progress. 
He said also that many, on account of having visited 
their country, had become so tender towards their rela 
tives that they were like flies, which being once en 
tangled in a cobweb, cannot extricate themselves from 
it. He added, "For that one time that I went, though it 
was for a short time only, and though I took care to 
prevent in my relatives every hope of help from me, 
notwithstanding, I felt at leaving them such a pain that 
I ceased not to weep all along the road, and was for 
three months harassed by the thought of succoring them. 
Finally, God in his mercy took that temptation from 

Let him know, moreover, that no one may write to 
his parents without permission, and without showing 
the letter to the Superior. Otherwise, he would be guilty 
of a most grievous fault that is not to be tolerated in re 
ligion, and should be punished with severity; for from 
this might come a thousand disorders tending to destroy 
the religious spirit. Let especially the new-comer know 
that during the novitiate this is observed with the great 
est rigor; for novices during their year of novitiate do 

406 Choice of a State of Life, 

not easily obtain permission to talk to their parents, or 
to write to them. 

Finally, let him know that in case a subject should 
become sick, it would be a notable defect to ask or to 
show an inclination to go to his own house for his resto 
ration to health, under the plea of being better taken care 
of, or of enjoying the benefit of his native air. The air of 
his own country becomes almost always, or rather always, 
hurtful, and pestilential to the spirit of the subject. 
And if he should ever say that he wishes to be cured 
at home in order not to subject the Order to expenses 
for remedies, let him know that the Order has charity 
enough to take sufficient care of the sick. As to the 
change of air, the Superiors will think of that; and if 
that of one house is not beneficial to him, they will send 
him to another. And as for remedies, they will even 
sell the books, if need be, to provide for the sick. And 
so let him be sure that divine Providence will not fail 
him. And if the Lord should decree against his recov 
ery, he ought to conform to the will of God, without 
even mentioning the word "home." The greatest grace 
that he who enters an Order can desire is to die, when 
God wills it, in the house of God, assisted by the brethren 
of his Order, and not in a secular house in the midst of 
his relatives. 


He must also be altogether detached from all self-es 
teem. Many leave their country, their comforts, and 
parents, but carry with them a certain esteem for them 
selves; but this is the most hurtful attachment of all. 
The greatest sacrifice that we can make to God is to give 
to him not only goods, pleasures, and home, but our 
selves also, by leaving ourselves. This is that denying 
of one s self which Jesus Christ recommends above all 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 407 

to his followers. And in order to deny one s self, one 
must first place under foot all self-esteem, by desiring 
and embracing every imaginable contempt that he may 
meet with in religion; as, for instance, to see others, whom 
perhaps he thinks less deserving, preferred to himself, 
or to be considered unfit to be employed, or only em 
ployed in lower and more laborious occupations. He 
ought to know that in the house of God those charges 
are the highest and the most honorable that are imposed 
by obedience. God forbid that any one should seek for 
or aspire to any office or charge of pre-eminence. This 
would be a strange thing in religion, and he would be 
noted as proud and ambitious, and as such should be put 
in penance, and should especially be mortified in this 
point. Better would it be, perhaps, that a religious Order 
should be destroyed than that there should enter into it 
that accursed pest of ambition which, when it enters, dis 
figures the most exemplary Communities, and the most 
beautiful works of God. 

But he ought to feel even consoled in spirit when he 
sees himself mocked and despised by his companions. 
I say consoled in spirit, for as to the flesh this will be 
impossible, nor need a subject be uneasy when he sees 
that he resents it; it is enough that the spirit embraces 
it, and that he rejoices at it in the superior part of the 
soul. Thus also seeing himself continually reprimanded 
and mortified by all, not only by Superiors, but also by 
equals and inferiors, he ought heartily, and with a tran 
quil mind, to thank those who thus reprimand him, and 
have the charity to admonish him, answering that he 
will be more attentive not to fall into that fault again. 

One of the greatest desires of the saints in this world 
was to be contemned for the love of Jesus Christ. It 
was this that St. John of the Cross asked for, when 
Jesus Christ appeared to him with a cross on his shoul 
der, and said, "John, ask from me what thou wishest," 

408 Choice of a State of Life, 

and St. John answered, " O Lord, to suffer and to be 
despised for Thee." : The Doctors teach, with St. Fran 
cis de Sales, that the highest degree of humility we can 
have is to be pleased with abjections and humiliations. 
And in this consists also one of the greatest merits we 
can have with God. One contempt suffered in peace 
for the love of God is of greater value in his sight than 
a thousand disciplines and a thousand fasts. 

It is necessary to know that to suffer contempt either 
from Superiors or from companions is a thing unavoid 
able even in the most holy Communities. Read the 
lives of the saints, and you will see how many mortifica 
tions were encountered by St. Francis Regis, St. Francis 
of Jerome, Father Torres, and others. The Lord some 
times permits that even among saints there should ex 
ist, though without their fault, certain natural an 
tipathies, or at least a certain diversity of character 
among subjects of the greatest piety, which will cause 
them to suffer many contradictions. At other times false 
reports will be spread and believed. God himself will 
permit this, in order that the subjects may have occasion 
to exercise themselves in patience and humility. 

In short, he will gain little in religion and lose much 
who cannot quietly put up with contempt and contra 
diction; and, therefore, he who enters religion to give 
himself entirely to God ought to be ashamed not to 
know how to bear contempt when he appears before 
Jesus Christ, who was " filled with opprobriums" 2 for 
love of us. Let every one be attentive to this, and re 
solve to be pleased in religion with all abjections, and to 
prepare himself to suffer many of them, for without the 
least doubt he will have many to bear. Otherwise, the 
disquiet caused by contradictions, and contempt badly 

1 "Joannes, pete a me, quid vis. . . . Domine, pati et contemni 
pro te." 

2 " Saturatus opprobriis." 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 409 

borne with, might trouble him so much as to make him 
lose his vocation, and chase him out of religion. Oh, 
how many have lost their vocation on account of such 
impatience in humiliations ! But of what service to the 
Order or to God can he be who does not know how to 
bear contempt for his sake ? And how can one ever be 
said to be dead according to that promise which he 
made to Jesus Christ, on entering religion, to die to him 
self if he remained alive to resentment and disquiet, 
when he sees himself humbled ? Out of the Order with 
such subjects, so attached to thew- own esteem! out with 
them ! It is well for them to go as soon as possible, 
that they may not infect the rest also with their pride. 
In religion every one ought to be dead, and especially to 
his own self-esteem, otherwise it is better for him not 
to enter, or to depart again if he has already entered. 


He who enters religion must altogether renounce 
his own will, consecrating it entirely to holy obedience. 
Of all things, this is the most necessary. What does it 
avail to leave comforts, parents, and honors, if we still 
carry into religion our own will? In this principally 
consists the denial of ourselves, the spiritual death, and 
the entire surrender of ourselves to Jesus Christ. The 
gift of the heart that is, of the will is what pleases him 
most, and what he wishes from the children of religion. 
Otherwise, if we do not entirely detach ourselves from 
our own will and renounce it in all, all mortifications, all 
meditations and prayers, and all other sacrifices, will be 
of little avail. 

It is, then, evident that this is the greatest merit we can 
have before God, and this is the only and sure way of pleas 
ing God in all things, so that then we can, each one of us, 
say what Jesus our Saviour said: I do always the things that 

4io Choice of a State of Life, 

please Him. 1 Certainly, he who in religion lives without 
self-will may say and hope that in all that he does he 
pleases God, whether he studies or prays, or hears con 
fessions, whether he goes to the refectory or to recrea 
tion, or to rest; for in religion not a step is made, not a 
breath drawn, but in obedience to the Rule, or to Supe 

The world does not know, and even certain persons 
given to spirituality have little idea of, the great value of 
a Community life under obedience. It is true that out 
side of religious Communities there are to be found 
many persons who do much, and, may be, more than 
those who live under obedience; they preach, do pen 
ance, pray and fast, but in all this they consult more or 
less their own will. God grant that at the day of judg 
ment they may not have to lament as those mentioned 
in Scripture: Why have we fasted and Thou hast not re 
garded, have we humbled ourselves, and Thou hast not taken 
notice ? Behold, in the day of your fast, your own will is 
found? On which passage St. Bernard remarks: " Self- 
will is a great evil, for through it that which is good in 
itself may be for you no good at all." 5 This to be 
understood when in all these exercises we seek not God, 
but ourselves. On the contrary, he who does all by 
obedience is sure that in all he pleases God. The Ven 
erable Mother Mary of Jesus said that she prized so 
much her vocation to religion principally for two rea 
sons: the first was that in the monastery she enjoyed 
always the presence and company of Jesus in the 
Blessed Sacrament, and the other was that there by 

1 " Ego, quse placita sunt ei, facio semper." John, viii. 29. 

2 " Quare jejunavimus, et non aspexisti ? humiliavimus animas nos- 
tras, et nescisti ? Ecce in die jejunii vestri invenitur voluntas vestra." 
Isa. Iviii. 3. 

3 "Grande malum, propria voluntas, qua fit, ut bona tiia tibi bona 
non sint." In Cant. s. 71. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 41 1 

obedience she entirely belonged to God, sacrificing to 
him her own will. 

It is related by F. Rodriguez that after the death of 
Dositheus, the disciple of St. Dorotheas, the Lord re 
vealed that in those five years he had lived under obe 
dience, though by reason of his infirmities he could not 
practise the austerities of the other monks, yet by the 
virtue of obedience he had merited the reward of St. 
Paul the Hermit and of St. Anthony the Abbot. 

He, then, who wishes to enter religion must resolve to 
renounce altogether his own will, and to will only what 
holy obedience wills. God preserve any religious from 
ever letting escape from his mouth the words, I will or 
I will not. But in all things, even when asked by Su 
periors what he desires, he should only answer, I wish 
that which holy obedience wills. And, provided there 
is no evident sin, he ought in every command imposed 
on him to obey blindly and without examination, be 
cause the duty of examining and deciding the doubts 
belongs not to him, but to his Superiors. Otherwise, if 
in obeying he does not submit his own judgment to that 
of the Superior, his obedience is imperfect. St. Ignatius 
of Loyola said that prudence in things of obedience is 
not required in subjects, but in Superiors; and if there 
is prudence in obeying, it is too bey without prudence. 
St. Bernard says, " Perfect obedience is indiscreet," 1 and 
in another place he says, "For a prudent novice to re 
main in the Congregation is an impossible thing;" and, 
adding the reason for it, he says, "To judge belongs to 
the Superior; and to obey, to the subject." 2 

But to make progress in this virtue of obedience, on 
which all depends, he must always keep his mind ready 
to do all that for which he feels the greatest repugnance, 

1 " Perfecta obedientia est indiscreta." De vita solit. c. 5. 
2i< Novitium prudentem in congregatione durare impossible est. 
. . . Discernere superioris est, subditi obedire." Ibid. 

412 Choice of a State of Life, 

and, on the contrary, he must be prepared to bear it 
quietly when he sees that all he seeks or desires is re 
fused to him. It will happen that when he wishes to be 
in solitude, to apply himself to prayer or study, he will 
be the most employed in exterior occupations. For 
though it is true that in religion one leads as much as 
possible a solitary life when at home, and that for this 
end there are many hours of silence, the retreat each 
year of ten days in perfect silence, and of one day each 
month, besides the fifteen days before the receiving of 
the habit, and one of fifteen before the profession, when 
the vows are made, nevertheless, if it is an Order of 
priests called to work and to be employed for the salva 
tion of souls, the subject, if he is continually employed 
in this by obedience, ought to be content with the pray 
ers and exercises of the Community; he must be pre 
pared sometimes to go even without these when obedi 
ence will have it so, without either excusing himself or 
being disquieted, being well persuaded of that of which 
St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi was so confident when 
she said that " all the things which are done through 
obedience are but so many prayers." 

Trials which we must expect to have in the Religious Life. 

When, then, any one has thus entered religion, however 
truly he may be called, and though he may have con 
quered all his passions and his earthly affections, let him 
not imagine that he will be exempt from other tempta 
tions and trials, which God himself will send him, such 
as tediousness, darkness, various fears, in order to. es 
tablish him more firmly in his vocation. We must 
remember that even the saints, who have loved their 
vocation the most, have sometimes suffered great dark 
ness with regard to it, and that it seemed to them as if 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 413 

they were deceived, and would not be able to save them 
selves in that state. So it happened with St. Teresa, St. 
John of the Cross, the Venerable Mother Frances de 
Chantal. But by recommending themselves to God, 
that darkness was dissipated, and they recovered their 
peace of mind. Thus the Lord tries his most beloved 
children, as it was said to Tobias: Because thou wast ac 
ceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove 
thee. 1 And in the book of Deuteronomy, The Lord, your 
God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him or 
not? Let each one therefore prepare himself to suffer in 
religion this obscurity. It will sometimes appear to 
him that he cannot bear the observance of the Order, 
that he will have no more peace of mind, or will not even 
be able to save himself. But, most of all, every one must 
be on his guard when the temptation presents specious 
scruples or pretexts of greater spiritual good, in order to 
make him abandon his vocation. 

The principal remedies in such temptations are two in 


The first is prayer, Go ye to him and be enlightened? For 
as it will not be possible for temptation to overcome him 
who has recourse to prayer, so he who does not recom 
mend himself to God will surely be overcome by it. 
And let it be remarked that sometimes it will not suf 
fice to have recourse to God once, or for a few days, to 
become victorious. Perhaps the Lord will permit the 
temptation to continue, even after we have prayed for 
several weeks, months, and even years; but let us be as- 

" Quia acceptus eras Deo, necesse fuit ut tentatio probaret te." 
Tob. xii. 13. 

" Tentat vos Dominus Deus vester, ut palam fiat, utrum diligatis 
eum, an non." Deut xiii. 3 

3 " Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini." Ps. xxxiii. 6. 

414 Choice of a State of Life \ 

sured that he who ceases not to recommend himself to 
God will certainly be enlightened and victorious, and 
thereafter he will have more peace and be more firm in 
his vocation. 

Until we have gone through that storm, which for the 
most part comes over all, let none of us think himself 
secure. Let us be persuaded, however, that in this time 
of temptation we ought not to expect a fervor, and a 
clearness of reason sufficient to tranquillize ourselves; 
for in the midst of this darkness we see nothing but con 
fusion. We have nothing then to do but to say to the 
Lord, O Lord, help me! O Lord, help me! and also to 
have frequently recourse to Most Holy Mary, who is the 
mother of perseverance, confiding in that divine promise: 
Ask and you shall receive. 1 And it is certain that he who, 
with the help of divine grace, is victorious in such a com 
bat finds afterwards a double calm and peace in his 


The second remedy, and a principal and necessary 
one in such temptations, is to communicate to the 
Superiors, or to the spiritual Father of the Community, 
the temptation which afflicts you, and this at once, be 
fore the temptation becomes strong. St. Philip Neri 
said that when a temptation is thus manifested it is 
half vanquished. On the contrary, there is in such a 
case no greater evil than to conceal the temptation from 
Superiors; for then, on the one hand, God withdraws his 
light because of the little fidelity shown by the subject 
in not disclosing it, and, on the other, whilst the mine is 
not sprung, the temptation gains strength. Whence it 
may be held for certain that he will surely lose his voca 
tion who, when he is tempted against it, does not dis 
close his temptations. 

1 " Petite et accipietis." John, xvi. 24, 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 415 

And let it be understood that in religion the most 
dangerous temptations that hell can bring against a sub 
ject are those against vocation, in which, if it should 
succeed and conquer, by that one stroke it will have 
gained many victories; for when a subject has lost his 
vocation and left religion, what good will he any more 
be able to do in the service of God ? Though the enemy 
may make him believe that out of religion he will have 
more peace and be able to do more good, nevertheless 
let him hold for certain that as soon as he is out of it 
he will feel such a remorse in his heart that he will 
nevermore have peace. And God grant that such a 
remorse may not torment him afterwards through all 
eternity in hell, into which, as has already been said, he 
who through his own fault loses his vocation falls so 
very easily. He will be so lukewarm and discouraged 
in doing good that he will not even have the courage to 
raise his eyes to heaven. It will be an easy thing for 
him to give up prayer altogether, because as often as he 
begins it he will feel a hell of remorse, hearing his con 
science reproach him, and saying, What hast thou 
done? Thou hast abandoned God; thou hast lost thy vo 
cation; and for what ? To follow thine own caprice, to 
please thy parents." Let him be certain that he will 
have to hear this reproach through his whole life, and 
still more shall he hear it made to him at the hour of his 
death, when, in sight of eternity, instead of dying in the 
house of God, and in -the midst of good brethren in re 
ligion, he will have to die outside of the Community, per 
haps in his own house, in the midst of his relatives, to 
please whom he has displeased God. Let religious al 
ways beseech God to let them die rather than to permit 
that greatest of disgraces, the greatness of which they 
will better understand at the point of death and to their 
greater torment, because then there will be no more any 
remedy for their error. For him, then, who is tempted 

4 1 6 Choice of a State of Life, 

against his vocation, this is the best meditation he can 
make in the time of the temptation, namely, to reflect 
what torment the remorse of having lost his vocation, 
and of having to die outside of religion, through his 
own caprice, through his own fault, will cause him at 
the hour of death. 


Finally, let him who wishes to enter religion not for 
get to resolve to become a saint, and to suffer every ex 
terior and interior pain, in order to be faithful to God, 
and not to lose his vocation. And if he be not resolved 
to this, I exhort him not to deceive the Superiors and 
himself, and not to enter at all, for this is a sign that he 
is not called, or, which is a still greater evil, that he 
wishes not to correspond, as he ought, with the grace of 
his vocation. Hence, with so bad a disposition it is bet 
ter to remain without, in order to acquire a better dis 
position, to resolve to give himself entirely to God, and 
to suffer all for God. Otherwise he will do an injury 
both to himself and to the Order; for he will easily go 
back to the world, and then, being disgraced before the 
world, as well as before God, he will be guilty of a still 
further infidelity to his vocation, and will lose the con 
fidence in the power of taking another step in the 
way of God. God only knows into what other misfor 
tunes and sins he may afterwards fall. 

On the other hand, a beautiful sight it is to see in re 
ligion souls wholly given to God, who live in the world 
as if out of the world, without any other thought than 
that of pleasing God. 

In religion each one has to live only for eternal life. 
What happiness for us, if we spend these few days of 
our life for God ! And to this he is most especially 
obliged who has perhaps already spent much of his life 
in the service of the world. Let us set eternity before 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 417 

our eyes, and then we shall suffer all with peace and 

Let us thank God, who gives us so much light and so 
many means to serve him perfectly, since he has chosen 
us, from among so many, to serve him in religion, hav 
ing bestowed on us the gift of his holy love. Let us 
make haste to please him in the practice of virtue, re 
flecting that, as St. Teresa said to her daughters, we 
have already by his grace done the principal thing neces 
sary to become saints, by turning our backs on the world 
and all its goods, the least yel.remains to be done, and 
we shall be saints. I hold it for certain that for those 
who die in religion, Jesus Christ has prepared a promi 
nent place in paradise. On this earth we shall be poor, 
despised, and treated as fools, as imprudent men, but in 
the other life our lot will be changed. 

Let us always recommend ourselves to our Redeemer 
hidden in the Sacrament, and to Most Holy Mary, be 
cause in religion all subjects must profess a most special 
love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and for the Im 
maculate Virgin Mary; and let us have great confidence. 
Jesus Christ has chosen us to be princes of his court, as 
we may confidently conclude from the protection he ex 
tends to all religious Orders, and to each member of 
them. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall 
I fear V 

O Lord ! finish Thy work, and, for Thy glory, grant us 
to be all Thine, so that all the members of Thy Orders 
may until the day of judgment, be pleasing to Thee, and 
gain over to Thee an immense number of souls. Amen. 

1 " Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea; quern timebo ?" Ps. 
xxvi. i. 



How the Salvation of the Soul is secured by entering the 
Religious State. 

To know how important is the eternal salvation of our 
sou], it suffices to have faith, and to consider that we have 
but one soul, and when that is lost, all is lost. What 
does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the 
loss of his sou!? 1 This great maxim of the Gospel has 
induced many youths either to shut themselves up in 
cloisters or to live in deserts, or by martyrdom to give 
up their lives for Jesus Christ. For, said they, what does 
it profit us to possess the whole world, and all the goods 
of this world, in this present life, which must soon finish, 
and then be damned and be miserable in that life to 
come, which will never end ? All those rich men, all 
those princes and emperors, who are now in hell, what 
have they now of all they enjoyed in this life, but a 
greater torment and a greater despair ? Miserable beings, 
they lament now and say, All those things are passed like 
shadows? 1 For them all is passed like a shadow, like a 
dream, and that lamentation which is their lot has last 
ed already many years, and shall last throughout all 
eternity. The fashion of this world passeth away? This 
world is a scene which lasts but a short time; happy he 

1 " Quid enim prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, 
animae vero suas detrimentum patiatur ?" Matt. xvi. 26. 
8 " Transierunt omnia ilia tanquam umbra." Wisd. v. 9. 
8 " Praeterit figura hujus mundi." I Cor. vii. 51. 

Choice of a State of Life, etc. 419 

who plays on this scene that part which will afterwards 
make him happy in the life which will never end. When 
he shall then be contented, honored, and a prince in 
paradise, so long as God shall be God, little will he care 
for having been in this world poor, despised, and in 
tribulation. For this end alone has God placed us on 
this earth, and keeps us here in life, not to acquire 
transitory but eternal goods: The end is life everlasting. 1 

This is the sole end, which all men who live in the world 
ought to have in view. But the misfortune is, that in the 
world one thinks little or nothing of everlasting life. In 
the midst of the darkness of this Egypt, the greatest num 
ber of men bestow all their care on acquiring honor and 
pleasures; and this is the reason why so many perish. 
With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is 
none that consider eth in his heart? How few are they who 
reflect on death, by which for us the scene is closed; on 
the eternity which awaits us; on what God has done for 
our sake ! And thence it comes that these miserable 
beings live in blindness and at random, far from God, 
having their eyes, like the beasts, intent only on earthly 
things, without remembering God, without desiring his 
love, and without a thought of eternity. Therefore, they 
die afterwards an unhappy death, which will be the begin 
ning of an eternal death and an endless misery. Having 
arrived there, they will open their eyes; but it will be only 
to lament for their own foolishness. 

This is the great means of salvation which is found in 
religion, to wit: the continual meditation on the eternal 
truths. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin. 9 In 
all well-regulated religious houses this is done every 

1 " Finem vero, vitam aeternam." Rom. vi. 22. 

2 " Desolatione desolata est omnis terra, quia nullus est qui recogitet 
corde." Jer. xii. u. 

3 " Memorare novissima tua, et in aeternum non peccabis." 
Ecclus. vii. 40. 

42O Choice of a State of Life? 

day, and even several times a day. And therefore in 
this light of divine things, which there shines continually, 
it is morally impossible to live, at least for a long time, 
far from God, and without keeping one s account ready 
for eternity. 


O my God ! how have I ever deserved this great mercy, that, 
having left so many others to live in the midst of the world, 
Thou hast willed to call me, who have offended Thee more than 
others, and deserved, more than they, to be deprived of Thy 
divine light, to enjoy the honor of living as a friend in Thy own 
house ! O Lord ! grant that I may understand this exceeding 
grace which Thou hast bestowed on me, that I may always thank 
Thee for it, as I purpose and hope to do always during my life 
and throughout eternity, and do not permit me to be ungrate 
ful for it. Since Thou hast been so liberal towards me, and hast 
in Thy love preferred me to others, it is but just that more than 
others I should serve and love Thee. O my Jesus ! Thou 
wouldst have me to be wholly Thine, and to Thee I give myself 
wholly. Accept me, and henceforward keep me as Thy own, since 
I am no more mine. Finish Thou the work which Thou hast 
begun. Thou hast called me to Thy house, because Thou wilt 
have me become a saint. Make me then what Thou wilt have 
me. Do it, O eternal Father ! for the love of Jesus Christ, in 
whom is all my confidence. I love Thee, my sovereign good, I 
love Thee. O infinite goodness! I love Thee alone, and will 
love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, come to my assistance, 
and obtain for me to be always faithful and thankful to my 

The Happy Death of the Religious. 

Happy are the dead who die in the Lord. 1 And who are 
those blessed dead who die in the Lord, but the religious, 
who at the end of their lives are found already dead to 
the world, having already detached themselves by their 
holy vows from the world and all its goods ? 

1 "Beati mortui, qui in Domino moriuntur." Apoc. xiv. 13. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 421 

Consider, my brother, how content you will feel if, 
following your vocation, it will be your good fortune to 
die in the house of God. The devil will certainly repre 
sent to you that if you retire into the house of God, you 
may perhaps afterwards repent of having left your own 
house and your own country, and deprived your parents 
of that succor which they might have expected from 
you. But say to yourself: shall I, at the point of death, 
repent of having put my resolution in execution, or shall 
I be content? I beseech you, therefore, to imagine 
yourself now already at the point of death, about to ap 
pear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Reflect what 
then, reduced to that state, you would wish to have 
done. Perhaps to have contented your parents, to have 
worked for your own family and your country, and then 
to die surrounded by brothers, and nephews, and rela 
tives, after having lived in your own house with the title 
of pastor, of canon, of bishop, of a member of the cab 
inet, and after having done your own will ? or rather, to 
die in the house of God, assisted by your good brethren 
in religion, who encourage you on the great passage to 
eternity, after having lived many years in religion, 
humbled, mortified, poor, far from parents, deprived of 
your own will, and under obedience, and detached from 
everything in the world, all these things render death 
sweet and agreeable? " He who has been accustomed 
to deprive himself of the delights of the world," says St. 
Bernard, "will not regret having done so when he has to 
leave it." Pope Honorius II., when dying, wished that 
he had remained in his monastery, occupied in washing 
the plates, and had not been Pope. Philip II. wished at 
his death that he had been a lay-brother in some relig 
ious order, intent on serving God, and had not been a 
king. Philip III., also King of Spain, said when he was 

1 " Qui consuevit se delectationibus mundi privare, mundum 
dcserere non sentiet." 

422 Choice of a State of Life y 

dying, " Oh that I had been in a desert, there to serve 
God, and that I had never been a monarch! for had such 
been the case, I should now appear with more confidence 
before the tribunal of Jesus Christ." 

When, then, hell tempts you about your vocation, 
think of the hour of death, and set before your eyes that 
all-important moment " upon which eternity depends." a 
Thus you will overcome all temptations; you will be 
faithful to God; and certainly you will not repent of it 
at the point of death, but will give thanks to the Lord, 
and die contented. Gerard, brother of St. Bernard, 
died singing, at the very thought of dying in the house 
of God. 

Father Suarez, of the Company of Jesus, felt at his 
death so great consolation and sweetness at dying in 
religion that he said, " I never thought it was so sweet 
to die." 2 

Another good religious, of the same society, when at 
the point of death, laughed; and being asked why he 
laughed, answered: " And why should I not laugh ? Has 
not Jesus Christ himself promised paradise to him who 
leaves everything for his sake ? Was it not he who said, 
Every one that has left house, or brethren, or father, etc., shall 
receive a hundred-fold, and shall possess life everlasting ? 3 I 
have left all for God; God is faithful, he cannot fail to 
fulfil his promises; and so," he said, "why should I not 
rejoice and laugh, seeing myself assured of paradise ?" 

A certain lay-brother, who died some years ago, was 
asked, at his death, in which house he would rather be. 
He answered, " I desire nothing but to die and to be 
united with God." 

Father Januarius Sarnelli, a short time before his 

1 " A quo pendet aeternitas." 
* " Non putabam tarn dulce esse mori." 

3 "Qui reliquerit domum vel fratres, aut natrem, etc., centuplum 
accipiet, et vitam aeternam possidebit." Matt. xix. 29. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 423 

death, when conversing with God, uttered the following 
words: "O Lord, Thou knowest that all I have done, 
all I have thought, has been for Thy glory; now I wish 
to go to see Thee face to face, if it please Thee so;" then 
he said, "Come, I will begin a sweet agony;" and began 
to converse affectionately with God, and shortly after 
placidly expired, preserving the smile on his lips, and 
the body began to give forth a sweet odor, which, as 
they attested, was perceived for several days in the 
room in which he had died. 

St. Bernard, then, speaking >{ the happy state of 
religious, had good reason to exclaim: U O secure life, 
in which death is expected without fear, ay, sweetly 
desired and devoutly accepted !" 


my Lord Jesus Christ ! who, in order to obtain a happy 
death for me, hast chosen so bitter a death for Thyself ; since 
Thou hast loved me to such an extent as to have chosen me to 
follow more closely Thy holy life, to have me thus more inti 
mately united with Thy loving heart, bind me, I beseech Thee, 
wholly to Thee with the sweet cords of Thy love, that I may no 
more separate myself from Thee. O my beloved Redeemer ! I 
wish to be grateful to Thee, and to correspond with Thy grace, 
but I fear my weakness may render me unfaithful ; O my Jesus ! 
do not permit this. Let me die rather than abandon Thee, or 
forget the peculiar affection Thou hast shown me. 

1 love Thee, O my dear Saviour ! Thou art and shalt always 
be the only Lord of my heart and of my soul. I leave all and 
choose Thee alone for my treasure, O most pure Lamb of God, 
O my most ardent lover ! My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen 
out of thousands. 2 Be gone, ye creatures, my only good is my 
God, he is my love, my all. I love Thee, O my Jesus ! and in 

"O vita secura, ubi absque formidine mors expectatur, immo et 
exoptatur cum dulcedine, et excipitur cum devotionel" Ad Mil. T. 
c. i. 

2 " Dilectus meus candidus et rubicundus, electus ex millibus." 
Cant. v. 10. 

424 C twice of a State of Life, 

loving Thee I will spend the remainder of my life, be it short, 
or be it long. I embrace Thee, I press Thee to my heart, and I 
wish to die united with Thee. I wish nothing else. Make me 
live always burning with Thy love, and when 1 shall have ar 
rived at the end of my life, make me to expire in an ardent act 
of love towards Thee. 

Immaculate Virgin Mary, obtain thou this grace for me, I 
hope it from thee. 


The Account which he will have to render to Jesus Christ, 
on the Day of Judgment, who does not follow his Voca 

The grace of vocation to the religious state is not an 
ordinary grace; it is a very rare one, which God grants 
only to a few. He hath not done so to every nation. 1 Oh, 
how much greater is this grace, to be called to a perfect 
life and to become one of the household of God, than if 
one were called to be the king of any kingdom on this 
earth ! for what comparison can there be between a tem 
poral kingdom of this earth and the eternal kingdom of 
heaven ? 

But the greater the grace is, the greater will be the 
indignation of the Lord against him who has not corre 
sponded with it, and the more rigorous will be his judg 
ment at the day of account. If a king were to call a 
poor shepherd to his royal palace, to serve him among 
the noblemen of his court, what would not be the indig 
nation of this king were he to refuse such a favor, 
through unwillingness to leave his miserable stable and 
his little flock ? God knows well the value of his graces, 
and therefore he chastises with severity those who de 
spise them. He is the Lord; when he calls, he wishes to 
be obeyed, and obeyed promptly. When, therefore, by 
his inspiration, he calls a soul to a perfect life, if it does 

1 " Non fecit taliter omni nation!." Ps. cxlvii. 20. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 425 

not correspond, he deprives it of his light, and abandons 
it to its own darkness. Oh, how many poor souls shall 
we see among the reprobate on the day of judgment for 
this very reason, that they were called and would not 
correspond ! 

Give thanks, then, to the Lord, who has invited you to 
follow him; but if you do not correspond, fear. Since 
God calls you to serve him nearer to his person, it is a 
sign that he wishes to save you. But he will have you 
to be saved in that path only which he indicates to you 
and has chosen for you. If you wish to save yourself on 
a road of your own choosing, there is great danger that 
you will not be saved at all; for if you remain in the 
world, when God wishes you to be a religious, he will 
not give you those efficacious helps prepared for you 
had you lived in his house, and without these you will 
not save yourself. My sheep hear my voice. 1 He who will 
not obey the voice of God shows that he is not, and 
will not be, one of his sheep, but in the valley of Josa- 
phat he will be condemned with the goats. 


O Lord, Thou hast shown me such an excess of bounty as to 
choose me from among so many others, to serve Thee in Thy 
own house with Thy most beloved servants. I know how great 
is that grace, and how unworthy of it I have been. Behold, I 
am willing to correspond to so great a love. I will obey Thee. 
Since Thou hast been towards me so liberal as to call me when 
I did not seek Thee, and when I was so ungrateful, permit it not 
that I should offer to Thee that greater excess of ingratitude, 
to embrace again my enemy, the world, in which heretofore I 
have so oftentimes forfeited Thy grace and my eternal salvation, 
and thus to forsake Thee, who hast shed Thy blood and given 
Thy life for my sake. Since Thou hast called me, give me also 
the strength to correspond to the call. Already have I prom 
ised to obey Thee. I promise it again, but without the grace 

1 " Oves me?e vocem meam audiunt." John, x. 27. 

426 Choice of a Sta tc of L ife, 

of perseverance I cannot be faithful to Thee. This persever 
ance I ask from Thee, and through Thy own merits it is that J 
wish it and hope to obtain it. Give me the courage to vanquish 
the passions of the flesh, through which the devil seeks to in 
duce me to betray Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus ! to Thee I 
consecrate myself entirely. I am already Thine, I will be al 
ways Thine. O Mary, my mother and my hope, thou art the 
mother of perseverance. This grace is only dispensed through 
thy hands ; do thou obtain it for me. In thee do I confide. 


The Torment which in Hell will be the Lot of him who is 
damned for having lost his Vocation. 

The pain of having through one s own fault lost some 
great good, or of having brought upon one s self volun 
tarily some great evil, is a pain so great that even in 
this life it causes an insupportable torment. But what 
torment will that youth, called by the singular favor of 
God to the religious state, feel in hell when he then 
perceives that if he had obeyed God he would have 
attained a high place in paradise, and sees himself never 
theless confined in that prison of torments, without hope 
of remedy for this his eternal ruin! Their wormdieth not. 

This will be that worm, which, living always, will 
always gnaw his heart by a continual remorse. He will 
say then, What a fool I was ! I might have become a 
great saint. And if I had obeyed, I would certainly 
have become so; and now I am damned without remedy. 

Miserable being! Then for his greater torment, on 
the day of judgment he will see and recognize at the 
right hand, and crowned as saints, those who have fol 
lowed their vocation, and, leaving the world, have re 
tired to the house of God, to which he also had been 
once called. And then will he see himself separated 
from the company of the blessed, and placed in the 

1 " Vermis eorum non moritur." Mark, ix. 43. 

And the Vocation to the Religions State. 427 

midst of that innumerable and miserable crew of the 
damned, for his disobedience to the voice of God. 

We know well, as we have considered above, that to 
this most unhappy lot he exposes himself, who, in order 
to follow his own caprice, turns a deaf ear to the call 
of God. Therefore, my brother, you who have already 
been called to become a saint in the house of God, con 
sider that you will expose yourself to a great danger 
should you lose your vocation through your own fault. 
Consider that this very vocation which God in his sov 
ereign bounty has given you, in prder, as it were, to take 
you out from among the populace and place you among 
the chosen princes of his paradise, will, through your 
own fault, should you be unfaithful to it, become an 
especial hell for you. Make your choice then, for God 
leaves it in your own hands, either to be a great king in 
paradise, or a reprobate in hell, more despairing than 
the rest. 


No, my God, permit me not to disobey Thee and to be un 
faithful. I see Thy goodness, and thank Thee for that instead of 
casting me away from Thy face, and banishing me into hell, as 
I have so often deserved, Thou callest me to become a saint, 
and prepares! for me a high place in paradise. I see that I 
should deserve a double torment, should I not correspond with 
this grace, which is not given to all. I will obey Thee. Behold, 
I am Thine, and always will be Thine. I embrace with joy all 
the pains and discomforts of the religious life, to which Thou 
invitest me. And what are these pains in comparison with 
the eternal pains, which I have deserved ? I was entirely lost 
through my sins ; now I give myself entirely to Thee. Dispose 
of me and my life as Thou pleasest. Accept, O Lord ! of one 
already condemned to hell, as I have been, to serve Thee and 
love Thee in this life and in the next. I will love Thee as much 
as I have deserved to be doomed to hate Thee in hell, O God, 
worthy of an infinite love! O my Jesus! Thou hast broken 
those chains by which the world held me bound ; Thou hast 

428 Choice of a State of Life, 

delivered me from the servitude of my enemies. I will love 
Thee much, then, O my love ! and for the love I bear Thee, 1 
will always love Thee and obey Thee. Always will 1 thank 
Thee, O Mary, my advocate, who hast obtained this mercy for 
me. Help me, and suffer me not to be ungrateful to that God 
who has loved me so much. Obtain for me that I may die 
rather than be unfaithful to so great a grace. Thus I hope. 

The Immense Glory which Religious enjoy in Heaven. 

Consider, in the first place, that which St. Bernard 
says, that it is difficult for religious who die in the relig 
ious state to be damned. " From the cell to heaven 
the way is easy; one scarcely ever descends from his 
cell into hell." And the reason which the saint adduces 
is, " because one scarcely ever perseveres in it until 
death, unless he be predestinated." l For a religious 
with difficulty perseveres until his death, if he be not of 
the number of the elect of paradise. Therefore, St. 
Laurence Justinian called the religious state the gate of 
paradise. " Of that heavenly city this is the gate." 2 
And he said that " therefore the religious have a great 
sign of their predestination." : 

Consider, moreover, that the reward of heaven, as the 
Apostle says, is "a crown of justice;" 4 wherefore God, 
though he rewards us for our works more abundantly 
than we deserve, rewards us nevertheless in proportion 
to the works we have done. He will render to every one 
according to his works* From this consider how exceed- 

1 " Facilis via de cella ad coelum. . . . Vix unquam aliquis a cella 
in infernum descendit: quia vix unquam, nisi coelo prsedestinatus, in 
ea usque ad mortem persistit." De Vit. Sol. c. 4. 

2 " Illius coelestis civitatis, iste est introitus." 

3 "Magnum quippe praedestinationis indicium est." De Disc. mon. 
c. 7. 

4 " Corona justitioe." 2 Tim. iv. 8. 

5 * Reddet unicuique secundum opera ejus." Matt. xvi. 27. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 429 

ingly great will be the reward which God will give in 
heaven to good religious, in consideration of the great 
merits they daily acquire. 

The religious gives to God all his goods of this earth, 
and is content to be entirely poor, without possessing 
anything. The religious renounces all attachment to 
his parents, friends, and country, in order to unite him 
self more closely to God. The religious continually 
mortifies himself in many things which he would enjoy 
in the world. The religious, finally, gives to God his 
whole self, by giving him his.will through the vow of 

But the dearest thing that we have is our own will, 
and what God, of all other things, requires of us most 
is our heart ; that is to say, our will. My son, give Me thy 
heart. 1 He who serves God in the world will give him 
his possessions, but not himself; he will give him a part 
and not the whole, for he will give him indeed his goods 
by alms-deeds, his food by fasting, his blood by disci 
plines, etc.; but he will always reserve for himself his 
own will, fasting when he pleases, praying when he likes. 
But the religious, giving him his own will, gives him 
self and gives all, gives not only the fruits of the tree, 
but the whole tree itself. Whence he may then truly 
say to him, O Lord ! having given Thee my will, I have 
nothing more to give to Thee. 

And, therefore, in all that he does through obedience 
he is sure to do the will of Go d perfectly, and merits by 
all, not only when he prays, when he hears confessions, 
when he preaches, or fasts, or practises other mortifica 
tions, but also when he takes his food, when he sweeps 
his room, v. hen he makes his bed, when he takes his 
rest, when he recreates himself; for, doing all this through 
obedience, in all he does the will of God. St. Mary 
Magdalene de Pazzi said that all that is done through 
1 " Praebe, fill mi, cor tuum mihi." Prov. xxiii. 26. 

43 Choice of a State of Life, 

obedience is a prayer. Hence, St. Anselm, speaking of 
those who love obedience, asserted that all that religious 
do is meritorious for them. St. Aloysius Gonzaga said 
that in religion one sails, as it were, in a vessel, in which 
he even advances \vho does not row. 

Oh, how much more will a religious gain in one month 
by observing his Rule than a secular, with all his pen 
ance and prayers, in a year ! Of that disciple of Doro- 
theus called Dositheus, it was revealed that for the five 
years he had lived under obedience, there was given to 
him in heaven the glory of St. Paul the Hermit and of 
St. Anthony the Abbot, both of whom had, for so many 
years, lived in the desert. Religious, it is true, have to 
suffer the inconveniences of regular observance: Going, 
they went and wept. But when are they called to the 
other life, they will go to heaven, but, coming, they shall 
come with joy fill ness, carrying their sheaves. 1 Whence they 
shall then sing, The lines are fallen tintome in goodly places, 
for my inheritance is goodly to me." These bonds which 
have bound me to the Lord have become for me ex 
ceedingly precious, and the glory they have acquired for 
me is exceedingly great. 


Is it possible, O my God and my true lover ! that Thou 
desirest so much my good, and to be loved by me, and that I, 
miserable that I am, desire so little to love and to please Thee ? 
For what end hast Thou favored me with so many graces, and 
taken me out of the world ? O my Jesus ! I understand Thee. 
Thou lovest me much, Thou wilt have me love Thee much 
also, and be all Thine, in this life and in the next. Thou wish- 
est that my love should not be divided with creatures, but wilt 
have it be wholly for Thyself, the only good, the only lovely 

1 " Euntes ibant et flebant. . . . Venientes autem venient cum ex- 
ultatione, portantes manipulos suos." Ps. cxxv. 6. 

a " Funes ceciderunt mihi in praeclaris, etenim hereditas mea prae- 
clara est mihi." Ps. xv. 6. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 431 

one, and worthy of infinite love. Ah ! my Lord, my treasure, 
my love, my all, yet I pant and truly desire to love Thee, and to 
love no other but Thee. I thank Thee for this desire Thou 
hast given me ; preserve it in me, always increase it in me, and 
grant that 1 may please Thee, and love Thee on this earth 
as Thou desirest, so that I may come hereafter to love Thee 
face to face, with all my strength in paradise. Behold, this is 
all that I ask from Thee. Thee will I love, O my God ! I will 
love Thee, and for Thy love I offer myself to suffer every pain. 
I will become a saint, not that I may enjoy great delight in 
heaven, but to please Thee much, O my beloved Lord ! and to 
love Thee much forever. Graciously hear me, O eternal Father ! 
for the love of Jesus Christ. 

My Mother Mary, for the love of this thy Son, help thou me. 
Thou art my hope ; from thee I hope every good. 

The Interior Peace that God gives Good Religious to Enjoy. 

The promises of God cannot fail. God has said, Every 
one tJiat has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or 
mother, . . . or lands for My name s sake, shall receive an 
hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. 1 That is, the 
hundredfold on thus earth, and life everlasting in heaven. 

The peace of the soul is a good which is of greater 
value than all the kingdoms of the world. And what 
avails it to have the dominions of the whole world with 
out interior peace? Better is it to be the poorest villager, 
and to be content, than to be the lord of the whole world, 
and to Jive a discontented life. But who can give this 
peace? The unquiet world? Oh no, peace is a good 
that is obtained only from God. "O God !" prays the 
Church, "give to Thy servants that peace which the 
world cannot give." 2 Therefore he is called the God of 

1 "Omnis qui reliquerit domum, vel fratres aut sorores, aut patrem 
aut matrem, . . . aut agros, propter nomen meum, centuplum ac- 
cipiet et vitam aeternam possidebit." Matt. xix. 29. 

2 "Deus, ... da servis tuis illam, quam mundus dare non potest, 

432 Choice of a State of Life, 

all consolation. But if God be the sole giver of peace, 
to whom shall we suppose will he give that peace but to 
those who leave all, and detach themselves from all 
creatures, in order to give themselves entirely to their 
Creator? And therefore is it seen that good religious 
shut up in their cells, though mortified, despised, and 
poor, live a more contented life than the great ones of 
the world, with all the riches, the pomps, and diversions 
they enjoy. 

St. Scholastica said that if men knew the peace that 
good religious enjoy, the whole world would become a 
monastery; and St, Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said that 
all, if they knew it, would scale the walls of the monas 
teries, in order to get into them. The human heart 
having been created for an infinite good, all creatures 
cannot content it, they being finite, imperfect, and few; 
God alone, who is an infinite good, can render it con 
tent. Delight in the Lord and He will give thee the request 
of thy heart? Oh no; a good religious united with God 
envies none of the princes of the world who possess 
kingdoms, riches, and honors. " Let the rich," he will 
say with St. Paulinus, "have their riches, the kings have 
their kingdoms, to me Christ is my kingdom and my 
glory." 2 He will see those of the world foolishly glory 
in their displays and vanities; but he, seeking always 
to detach himself more from earthly things, always to 
unite himself more closely to his God, will live contented 
in this life, and will say, Some trust in chariots, and some in 
horses, but we will call upon the name of the Lord, our God:" 

St. Teresa said that one drop of heavenly consolation 

1 " Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui." Ps. 
xxxvi. 4. 

2 "Sibi divitias suas habeant divites, sibi regna sua reges; nobis 
Christus regnum et gloria est." Ep. ad Aprum. 

3 " Hi in curribus, et hi in equis; nos autem in nomine Domini 
Dei nostri invocabimus." Ps. xix. 8. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 433 

is of greater value than all the pleasures of the world. 
Father Charles of Lorraine, having become a religious, 
said that God, by one moment of the happiness that he 
gave him to feel in religion, superabundantly paid him 
for all he had left for God. Hence his joyfulness \vas 
sometimes so great that, when alone in his cell, he could 
not help beginning to leap. The Blessed Seraphino of 
Ascoli, a Capuchin lay-brother, said that he would not 
exchange a foot length of his cord for all the kingdoms 
of the world. 

Oh, what contentment does, he find who, having left 
all for God, is able to say with St. Francis, " My God and 
my all I" 1 and with that to see himself freed from the 
servitude of the world, from the thraldom of worldly 
fashion, and from all earthly affections. This is the 
liberty that is enjoyed by the children of God, such as 
good religious are. It is true that in the beginning, the 
deprivation of the conversations and pastimes of the 
world, the observances of the Community, and the rules, 
seem to be thorns; but these thorns, as our Lord said 
to St. Bridget, will all become flowers and delights 
to him who courageously bears their first sting, and he 
will taste on this earth that peace which, as St. Paul 
says, surpasseth all the gratifications of the senses, and 
all the enjoyments of feasts, of banquets, and of the 
pleasures of the world: The peace of God which surpasseth 
all understanding: 1 And what greater peace can there 
be than to know that one pleases God ? 


O My Lord and my God, my all ! I know that Thou alone 
canst make me contented in this and in the next life. But I 
will not love Thee for my own contentment, I will love Thee 
only to content Thy heart. I wish this to be my peace, my only 

1 " Deus meus et omnia." 

2 " Pax Dei, quae exsuperat omnem sensum." Phil. iv. 7. 


434 Choice of a State of Life , 

satisfaction during my whole life, to unite my will to Thy holy 
will, even should I have to suffer every pain in order to do this. 
Thou art my God, I am Thy creature. And what can I hope for 
greater than to please Thee, my Lord, my God, who hast been 
so partial in Thy love towards me ? Thou, O my Jesus ! hast 
left heaven to live for the love of me a poor and mortified 
life. I leave all to live only for the love of Thee, my most 
blessed Redeemer. I love Thee with my whole heart ; if only 
Thou wilt give me the grace to love Thee, treat me as Thou 

Mary, Mother of my God ! protect me and render me like 
to thee, not in thy glory, which I do not deserve, as thou 
dost, but in pleasing God, and obeying his holy will, as thou 

The Damage done to Religious by Tepidity. 

Consider the misery of that religious who, after hav 
ing left his home, his parents, and the world with all its 
pleasures, and after having given himself to Jesus 
Christ, consecrating to him his will and his liberty, ex 
poses himself at last to the danger of being damned, by 
falling into a lukewarm and negligent life, and continu 
ing in it. Oh, no; not far from perdition is a lukewarm 
religious, who has been called into the house of God to 
become a saint. God threatens to reject such, and to 
abandon them if they do not amend. But because thou 
art lukewarm, I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth? 

St. Ignatius of Loyola, seeing a lay-brother of his 
Order become lukewarm in the service of God, called 
him one day and said to him, Tell me, my brother, 
what did you come in religion to do? He answered, To 
serve God. O my brother! replied the saint, what have 
you said ? If you had answered that you came to serve 
a cardinal, or a prince of this earth, you would be more 

1 " Sed quia tepidus es, . . . incipiam te evomere ex ore meo." 
A.poc. iii. 16. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 435 

excusable; but you say that you came to serve God, and 
do you serve him thus ? 

Father Nieremberg says that some are called by God 
to be saved only as saints, so that if they should not take 
care to live as saints, thinking to be saved as imperfect 
Christians, they will not be saved at all. And St. 
Augustine says that such are in most cases abandoned 
by God: "Negligent souls God is accustomed to aban 
don." And how does he abandon them ? By permit 
ting them from lighter faults, which they see and do 
not mind, to fall into grievous, ones, and to lose divine 
grace and their vocation. St. Teresa of Jesus saw the 
place prepared for her in hell, had she not detached her 
self from an earthly, though not a grievously culpable, 
affection. He that contemneth small things, sJiall fall by little 
and little? 

Many wish to follow Jesus Christ, but from afar, as St. 
Peter did, who, when his Master was arrested in the 
garden, says St. Matthew, followed Him afar off? But 
by doing so that will easily happen to them which hap 
pened to St. Peter; namely, that, when the occasion came, 
he denied Jesus Christ. A lukewarm religious will be 
contented with what little he does for God; but God, who 
called him to a perfect life, will not be contented, and, 
in punishment for his ingratitude, will not only deprive 
him of his special favors, but will sometimes permit his 
fall. " When you said, It is enough, then you perished," 4 
says St. Augustine. The fig-tree of the Gospel was cast 
into the fire, only because it brought forth no fruit. 

Father Louis de Ponte said, " I have committed many 
faults, but I have never made peace with them." Mis 
erable is that religious who, being called to perfection, 

1 " Deus negligentes deserere consuevit." In. Ps. 118, s. 10. 
2 "Qui spernit modica, paulatim decidet." Ecclus. xtx. i. 

3 " Sequebatur eum a longe." Matt. xxvi. 58. 

4 "Sidixeris: Sufficit; periisti." Serm. 169, E. B. 

43 6 Choice of a State of Life, 

makes peace with his defects. As long as we detest our 
imperfections, there is hope that we may still become 
saints; but when we commit faults and make little of 
them, then, says St. Bernard, the hope of becoming 
saints is lost. He who sowcth sparingly shall also reap spar 
ingly? Common graces do not suffice to make one a 
saint; extraordinary ones are necessary. But how shall 
God be liberal with his favors towards that one who 
acts sparingly and with reserve in his love towards him? 
Moreover, to become a saint, one must have courage 
and strength to overcome all repugnances; and let no 
one ever believe, says St. Bernard, that he will be able to 
attain to perfection if he does not render himself singu 
lar among others in the practice of virtue. "What is 
perfect cannot but be singular." 5 Reflect, my brother, 
for what have you left the world and all ? To become a 
saint. But that lukewarm and imperfect life which you 
lead, is that the way of becoming a saint? St. Teresa 
animated her daughters by saying to them, <; My sisters, 
you have done the principal thing necessary to become 
saints; the least remains yet to be done." The same I 
say to you; you have, perhaps, done the chief part al 
ready; you have left your country, your home, your 
parents, your goods, and your amusements; the least 
remains yet to be done, to become a saint; do it. 


O my God ! reject me not, as I deserve, for I will amend. I 
know well that so negligent a life as mine cannot satisfy Thee. 
I know that I have myself, by my lukewarm ness, shut the door 
against the graces which Thou didst desire to bestow upon me. 
O Lord ! do not yet abandon me, continue to be merciful tow 
ards me; I will rise from this miserable state. I will for the 
future be more careful to overcome my passions, to follow Thy 
inspirations, and never will I through slothfulness omit my 

1 " Qui parce seminat, parce et metet." 2 Cor. ix. 6. 

2 " Perfectum non potest esse, nisi singulare." 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 437 

duties, but I will fulfil them with greater diligence. In short, 
I will, from this time forward, do all I can to please Thee, and 
I will neglect nothing which I may know to be pleasing to 
Thee. Since thou, O my Jesus ! hast been so liberal with Thy 
graces towards me, and hast deigned to give Thy blood and Thy 
life for me, there is no reason I should act with such reserve 
towards Thee. Thou art worthy of all honor, all love, and to 
please Thee one ought gladly to undergo every labor, every 
pain. But, O my Redeemer ! Thou knowest my weakness, help 
me with Thy powerful grace ; in Thee I confide. O immaculate 
Virgin Mary ! thou who hast helped me to leave the world, 
help me to overcome myself and to become a saint. 


How Dear to God is a Soul that gives itself entirely to 


God loves all those who love him: I love them that love 
Me.* Many, however, give themselves to God, but pre 
serve still in their hearts some attachment to creatures, 
which prevents them from belonging entirely to God. 
How, then, shall God give himself entirely to that one 
who, besides his God, loves creatures still ? It is just 
that he should act with reserve towards those who act 
with reserve towards him. On the contrary, he gives 
himself entirely to those souls, who, driving from their 
hearts everything that is not God, and does not lead 
them to his love, and giving themselves to him without 
reserve, truly say to him, My God and my all* St. Te 
resa, as long as she entertained an inordinate affection, 
though not an impure one, could not hear from Jesus 
Christ what afterwards she heard, when, freeing herself 
from every attachment, she gave herself entirely to the 
divine love; namely, the Lord saying to her, " Now, be 
cause thou art all mine, I am all thine." 

Consider that the Son of God has already given him- 

1 " Ego diligentes me diligo." Prov. viii. 17. 
8 " Deus meus, et omnia." 

43 8 Choice of a State of Life, 

self entirely to us: A child is born to us, and a son is given 
to us. 1 He has given himself to us through the love he 
bears to us." He hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for 
us? It is, then, just, says St. John Chrysostom, that when 
a God has given himself to you, without reserve, "he 
has given thee all, nothing has he left to himself," 5 you 
also should give yourself to God, without reserve; and 
that always henceforth, burning with divine love, you 
should sing to him: 

Thine wholly always will I be; 
Thou hast bestowed Thyself on me, 
Wholly I give myself to Thee. 

St. Teresa revealed to one of her nuns, appearing to 
her after her death, that God loves a soul that, as a 
spouse, gives itself entirely to him, more than a thousand 
tepid and imperfect ones. From these generous souls, 
given entirely to God, is the choir of Seraphim com 
pleted. The Lord himself says that he loves a soul that 
attends to its perfection, so much that he seems not to 
love any other. One is my dove, my perfect one is but one* 
Hence Blessed Giles exhorts us, " One for one," 5 by 
which he wishes to say that this one soul we have 
we ought to give wholly, not divided, to that One 
who alone deserves all love, on whom depends all our 
good, and who loves us more than all. " Leave all 
and you shall find all/ 6 says Thomas a Kempis. Leave 
all for God, and in God you will find all. "Osoul!" 
concludes St. Bernard, " be alone, that you may keep 
yourself for him alone." 7 Keep yourself alone, give no 

1 " Parvulus natus est nobis, filius datus est nobis." Isa. ix. 6. 
8 " Dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis." Eph. v. 2. 

3 " Totum tibi dedit, nihil sibi reliquit." 

4 " Una est columba mea, perfecta mea." Cant. vi. 8. 

5 " Una uni." 

6 " Dimitte omnia, et invenies omnia." Imit. book 3, c. 32. 
1 "O anima! sola esto, ut soli te serves." In Cant. s. 40. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 439 

part of your affections to creatures, that you may belong 
alone to Him who alone deserves an infinite love, and 
whom alone you ought to love. 


My beloved to me and I to him? As then, O my God ! Thou 
hast given Thyself entirely to me, I should be too ungrateful if 
I should not give myself entirely to Thee ; since Thou wouldst 
have me belong wholly to Thee, behold, O my Lord ! I give my 
self entirely to Thee. Accept me through Thy mercy, disdain 
me not. Grant that this my heart, which once loved creatures, 
may turn now wholly to Thy infinite goodness. " Let me 
henceforth die," said St. Teresa, " let another than myself live 
in me. Let God live in me, and give me life. Let him reign, 
and let me be his slave, for my soul wishes no other liberty." 
This my heart is too small, O God most worthy of love, and it 
is too little able to love Thee, who art deserving of an infinite 
love. I should then commit against Thee too great an injus 
tice, should I still divide it by loving anything besides Thee. 
I love Thee, my God, above everything. I love only Thee; I 
renounce all creatures, and give myself entirely to Thee, my 
Jesus, my Saviour, my love, my all. I say, and always will say, 
What have I in heaven, and besides Thee, what do I desire on 
earth ? . . . Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is 
my portion forever. 2 I desire nothing, either in this life or 
in the next, but to possess the treasure of Thy love. I am un 
willing that creatures should have any more a place in my 
heart; Thou alone must be its master. To Thee only shall it 
belong for the future. Thou only shalt be my God, my repose, 
my desire, all my love, " Give me only Thy love and Thy 
grace, and I am rich enough." 3 O most holy Virgin Mary ! ob 
tain for me this, that I may be faithful to God, and never recall 
the donation which I have made of myself to him. 

1 " Dilectus meus mihi et ego illi." Cant. ii. 16. 

2 " Quid mihi est in coelo ? et a te quid volui super terrain ? Deus 
cordis mei, et pars mea Deus in aeternum." Ps. Ixxii. 25. 

3 " Amorem tui solum cum gratia tua mihi dones, et dives sum 

44-O Choice of a Slate of Life, 


How Necessary it is, in order to become a Saint, to have a 
Great Desire for such a Thing. 

No saint has ever attained to sanctity without a great 
desire. As wings are necessary to birds in order to fly, 
so holy desires are necessary to the soul in order to ad 
vance in the road of perfection. To become a saint, we 
must detach ourselves from creatures, conquer our 
passions, overcome ourselv6s, and love crosses. But to 
do all this, much strength is required, and we must suf 
fer much. But what is the effect of holy desire ? St. 
Laurence Justinian answers us: " It supplies strength, 
and makes the pain easier to be borne." Hence the 
same saint adds that he has already vanquished who has 
a great desire of vanquishing. "A great part of the 
victory is the desire of vanquishing." a He who wishes 
to reach the top of a high mountain will never reach it 
if he has not a great desire to do so. This will give him 
courage and strength to undergo the fatigue of ascend 
ing, otherwise he will stop at the foot, wearied and dis 

St. Bernard asserts that we acquire perfection in pro 
portion to the desire for it which we preserve in our 
heart. St. Teresa said that God loves generous souls 
that have great desires; for which reason the saint ex 
horted all in this way, " Let our thoughts be high. . . . 
for thence will come our good. We must not have low 
and little desires, but have that confidence in God that, 
if we make the proper efforts, we shall by little and little 
attain to that perfection which, with his grace, the saints 
have reached." In this way, the saints attained, in a 

1 "Vires subministrat, poenam exhibet leviorem." De Disc. mon. 
c. 6. 

2 " Magna victorise pars est vincendi desiderium." De Casto Conn. 
c. 3. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 441 

short time, a great degree of perfection, and were able 
to do great things for God. Being made perfect in a short 
time, he fulfilled a long time. 1 Thus St. Aloysius Gonzaga 
attained in a few years (he lived not over twenty-three 
years) such a degree of sanctity that St. Mary Magdalene 
of Pazzi, in an ecstasy, seeing him in heaven, said it 
seemed to her, in a certain way, that there was no saint 
in heaven who enjoyed a greater glory than Aloysius. 
She understood at the same time that he had arrived at 
so high a degree by the great desire he had cherished 
of being able to love God as much as he deserved, and 
that, seeing this beyond his reach, the holy youth had 
suffered on earth a martyrdom of love. 

St. Bernard, being in religion, in order to excite his 
fervor, used to say to himself, " Bernard, for what did 
you come here?" 2 I say the same to you: what have 
you come to do in the house of God ? To become a 
saint ? And what are you doing ? Why do you lose the 
time ? Tell me, do you desire to become a saint ? If 
you do not, it is sure that you will never become one. If, 
then, you have not this desire, ask Jesus Christ for it; ask 
Mary for it; and if you have it, take courage, says St. Ber 
nard, for many do not become saints, because they do not 
take courage. And so I repeat, let us take courage, and 
great courage. What do we fear ? What inspires this dif 
fidence in us ? That Lord, who has given us strength to 
leave the world, will give us also the grace to embrace the 
life of a saint. Everything comes to an end. Our life, be it 
a contented or a discontented one, will also come to an 
end, but eternity will never terminate. Only that little 
we have done for God will console us in death and 
throughout eternity. The fatigue will be short, eternal 
shall be the crown, which is already, so to speak, before 
our eyes. How satisfied are the saints now with all they 

1 " Consummatus in brevi, explevit tempora multa." Wis. iv. 13. 
* " Bernarde, ad quid venisti ?" 

442 Choice of a State of Life, 

have suffered for God! If a sorrow could enter paradise, 
the Blessed would be sorry only for this, that they have 
neglected to do for God what they might have done 
more, but which now they are unable to do. Take cour 
age, then, and be prompt, for there is no time to lose; 
what can be done to-day we may not be able to do to 
morrow. St. Bernardine of Sienna said that one moment 
of time is of as great a value as God himself, for at every 
moment we may gain God, his divine grace, and higher 
degrees of merits. 


Behold, O my God ! here I am. My heart is ready, O my God 7 
my heart is ready. 1 See, I am prepared to do all that Thou shalt 
require from me. O Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ? * Tell 
me, O Lord, what Thou desirest of me. I will obey Thee in all. 
I am sorry for having lost so much time in which I might have 
pleased Thee, and yet have not done so. I thank Thee that 
still Thou givest me time to do it. Oh, no, I will not lose any 
more time. I will and desire to become a saint, not to obtain 
from Thee a greater glory and more delights. I will become a 
saint, that I may love Thee more, and to please Thee in this 
life and in the next. Make me, O Lord ! to love and please 
Thee as much as Thou desirest. Behold, this is all I ask from 
Thee, O my God ! I will love Thee, I will love Thee ; and, in 
order to love Thee, I offer myself to undergo every fatigue, and 
to suffer every pain. O my Lord ! increase in me always this 
desire, and give me the grace to execute it. Of myself I can do 
nothing, but assisted by Thee I can do all. Eternal Father, 
for the love of Jesus Christ, graciously hear me. My Jesus, 
though the merits of Thy Passion, come to my succor. Or 
Mary, my hope ! for the love of Jesus Christ, protect me. 

1 " Paratum cormeum, Deus, paratum cormeum." Ps. Ivi. 8. 
2 "Domine, quid me vis facere ?" Acts, ix. 6. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 443 


The Love we owe to Jesus Christ in consideration of the 
Love he has shown to us. 

In order to understand the love which the Son of God 
has borne to us, it is enough to consider what St. Paul 
says of Jesus Christ: He emptied Himself , taking the form 
of a servant. . . . He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even 
to the death of the cross. 1 " He emptied himself." O God ! 
what admiration has it caused, and will it, through all 
eternity, cause to the angels to see a God who became 
man for the love of man, and submitted himself to all 
the weaknesses and sufferings of man ! And the Word was 
made flesh." 1 What a cause of astonishment would it not 
be to see a king become a worm for the sake of worms ! 
But an infinitely greater wonder it is to see a God made 
man, and after this to see him humbled unto the painful 
and infamous death of the cross, on which he finished 
his most holy life. 

Moses and Elias, on Mount Thabor, speaking of his 
death, as it is related in the Gospel, called it an excess: 
They spoke of His decease (the Latin word is " excessus," 
which also means "excess") that He should accomplish in 
Jerusalem? Yea, says Bonaventure, it is with reason the 
death of Jesus Christ was called an excess, for it was an 
excess of suffering and of love, so much so that it would 
be impossible to believe it, if it had not already hap 
pened. 4 It was truly an excess of love, adds St. Augus 
tine, for to this end the Son of God wished to come on 

1 " Exinanivit semetipsum, formam servi accipiens. . . . Humi- 
liavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem 
crucis." Phil. ii. 7. 

2 " Et Verbum caro factum est." John, i. 14. 

3 "Dicebant excessum, quern completurus erat in Jerusalem. 
Luke, ix. 31. 
4 " Excessus doloris, excessus amoris." 

444 Choice of a State of Life, 

earth, to live a life so laborious and to die a death so 
bitter, namely, that he might make known to man how 
much he loved him. "Therefore Christ came, that man 
should know how much God loved him." 1 

The Lord revealed to his servant Armella Nicolas that 
the love he bore to man was the cause of all his suffer 
ings and of his death. If Jesus Christ had not been God, 
but only man and our friend, what greater love could 
he have shown us than to die for us? Greater love hath 
no man than tJiis, that a man lay down his life for his friends? 
Ah, how, at the thought of the love shown us by Jesus 
Christ, the saints esteemed it little to give their life 
and their all for so loving a God ! How many youths, 
how many noblemen, are there not, who have left their 
house, their country, their riches, their parents, and all, 
to retire into cloisters, to live only for the love of Jesus 
Christ ! How many young virgins, renouncing their 
nuptials with princes and the great ones of the world, 
have gone with joyfulness to death, to render thus some 
compensation for the love of a God who had been exe 
cuted on an infamous gibbet, and died for their sake ! 

This appeared to St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi to be 
foolishness; hence she called her Jesus a fool of love. 
In exactly the same manner the Gentiles, as St. Paul 
attests, hearing the death of Jesus Christ preached to 
them, thought it foolishness not possible to be believed. 
We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling- 
block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness? How is it possible, 
they said, thai a God, most happy in himself, who is in 
want of nothing, should die for the sake of man, his 

1 " Propterea Christus advenit, ut cognosceret homo quantum eum 
diligat Deus." De catech. rud. c. 4. 

2 "Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat 
quis pro amicis suis." John, xv. 13. 

3 " Prcedicamus Christum crucifixum, Judaeis quidem scandalum, 
Gentibus autem stultitiam." I Cor. i. 23. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 445 

servant? This would be as much as to believe that God 
became a fool for the love of men. Nevertheless, it is of 
faith that Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, did, for love 
of us, deliver himself up to death. He hath loved us, and 
hath delivered Himself for us. 1 The same Mary Magdalene 
had reason then to exclaim, lamenting the ingratitude 
of men towards so loving a God, "O love not known ! 
O love not loved !" Indeed, Jesus Christ is not loved by 
men, bec;mse they live in forgetfulness of his love. 

And, in fact, a soul that considers a God who died for 
its sake, cannot live without loving him. The charity of 
Christ presseth us? The soul will feel itself inflamed, and 
as if constrained to love a God who has loved it so much. 
Jesus Christ could have saved us, says F. Nieremberg, 
with only one drop of his blood; but it was his will to 
shed all his blood, and to give his divine life, that at the 
sight of so many sufferings and of his death we might 
not content ourselves with an ordinary love, but be 
sweetly constrained to love with all our strength a God 
so full of love towards us. That they also who live may 
not live any more for themselves, but unto Him who died for 


Indeed, O my Jesus, my Lord, and my Redeemer ! only too 
much hast Thou obliged me to love Thee ; too much my love 
has cost Thee. I should be too ungrateful if I should content 
myself to love with reserve a God who has given me his blood, 
his life, and his entire self. Oh, Thou hast died for me, Thy 
poor servant ; it is but just that I should die for Thee, my God, 
and my all. Yes, O my Jesus ! I detach myself from all, to 
give myself to Thee. I put away from me the love of all crea 
tures, in order to consecrate myself entirely to Thy love. My 

1 " Dilexit nos, et tradidit semetipsum pro nobis." Eph. v. 2. 

2 " Charitas enim Christi urget nos. 2 Cor. v. 14. 

3 "Ut et qui vivunt, jam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro ipsis mor- 
tuus est." Ibid. v. 15. 

446 Choice of a State of Life, 

helmed is chosen from among thousands? I choose Thee alone 
out of all things for my good, my treasure, and my only love. 
I love Thee, O my love ! I love Thee. Thou art not satisfied 
that I should love Thee a little only. Thou art not willing to 
have me love anything besides Thee. Thee I will please in all 
things, Thee will I love much ; and Thou shalt be my 
My God, my God, help me, that I may fully please Thee. 

Mary, my queen, do thou also help me to love my God much. 
Amen. So I hope ; so may it be. 


The Great Happiness which Religious enjoy in dwelling in the 
same House with Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. 

The Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus, foundress of a 
convent in Toulouse, said that she esteemed very much 
her lot as a religious, for two principal reasons. The 
first was, that religious, through the vow of obedience, 
belong entirely to God; and the second, that they have 
the privilege of dwelling always with Jesus Christ in the 
Blessed Sacrament. And in truth, if people of the world 
deem it so great a favor to be invited by kings, to dwell 
in their palaces; how much more favored should we es 
teem ourselves, who are admitted to dwell continually 
with the King of Heaven in his own house ? 

In houses of the religious, Jesus Christ dwells for their 
sake in the church, so that they can find him at all hours. 
Persons of the world can scarcely go to visit him dur 
ing the day, and in many places only in the morning. 
But the religious finds him in the tabernacle, as often as 
he wishes, in the morning, in the afternoon, and during 
the night. There he may continually entertain himself 
with his Lord, and there Jesus Christ rejoices to con 
verse familiarly with his beloved servants, whom, for 
this end, he has called out of Egypt, that he may be 
their companion during this life, hidden under the veil 

1 " Dilectus meus . . . electus ex millibus." Cant. v. 10. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 447 

of the Most Holy Sacrament, and in the next unveiled in 
paradise. "O solitude," it may be said of every relig 
ious house, " in which God familiarly speaks and con 
verses with his friends !" The souls that love Jesus 
Christ much do not know how to wish for any other 
paradise on this earth than to be in the presence of 
their Lord, who dwells in this sacrament for the love of 
those who seek and visit him. 

His conversation hath no bitterness, nor His company any 
tediousness? He finds tediousness in the company of 
Jesus Christ, who does not love him. But those who on 
this earth have given all their love to Jesus Christ, find in 
the sacrament all their pleasure, their rest, their paradise, 
and therefore they keep their hearts always mindful to 
visit, as often as they can, their God in the sacrament, to 
pay their court to him, giving vent to their affections at 
the foot of the altar, offering him their afflictions, their 
desires of loving him, of seeing him face to face, and, in 
the mean time, of pleasing him in all things. 


Behold me in Thy presence, O my Jesus ! hidden in the sac 
rament, Thou art the self-same Jesus who for me didst sacrifice 
Thyself on the cross. Thou art he who lovest me so much, and 
who hast therefore confined Thyself in this prison of love. 
Amongst so many, who have offended Thee less than I, and who 
have loved Thee better than I, Thou hast chosen me, in Thy 
goodness, to keep Thee company in this house, where, having 
drawn me from the midst of the world, Thou hast destined me 
always to live united with Thee, and afterwards to have me 
nigh Thee to praise and to love Thee in Thy eternal kingdom. 
O Lord! I thank Thee. How have I deserved this happy lot ? 
/ have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than 

1 " O solitudo, in qua Deus cum suis familiariter loquitur et conver- 
satur !" 

2 " Non habet amaritudinem conversatio ejus; nee taedium convic- 
tus illius, sed laetitiam et gaudium." Sap. viii. 16. 

448 Choice of a State of Life, 

dwell in the tabernacles of sinners. 1 Happy indeed am I, O my 
Jesus ! to have left the world ; and it is my great desire to per 
form the vilest office in Thy house rather than dwell in the 
proudest royal palaces of men. Receive me, then, O Lord ! to 
stay with Thee all my life long; do not chase me away, as I 
deserve. Be pleased to allow that, among the many good 
brothers who serve Thee in this house, I, though I am a miser 
able sinner, may serve Thee also. Many years already have I 
lived far from Thee. But now that Thou hast enlightened me 
to know the vanity of the world, and my own foolishness, I will 
not depart any more from Thy feet, O my Jesus ! Thy presence 
shall animate me to fight when I am tempted. The nearness of 
Thy abode shall remind me of the obligation I am under to love 
Thee, and always to have recourse to Thee in my combats 
against hell. I will always keep near to Thee, that I may unite 
myself to Thee, and attach myself closer to Thee. I love Thee, 
O my God ! hidden in this sacrament. Thou, for the love of 
me, remainest always on this altar. I, for the love of Thee, will 
always remain in Thy presence as much as I shall be able. 
There enclosed Thou always lovest me, and here enclosed I 
will always love Thee. Always, then, O my Jesus, my love, my 
all ! shall we remain together, in time in this house, and during 
eternity, in paradise. This is my hope, so may it be. Most 
holy Mary, obtain for me a greater love for the Most Holy Sac 


The Life of Religious resembles mostly the Life of Jesus 

The Apostle says that the eternal Father predestines 
to the kingdom of heaven those only who live conform 
ably to the life, of the incarnate Word. Whom He fore 
knew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image 
of His Son? How happy, then, and secure of paradise 

1 " Elegi abjectus esse in domo Dei mei, magis quam habitare in 
tabernaculis peccatorum." Ps. Ixxxiii. n. 

2 " Quos praescivit, et praedestinavit conformes fieri imaginis Filii 
sui." Rom. viii. 29. 

And the Vocation to t/ic Religious State. 449 

should not religious be, seeing that God has called them 
to a state of life which of all other states is the most 
conformed to the life of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus, on this earth, wished to live poor as the son and 
helpmate of a mechanic, in a poor dwelling, with poor 
clothing and poor food : Being rich, He became poor for 
your sake, that through His poverty you might become rich. 1 
Moreover, he chose a life the most entirely mortified, far 
from the delights of the world, and always full of pain 
and sorrow, from his birth to his death ; hence by the 
prophet he was called The man ^ of sorrows? By this he 
wished to give his servants to understand what ought 
to be the life of those who wish to follow him: If any 
man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his 
cross, and follow Afe. 3 According to this example, and to 
this invitation of Jesus Christ, the saints have endeavored 
to dispossess themselves of all earthly goods, and to load 
themselves with pains and crosses, in order thus to follow 
Christ, their beloved Lord. 

Thus acted St. Benedict, who, being the son of the 
lord of Norcia, and a relative of the Emperor Justinian, 
and born amidst the riches and the pleasures of the 
world, while yet a youth of only fourteen years, went to 
live in a cavern on Mount Sublaco, where he received no 
other sustenance but a piece of bread brought him every 
day as an alms by the hermit Romanus. 

So acted St. Francis of Assisi, who renounced in 
favor of his father the whole lawful portion of his in 
heritance, even to the shirt he had on his back, and, thus 
poor and mortified, consecrated himself to Jesus Christ. 
Thus St. Francis Borgia, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the one 

" Propter vos egenus factus est, cum esset dives, ut illius inopia 
vos divites essetis." 2 Cor. viii. 9. 
* " Vir dolorum." ha. liii. 3. 

" Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum, et tollat crucem 
suam, et sequatur me." Matt. xvi. 24. 

450 Choice of a State of Life, 

being Duke of Candia, the other of Castiglione, left all 
their riches, their estates, their vassals, their country, 
their house, their parents, and went to live a poor life in 

So have done so many other noblemen and princes 
even of royal blood. . Blessed Zedmerra, daughter of the 
King of Ethiopia, renounced the kingdom to become a 
Dominican nun. Blessed Johanna of Portugal renounced 
the kingdom of France and England, to become a nun. 
In the Benedictine Order alone, there are found twenty- 
five emperors, and seventy-five kings and queens, who 
left the world to live poor, mortified, and forgotten by 
the world, in a poor cloister. Ah! indeed, these and not 
the grandees of the world, are the truly fortunate ones. 

At present, worldlings think these to be fools, but in 
the valley of Josaphat they shall know that they them 
selves have been the fools ; and when they see the saints 
on their thrones crowned by God, they shall say, lament 
ing and in despair, These are they whom we had sometime 
in derision, . . . we fools esteemed their life madness, but now 
they are numbered among the children of God, as their lot is 
among the saints? 


Ah ! my Master, and my Redeemer, Jesus, I am then of the 
number of those fortunate ones whom Thou hast called to fol 
low Thee. O my Lord ! I thank Thee for this. I leave all ; 
would that I had more to leave, that I might draw near to Thee, 
my king and my God, who for the love of me, and to give me 
courage by Thy example, hast chosen for Thyself a life so poor 
and so painful. Walk on, O Lord, I will follow Thee. Choose 
Thou for me what cross Thou wilt, and help me. I will always 
carry it with constancy and love. I regret that for the past I 
have abandoned Thee, to follow my lusts and the vanities of the 

1 " Hi sunt quos habuimusaliquando in derisum. . . . Nos insensati 
vitam illorum sestimabamus insaniam. Ecce quomodo inter filios Dei 
computati sunt, et inter Sanctos sors illorum est." Wisd. v. 3 et seq. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 451 

world ; but now I will leave Thee no more. Bind me to Thy 
cross, and if through weakness I sometimes resist, draw me by 
the sweet bonds of Thy love. Suffer it not that I should ever 
leave Thee again. Yes, my Jesus, I renounce all the satisfactions 
of the world ; my only satisfaction shall be to continue to love 
Thee, and to suffer all that pleases Thee. I hope thus to come 
myself one day in Thy kingdom, to be united with Thee by that 
bond of eternal love, where, loving Thee in Thy revealed glory, 
I need no more fear to be loosed and separated from Thee. 1 
love Thee, O my God, my all ! and will always love Thee. Be 
hold my hope, O Most Holy Mary ! thou who, because the most 
conformed to Jesus, art now the nicest powerful to obtain this 
grace. Be thou my protectress ! 


The Zeal which Religious ought to have for the Salvation of 


He who is called to the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer will never be a true follower of Jesus Christ, 
and will never become a saint, if he fulfils not the end 
of his vocation, and has not the spirit of the Institute, 
which is the salvation of souls, and of those souls that 
are the most destitute of spiritual succor, such as the 
poor people in the country. 

This was truly the end for which our Redeemer came 
down from heaven, who protests, The spirit of the Lord 

* Although in this consideration, and in some other passages, St. 
Alphonsus may have had specially in view the Congregation of mis 
sionaries which he founded, yet the subject refers to all religious of 
both sexes, and to all persons who serve God. All are called to ex 
ercise directly or indirectly this charitable apostolate; every one ac 
cording to his talent or his means, whether by a generous co-opera 
tion in the works that have for their object the defence of faith or 
the conversion of sinners, or by prayer and the other practices of 
piety. (See page 67.) All can share in the magnificent reward that 
the Lord reserves for his evangelical laborers (Matt. x. 40 et seq. ; 
James v. 20). ED. 

452 Choice of a State of Life, 

. . . hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. 1 He 
sought no other proof of Peter s love for him but this, 
that he should procure the salvation of souls: Simon, sou 
of John, lovest thou me? . . . Feed my sheep? He did not 
impose upon him, says St. John Chrysostom, penance, 
prayers, or other things, but only that he should endeav 
or to save his sheep: " Christ said not to him, throw 
your money away, practise fasting, fatigue your body 
with hard work, but he said, Feed my sheep." : And he 
declares that he would look upon every benefit con 
ferred on the least of our neighbors as conferred on 
himself. Amen, I say to you, since you have done it unto one 
of these my least brethren, you Jiave done it unto we.* 

Every religious ought, therefore, with the utmost care, 
to entertain within himself this zeal, and this spirit of 
helping souls. To this end everyone ought to direct his 
studies, and when he shall afterwards have been assigned 
to his work by his Superiors, he ought to give to it all 
his thoughts, and his whole attention. He could not call 
himself a true brother of this Congregation, who, through 
the desire of attending only to himself and of leading a 
retired and solitary life, would not accept with all affec 
tion such an employment, when imposed on him by 

What greater glory can a man have than to be, as St. 
Paul says, a co-operator with God in this great work of 
the salvation of souls ? He who loves the Lord ardently 
is not content to be alone in loving him, he would draw 
all to his love, saying witli David, O magnify the Lord with 

1 " Spiritus Domini . . . unxit me, evangelizare pauperibus." 
Luke, iv. 18. 

2 "Simon Joannis, diligis me ? . . . Pasce oves meas." John, 
xxi. 17. 

3 " Non dixit Christus: Abjice pecunias, jejunium exerce, macera te 
laboribus; sed dixit: Pasce oves meas." 

4 " Amen dico vobis : quamdiu fecistis uni ex his fratribus meis 
minimis, mihi fecistis." Matt. xxv. 40. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 453 

me, and let us extol his name together.^ Hence St. Augus 
tine exhorts all those who love God, "If you love God, 
draw all men to his love." 2 

A good ground to hope for his own salvation has he 
who with true zeal labors for the salvation of souls. 
" Have you saved a soul," says St. Augustine, " then you 
have predestinated your own. " E The Holy Ghost prom 
ises us, When thou shalt have labored for the welfare of a poor 
man, and by thy labor shalt have filled him (with divine grace), 
the Lord will fill thee with light and peace? In this namely, 
in procuring the salvation of others St. Paul placed his 
hope of eternal salvation, when he said to his disciples of 
Thessalonica, For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glory ? 
Are not you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his 
coming ? 5 


my Lord Jesus Christ! how can I thank Thee enough, since 
Thou hast called me to the same work that Thou didst Thyself 
on earth ; namely, to go with my poor exertions and help souls 
to their salvation ? How have I deserved this honor and this 
reward, after having offended Thee so grievously, and been the 
cause to others also of offending Thee ? Yes, O my Lord ! Thou 
callest me to help Thee in this great undertaking. I will serve 
Thee with all my strength. Behold, I offer Thee all my labor, 
and even my blood, in order to obey Thee. Nor do I by this 
aspire to satisfy my own inclination, or to gain applause and 

1 " Magnificate Dominum mecum, et exaltemus nomen ejus." Ps. 
xxxiii. 4. 

8 " Si Deum amatis, omnes ad ejus amorem rapite." In Ps. xxxiii. 
en. 2. 

3 " Animam salvasti, animam tuam prsedestinasti." 

4 " Cum effuderis esurienti animam tuam, et animam afflictam re- 
pleveris, requiem tibi dabit Dominus, et implebit splendoribus animam 
tuam." Isa. Iviii. 10-11. 

6 " Quse est enim nostra spes, aut gaudium, et corona gloriae ? 
Nonne vos ante Dominum Jesum Christum estis in adventu ejus?" 
i Thess. ii. IQ. 

454 Choice of a State of Life, 

esteem from men ; I desire nothing but to see Thee loved by all 
as Thou deservest. I prize my happy lot, and call myself for 
tunate, that Thou hast chosen me for this great work, in which 
I protest that I will renounce all praises of men and all self- 
satisfaction, and will only seek Thy glory. To Thee be all the 
honor and satisfaction, and to me only the discomforts, the 
blame, and the reproaches. Accept, O Lord ! this offering, 
which I, a miserable sinner, who wish to love Thee and to see 
Thee loved by others, make of myself to thee, and give me 
strength to execute it. 

Most Holy Mary, my advocate, who lovest souls so much, 
help me. 


How Necessary to Religious are the Virtues of Meekness and 


Our most lovely Redeemer Jesus willed to be called a 
lamb, for the very reason that he might show us how 
meek and humble he was himself. These were the vir 
tues which he principally wished his followers should 
learn from him: Learn from me, because I am meek and 
humble of heart? And these virtues he principally requires 
of religious who profess to imitate his most holy life. 

He who lives as a solitary in a desert has not so much 
need of these virtues; but for him who lives in a Com 
munity, it is impossible not to meet, now and then, with 
a reprimand from his Superiors, or something disagree 
able from his companions. In such cases, a religious 
who loves not meekness will commit a thousand faults 
every day, and live an unquiet life. He must be all 
sweetness with everybody, with strangers, with com 
panions, and also with inferiors if he should ever be 
come Superior; and if he be an inferior, he must con 
sider that one act of meekness in bearing contempt and 
reproach is of greater value to him than a thousand 
fasts and a thousand disciplines. 

1 " Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde." Matt. xi. 29. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 455 

St. Francis said that many make their perfection con 
sist in exterior mortifications, and, after all, are not able 
to bear one injurious word. " Not understanding," he 
added, how much greater gain is made by patiently 
bearing injuries." 3 How many persons, as St. Bernard 
remarks, are all sweetness when nothing is said or done 
contrary to their inclination, but show their want of 
meekness when anything crosses them! And if anyone 
should ever be Superior, let him believe that one repri 
mand made wtih meekness will profit his subjects more 
than a thousand made with seveVity. The meek are useful 
to themselves and to others? as St. John Chrysostom teaches. 
In short, as the same saint said, the greatest sign of a 
virtuous soul is to see it meek on occasions of contra 
diction. A meek heart is the pleasure of the heart of 
God. That which is agreeable to him is faith and meekness? 
It would be well for a religious to represent to himself, 
in his meditations, all the contrarieties that may happen 
to him, and thus arm himself against them; and then, 
when the occasion happens, he ought to do violence to 
himself, that he may not be excited and break out in 
impatience. Therefore, he should refrain from speaking 
when his mind is disturbed, till he is certain that he has 
become calm again. 

But to bear injuries quietly, it is above all necessary 
to have a great fund of humility. He who is truly 
humble is not only unmoved when he sees himself de 
spised, but is even pleased, and rejoices at it in his spirit, 
however the flesh may resent it ; for he sees himself 
treated as he deserves, and made conformable to Jesus 
Christ, who, worthy as he was of every honor, chose, for 
the love of us, to be satiated with contempt and injuries. 

- 1 " Non intelligentes quanto majus sit lucrum in tolerantia inju- 

2 " Mansuetus utilis sibi et aliis." In Act. horn. 6. 

s " Beneplacitum est illi fides et mansuetudo." Eeclus. i. 34. 

45 6 Choice of a State of Life, 

Brother Juniper, a disciple of St. Francis, when an in 
jury was done to him, held up his cowl, as if lie expected 
to receive pearls falling from heaven. The saints have 
been more desirous of injuries than worldlings are 
covetous of applause and honor. And of what use is a 
religious who does not know how to bear contempt for 
God s sake? He is always proud, and only humble in 
name and a hypocrite, whom divine grace will repulse, 
as the Holy Ghost says: God resisteth the proud, but to the 
humble he give th grace.* 


my most humble Jesus, who, for the love of me, didst 
humble Thyself, and become obedient unto the death of the 
cross, how have I the courage to appear before Thee, and call 
myself Thy follower? for I see myself to be such a sinner and 
so proud that I cannot bear a single injury without resenting it. 
Whence can come such pride in me, who for my sins have so 
many times deserved to be cast forever into hell with the devils ? 
Ah, my despised Jesus, help me and make me conformable to 
Thee. I will change my life. Thou, for love of me, hast borne 
so much contempt; I, for love of Thee, will bear every injury. 
Thou, O my Redeemer ! hast rendered contempt too honorable 
and desirable, since Thou hast embraced it with so much love, 
during Thy own life, far be it from me to glory but in the cross 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. i O my most humble mistress Mary, 
mother of God ! thou who wast in all, and especially in suffering, 
the most conformed to thy Son, obtain for me the grace to bear 
in peace all injuries which henceforward shall be offered to me. 

1 " Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam." i Peter, 

v. 5- 

2 " Mihi absit gloriari, nisi in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi." 
Gal. vi. 14. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 457 


How much Religious ought to confide in the Patronage of 

If it is true, and most true it is, that, according to the 
saying of St. Peter Damian, the divine mother, the most 
holy Mary, loves all men with such an affection that 
after God there is not, nor can there be, any one who 
surpasses or equals her in her love, "She loves us with 
an invincible love," 1 how mucji must we think this great 
queen loves religious, who have consecrated their liberty, 
their life, and their all to the love of Jesus Christ? She 
sees well enough that the life of such as these is more 
conformable to her own life, and to that of her divine 
Son; she sees them often occupied in praising her, and 
continually attentive to honor her by their novenas, 
visits, rosaries, fasts, etc. She beholds them often at 
her feet, intent on invoking her aid, asking graces of 
her, and graces all conformed to her holy desires; that 
is, the grace of perseverance in the divine service, of 
strength in their temptations, of detachment from this 
world, and of love towards God, Ah, how can we doubt 
that she employs all her power and her mercy for the 
benefit of religious, and especially of those who belong 
to this holy Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer 
in which, as it is well known, we make special profession 
of honoring the Virgin Mother by visits, by fasting on 
Saturdays, by special mortifications during her novenas, 
etc., and by everywhere promoting devotion to her by 
sermons and novenas in her honor ! 

She, the great mistress, is grateful. / love those who 
love Me? Yes, she is so grateful that, as St. Andrew of 
Crete says, "To him who does her the least service she 

1 l< Amat nos amore invincibili." In Nat. B. V. s. I. 

2 "Ego diligentes me diligo." Prov. viii. 17. 

45 8 Choice of a State of Life, 

is accustomed to return great favors." 1 She promises 
liberally those who love her, and who promote her honor 
among others, to deliver them from sin: "Those that 
work by me shall not sin." : She also promises to them 
paradise: "Those that explain me shall have life ever 
lasting." 3 

For which reason we especially ought to thank God 
for having called us to this Congregation, where by the 
usages of the Community and the example of our com 
panions, we are often reminded, and in some way con 
strained, to have recourse to Mary, and continually to 
honor this our most loving mother, who is called, and is, 
the joy, the hope, the life, and the salvation of those 
who invoke and honor her. 


My most beloved, most lovely, and most loving queen, I al 
ways thank my Lord and thee, who hast not only drawn me, 
out of the world, but also called me to live in this Congregation, 
where a special devotion is practised to thee. Accept of me 
then, my mother, to serve thee. Among so many of thy beloved 
sons, do not scorn to let me serve thee also, miserable though I 
am. Thou after God shalt always be my hope and my love. 
In all my wants, in all my tribulations and temptations, I will 
always have recourse to thee ; thou shalt be my refuge, my con 
solation. I am unwilling that any one except God and thee 
should comfort me in my combats, in the sadness and the tedi- 
ousness of this life. For thy service I renounce all the king 
doms of the whole world. My kingdom on this earth shall be 
to serve, bless, and love thee, O my most lovely mistress ! 
"whom to serve is to reign," 4 as St. Anselm says. Thou art 
the mother, of perseverance ; obtain for me to be faithful to thee 
until death. By so doing I hope, and firmly hope, one day to 
come where thou reignest, to praise and bless thee forever, to 

1 " Solet maxima pro minim is reddere." In Dorm. B. V. s. 3. 

2 " Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt."--^^". of the Blessed Virg. 
& " Qui elucidant me, vitatn seternam habebunt." Ib. 

4 " Cui servire regnare est." 

And the Vocation to the Religions State. 459 

depart no more from thy holy feet. Jesus and Mary, I protest, 
with your loving servant Alphonsus Rodriguez, " my most sweet 
loves, let me suffer for you, let me die for you, let me be all 
yours, and not at all my own." J 


(Taken from St. Thomas of Aquinas.) 

Grant me, O my God ! to know Thy will, and to accomplish 
it perfectly to Thy glory. Give me the strength not to fail in 
prosperity, so as to exalt myself presumptuously ; not to fail in 
adversity, so as to be cast down by it. Let me feel joy or sor 
row at nothing else, but what leads me to Thee, or separates 
me. from Thee. Let me desire to please none, let me fear to 
displease none, but Thee Let all the goods of the world be 
vile to me, and all Thy gifts dear to me, for the love of Thee, 
and be Thou dear to me above everything. Let all joy without 
Thee be tediousness to me, and let every fatigue which is for 
Thee be pleasing to me, so that outside of Thee I may wish for 
nothing. Grant that to Thee I may always direct all my 
thoughts and all my affections. Make me, O Lord, obedient 
without reply, poor without desire, chaste without defilement, 
patient without murmur, humble without simulation, joyous 
without dissipation, fearful without diffidence, diligent without 
solicitude, prudent without duplicity. Grant me the ability to 
do good without presumption, to reprove without becoming 
haughty, to edify my neighbor by my example without dissimu 
lation. Give me a watchful heart, that vain thoughts may not 
carry me away from Thee ; a noble heart, that is not bowed 
down by unworthy affections; a right heart, that is not moved 
by perverse intentions; a heart strong in tribulations; a heart 
free from earthly attachment. Give me to be enlightened in 
knowing Thee, diligent in seeking Thee, wise in finding Thee, 
persevering in pleasing Thee, grateful in thanking Thee. Fi 
nally, give me strength in this life to embrace every punishment 
due to my sins, and then, in the next, the grace forever to see 
Thee, possess Thee, and love Thee, face to face. Amen. 

Mary, my queen, my hope, and my mother! I love thee, 

1 " Jesu et Maria, amores mei dulcissimi ! pro vobis patiar, pro 
vobis moriar; sim totus vester, sim nihil meus." 

460 Choice of a Stale of Life, 

I confide in thee. I beseech thee by the love of Jesus, by the 
joy thou didst feel in becoming his mother, and by the sorrow 
thou didst feel at his death, obtain of God for me a great 
sorrow for my sins and the pardon of them, perseverance 
in a good life, a pure love towards God with a perfect con 
formity to his holy will. Thou art the refuge of sinners, 
thou art then my refuge. To thee I recommend my soul and 
my eternal salvation. Receive me as thy servant, and as such 
protect me always, and especially at the time of my death. 
Thou with thy powerful intercession must save me ; this is my 
hope, thus may it be ! 

si mi the Vocation to the Religious State. 461 


I read in your letter that some time ago you felt in 
spired by God to become a religious, and that after 
wards many doubts arose in your mind, and especially 
this one, that, without becoming a religious, you might 
sanctify yourself also in the woVld. 

I will answer your letter briefly, for, should you wish 
to read something more complete, you can read a little 
work of mine, which has already been printed, under the 
title "Counsels concerning Religious Vocation," in 
which I have treated this matter more fully. Here I 
will only say, briefly, that this point of the choice of a 
state of life is of the greatest importance, as upon it 
depends our eternal salvation. He who chooses the 
state to which God calls him will save himself with 
facility, and for him who does not obey the divine call 
it will be difficult yes, morally impossible to save him 
self. The greatest number of those who are damned, 
are damned for not having corresponded to the call of 

In order, therefore, that you may be able to choose that 
state, which will be the surest for attaining eternal salva 
tion, consider that your soul is immortal, and that the 
only end for which God has placed you in this world 
was, not certainly that you may acquire money and 
honors on this earth, and thus live a comfortable and 
delightful life, but that by holy virtues you may merit 
eternal life. 1 In the day of judgment it will avail you 
nothing to have advanced your family, and to have made 

1 " Finem vero, vitam aeternam." Rom. vi. 22. 

462 Choice of a State of Life, 

a figure in the world; it will only avail you to have 
served and loved Jesus Christ, who is to be your judge. 

You have a thought which tells you that you will also 
be able to sanctify yourself by remaining in the world. 
Yes, my dear sir, you will be able, but it is difficult, and 
if you are truly called by God to the religious state, and 
yet remain in the world, it is, as I have said above, 
morally impossible, because those helps will be denied 
you which God had prepared for you in religion, and 
without them you will not save yourself. To sanctify 
yourself it is necessary for you to employ the means, 
such as, to avoid evil occasions, to remain detached from 
earthly goods, to live a life recollected in God; and to 
maintain this, it is necessary to receive the sacraments 
frequently, to make your meditation, your spiritual 
reading, and to perform other devout exercises, every 
day, otherwise it is impossible to preserve the spirit of 
fervor. Now, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to 
practise all this in the midst of the noise and the dis 
turbances of the world; for family affairs, the necessities 
of the house, the complaints of parents, the quarrels and 
persecutions with which the world is so full, will keep 
your mind so occupied by cares and fears that you will 
barely be able in the evening to recommend yourself to 
God, and even this will be done with many distractions. 
You would wish to make your meditation, to read spirit 
ual books, to receive Holy Communion often, to visit 
every day the Sacrament of the altar; but from all this 
you will be prevented by the affairs of the world, and the 
little you do will be imperfect, because it is done in the 
midst of a thousand distractions, and with coldness of 
heart. Your life will thus be always unquiet, and your 
death more unquiet still. 

On one side, worldly friends will not fail to inspire 
you with a fear of embracing the religious life, as being 
a hard life and full of troubles. On the Other, the world 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 463 

offers you amusements, money, and a contented life. 
Reflect well, and do not allow yourself to be led into 
error. Be persuaded that the world is a traitor that 
makes promises and does not care about the fulfilment 
of them. It offers you indeed all these earthly things, 
but suppose it should give them to you, could it also 
give you peace of soul ? No, God only can give true 
peace. The soul is created only for God, to love him in 
this life and to enjoy him in the next, and therefore God 
only can content it. All the pleasures and riches of the 
earth cannot give true peace; nay, those who in this life 
abound the most with such goods are the most troubled 
and afflicted, as Solomon confesses who had them in 
abundance. All, says he, is vanity and affliction of spirit. 1 
If the world, with its goods, could make us happy, the 
rich, the great, the monarchs, who are in no want of 
wealth, honors, and amusements, would be fully con 
tented. But experience shows how it is with these 
mighty ones of the earth; the greater they are, the 
greater are the vexations, fears, and afflictions they have 
to suffer. A poor Capuchin lay-brother, who goes about 
girded with a cord over a sackcloth, who lives on beans, 
and sleeps in a small cell on a little straw, is more con 
tented than a prince with all his gilded trappings and 
riches, who has every day a sumptuous table, and who 
goes half sick to bed under a rich canopy, unable to 
sleep on account of the anguish which drives sleep away. 
He is a fool who loves the world and not God, said St. 
Philip Neri; and if these worldlings live such an un 
quiet life, much more unquiet still will be their death, 
when the priest, at their side, will intimate to them that 
they are about to be chased away from this world, say 
ing: "Depart hence, Christian soul, from this world. 
Embrace the crucifix, for this world is at an end for you." 5 

1 " Universa vanitas et afflictio spiritus." Eccles. i. 14. 

2 " Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo." 

464 Choice of a State of Life, 

The misery is, that in the world they think little of God, 
and just as little of the next life, where they must re 
main forever. All, or almost all, their thoughts are 
given to the things of this earth, and this is the cause 
that their life is so unhappy, and their death still more. 

Nevertheless, that you may ascertain what state you 
ought to embrace, imagine yourself at the point of death, 
and choose that one which you would then wish to have 
chosen. Should you have erred, by neglecting the 
divine call, in order to follow your own inclinations, 
and to live with more liberty, there will then be no 
longer time to remedy the error. Consider that every 
thing here below will come to an end. The fashion of 
this world passeth away. 1 The scenes of this world must 
finish for each one of us. Everything passes, and death 
draws near, and at every step we take we approach 
nearer to it, and, through death, nearer to eternity. For 
this we are born. Man shall go into the house of his eter 
nity? Death will be upon us when we least think of it. 
Alas ! when death draws near, what will then appear all 
the goods of this world, but the unreal pageantry of a 
theatre, vanities, lies, and foolishness? And what profit 
will it then be, as Jesus Christ warns us, // we should have 
gained the whole world and lost our souls?* It will help us 
only to die an unhappy death. 

On the contrary, a young man who has left the world 
to give himself entirely to Jesus Christ, how contented 
will he feel, as he passes his days in the solitude of his 
cell, far from the tumult of the world and the dangers of 
losing God, which are in the world! In the monastery 
he will not have the entertainments of music, theatres, 
and balls, but he will have God to console him and to 

1 " Prseterit enim figura hujus mundi." I Cor, vii. 31. 
a " Quoniam ibit homo in domum aeternitatis suse." Eccles. xii. 5. 
3 "Quid prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animae 
vero suse detrimentum patiatur ? Matt. xvi. 26." 

And the Vocation to the Religions State. 465 

make him enjoy peace. I mean all that peace which is 
possible in this valley of tears, into which every one is 
sent to suffer, and to merit by his patience that full peace 
which is prepared for him in heaven. But in this life 
even, far from the pastimes of the world, one loving look 
cast from time to time on the crucifix, one " Deus meus, 
et omnia," pronounced with affection, one "my God" 
said with a sigh of love, will console him more than all 
the pastimes and feasts of the world, which leave only 
bitterness behind them. 

And if he lives content in s t uch a life, more content 
will he be still at his death at having chosen the religious 
state. How much will it then console him to have spent 
his life in prayer, in spiritual reading, in mortification, 
and in other exercises of devotion, especially if he has 
been in an Order employed in saving souls by preaching 
and hearing confessions, things which at his death will 
all increase his confidence in Jesus Christ, who is truly 
grateful and liberal in rewarding those who have labored 
for his glory! 

But lei us come to a conclusion with regard to your 
vocation. Since the Lord has called you to leave the 
world, and to be entirely his in religion, I tell you: Re 
joice and tremble at the same time. Rejoice, on one 
hand, and always thank the Lord, because to be called 
by God to a perfect life is a grace which he does not 
give to all. 1 On the other hand, tremble, because if you 
do not follow the divine call, you will put your eternal 
salvation in great danger. It is not my intention here to 
relate to you the many examples of young men who, 
because they made no account of their vocation, have 
lived a miserable life and died a horrible death. Hold 
for certain that, as God has called you, you will never 
have peace, if you remain in the world; and at your 
death you will be very unquiet, on account of the re- 

1 " Non fecit taliter omni nationi." Ps. cxlvii. 20. 

466 Choice of a State of Life, 

morse that then will torment you, for having neglected 
to obey God, who had called you to the religious state. 

At the end of your letter you express a wish to learn 
from me whether, in case you should not have the cour 
age to enter religion, it would be better to marry, as 
your parents wish, or to become a secular priest. I an 
swer: The married state I cannot recommend to you, 
because St. Paul does not counsel it to any one, except 
there be a necessity for it, arising out of habitual incon 
tinence, which necessity, I hold for certain, does not ex 
ist in your case. 

With regard, then, to the state of a secular priest,* 
take notice that a secular priest has on him all the obli 
gations of a priest, and all the distractions and dangers 
of a layman; for, living in the midst of the world, he 
cannot avoid the troubles which arise from his own 
household and from his parents, and cannot be free 
from the dangers to which his soul is exposed. He will 
have temptations in his own house, being unable to ex 
clude women from it, whether relatives or servants, nor 
prevent other strangers from coming to see them. You 
should then stay there altogether retired in a separate 
room, and attend only to divine things. Now, this it is 
very difficult to practise; and therefore small, and very 
small, is the number of those priests who attend to their 
perfection in their own houses. 

On the contrary, entering a monastery of strict ob 
servance, you will be freed from the disagreeable duty 
of thinking about your food and clothing, because there 
the Order provides you with all, there you will not have 
your parents to come and continually trouble you with 
all the disturbances that happen in their house; there no 
women enter to disturb your mind; and thus, far from 

* In Italy we often see priests who live with their parents or rela 
tives. ED. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 467 

the tumult of the world, you will have no one to hinder 
you in your prayers and your recollection. 

I have said a monastery of strict observance; because if 
you want to enter another, where they live more freely, 
it is better for you to stay at home and attend there to 
the salvation of your soul as well as you can; for enter 
ing an Order where the spirit is relaxed, you expose 
yourself to the danger of being lost. Though you 
should enter with the resolution to attend to prayer and 
to the things of God only, yet, carried along by the bad 
example of your companions, .and seeing yourself de 
rided and even persecuted, if you do not live as they do, 
you will leave off all your devotions, and do as the others 
do, as experience shows it to be commonly the case. 
But should God give you the grace of vocation, be care 
ful to preserve it, by recommending yourself often to 
Jesus and Mary in holy prayer. I know that if you re 
solve to give yourself entirely to God, the devil from 
that moment will increase his efforts to tempt you to 
fall into sin, and especially to make you entirely his, and 
to remain his. 

I conclude by offering you the assurance of my re 
spectful consideration; I pray the Lord to make you be 
long entirely to himself, and remain, etc. 

468 Choice of a State of Life, 


My dear Sister in Jesus Christ: 

You are deliberating about the choice of a state of life. 
I see that you are agitated because the world wishes 
you to belong to itself, and to enter the married state ; 
and, on the other hand, Jesus Christ wishes you to give 
yourself to him by becoming a nun in some convent of 
exact observance. 

Remember that on the choice which you make your 
eternal salvation will depend. Hence, I recommend 
you, as soon as you read this advice, to implore the 
Lord, every day, to give you light and strength to em 
brace that state which will be most conducive to your 
salvation; that thus you may not afterwards, when your 
error is irreparable, have to repent of the choice you 
have made for your whole life, and for all eternity. 

Examine whether you will be more happy in having 
for your spouse a man of the world, or Jesus Christ, the Son 
of God and the King of heaven; see which of them ap 
pears to you the better spouse, and then make your choice. 
At the age of thirteen, the holy virgin St. Agnes was, 
on account of her extraordinary beauty, sought after by 
many. Among the rest, the son of the Roman Prefect 
asked her for his spouse; but looking at Jesus Christ, 
who wished her to belong to him, she said, I have found 

* The holy author supposes in this case, as well as in the preced 
ing answer, that the person to whom this advice is addressed is called 
to be a religious, or has at least the beginning of a vocation to the 
religious state, but the world keeps her back, and she hesitates. This 
supposition does not, however, hold good as regards the foregoing 
letter that treats of the spiritual exercises. ED. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 469 

a spouse better than you and all the monarchs of this 
world; therefore I cannot exchange him for any other. 
And rather than exchange him she was content to lose 
her life, and cheerfully suffered martyrdom for Jesus 
Christ. The holy virgin Domitilla gave a similar an 
swer to the Count Aurelian; she, too, died a martyr, and 
was burned alive, because she would not forsake Jesus 
Christ. Oh, how happy do these holy virgins now feel 
in heaven, how happy will they feel for all eternity, at 
having made so good a choice ! The same happy lot 
awaits you, and will await all young persons who re 
nounce the world in order to give themselves to Jesus 

In the next place, examine the consequences of the 
state of the person who chooses the world, and of the 
person who makes choice of Jesus Christ. The world 
offers earthly goods, riches, honors, amusements, and 
pleasures. On the other hand, Jesus Christ presents to 
you scourges, thorns, opprobrium, and crosses; for these 
were the goods which he chose for himself all the days 
of his mortal life. But then he offers you two immense 
advantages which the world cannot give peace of soul 
in this life, and paradise in the next. 

Moreover, before you decide on embracing any state, 
you must reflect that your soul is immortal; that is, that 
after the present life which will soon end, you must pass 
into eternity, in which you will receive that place of 
punishment or of reward which you will have merited 
by your works during life. Thus, you must remain for 
all eternity in the house either of eternal life or of eternal 
death, in which, after your departure from this world, it 
will be your lot first to dwell: you will be either forever 
saved and happy amid the joys of paradise, or forever 
lost and in despair in the torments of hell. In the mean 
time, consider that everything in this world must soon 
end. Happy all that are saved; miserable the soul that is 

470 Choice of a State of Life, 

damned. Keep always in mind that great maxim of 
Jesus Christ: " What will it profit a man to gam the 
whole world if he lose his own soul ?" This maxim has 
sent so many from the world to shut themselves up in 
the cloister, or to live in the deserts; it has inspired so 
many young persons with courage to forsake the world 
in order to give themselves to God and to die a holy 

On the other hand, consider the unhappy lot of so 
many ladies of fortune, so many princesses and queens, 
who in the world have been attended, praised, honored, 
and almost adored; but if they are damned, what do they 
now find in hell of so much riches, of so many pleasures, 
of so many honors enjoyed in this life, but pains and re 
morse of conscience, which will torment them forever, as 
long as God shall be God, without any hope of remedy 
for their eternal ruin. 

But let us now cast a glance at the goods which the 
world gives in this life to its followers, and to the goods 
which God gives to her who loves him and forsakes the 
world for his sake. The world makes great promises ; 
but do we not all see that the world is a traitor that 
promises what it never performs ? But though it should 
fulfil all its promises, what does it give ? It gives earthly 
goods, but does it give the peace and the life of happi 
ness which it promises ? All its goods delight the senses 
and the flesh, but do not content the heart and the soul. 
Our souls have been created by God for the sole purpose 
of loving him in this life, and of enjoying him in the 
next. Hence, all the goods of the earth, all its delights, 
and all its grandeurs, are outside the heart; they enter 
not into the soul, which God only can content. Solomon 
has even called all worldly goods vanities and lies, which 
do not content but rather afflict the soul. Vanity of vani 
ties and affliction of spirit. 1 This we know also from ex- 

1 " Vanitas vanitatum et afflictio spiritus." Eccles. i. 14. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 471 

perience, for we see that the more a person abounds in 
these goods, the greater her anguish and misery of 
mind. If by its good the world gave content to the soul, 
great indeed should be the happiness of princesses and 
queens, who want neither amusements, nor comedies, 
nor festivities, nor banquets, nor splendid palaces, nor 
beautiful carriages, nor costly dresses, nor precious 
jewels, nor servants, nor ladies of honor to attend and 
pay homage to them. But no; they who imagine them 
to be happy are deceived. Ask them whether they en 
joy perfect peace, if they are perfectly content, and they 
will answer: What peace ? what content ? They will 
tell you that they lead a life of misery, and that they 
know not what peace is. The maltreatment which they 
receive from their husbands, the displeasure caused by 
their children, the wants of the house, the jealousies and 
fears to which they are subject, make them live in the 
midst of continual anguish and bitterness. Married 
women may be called martyrs of patience, if they bear 
all with resignation; but unless they are patient and re 
signed, they will suffer a martyrdom in this world, and a 
more painful martyrdom in the next. 

The remorse of conscience, though they had nothing 
else to suffer, keeps married persons in continual tor 
ment. Being attached to earthly goods, they reflect but 
little on spiritual things; they seldom approach the 
sacraments, and seldom recommend themselves to God; 
and, being deprived of these helps to a good life, they 
will scarcely be able to live without sin, and without 
continual remorse of conscience. Behold, then, how all 
the joys promised by the world become to married per 
sons sources of bitterness, of fears, and of damnation. 
How many of them will say, Unhappy me, what will 
become of me after so many sins, after the life which I 
led, at a distance from God, always going from bad to 
worse ? I would wish for retirement in order to spend 

47 2 Choice of a State of Life, 

a little time in mental prayer, but the affairs of the family 
and of the house, which is always in confusion, do not 
permit this. I would wish to hear sermons, to go to 
confession, to communicate often; I would wish to go 
often to the church, but my husband does not wish it. 
My unceasing occupations, the care of children, the fre 
quent visits of friends, keep me confined to the house; 
and thus it is not without some difficulty that I can hear 
Mass at a late hour on festivals. How great was my 
folly in entering the married state, when I could become 
a saint in a convent ! But all these lamentations only 
serve to increase their pain; because they see that it is 
no longer in their power to change the unhappy choice 
they have made of living in the world. And if their life 
is unhappy, their death will be much more miserable. 
At that awful hour they will be surrounded by servants, 
by their husbands, and children, bathed in tears; but 
instead of giving them relief, all these will be to them an 
occasion of greater affliction. And thus afflicted, poor 
in merits, and full of fears for their eternal salvation, 
they must go to present themselves to Jesus Christ to be 
judged by him. But, on the other hand, how great will 
be the happiness which a nun who has left the world for 
Jesus Christ will enjoy, living among so many spouses 
of God, and in a solitary cell, at a distance from the tur 
moils of the world, and from the continual and proxi 
mate danger of losing God, to which seculars are ex 
posed. How much greater will be her consolation at 
death, after having spent her years in meditations, mor 
tifications, and in so many spiritual exercises; in visits 
to the Holy Sacrament, in confessions, Communions, acts 
of humility, of hope, and love of Jesus Christ ! And 
though the devil should endeavor to terrify her by the 
faults committed in her younger days, her Spouse, for 
whom she has left the world, will console her, and thus, 
full of confidence, she will die in the embraces of her 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 473 

crucified Redeemer, who will conduct her to heaven, that 
there she may enjoy eternal happiness. 

Thus, my dear sister, since you must make choice of 
a state of life, make the choice now which you shall wish 
at death to have made. At death, every one who sees 
that for her the world is about to end says, Oh that I 
had led the life of a saint ! Oh that I had left the world 
and given myself to God! But what is then done, is done, 
and nothing remains for her but to breathe forth her 
soul, and to go to hear from Jesus Christ the words, 
Come, blessed soul, and rejoice with me for eternity; or, 
Begone forever to hell at a distance from me. You, then, 
must choose the world or Jesus Christ. If you choose 
the world, you will probably sooner or later repent of 
the choice; hence, you ought to reflect well upon it. In 
the world the number of persons who are lost is very 
great; in religion, the number of those who are damned 
is very small. Recommend yourself to Jesus crucified, 
and to most holy Mary, that they may make you choose 
the state which is most conducive to your eternal salva 
tion. If you wish to become a nun, resolve to become a 
saint; if you intend to lead a loose and imperfect life, 
like some religious^ it is useless for you to enter a con 
vent ; you should then only lead an unhappy life and die 
an unhappy death. But if you resolve not to become 
a religious, I cannot advise you to enter the married 
state, for St. Paul does not counsel that state to any one, 
except in case of necessity, which I hope does not exist 
for you. At least remain in your own house and en 
deavor to become a saint. I entreat you to say the fol 
lowing prayer fop nine days: 

My Lord Jesus Christ, who hast died for my salvation, 
I implore Thee, through the merits of Thy passion, to 
give me light and strength to choose that state which is 
best for my salvation. And do thou, O my Mother, Mary, 
obtain this grace for me by thy powerful intercession. 

474 Choice of a State of Life, 


My dear Sisters in Jesus Christ : 

I do not intend to explain the privileges and blessings 
acquired by those maidens who consecrate their virginity 
to Jesus Christ ; I shall only glance at them. 

Excellence of Virginity. 

First, they become in the eyes of God as beautiful as 
the angels of heaven. 1 Baronius 2 relates that upon the 
death of a holy virgin named Georgia, an immense 
multitude of doves was seen flying around her ; and 
when the body was carried to the church, they ranged 
themselves along that part of the roof which corre 
sponded to the situation of the corpse, and did not leave 
until she was buried. Those doves were thought to be 
angels who accompanied that virginal body. 

Moreover, a maiden who leaves the world, and dedi 
cates herself to Jesus Christ, becomes his spouse. In 
the Gospel, our Redeemer is called Father, or Master, 
or Shepherd of our souls ; but, with regard to those 
virgins, he calls himself their spouse ; they went out to 
meet the bridegroom. 3 

When a young woman wishes to establish herself in 
the w r orld, she will examine, if she be prudent, which of 
all her suitors is the most noble and the richest. Let us 
then learn from the Spouse in the sacred Canticles, who 

1 " Erunt sicut Angeli Dei in coelo." Matt. xxii. 30. 

2 Ann. 480. 

3 " Externnt obviam Sponso." Matt. xxv. I. 

* Missions, ch. 8, 3. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 475 

well knows let us learn from her what manner of spouse 
is he whom consecrated virgins aspire to. Tell me, O 
sacred Spouse, what manner of spouse is he who makes 
you the most fortunate of women ? My beloved is ivhite, 
she says, and ruddy, chosen among thousands? He is all 
white, by reason of his purity; and ruddy, by reason of 
the love with which he burns. He is, in fine, so noble 
and so kind as to be the most amiable of spouses. 

Witli reason, then, did the glorious virgin St, Agnes, 
as we learn from St. Ambrose, when it was proposed to 
her to marry the son of the Prefect of Rome, reply that 
she had a much more advantageous match in view. 2 
When some ladies were endeavoring to persuade St. 
Domitilla to marry Count Aurelian, nephew of the 
Emperor Domitian, saying there was no obstacle, as he 
was willing that she should remain a Christian, the saint 
replied, Tell me, if a monarch and a clown both pre 
tended to a maiden, which would she choose ? Now I, 
should I marry Aurelian, would have to leave the King 
of Heaven; it would be folly I will not do so. And 
thus, in order to remain faithful to Jesus Christ, to whom 
she had already consecrated her virginity, she was will 
ing to be burned alive, a death which her barbarous 
suitor caused her to suffer. 3 

Those spouses of Jesus Christ who leave the world for 
his sake, become his beloved; they are called the first 
fruits of the lamb: The first fruits to God and to the Lamb* 
Why the first fruits? Because, says Cardinal Ugone, as 
the first fruits are more grateful than any other to man, 
so virgins are dearer to God than any others. The 
divine spouse feeds amongst the lilies: Who feeds amongst 

1 " Dilectus meus Candidas, et rubicundus, electus ex millibus." 
Cant. v. 10. 
* " Sponsum offertis ? meliorem reperi." De Virg. 1. I. 

3 Croiset, Exerc. May 12. 

4 " Primitiae Deo et Agno." Apoc. xiv. 4. 

476 Choice of a State of .Life, 

the lilies. 1 And what is meant by lilies, if not those de 
vout maidens who consecrate their virginity to Jesus 
Christ? The Venerable Bede writes that the song of 
the virgins that is, the glory which they give to God by 
preserving untouched the lily of their purity is far more 
pleasing to him than the song of all the other saints. 
Wherefore the Holy Ghost says that there is nothing 
comparable to virginity. 2 And hence, Cardinal Ugone 
remarks that dispensations are often granted from other 
vows, but never from the vow of chastity; and the reason 
is, because no other treasure can compensate for the loss 
of that. And it is for the same reason that theologians 
say, the Blessed Mother would have consented to forego 
the dignity of Mother of God, could it have been had 
only at the expense of her virginity. 

Who on this earth can conceive the glory which God 
has prepared for his virgin spouses in paradise ? Theo 
logians say that virgins have in heaven tneir own 
" aureola," or special crown of glory, which is refused 
to the other saints who are not virgins. 

But let us come at once to the most important point 
in our discourse. 

This young woman will say, Cannot I become holy in 
the married state? I do not wish to give you the reply 
in my own words; hear those of St. Paul, and you will 
see the difference between the married woman and the 
virgin: And the unmarried woman, and the virgin, thinketh 
on the tilings of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body 
and in spirit ; but she that is married, thinketh on the things 
of the world, how she may please her husband? And the 

1 "Qui pascitur inter lilia." Cant. ii. 16. 

2 " Omnis ponderatio non est digna continentis animae." Eccltts. 
xxvi. 20. 

3 " Mulier innupta et virgo cogitat quae Domini sunt, ut sit sancta 
corpora et spiritu ; quae autem nupta est, cogitat quae sunt mundi, 
quomodo placeat viro." i Cor. vii. 34. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 477 

Apostle adds: And I speak this for your profit, not for a 
snare, but for that which is decent, and which may give you 
power to attend upon the Lord without impediment} 

In the first place, I say that married persons can be 
holy in the spirit, but not in the flesh; on the contrary, 
virgins who have consecrated their virginity to Jesus 
Christ are holy both in soul and body. Holy both in body 
and in spirit ; and mark those other words, to attend upon 
the Lord without impediment. Oh, how many obstacles have 
not married women to encounter in serving the Lord ! 
And the more noble they are, 4,he greater the obstacles. 
A woman, to become holy, must adopt the necessary 
means, which are, much mental prayer, constant use of 
the sacraments, and continual thought of God. But 
what time has a married woman for thinking upon God? 
She that is married thinketh on the tilings of the world? says 
St. Paul. The married woman has to think of providing 
her family with food and raiment. She has to think of 
rearing her children, of pleasing her husband and her 
husband s relatives ; whence, as the Apostle says, her 
heart is divided between God, her husband, and her 
children. Her husband must be attended to ; the chil 
dren cry and scream, and are continually asking for a 
thousand things. What time can she have to attend to 
mental prayer, who can scarce attend to all the business 
of the house ? How can she pray amid so many distract 
ing thoughts and disturbances ? Scarcely can she go to 
church, to recollect herself, and communicate upon the 
Sunday. She may have the good desire, but it will be 
difficult for her to attend to the things of God as she 
ought. It is true that in this want of opportunities she 
may gain merit, by resignation to the will of God, who 

1 " Porro hoc ad utilitatem vestram dico . . . , ad id quod honestum 
est, et quod facultatem praebeat sine impedimento Dominum obse- 
crandi." Ibid. 35. 

2 " Quae nupta est, cogitat quas sunt mundi, quomodo placeat viro." 

478 Choice of a State of Life, 

requires of her, in that state, chiefly patience and res 
ignation; but in the midst of so many distractions and 
annoyances, without prayer, without meditation, without 
frequenting the sacraments, it will be morally impossible 
for her to have that holy patience and resignation. 

But would to God that married women had no other 
evil to contend with besides that of not always being 
able to attend to their sanctification as much as they 
should! The greater evil is the danger to which they 
are continually exposed of losing the grace of God, by 
reason of the intercourse which they must continually 
have with the relatives and friends of their husband, 
as well in their own houses as in the houses of others. 
Unmarried women do not understand this, but married 
women and those who have to hear their confessions 
know it well. Let us, however, now have done with the 
unhappy life which is led by married women, the ill- 
treatment that they receive from their husbands, the 
disobedience of children, the wants of a family, the 
annoyance of mothers-in-law and relatives, the throes of 
childbirth, always accompanied by danger of death, not 
to mention the afflictions of jealousy, and scruples of 
conscience with regard to the rearing-up of their chil 
dren, all of this breeds a tempest under which poor 
married women have continually to groan ; and God 
grant that in this tempest they may not lose themselves, 
so as to meet with hell in the other world, after having 
suffered a hell in this! Such is the unenviable lot of 
those maidens who choose the world! 

But what! such a maiden replies, are there no married 
women holy? Yes, I answer, there are; but who are 
they? Such only as become holy through their suffer 
ings, by suffering all from God without finding fault, and 
with continual patience. And how many married women 
are to be found in such a state of perfection? They are 
very rare; and if you find any, they are always in sorrow, 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 479 

that when they could have done so they did not conse 
crate themselves to Jesus Christ. Amongst all the de 
vout married women I have known, I never knew one to 
be satisfied with her condition. 

The greatest happiness, then, falls to the lot of those 
maidens who consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ. 
Those have to encounter none of the dangers which mar 
ried women must necessarily be placed in. They are not 
bound to earth by love of children, or men, or dress, or 
gallantry, whilst married women are obliged to dress 
with pomp and ornaments, in order to appear with their 
equals and please their husbands. A maiden who has 
given herself to Jesus Christ requires only what dress 
will cover her; nay, she should give scandal if she were 
to wear any other, or make use of any ornaments. More 
over, virgins have no anxiety about house or children or 
relatives; their whole care is centred in pleasing Jesus 
Christ, to whom they have consecrated their soul, their 
body, and all their love; whence it is that tney have more 
time, and a mind more disengaged for frequent prayer 
and Communion. 

But let us now come to the excuses sometimes brought 
forward by those who are cold in the love of Jesus 

Such a one will say, I should leave the world if I had 
some convent to go to, or, at least, if I could always 
spend my time in devotion at the church when I should 
please; but I could not remain at home, where I have 
bad brothers who illtreat me; and, on the other hand, 
my parents are unwilling to have me frequent the church. 
But, I ask you, is it in order to save yourself, or lead an 
easy life you leave the world? Is it to do your own will 
or the will of Jesus Christ? If you wish to become holy 
and serve Jesus Christ, I ask you another question: in 
what does holiness consist? Holiness does not consist 
in living in a convent, or spending the entire day in a 

480 CJioice of a State of Life, 

church, but in being at confession and Communion as 
often as you can, in obedience, in doing everything as 
signed you at home, in being retired, in bearing labor 
and contempt. And if you were to be in a convent, how 
should you be employed? Do you imagine you should 
always be either in church or in your cell, or in the re 
fectory, or at recreation? In the convent, although the 
Sisters have a time marked out for prayer, for Mass, and 
for Communion, they have also their hours appointed 
for the business of the house, and more especially the 
lay-sisters, who, as they do not attend in the choir, have 
nearly all the labor of the house, and consequently least 
time for prayer. All exclaim, Let us be in a convent, let 
us have a convent. How much more easy is it for de 
vout girls to become holy in their own houses than in 
a convent! How many such have I known to regret 
having entered a convent, especially when the Commu 
nity was large, the poor lay-sister in certain offices having 
scarcely time to say the rosary! 

But, Father, such a girl will answer, I have at home a 
peevish father and mother; I have bad brothers; all of 
them use me ill; I cannot stand this. Well I say, and if 
you marry, will you not have to deal with mothers and 
sisters-in-law, and perhaps undutiful children, and per 
haps a harsh husband ? Oh, how many cruel husbands 
are there not, who when first married promised great 
things, but shortly afterwards ceased to be husbands, 
and became the tyrants of their wives, treating them not 
as companions but as slaves? Inquire of many married 
women whether this be not the fact. But, without going 
beyond your own home, you all know how your mothers 
fared. One thing, at least, is certain, that all you should 
have to surfer at home, after having given yourself to 
God, you should suffer for the love of Jesus Christ, and 
he knows how to make your cross sweet and light 
to you. But how dreadful is it not to suffer for the 

And the Vocation to the Religions State. 481 

world s sake ! to suffer without merit ! Courage, then ! 
if Jesus Christ has called you to his love, and wishes to 
have you for his spouse, go on joyfully; it will be his 
care to afford you consolation even in the midst of snf 
ferings. This, of course, will be only in case you tiuly 
love him, and live as his spouse. 

Means to preserve Virginal Purity. 

Hear, then, for the last time, the means that you are 
to adopt in order to become holy, and live a true spouse 
of Jesus Christ ; and these are, to practise the virtues 
becoming his spouse. We read in the Gospel 1 that the 
kingdom of heaven is likened unto virgins. But to 
what virgins? Not to the foolish, but to the wise. The 
wise were admitted to the nuptials, but the door was shut 
in the face of the foolish; to whom the spouse said, I 
know you not 2 you are indeed virgins, but I do not 
acknowledge you for my spouses. The true spouses of 
Jesus Christ follow the spouse whithersoever he goeth. 
These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth? What is the 
meaning of following the Lamb? St. Augustine 4 says 
that it means the imitation of the Lamb both in body 
and mind. After you have consecrated your body to 
him, you must consecrate to him your whole heart, so 
that your heart may be entirely devoted to his love; and, 
therefore, you must adopt all the means that are neces 
sary for making you belong entirely to Jesus Christ. 

i. The first of those means is mental prayer, to which 
you must be most attentive. But do not imagine that, in 
order to pray thus, it is necessary for you to be in 
a convent, or remain all day in the church. It is true 

1 Matt. xxv. i. 
8 " Nescio vos." 

3 " Sequuntur Agnum quocumque ierit." Apoc. xiv. 4. 

4 De S. Virginit. c. 27. 


482 Choice of a State of Life, 

that at home there is much disturbance created by the 
persons there; nevertheless, those who wish can find 
time and place for prayer: this is in the morning before 
the others rise, and at night after the others have gone 
to bed. In order to pray, it is not necessary to be al 
ways on bended knees; you can pray whilst laboring, 
and even when walking out on business (should, you 
have no other opportunity), by raising your soul to God, 
and thinking on the Passion of Jesus Christ, or any 
other pious subject. 

2. The second means is, the frequentation of the sacra 
ments of confession and Communion. With regard to 
confession, each one has to make choice of a confessor, 
whom she is to obey in everything, otherwise she will 
never walk steadily in the way of perfection. As to 
Communion, she must not depend solely upon obedience; 
she must desire it, and ask for it. This divine food 
must be hungered after; Jesus Christ must be desired. 
It is frequent Communion that renders his spouses faith 
ful to Jesus Christ, especially in the preservation of holy 
purity. The Most Holy Sacrament preserves the soul 
in every virtue; and it appears that its most special 
effect is to preserve untouched the chastity of virgins, 
according to that of the prophet, who calls this sacra 
ment the corn of the elect, and wine springing forth vir 

3. The third means is, retirement and caution: As the 
lily amongst the thorns, so is my beloved amongst the daugh 
ters? For a virgin to think of remaining faithful to 
Jesus Christ amid the conversations, the jests, and 
other amusements of the world, is useless; it is neces 
sary that she preserve herself amid the thorns of absti- 

1 " Frumentum electorum et vinum germinans virgines." Zach. 
ix. 17. 

2 " Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic arnica mea inter filias." Cant. ii. 

And the Vocation to tJie Religious State. 483 

nence and mortification, by using not only the greatest 
modesty and reserve in speaking with men, but even 
all austerity and penitential exercises when necessary. 
Such are the thorns which preserve the lilies; I mean 
young maidens, who otherwise should soon be lost. 
The Lord calls the cheeks of his spouse as beautiful as 
those of the turtle: Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle 
dove s. 1 And why so? Because the turtle, by instinct, 
avoids the company of other birds, and always remains 
alone. That virgin, then, appears beautiful in the eyes 
of Jesus Christ who does all that she can to hide herself 
from the eyes of others. St. Jerome says that Jesus is a 
jealous spouse. 2 Hence he is much displeased when he 
sees a virgin dedicated to him endeavoring to appear be 
fore men to please them. Pious maidens endeavor to 
appear repulsive, that they may not attract men. The 
Venerable Sjster Catharine of Jesus, afterwards a Tere- 
sian nun, washed her face with the filthy water of tar, 
and then designedly exposed her face to the sun, that 
she might lose her complexion. St. Andregesina having, 
as we are told by Bollandus, been promised in marriage, 
prayed the Lord to deform her, and was heard, for she 
was immediately covered with a leprosy which caused 
every one to avoid her; and as soon as her suitor had 
ceased his offers, her former beauty was restored. It is 
related by James di Viatrico that there was a certain 
virgin in a convent whose eyes had inflamed a prince. 
The latter threatened to set fire to the monastery if she 
would not yield to him; but she plucked out her eyes and 
sent them to him in a basin, the bearer of which was 
instructed to say, " Here are the darts which have 
wounded your heart take them, and leave me my soul 
untouched." : The same author tells of St. Euphemia, 

1 " Pulchrae sunt genae tuae sicut turturis." Cant. \. 9. 

2 "Zelotypus est Jesus." Ep. ad Eust. 

3 Vita S. Ansb. 9 Febr. 

484 Choice of a State of Life, 

that, having been promised by her father to a certain 
count, who left no means untried to obtain her, she, in 
order to free herself from his addresses, cut off her nose 
and lips, saying to herself, "Vain beauty, you shall 
never be to me an occasion of sin !" St. Antoninus tells 
something similar (and his account is confirmed by 
Baronius) of the Abbess Ebba, who, fearing an invasion 
of the barbarians, cut off her nose and upper lip to the 
teeth; and that all the other nuns, to the number of 
thirty, following her example, did the same. The bar 
barians came, and seeing them so deformed, set fire to 
the monastery through rage and burned them alive; and 
hence the Church, as Baronius tells us, has enrolled them 
among her martyrs. This is not allowable for others to 
do; those saints did so by the especial impulse of the 
Holy Ghost. But it sufficiently well answers the pur 
pose of showing you what virgins who loved Jesus 
Christ have done to prevent men from seeking them. 
Devout virgins at present should at least move as 
modestly, and be seen as little as possible by men. 
Should it happen that a virgin should, by chance, and 
without any fault of hers, receive by violence any insult 
from men, be it known to you that after it she will re 
main as pure as before. St. Lucia made an answer of 
this kind to the tyrant who threatened to dishonor her. 
" If you do," she said, " and I be so treated against my 
will, my crown shall be double." It is the consent only 
that is hurtful; and know, moreover, that if a virgin be 
modest and reserved, men will have no inclination to 
interfere with her. 

4. The fourth means of preserving purity is the morti 
fication of the senses. St. Basil says, " A virgin should 
not be immodest in any respect, in tongue, ears, eyes, 
touch, and still less in mind." 1 A virgin, in order to 

1 " Nulla in parte moechari convenit virginem, non lingua, non aure, 
non oculo, non tactu, multoque minus animo." De vera Virg. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 485 

keep herself pure, must be modest in her speech, con 
versing seldom with men, and that only through neces 
sity, and in few words. Her ears must be pure, by not 
listening to worldly conversations. Her eyes must be 
pure, by being either closed, or fixed upon the earth in 
the presence of men. She must be pure in touch, using 
therein all possible caution, both as regards herself and 
others. She must be pure in spirit, by resisting all im 
modest thoughts, through the help of Jesus and Mary. 
And to this end, she must mortify herself with fasting, 
abstinence, and other penitential exercises; which things 
she must not practise without the consent of her confes 
sor, otherwise they should injure her soul by making 
her proud. Those acts of penance must not be made 
without the confessor s permission, but they must be de 
sired and sought for; for the confessor, if he does not 
see the penitent wishing for them, will not give them. 
Jesus is a spouse of blood, who espoused our souls upon 
the cross, whereon he shed all his blood for us. A bloody 
spouse art thou to me. 1 Therefore those spouses who love 
him, love tribulation, infirmity, sorrows, ill-treatment, 
and injuries; and receive them not only with patience, 
but with joy. Thus may we understand that passage 
which says that virgins follow the Lamb whithersoever He 
gocth^ They follow their spouse Jesus with joy and 
gladness whithersoever he goeth, even through sorrow 
and disgrace, as has been done by so many holy virgins, 
who have followed him to torments and to death, smil 
ing and rejoicing. 

5. Finally, Sisters, in order that you may obtain per 
severance in this holy life, you must recommend your 
selves often and much to Most Holy Mary, the Queen of 
Virgins. She is the mediatrix who negotiates those es 
pousals, and brings virgins to espouse her Son. After 

1 " Sponsus sanguinum tu mihi es." Exod. iv. 25. 

3 " Sequuntur Agnum quocumque ierit." Apoc. xiv. 4. 

486 Choice of a State of Life, 

her shall virgins be brought to the King. 1 It is she, in fine, 
who obtains fidelity for those chosen spouses; for, with 
out her assistance, they should be all unfaithful. 


Come on, then, you who intend to live no longer for 
the world, but for Jesus Christ alone. (I address myself 
to those who feel themselves called by that divine Spouse 
to consecrate themselves to his love.) I do not wish 
that you should make any vow this morning, or oblige 
yourselves at once to perpetual chastity. You should 
do that when God inspires you, and your confessor is 
willing. I only desire you by a simple act, and without 
any obligation, to thank Jesus Christ for having called 
you to his love; and to offer yourselves to him hencefor 
ward for your entire lives. Say then to him: 

O my Jesus, my God, and my Redeemer ! who hast 
died for me, compassionate me who burn to call myself 
Thy spouse. I burn, because I see that Thou hast called 
me to that honor; nor do I know how to thank Thee for 
that grace. I should now have been in hell; and Thou, 
instead of chastising me, hast called me to be Thy spouse. 
Yes, my spouse, I leave the world, I leave all through 
love of Thee, and give myself entirely to Thee. What 
world? what world do I speak of? My Jesus, hence 
forward Thou art to be my only good my only love. 
I see that Thou wishest to have my entire heart, and I 
wish to resign it entirely to Thee. Receive me in 
Thy mercy, and do not reject me as I have deserved that 
Thou shouldst. Forget all the offences that I have 
given Thee, of which I repent with my whole soul; would 
that I had died before offending Thee ! Pardon me; in 
flame me with Thy holy love, and give me Thy aid, in 
order that I may be faithful to Thee, and never leave 

1 " Adducentur Regi virgines post earn." Ps. xliv. 15. 

And the Vocation to the Religious State. 487 

Thee more. Thou, my spouse, hast given Thyself all 
to me. Behold ! I give myself entirely to Thee. Mary, 
my Queen and my Mother, chain my heart to that of 
Jesus Christ; and fasten both hearts so that they be never 
sundered more. 

I leave you now my blessing, in order that you may 
be so bound to Jesus Christ as never again to depart 
from him. Give your hearts now to Jesus Christ; say, 
Jesus, my spouse, henceforward I wish to love only Thee, 
and nothing else. 

488 Choice of a State of Life, 


Necessity of a Divine Vocation to take Holy Orders. 

To enter any state of life, a divine vocation is neces 
sary; for without such a vocation it is, if not impossible, 
at least most difficult to fulfil the obligations of our state, 
and obtain salvation. But if for all states a vocation is 
necessary, it is necessary in a particular manner for the 
ecclesiastical state. He that enter eth not by the door into the 
sheep/old, but dimbeth up another way, the same is a thief and 
a robber? Hence he who takes holy orders without a 
call from God is convicted of theft, in taking by force 
a dignity which God does not wish to bestow upon him. 2 
And before him St. Paul said the same thing: Neither 
doth any man take the honor to himself ", but he that is called by 
God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify Himself 
that He might be made a high priest; but he that said unto Him: 
Thou art My Son, this day I have begotten Thee? 

No one, then, however learned, prudent, and holy he 
may be, can thrust himself into the sanctuary unless he is 
first called and introduced by God. Jesus Christ him- 

1 " Qui non intrat per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascendit aliunde, 
ille fur est et latro." John, x. i. 

2 " Latrones et fures appellat eos qui se ultro, ad non sibi datam 
desuper gratiam, obtrudunt." In Jo. x. 10. 

3 " Nee quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo tam- 
quam Aaron. Sic et Christus non semetipsum clarificavit ut pon- 
tifex fieret; sed qui locutus est ad eum: Filius meus es tu." Heb. v. 
4, 5- 

* Selva, ch. 10. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 489 

self, who among all men was certainly the most learned 
and the most holy, full of grace and truth, 1 in whom are 
hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, 2 Jesus 
Christ, I say, required a divine call in order to assume 
the dignity of the priesthood. 

In entering the sanctuary, even after God himself had 
called them to it, the saints trembled. When his bishop 
ordered St. Augustine to receive ordination, the saint 
through humility regarded the command as a chastise 
ment of his sins. 3 To escape the priesthood St. Ephrem 
of Syria feigned madness; and St. Ambrose pretended 
to be a man of a cruel disposition. 

To avoid the priesthood, St. Ammonius the Monk cut 
off his ears, and threatened to pluck out his tongue, if 
the persons who pressed him to take holy orders should 
continue to molest him. In a word, St. Cyril of Alexan 
dria says, "The saints have dreaded the dignity of the 
priesthood as a burden of enormous weight."^ Can 
any one, then, says St. Cyprian, be so daring as to at 
tempt of himself, and without a divine call, to assume 
the priesthood ? 6 

As a vassal who would of himself take the office of 
minister should violate the authority of his sovereign, 
so he who intrudes himself into the sanctuary without a 
vocation violates the authority of God. How great 
should be the temerity of the subject who, without the 
appointment, and even in opposition to the will of the 
monarch, should attempt to administer the royal patri 
mony, to decide lawsuits, to command the army, and to 

1 " Plenum gratise et veritatis." John, i. 14. 

4 " In quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientise et scientiae absconditi."- 
Col. ii. 3. 

3 " Vis mihi factaest merito peccatorum meorum." Epist. 21, E. B. 

4 "Omnes sanctos reperio divini ministerii ingentem veluti molem 
formidantes." De Fest. pasch. horn. I. 

6 " Ita est aliquis sacrilegre temeritatis, ac perditse mentis, ut putet 
sine Dei judicio fieri sacerdotem ? Epist. 55. 

4QO Choice of a State of Life, 

assume the viceregal authority? " Among you," asks 
St. Bernard in speaking to clerics, " is there any one so 
insolent as, without orders and contrary to the will of 
the pettiest monarch, to assume the direction of his 
affairs ?" J And are not priests, as St. Prosper says, the 
administrators of the royal house ? 2 Are they not, accord 
ing to St. Ambrose, the "leaders and rectors of the flock 
of Christ?" 3 according to St. Chrysostom, the "inter 
preters of the divine judgments," 4 and according to St. 
Denis, the " vicars of Christ ?" Will any one who knows 
all this dare to become the minister of God without a 
divine call ? 

To think of exercising royal authority is, according to 
St. Peter Chrysologus, criminal in a subject. 6 To in 
trude into the house of a private individual, in order to 
dispose of his goods and to manage his business, would 
be considered temerity; for even a private individual has 
the right of appointing the administrators of his affairs. 
And will you, says St. Bernard, without being called or 
introduced by God, intrude into his house to take charge 
of his interests and to dispose of his goods ?" * 

The Council of Trent has declared that the Church 
regards not as her minister, but as a robber, the man 
who audaciously assumes the priesthood without a voca 
tion. 8 Such priests may labor and toil, but their labors 

1 "Auderetne aliquis vestrum terreni cujuslibet reguli, non prseci- 
piente aut etiam prohibente eo, occupare ministeria, negotia dispen- 
sare ?" De Conv. ad cler. c. 19. 

- " Dispensatores regise domus." De Vita cont. 1. 2, c. 2,. 

3 " Duces et rectores gregis Christi." De Dign. sac. c. 2. 

4 " Interpretes divinorum judiciorum." 

5 "Vicarii Christi." Horn. 17. 

6 " Regnum velle servum, crimen est." Serm. 23. 

7 "Quid istud temeritatis, imo quid insaniae est? tu irreverenter 
irruis, nee vocatus, nee introductus." De Vita cler. c. 5. 

8 " Decernit sancta Synodus eos qui ea (ministeria) propria temeri- 
tate sibi sumunt, omnes, non Ecclesise ministros, sed fures et latrones 
per ostium non ingressos habendos esse." Sess. 23, cap. 4. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 491 

shall profit them little before God. On the contrary, 
the works which are meritorious in others shall deserve 
chastisement for them. Should a servant who is com 
manded by his master to take care of the house, through 
his own caprice labor in cultivating the vineyard, he may 
toil and sweat, but instead of being rewarded he shall 
be chastised by his master. Thus, in the first place, be 
cause they are not conformable to the divine will, the 
Lord shall not accept the toils of the man who, without 
a vocation, intrudes himself into the priesthood. I have 
no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, of Hosts, and I will not re 
ceive a gift of your hand. 1 In the end God will not reward, 
but will punish the works of the priest who has entered 
the sanctuary without a vocation. What stranger soever 
cometh to it (the tabernacle), shall be slain? 

Whosoever, then, aspires to holy orders must, in the 
first place, carefully examine if his vocation is from God. 
" For," says St. John Chrysostom, " the more sublime 
the dignity, the more should one assure one s self of a 
divine vocation." Now to know whether his call is 
from God, he should examine the marks of a divine 
vocation. He, says St. Luke, who wishes to build a 
tower, first computes the necessary expenses, in order to 
know if he has the means of completing the edifice. 4 

Marks of a Divine Vocation to the Sacerdotal State. 

Let us now see what are the marks of a divine voca 
tion to the sacerdotal state. 

1 " Non est mihi voluntas in vobis, diqit Dominus exercituum, et 
munus non suscipiam de manu vestra." Mai. i. 10. 

2 Quisquis externorum accesserit (ad tabernaculum), occidetur." 
Num. i. 51. 

8 " Quoniam dignitas magna est, et revera divina sententiacompro- 
banda." In i Tim. horn. 5. 

4 " Quis enim ex vobis, volens turrim aedificare, non prius sedens 
computat sumptus qui necessarii sunt, si habeat ad perficiendum ?" 
Luke, xi. 28. 

49 2 Choice of a State of Life, 

Nobility is not a mark of a divine vocation. To know, 
says St. Jerome, whether a person should become the 
guide of the people in what regards their eternal salva 
tion, we must consider not nobility of blood, but sanc 
tity of life. 1 "When God wishes to raise any one to a 
dignity, he regulates his choice according to the sanctity 
of life, and not according to the titles of nobility." 2 

Nor is the will of parents a mark of a divine vocation. 
In inducing a child to take priesthood, they seek not his 
spiritual welfare, but their own interest, and the advance 
ment of the family. " How many mothers," says St. John 
Chrysostom, or the author of The Imperfect Work, have 
eyes only for the bodies of their children and disdain 
their souls ! To see them happy here below is all that 
they desire ; as for the punishments that perhaps their 
children are to endure in the next life, they do not 
even think of them." : Oh, how many priests shall we 
see condemned on the day of judgment for having taken 
holy orders to please their relatives ! 

Neither nobility of birth, nor the will of parents, is 
a mark of a vocation to the priesthood; nor is talent or 
fitness for the offices of a priest a sign of vocation; for 
along with talent, a holy life and a divine call are neces 
sary. What, then, are the marks of a divine vocation to 
the ecclesiastical state ? 


The first is a good intention. It is necessary to enter 
the sanctuary by the door; but there is no other door 

1 " Principatum in populos, non sanguini deferendum, sed vitae." 
In Tit. i. 

2 " Quos dignos divina probet electio secundum vitae, non generis, 

" Matres corpora natorum amant, animas contemnunt; deside- 
rant illos valere in saeculo isto, et non curant quid sint passuri in 
alio." Horn. 35. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 493 

than Jesus Christ: I am the door of the sheep. . . . By me, 
if any man enter m, he shall be saved. 1 To enter, then, by 
the door, is to become a priest not to please relatives, 
nor to advance the family, nor for the sake of self- 
interest or self-esteem, but to serve God, to propagate 
his glory, and to save souls. " If any one," says a wise 
theologian, the learned continuator of Tournely, "pre 
sents himself for Holy Orders without any vicious affec 
tion and with the sole desire to be employed in the 
service of God and in the salvation of his neighbor, he, 
we may believe, is called by God. " 2 Another author 
asserts that he who is impelled by ambition, interest, or 
a motive of his own glory, is called not by God, but by 
the devil. 3 "But," adds St. Anselm, "he who enters 
the priesthood through so unworthy motives shall re 
ceive not a blessing, but a malediction, from God." 4 


The second mark is the talent and learning necessary 
for the fulfilment of the duties of a priest. Priests must 
be masters to teach the people the law of God. For the 
lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the 
law at his mouth? Sidonius Apollinarius used to say, 
" Ignorant physicians are the cause of many deaths." 

1 "Ego sum ostium ovium. . . . Per me si quis introierit, salvabi- 
tur." John, x. 7. 

2 "Si enim aliquis, liber ab omni vitioso affectu, ad clerum, Deo 
deserviendi causa et salutis populi gratia solum, se conferat, vocari a 
Deo prrcsumitur." De Ord. q. 4, a. 4. 

3 " A;nbitione duceris, vel avaritia? inhias honori ? Non te vocat 
Deus, sed diabolus tentat." Hall. p. i, s. 3, c. 2, 4. 

4 " Qui enim se ingerit, et propriam gloriam quaerit, gratiae Dei rapi- 
nam facit; et ideo non accipit benedictionem sed maledictionem."- 
In Heb. 5. 

5 " Labia enim sacerdotis custodient scientiam, et legem requirent 
ex ore ejus." Rial. ii. 7. 

6 " Medici parum docti multos occidunt." Lib. 2, ep. 12. 

494 Choice of a State of Life, 

An ignorant priest, particularly a confessor, who teaches 
false doctrines and gives bad counsels, will be the ruin 
of many souls; because, in consequence of being a priest, 
his errors are easily believed. Hence, Ivone Carnoten- 
sis has written: "No one should be admitted to Holy 
Orders unless he has given sufficient proofs of good 
conduct and learning." 

A priest must not only have a competent knowledge 
of all the rubrics necessary for the celebration of Mass, 
but must be also acquainted with the principal things 
which regard the sacrament of penance. It is true, 
every priest is not obliged to hear confessions, unless 
there is great necessity for his assistance in the district 
in which he lives; however, every priest is bound to be 
acquainted with what a priest must ordinarily know in 
order to be able to hear the confessions of dying persons; 
that is, he is bound to know when he has faculties to 
absolve, when and how he ought to give absolution to 
the sick, whether conditionally or absolutely; what 
obligation he ought to impose on them if they are under 
any censure. He should also know at least the general 
principles of moral theology. 


The third mark of an ecclesiastical vocation is positive 

Hence, in the first place, the person who is to be or 
dained should be a man of innocent life, and should 
not be contaminated by sins. The Apostle requires that 
they who are to be ordained priests should be free from 
every crime. 2 In ancient times, a person who had com- 

1 " Nulli ad sacros Ordines sunt promovendi nisi quos vita et doc- 
trina idoneos probat." 

2 " Et constituas per civitates pres-byteros, sicut et ego disposui 
tibi: si quis sine crimine est, etc." Tit. i. 5. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 495 

mitted a single mortal sin could never be ordained, as 
we learn from the First Council of Nice. 1 And St. 
Jerome says that it was not enough for a person to be 
free from sin at the time of his ordination, but that it 
was, moreover, necessary that he should not have fallen 
into mortal sin since the time of his baptism. 2 It is true 
that this rigorous discipline has ceased in the Church, 
but it has been always at least required that he who had 
fallen into grievous sins should purify his conscience 
for a considerable time before his ordination. This we 
may infer from a letter to the Archbishop of Rheims, in 
which Alexander III. commanded that a deacon who had 
wounded another deacon, if he sincerely repented of his 
sin, might, after being absolved, and after performing 
the penance enjoined, be permitted again to exercise his 
order; and that if he afterwards led a perfect life, he 
might be promoted to priesthood. 3 He, then, who finds 
himself bound by a habit of any vice cannot take any 
Holy Order without incurring the guilt of mortal sin. 
" I am horrified," says St. Bernard, 4 " when I think 
whence thou comest, whither thou goest, and what a 
short penance thou hast put between thy sins and thy 
ordination. However, it is indispensable that thou do 
not undertake to purify the conscience of others before 
thou purifiest thy own." Of those daring sinners who, 
though full of bad habits, take priesthood, an ancient 
author, Gildas, says, " It is not to the priesthood that 

1 " Qui confessi sunt peccata, canon (ecclesiasticus ordo) non 
admittit." Can. 9. 

2 "Ex eo tempore quo in Christo renatus est, nulla peccati consci- 
entia remordeatur." In 7V/. I. 

" Et si perfectae vitae et conversaticnis fuerit, eum in presbyterum 
(poteris) ordinare." Cap. I De diacono. Qui cler. 

4 "Horreo considerans unde, quo vocaris, praesertim cum nullum 
intercurrerit poenitentise tempus. Et quidem rectus ordo requirit ut 
prius propriam, deinde alienas curare studeas conscientias." Epist. 8. 

49 6 Choice of a State of Life, 

they should be admitted, but to the pillory." 1 They, 
then, says St. Isidore, who are still subject to the habit 
of any sin should not be promoted to Holy Orders. 2 

But he who intends to ascend the altar must not only 
be free from sin, but must have also begun to walk in 
the path of perfection, and have acquired a habit of vir 
tue. In our Moral Theology? we have shown in a dis 
tinct dissertation (and this is the common opinion) that 
if a person in the habit of any vice wish to be ordained, 
it is not enough for him to have the dispositions neces 
sary for the sacrament of penance, but that he must also 
have the dispositions required for receiving the sacra 
ment of Holy Orders; otherwise he is unfit for both: 
and should he receive absolution with the intention of 
taking Orders without the necessary dispositions, he, 
and the confessor who absolves him, will be guilty of a 
grievous sin. For it is not enough for those who wish 
to take Holy Orders to have got out of the state of sin; 
they must also, according to the words of Alexander 
III. 4 cited in the preceding paragraph have the true 
positive virtue necessary for the ecclesiastical state. 
From the words of the pontiff we learn that a person 
who has done penance may exercise an order already 
received, but he who has only done penance cannot take 
a higher order. The Angelic Doctor teaches the same 
doctrine: "Sanctity is required for the reception of 
Holy Orders, and we must place the sublime burden of 
the priesthood only upon walls already dried by sanctity; 
that is, freed from the malignant humor of sin." This 

1 " Multo digniores erant ad catastam poenalem, quam ad sacerdo- 
tium trahi." Cast, in Eccl. onL 

2 " Non sunt promovendi ad regimen Ecclesiae, qui adhuc vitiis 
subjacent." Sent. 1. 3, c. 34. 

3 L. 6, n. 63 et s. 

4 "Si perfectse vitse est et conversationis fuerit." 

5 " Ordines sacri prseexigunt sanctitatem; unde pondus Ordinum 
imponendum est parietibus jam per sanctitatem desiccatis, id est 
ab humore vitiorum." 2. 2. q. 189, a. i. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 497 

is conformable to what St. Denis wrote long before: 
" Let no one be so bold as to propose himself to others 
as their guide in the things of God, if he has not first, 
with all his power, transformed himself into God to the 
point of perfect resemblance to him." For this St. 
Thomas adduces two reasons: the first is, that as he who 
takes orders is raised above seculars in dignity, so he 
should be superior to them in sanctity. 51 The second 
reason is, that by his ordination a priest is appointed to 
exercise the most sublime ministry on the altar, for which 
greater sanctity is required tha n for the religious state. 3 
Hence the Apostle forbade Timothy to ordain neo 
phytes; that is, according to St. Thomas, neophytes in 
perfection as well as neophytes in age. 4 Hence the 
Council of Trent, in reference to the words of Scripture, 
And a spotless life in old age? prescribes to the bishops to 
admit to ordination only those who show themselves 
worthy by a conduct full of wise maturity. 6 And of this 
positive virtue, it is necessary, according to St. Thomas, 
to have not a doubtful but a certain knowledge. 7 This, 

1 " In divino omni non audendum aliis ducem fieri, nisi secundum 
omnem habitum suum factus sit deiformissimus et Deo simillimus." 
-De Eccl. Hier. c. 3. 

2 "Ad idoneam executionem Ordinum, non sufficit bonitas qua- 
liscumque, sed requiritur bonitas excellens, ut, sicut illi, qui Ordinem 
suscipiunt, super plebem constituuntur gradu Ordinis, ita et superi- 
ores sint merito sanctitatis; et ideo praeexigitur gratia quae sufficiat 
ad hoc quod digne connumerentur in plebe Christi." Suppl.<\. 35, a. I. 

3 " Quia per sacrum Ordinem aliquis deputatur ad dignissima 
ministeria, quibus ipsi Christo servitur in Sacramento altaris; ad 
quod requiritur major sanctitas interior, quam requirat etiam religi- 
onis status." 2. 2.. q. 184, a. 8. 

4 " Qui non solum aetate neophyti, sed et qui neophyti sunt perfec- 

6 " ^Etas senectutis, vita immaculata." Wisd. iv. 9. 

6 " Sciant episcopi debere ad hos (sacros) Ordines assumi dignos 
duntaxat, et quorum probata vita senectus sit." Sess. 23, cap. 12. 

1 " Sed etiam habeatur certitude de qualitate promovendorum." 
Suppl. q. 36, a. 4. 

498 Choice of a State of Life, 

according to St. Gregory, is particularly necessary with 
regard to the virtue of chastity. 1 With regard to chas 
tity the Holy Pontiff required a proof of many years. 2 


To what Dangers one exposes one s self by entering Holy 
Orders without a Vocation. 

From what has been said, it follows that he who takes 
Holy Orders without the marks of a vocation cannot be 
excused from the guilt of grievous sin. This is the doc 
trine of many theologians, of Habert, of Natalis Alex 
ander, and of the continuator of Tournely. And before 
them St. Augustine taught the same. Speaking of the 
chastisement inflicted on Core, Dathan, and Abiron, who, 
without being called, attempted to exercise the sacerdotal 
functions, the holy Doctor said: "God struck them that 
they might serve as an example, and thus to warn off 
him who would dare to assume a sacred charge. Indeed, 
this is the chastisement reserved for those who would 
thrust themselves into the office of bishop, priest, or 
cleacon." 3 And the reason is, first, because he who 
thrusts himself into the sanctuary without a divine call 
cannot be excused from grievous presumption; secondly, 
because he will be deprived of the congruous and abun 
dant helps without which, as Habert writes, he will be 
absolutely unable to comply with the obligations of his 
state, 4 but will fulfil them only with very great difficulty. 

1 "Nullus debet ad ministerium altaris accedere, nisi cujus castitas 
ante susceptum ministerium fuerit approbata/ Lib. I, ep. 42. 

2 " Ne unquam ii qui ordinati sunt, pereant, prius aspiciatur si vita 
eorum continens ab annis plurimis fuit." Lib. 3, ep. 26. 

3 " Condemnati sunt ut daretur exemplum, ne quis non sibi a Deo 
datum munus pontificatus invaderet. . . . Hoc patientur quicumque 
se in episcopatus, aut presbyteratus, aut diaconatus, officium conantur 
ingerere." Serm. 30, E. B. app. 

4 " Non sine magnis difficultatibus poterit saluti suae consulere." 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 499 

He will be like a dislocated member, which can be used 
only with difficulty, and which causes deformity. 1 

Hence Bishop Abelly writes: " He who of himself, 
without inquiring whether he has a vocation or not, 
thrusts himself into the priesthood will no doubt expose 
himself to the great danger of losing his soul; for he 
commits against the Holy Spirit that sin for which, as 
the Gospel says, there is hardly or very rarely any par 
don." 2 

The Lord has declared that his wrath is provoked 
against those who wish to rule in his Church without 
being called by him. On this passage St. Gregory says, 
" It is by themselves and not by the will of the Supreme 
Head that they reign." : Divine vocation is entirely 
wanting to them, and they have followed only the ardor 
of vile cupidity, not certainly to accept, but to usurp this 
sublime dignity. 4 How many intrigues, adulations, en 
treaties, and other means, do certain persons employ in 
order to procure ordination, not in obedience to the call 
of God, but through earthly motives ? But woe to such 
men, says the Lord by the prophet Isaias: Woe to you, 
apostate children, . . . that you would take counsel, and not of 
me? On the day of judgment they shall claim a reward, 

1 " Manebitque in corpore Ecclesiae velut membrum in corpora 
humano suis sedibus motum, quod servire potest, sed segre admodum 
et cum deformitate." De Ord. p. 3, c. I, 2. 

" 2 " Qui sciens et volens, nulla divinae vocationis habita ratione, sese 
in sacerdotium intruderet, baud dubie seipsum in apertissimum 
salutis discrimen injiceret, peccando scilicet in Spiritum Sanctum, 
quod quidem peccatum vix aut rarissime dimitti ex Evangelic disci- 
mus/ Sac. chr. p. i, c. 4. 

3 " Ipsi regnaverunt, et non ex me . . . , iratus est furor meus in 
eos." Os. viii. 4. 

4 " Ex se, et non ex arbitrio summi Rectoris, regnant: nequaquam 
divinitus vocati, sed sua cupidine accensi, culmen regiminis rapiunt 
potius quam assequuntur." Past. p. I, c. I. 

5 "Vaefilii desertores, dicit Dominus, ut faceretis consilium, et non 
ex me !" Isa. xxx. I. 

500 Choice of a State of Life, 

but Jesus Christ shall cast them off. Many will say to Me 
in that day, have we not prophesied in Thy name (by preach 
ing and teaching), and cast out devils in Thy name (by 
absolving penitent sinners), and done many miracles in Thy 
name (by correcting the wicked, by settling disputes, by 
converting sinners). And then will I profess unto them: 
I never knew you; depart from me, you that work iniquity? 
Priests who have not been called are indeed workmen 
and ministers of God, because they have received the 
sacerdotal character; but they are ministers of iniquity 
and rapine, because they have of their own will, and 
without vocation, intruded themselves into the sheep- 
fold. They have not, as St. Bernard says, 2 received the 
keys, but have taken them by force. They toil, but God 
will not accept; he will, on the contrary, punish their 
works and labors, because they have not entered the 
sanctuary by the straight path. The labor of fools shall 
afflict them that know not how to go to the city. 3 The 
Church, says St. Leo, receives only those whom the Lord 
chooses, and by his election makes fit to be his minis 
ters. 4 But, on the other hand, the Church rejects those 
whom, as St. Peter Damian has written, God has not 
called; for instead of promoting her welfare, they com 
mit havoc among her members; and instead of edifying, 
they contaminate and destroy her children. 5 

1 " Multi dicent mihi in ilia die. Domine, Domine, nonne in 
nomine tuo prophetavimus (praedicando, docendo), et in nomine tuo 
daemonia ejecimus (absolvendo poenitentes), et in nomine tuo vir- 
tutes multas fecimus (corrigendo, lites componendo, errantes redu- 
cendo) ? Et tune confitebor illis: Quia nunquam novi vos: discedite 
a me, qui operamini iniquitatem." Matt. vii. 22. 

2 " Tollitis, non accipitis claves; de quibus Dominus queritur: Ipsi 
regnaverunt, et non ex me. " De Conv. ad cler. c. 19. 

3 " Labor stultorum affliget eos, qui nesciunt in urbem pergere." 
Eccles. x. 15. 

4 " Eos Ecclesia accipit, quos Spiritus Sanctus praeparavit, . . . et 
dignatio coelestis gratiae gignit." In die ass. suce, s. 2. 

5 "Nemo deterius Ecclesiam laedit." Cont. cler. aul. c. 3, 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 501 

Whom He (the Lord) shall choose, they shall approach to 
Him. 1 God will gladly admit into his presence all whom 
he has called to the priesthood, and will cast off the 
priest whom he has not chosen. 2 St. Ephrem regards 
as lost the man who is so daring as to take the order of 
priesthood without a vocation. And Peter de Blois has 
written: "What ruin does not prepare for himself the 
bold man who of the sacrifice makes a sacrilege, and of 
life an instrument of death." ! He who errs in his voca 
tion exposes himself to greater danger than if he trans 
gressed particular precepts; for if he violates a particular 
command, he may rise from his fault, and begin again to 
walk in the right path; but he who errs in his vocation 
mistakes the way itself. Hence the longer he travels in 
it, the more distant he is from his home. To him we 
may justly apply the words of St. Augustine: " You run 
well, but the wrong road." 4 

It is necessary to be persuaded of the truth of what 
St. Gregory says, that our eternal salvation depends 
principally on embracing the state to which God has 
called us. & The reason is evident; for it is God that 
destines, according to the order of his providence, his 
state of life for each individual, and, according to the 
state to which he calls him, prepares for him abundant 
graces and suitable helps. " In the distribution of his 
graces," says St. Cyprian, " the Holy Spirit takes into 
consideration his own plan and not our caprices." 8 And 

1 "Quos elegerit (Dominus), appropinquabunt ei." Num. xvi. 5. 

2 " Obstupesco ad ea quae soliti sunt quidam insipientium audere, 
qui tern ere se conantur ingerere ad munus sacerdotii assumendum; 
licet non adsciti a gratia Christi; ignorantes, miseri, quod ignem et 
mortem sibi accumulant." Or. de sacerd. 

3 "Quam perditus est, qui sacrificium in sacrilegium, qui vitam 
convertit in mortem !" Epist. 123. 

4 " Bene curris, sed extra viam." 

5 " A vocatione pendet reternitas." 

"Ordine suo, non nostro arbitrio, Sancti Spiritus virtus minis- 
tratur." De Sing. cler. 

502 Choice of a State of Life, 

according to the Apostle: And whom He predestinated; 
them He also called. And whom He called, them He also 
justified. 1 Thus to vocation succeeds justification, and 
to justification, glory; that is, the attainment of eternal 
life. He, then, who does not obey the call of God, shall 
neither be justified nor glorified. Father Granada justly 
said that vocation is the main wheel of our entire life. 
As in a clock, if the main wheel be spoiled, the entire 
clock is injured, so, says St. Gregory Nazianzen, if a 
person err in his vocation, his whole life will be full of 
errors; for in the state to which God has not called him, 
he will be deprived of the helps by which he can with 
facility lead a good life. 

Every one, says St. Paul, hath his proper gift from God; 
one after this manner, and another after that? The mean 
ing of this passage, according to St. Thomas and other 
commentators, is, that the Lord gives to each one graces 
to fulfil with ease the obligations of the state to which 
he calls him. "God," says the Angelic Doctor, "gives 
to every man not only certain aptitudes, but also all that 
is necessary to exercise them." 1 And in another place 
he writes: " God does not destine men to such or such a 
vocation without favoring them with gifts at the same 
time, and preparing them in such a way as to render 
them capable of fulfilling the duties of their vocation; 
for says St. Paul: Our sufficiency is from God, who also 
hath made us fit ministers of the New Testament* As 
each person, then, will be able to discharge with fa- 

1 " Quos praedestinavit, hos et vocavit; et quos vocavit, hos et jus- 
tificavit; quos autem justificavit, illos et glorificavit." Rom. viii. 30. 

2 " Unusquisque proprium donum habet ex Deo: alius quidem sic, 
alius vero sic." I Cor. vii. 7. 

3 " Cuicumque datur potentia aliqua divinitus, dantur etiam ea per 
qufle executio illius potentiae possit congrue fieri." Suppl. q. 35, a. I. 

4 " Illos quos Deus ad aliquid eligit, ita praeparat et disponit, ut 
ad id ad quod eliguntur, inveniantur idonei, secundum illud: Idoneos 
nos fecit ministros Novi Testamenti " (2 Cor. iii. 5). P. 3, q. 27, a. 4. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 503 

cility the office to which God elects him, so he will be 
unfit for the fulfilment of the office to which God does 
not call him. The foot which is given to enable us to 
walk cannot see; the eye, which is given to see is in 
capable of hearing; and how shall he who is not chosen 
by God to the priesthood be able to discharge its 
obligations ? 

It belongs to the Lord to choose the workmen who 
are to cultivate his vineyard: I have chosen you . . . and 
have appointed you that you should go, and should bring forth 
fruit, 1 Hence the Redeemer 1 did not say, Beg of men to 
go and gather the harvest; but he tells us to ask the 
master of the crop to send workmen to collect it. 2 Hence 
he also said, As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you* 
When God calls, he himself, says St. Leo, gives the neces 
sary helps. 4 This is what Jesus Christ has said: / am 
the door. By Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and 
he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures? " He shall 
go in:" G what the priest called by God undertakes, he 
shall easily accomplish without sin, and with merit. 
And shall go out . 1 he shall be in the midst of perils and 
occasions of sin, but with the divine aid he shall readily 
escape injury. And shall find pastures:* finally, in conse 
quence of being in the state in which God has placed 
him, he will be assisted in all the duties of his ministry 

1 "Ego elegi vos, et posui vos, ut eatis et fructum afferatis."- 
John, xv. 16. 

2 " Rogate ergo dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem 
suam." Luke, x. 2. 

3 "Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos." John, xx. 21. 

4 " Qui mihi honoris est auctor, ipse mini fiet administrationum 
adjutor; dabit virtutem, qui contulit dignitatem." In die ass. su<r, s. i. 

6 " Ego sum ostium. Per me si quis introierit, salvabitur; et in- 
gredietur, et egredietur, et pascua inveniet." John, x. 9. 

6 " Ingredietur." 

7 " Et egredietur." 

8 " Et pascua inveniet." 

504 Choice of a State of Life, 

by special graces, which will make him advance in per 
fection. Hence he will be able to say with confidence, 
The Lord ruleth me: and 1 shall want nothing. He hath set 
me in a place of pasture. 1 

But priests whom God has not sent to work in his 
Church, he shall abandon to eternal ignominy and de 
struction. / did not send prophets, says the Lord by the 
prophet Jeremiah, yet they ran. He afterwards adds: 
Therefore I will take you away, carrying you, and will for 
sake you . . . and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon 
you, and a perpetual shame which shall never be forgotten? 

In order to be raised to the sublimity of the priest 
hood, it is necessary, as St. Thomas says, for a man " to 
be exalted and elevated by divine power above the 
natural order of things," 8 because he is appointed the 
sanctifier of the people, and the vicar of Jesus Christ. 
But in him who raises himself to so great a dignity shall 
be verified the words of the Wise Man: There is that hath 
appeared a fool after he was lifted up on high.* Had he re 
mained in the world, he should perhaps have been a 
virtuous layman; but having become a priest without a 
vocation, he will be a bad priest, and instead of promot 
ing the interest of religion, he will do great injury to the 
Church. Of such priests the Roman Catechism says: 
" Such ministers are for the Church of God the gravest 
embarrassment and the most terrible scourge." And 

1 "Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit; in loco pascuae ibi me 
collocavit." Ps. xxii. I. 

2 "Non mittebam prophetas, et ipsi currebant. Propterea ecce 
ego tollam vos portans, et derelinquam vos ... ; et dabo vos in op 
probrium sempiternum, et in ignominiam aeternam, quae nunquam 
oblivione delebitur." Jer. xxiii. 21-39. 

3 " Ut divina virtute evehatur, et transmittatur supra naturalem re- 
rum ordinem." Apud Hab. de Ord. p. 3, c. i, 2. 

4 " Stultus apparuit, postquam elevatus est in sublime." Prov. 
xxx. 32. 

6 " Hujusmodi hominum genere nihil infelicius, nihil Ecclesiae Dei 
calamitosius esse potest." P. 2, c. 7, q. 3. 

And the Vocation to the Priesthood. 505 

what good can be expected from the priest who has 
entered the sanctuary without a vocation? "It is im 
possible." says St. Leo, " that a work so badly begun 
should finish well." St. Laurence Justinian has writ 
ten: "What fruit, I ask, can come from a corrupted 
root ?" 2 Our Saviour has said, Every plant which my 
heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 3 Hence 
Peter de Blois writes that when God permits a person 
to be ordained without a vocation, the permission is not 
a grace but a chastisement. For a tree which has not 
taken deep root, when exposed to the tempest, shall soon 
fall and be cast into the fire. 4 And St. Bernard says 
that he who has not lawfully entered the sanctuary shall 
continue to be unfaithful ; and instead of procuring the 
salvation of souls, he shall be the cause of their death 
and perdition. 5 This is conformable to the doctrine of 
Jesus Christ: He that entereth not by the door into the sheep- 
fold, . . . the same is a thief and a robber? 

Some may say, if they only were admitted to orders 
who have the marks of vocation which have been laid 
down as indispensable, there should be but few priests 
in the Church, and the people should be left without the 
necessary helps. But to this the Fourth Council of 
Lateran has answered: "It is much better to confer the 

1 " Difficile est ut bono peragantur exitu, quae malo sunt inchoata 
principio." Epist, 87. 

2 " Qualem, oro, potest fructum producere corrupta radix?" De 

3 "Omnis plantatio, quam non plantavit Pater meus ccelestis, 
eradicabitur." Matt. xv. 13. 

4 " Ira est, non gratia, cum quis ponitur super ventum, nullas 
habens radices in soliditate virtutum." De inst. ep. c. 3. 

5 " Qui non fideliter introivit, quidni infideliter agat et contra 
Christum? faciet ad quod venit, ut mactet utique et disperdat." De 
Vita cler. c. 7. 

6 " Qui non intrat per ostium . . . , ille fur est et latro. Fur non 
venit nisi ut furetur, qt mactet, et perdat." John, x. i-io. 

506 Choice of a State of Life. 

priesthood on a small number of virtuous clerics than to 
have a large number of bad priests." 1 And St. Thomas 
says that God never abandons his Church so as to leave 
her in want of fit ministers to provide for the necessity 
of the people. 2 St. Leo justly says that to provide for 
the wants of the people by bad priests would be not to 
save but to destroy them. 1 

1 " Satius est maxime in ordinatione sacerdotum paucos bonos 
quam multos malos habere." Cap. 27. 

2 "Deus nunquam ita deserit Ecclesiam suam, quin inveniantur 
idonei ministri sufficientes ad necessitatemplebis." Suppl. q. 36, a. 4. 

3 " Non est hoc consulere populis, sed nocere." Epist. 87. 

Appendix. 507 



We collect and briefly indicate in this Appendix the princi 
pal means by which one may easily arrive at the knowledge of 
God s designs relatively to the state of life that one should em 


It is, above all, of the highest importance that the heart be 
free from sin ; the Lord loves to communicate himself to those 
who have a pure heart : Blessed are the clean of heart ; for they 
shall see God. 1 


Let your conduct be well regulated. For this purpose, see 
the Rule of Life which St. Alphonsus offers you, 8 and try to fol 
low it faithfully. 


Look upon the affair of choosing a state of life, in accord 
ance with the will of God, as a matter of your greatest concern, 
since on the choice that you make depends your eternal salva 


Have a good intention and a sincere desire to know and to 
do the will of God, whatever it may be. It is, therefore, neces 
sary that you hold yourself entirely detached and in a pious 
indifference in regard to all the states of life, in order not to 
put any obstacle in the way of the movements of grace, as you 
have seen above, page 299, n. I, 2, and 3. 

1 Matt. v. 8. * Vol. i., at the end. 

508 Appendix. 


Carefully avoid dissipation; at least, retire into the solitude 
of your heart, after the example of St. Catharine of Sienna, al 
ways remembering that God is near you, and that he wishes to 
speak to your heart. You will understand his voice the more 
quickly and the more distinctly, the less you communicate with 
the world. 


St. Alphonsus explains to you at length, in the letter quoted 
above (see page 285), the utility of a retreat. If it is not in your 
power to make it, either at home or in some religious house, 
where you may find all that you require for this purpose, try to 
supply its place by leading a retired life, and by frequently med 
itating on the Last Things. Nothing is more apt to enlighten 
you and to keep you in a good disposition. 


In your doubts consult a wise director, who, as the represen 
tative of God, may instruct you and guide you in a safe manner. 


Let the grace of knowing your vocation and of faithfully cor 
responding to it be the only, or at least the principal, object 
that you have in view in all your exercises of piety, in your 
meditations, Communions, prayer, mortifications, and all your 
good works. 


Ordinarily, the Lord does not delay to enlighten those who 
have recourse to him, especially in behalf of a cause so holy 
and so agreeable to his heart. If, however, he would leave you 
in uncertainty for a time more or less long, to try your fidelity, 
to purify you more, or to strengthen you and raise you to a very 
high perfection, take care not to relax in anything; humbly 
resign yourself, and wait with confidence and in peace for the 
break of day ; for your Heavenly Father will surely hear you 
and your perseverance will not fail to be crowned with success. 

Appendix. 509 


While waiting for the Lord to enlighten you, do not be less 
faithful in fulfilling all your duties in the condition of life in 
which his divine Providence has placed you. It would be a 
great fault to neglect your actual duties in the expectation of a 
change ; God would withdraw his hand, instead of stretching it 
forth to aid you. 


In general, the following are the principal signs of a true 
vocation: * 

1. A GOOD INTENTION; that is, the intention to embrace such 
a state only to please God and to arrive more surely at the 
haven of salvation. 

2. THE INCLINATION and THE APTITUDE to exercise the 
duties proper to this state. 

3. THE KNOWLEDGE of the duties that this state imposes, 
and the FIRM WILL to fulfil them till the end. 

4. THAT THERE is NO GRAVE IMPEDIMENT, such as the great 
poverty in which one might leave one s father or one s mother. 

5. THE FAVORABLE ADVICE of a wise director. ED. 


Sighs of Love to Jesus Christ. 


World, thou art no more for me ; 
World, I am no more for thee ; 
All affections, dear or sweet, 
All are laid at Jesus feet. 

He has so enamoured me 
Of his heavenly charity, 
That no earthly goods inspire 
Aught of love or vain desire. 

Jesus, Love, be Thou my own ; 
Thee I long for, Thee alone ; 
All myself I give to Thee, 
Do whate er Thou wilt with me. 

Life without Thy love would be 
Death, O Sovereign Good ! to me. 
Bound and held by Thy dear chains, 
Captive now my heart remains. 

O my Life ! my soul from Thee 
Can henceforth no longer flee ; 
By Thy loving arrows slain, 
Now Thy prey it must remain. 

If ungrateful worms like me 

Merit not the love of Thee, 

Thou, sweet Lord, hast well deserved 

To be ever loved and served. 

Then, O God, my heart inflame ; 
Give that love which Thou dost claim ; 
Payment I will ask for none, 
Love demands but love alone. 

God of Beauty, Lord of Light ! 
Thy good will is my delight ; 
Now henceforth Thy will divine 
Ever shall in all be mine. 

Come, O Jesus, I implore, 
Pierce Thy heart, tis mine no more ; 
Kindle in my breast Thy fire, 
That of love I may expire. 

Ah ! my Spouse, I love but Thee ; 
Thou my Love shall ever be. 
Thee I love ; I love and sigh 
For Thy love one day to die. 



ACTS, to be made every day, 356. 
AGNES, St., martyr, 468. 
ANGADREME, St., 483. 
ARIDITIES, spiritual. See Dryness. 


CANAANITISH WOMAN, her prayer, 85. 

CATHARINE OF JESUS. Venerable Sister, 483. 

CHASTITY, means to preserve it, 32, 481. 

CHILDREN who die without baptism, if they have to suffer, 129. 

COMFORTS of life, we must be detached from them to enter religion, 

COMMANDMENTS of God, one cannot observe them without prayer, 
28 ; why God commands us to do things above our strength, 
31 ; he gives to all the grace necessary for the observance of 
the commandments, 133, 214. 

CONFESSORS, the obligation they are under of recommending prayer, 
19. One should choose a director and obey him, 355, 482, 485. 

CONFIDENCE in God, condition of prayer, excellence and necessity of 
this virtue, 78; foundation of our confidence, 83. Prayer to 
obtain confidence in the merits of Jesus Christ and in the in 
tercession of Mary, 243. 

CONSOLATIONS, spiritual, we should not seek them in mental prayer, 


DEATH, it reveals the vanity of the goods of this world, 311, 470. 
Death of the just, 338, of the religious, 420. Prayer to obtain 

512 Index. 

a good death, 371. Protestation for a happy death, 373. We 

should desire death, 339, 362. 
DELECTATION, victorious, according to Jansenius, 163 ; according to 

St. Augustine, 176. 

DESIRE of sanctifying one s self, how necessary it is, 440. 
DETACHMENT necessary in order to enter religion, 402. 
DIFFIDENCE in ourselves, a necessary virtue, 74. 
DISTRACTIONS in prayer, 281. 

DOMITILLA, St., 468. 

DRYNESS in prayer, 266, 282. 

EBBE, St., and her religious, martyrs, 484. 

END, last, we must often meditate on it, 253, 267. 

ETERNITY, this life is a journey to eternity, 317. 

EUPHEMIA, St., means that she employed to escape marriage, 483. 

EXERCISES, spiritual. See Retreat. 


GEORGIA, virgin, apparition of doves at her death, 474. 

GOD is pleased when we pray to him, 52 ; when we ask much of him, 
58 ; he is always ready to hear us, 56, in regard to what is useful 
for salvation, 63 ; he is pleased when we have confidence in him, 
78 ; he hears also the prayers of sinners, 87 ; he wishes the 
salvation of all men, 106 ; he gives them the necessary graces, 
133 ; we must not abuse his mercy, 326 ; we should meditate 
upon his perfections and his benefits, 267. 

GRACE, its necessity, 24 ; it is either truly sufficient, or intrinsically 
efficacious, 237. God gives to all men the graces necessary for 
salvation, 133, at least the grace of being able to pray, 201. 
Prayer to obtain the graces necessary for salvation, 245. 


HEAVEN, and glory of the religious in paradise, 428. 
HELL, remorse of the Christian in hell, 345 ; for having lost the re 
ligious vocation, 426. Prayer to obtain the grace to preserve it, 

369, 371. 

HOPE of salvation, its merit and its grounds, 129, 229. 
HUMILITY, condition of prayer, 72 ; how necessary this virtue is to 

a religious, 454. 

Index. 513 


JANSENIUS, exposition and confutation of his system, 161, 184. 

JESUS CHRIST died to save all men, 121 ; he gained for us more than 
we lost by the sin of Adam, 122 ; love that we owe him, 349, 
443; prayer to obtain this love, 242 ; we ought to meditate often 
on the Passion, 268. Happiness of religious to live with Jesus, 
446 ; their life is similar to his, 448. 

JUDGMENT, particular, 340 ; general, 344 ; account that he is to give 
who does not follow the religious vocation, 424. 


LIBERTY of man, definition, 168 ; its necessity for merit and demerit, 

172, 180. 
LIFE, present, is a journey to eternity, 317 ; rules to lead a good life, 

355, 360. 
LOVE, divine, its excellence, 279 ; how dear to God is a soul that 

gives itself entirely to him, 437 ; the love that we owe to him, 

443 ; utility of acts of love, 277. 


MARRIAGE should be counselled only in a case of necessity, 466 ; 
trials and dangers of married women, 471, 477. 

MARY, Mother of God, her power, 44 ; her esteem for virginity, 476 ; 
she loves and protects virgins, 485 ; confidence that religious 
ought to have in her protection, 457. Prayers to Mary, 251 ; 
consecration to Mary, 372. 

MARY MAGDALENE de Pazzi, St., her zeal for the salvation of sinners, 

MARTYRDOM, how one obtains the merit thereof, 278. 

MAXIMS, spiritual for a Christian, 358. 

MEDITATION, or mental prayer, treatise on, 252 ; definition, 266 ; 
necessity, 61, 252, 258, 397 ; ends, 263 ; we ought not to seek 
in it spiritual consolation, 266 ; principal subjects of medita 
tion, 267, 397 ; meditation for a retreat, 305 ; place suitable for 
meditation, 268, 481 ; the time adapted for it, 270 ; manner 
of making it, 273 ; distractions and aridities, 281 ; grades of 
supernatural prayer, how to conduct one s self in regard to it, 
77, 278. 

MEEKNESS, how necessary for a religious, 

MERCY, divine, we should not abuse it, 326. 

MORTIFICATION, necessary to preserve purity, 484. 

514 Index. 


ORDERS, holy. See Priesthood. 

ORINGA de Valderno, Blessed, her flight, 395. 


PARENTS, to keep hidden from them what regards the religious voca 
tion, and in what one is not obliged to obey them, 30,1 ; one 
must be detached from them in order to enter religion, 403. 

PERFECTION, summary of the virtues to be practised in order to lead 
a good life, 361 ; to sanctify one s self how necessary it is to 
have a great desire for sanctity, 440. See Prayer, Mental 
Prayer, Vocation. 

PERSEVERANCE, final, and persever-ance in prayer, 94 ; prayers to ob 
tain it, 241, 368, 370. 

PETER, St., his presumption, 72. 

PETER d Alcantara, St., fled from his mother s house, 395. 

PREACHERS, their obligation of recommending prayer, 19, 240. 

PRAYER, definition, 21 ; necessity, 19, 23 ; power, 50 ; conditions, 
65 ; object, 69 ; God gives to all men the grace of prayer if 
they wish it, 201 ; the prayer of sinners, 87 ; can we pray for 
others ? 266 ; we should pray for sinners, 67 ; we should re 
peat in meditation petitions to God, 279 ; to pray is better than 
to meditate, 61 ; duty of preachers and of confessors, 19, 140 ; 
devout practices, 241, 367. 

PURGATORY, whether it is good to invoke souls that are confined 
there, 37 ; it is our duty to help them, 37 ; what we gain in 
helping them, 40 ; we should recommend them in our medita 
tions, 276. 

PRIESTHOOD, necessity of a divine vocation to take holy orders, 488, 
498 ; marks of this vocation, 491. 


RECOLLECTION, necessary to preserve the divine vocation, 398 ; vir 
ginal purity, 482. 

RELIGION, or the religious state. See Vocation. 

RESOLUTIONS to be made in meditation, 280. 

RETREAT, spiritual, utility of exercises of, 285, 303 ; in what they 
consist, 288 ; manner of making them, 303, 375 ; meditations 
for a retreat, 305, 377 ; various practices, 355. 

SACRAMENT, 361, 482. 

Index. 5 1 5 

SAINTS, whether it is necessary to invoke them, 41 ; the Church can 
not be deceived in the canonization of saints, 41. 

SALVATION, its importance, meditations, 305 ; how it is assured in 
the religious state, 418. 

SANCTITY. See Perfection. 

SECRECY, necessary in order to preserve religious vocation, 391. 

SELF-ESTEEM, one must become detached from it in order to enter 
religion, 406. 

SIN, mortal, its malice, 324 ; venial sins, 328, 329. Prayer to obtain 
the pardon of our sins, 370. 

SINNERS, whether their prayers are heard, 87 ; we must pray for them, 
67, 280, 451 ; God gives then; all the graces necessary to be 
converted, 133 ; obstinate or hardened sinners, and the aban 
donment of them by God, 142. 

STANISLAUS, St., made his escape in order to follow his vocation, 395. 

STATE of life. See Vocation. 


TEMPTATIONS, of what benefit they can be to us, 70 ; it is impossible 
to resist them without prayer, 28 ; power of prayer against 
temptations, 52, 412 ; invocation of Mary in time of tempta 
tion, hymn, 251 ; recourse to superiors, 414. 

TEPIDITY, the evil that it causes religious, 434. 

TIME, we must profit by it, 322. 


VIRTUE, epitome of the virtues that one ought to exercise in order 
to lead a perfect life, 360 ; prayer to obtain them, 367. 

VINCENT, St., de Paul, visits his family, 405. 

VIRGINITY, its excellence, 468, 474 ; means to preserve virginal purity, 
32, 481 ; it is not necessary to enter the convent in order to 
preserve virginity, 480. 

VOCATION, divine, means to know it, 298, 506 ; necessity of following 
it, 381 ; vocation to the religious state, misery to which one 
exposes one s self if one does not correspond to it, 383, 461; 
we must follow it without delay, 386 ; means to preserve it, 
391 ; requisite dispositions for entering religion, 399, 416 ; 
trials which one ought to expect in the religious life, 412 ; con 
siderations for persons called to the religious state, 418 ; one 
should avoid entering a relaxed community, 399, 467, 473 ; vo 
cation to Holy Orders. See Priesthood. 

Vow, it is good frequently to renew the vows that one has made, 280. 

5 1 6 Index. 


WILL of God, antecedent and consequent, 112. Self-will, we must be 

rid of it in order to enter religion, 406. 
WILL, free. See Liberty. 
WORLD, vanity of earthly things, 315, 470 ; folly of worldlings, 319, 

470 ; the worldling at the approach of death, 331. 

Liguori, A.M. 

Complete ascetical works