Live Jesus, our love, and Mary, our hope! This work is excerpted from a larger work of Saint Alphonsus with the same name.
Author: Saint Ligouri
SOME persons asked me to write a book on the Eternal Maxims, for the use of those who desire to establish themselves in virtue and to advance in a spiritual life. Others requested me to prepare a collection of matter for the sermons of the missions and of the spiritual exercises. Not to multiply books, labor, and expense, I resolved to compose the work in the present form, with the hope that it might answer both purposes. To render it useful as a book of meditations for seculars, I have divided the considerations into three points. Each point will serve for one meditation, and therefore I have annexed to each point affections and prayers. I entreat my readers not to grow weary, if, in those prayers, they always find petitions for the grace of perseverance and of divine love. For us, these are the two graces most necessary for the attainment of eternal salvation. The grace of divine love is, according to St. Francis de Sales, the grace which contains in itself all graces: because the virtue of charity toward God brings with it all other virtues. Now all good things come to me together with her (Wisd. VII, II) He who loves God is humble, chaste, obedient, and mortified; in a word, he possesses all virtues. " Love," says St. Augustine, " and do what you wish" (Ama, et fac quod vis). They who love God labor to avoid whatever is offensive to him, and seek to please him in all things. The grace of perseverance is that grace by which we obtain the eternal crown. St. Bernard says that Paradise is promised to those who begin a good life, but is only given to those who persevere. " To beginners a reward is promised, but to him who perseveres it is given;." (De modo bene vivere, s. 6) But this gift of perseverance is, as the Fathers teach, given only to those who ask it. Hence St. Thomas asserts that to enter heaven continual prayer is necessary. And our Redeemer said: We ought always to pray, and not to faint. (Luke XIII, 1) It is because they do not pray for the gift of perseverance that so many miserable sinners, after having obtained pardon, lose again the grace of God. Their sins are forgiven; but because they afterward neglect to ask of God the grace of perseverance, particularly in the time of temptations, they relapse into sin. And although the grace of final perseverance is altogether gratuitous, and cannot be merited by good works; still Suarez teaches that it can be infallibly obtained by prayer: and according to St. Augustine, it may be merited by humble supplication.(De Dono persev. C. 6) This necessity of prayer I have demonstrated at length in another little work, entitled The Great Means of Prayer. This book, though small, has cost me a great deal of labor. I consider it to be 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. To render these considerations useful to preachers who have but few books or little time for reading, I have furnished these considerations with texts of Scripture and passages from the Fathers, which are short, but strong and animated, as they ought to be in sermons. The three points of each consideration will supply matter for one sermon. I have endeavored to collect from many authors the sentiments which appeared to me best suited to move the will, and have inserted several of them expressed briefly, that the reader may select and extend at pleasure those that please him most. May all tend to the glory of God! I pray my reader to recommend me to Jesus Christ, whether I am living or dead (Now that St. Alphonsus Liguori is a canonized Saint we ask for his intercession); and I promise to do the same for all those who perform this act of charity toward me. Live Jesus, our love, and Mary, our hope! This work is excerpted from a larger work of Saint Alphonsus with the same name.