"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"

St Augustine

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."

St Albert the Great

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"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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St Alphonsus de Liguori  (1696 - 1787)


PRAYER - The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection (cont)


by St Alphonsus de Liguori

Part II: Which proves that the Grace of Prayer is given to all and which treats of the Ordinary Mode in which this Grace operates


Taking, then, for granted that prayer is necessary for the attainment of eternal life, as we have proved in Part I, chap. 1, 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 intelligence 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 preliminary 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.

Ch 1.  God wishes all men to be saved and therefore Christ died to save all men

1. 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." [Wisd. 11: 25] Now love cannot be idle: "All love has a force of its own, and cannot be idle," 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," says Aristotle. If, then, God loves all men, He must in consequence 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." [Rom. 6: 22]

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

1. Decision of the Church

With reason, therefore, were the predestinarians condemned, who, among their errors, taught 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 condemned, first in the Council of Arles, A.D. 475, which pronounced "anathema to him that said that Christ did not die for all men, and that He does not will all to be saved." [Anath. 6]

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." 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." [Art. 3, 4]

The same error was finally condemned in the 12th and 13th 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 logically 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 3: "but though He died for all, yet all do not receive the benefits of His death." [Sess. 6, c. 2-3] 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; that is the error which the Council intended to condemn when it said that our Saviour died for all.

Further, in chapter 6 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, trusting that God will be merciful to them through Christ." [Sess. 6, c. 6] 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-Pelagianism to say that Christ died or shed His Blood for all men." 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 proposition.