THE END DAYS


Means of Personal Salvation


CONTENTS:

  1. Prayer
    1. The necessity of prayer
    2. What is prayer?
    3. Conditions for infallibly obtaining what is asked
  2. Prayers of sinners
  3. Baptism
  4. Faith
  5. Summary of Salvation
  6. Go Back to The End Days Menu Index


The abbreviations for the Books of the Scripture are as follows: Corinthian: Cor., Daniel: Dan., Ecclesiasticus: Ecclus., Ezechiel: Ez., Hebrew: Heb., Isaias: Is., Matthew: Matt., Proverbs: Prov., Psalms: Ps., Thessalonians: Thess., Timothy: Tim.

I. Prayer

    The Necessity of Prayer

    The following are extracted and rearranged for this media from the treatise The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection by St. Alphonsus De Liguori and adapted for this media.It is available through Our Blessed Lady of Victory Mission, Inc.,R.R. #2, Box 25, Brookings, SD 57006-9307, U.S.A., 605-693-3983.

    1. 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"(Luke 18:1) "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."(Matt. 26:41) "Ask, and it shall be given you." (Matt. 7:7) The words "we ought," "pray," "ask," according to the general consent of theologians, impose the precept, and denote the necessity of prayer. prayer is the means without which we cannot obtain the help necessary for salvation.
    2. 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."(John 15:5) St. Augustine remarks on this passage, that our Lord did not say, "Without Me, ye can complete nothing", but "without Me, ye can do nothing;" 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."(2 Cor 3:5). If we cannot even think a good thing, much less can we wish it. The same thing is taught in many other passages of Scripture: "God worketh all in all. I will cause you to walk in My commandments, and to keep My judgments, and do them."(Ez. 36:27). So that, as St. Leo I says, "Man does no good thing, except that which God, by his grace, enables him to do," 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." (Session 6, canon 3)
    3. We believe that no one approaches to be saved, 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 ordinarily by God to the man that prays, who does not see that the consequence follows, that prayer is absolutely necessary to us for salvation?
    5. 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.
    6. Hence it is that the generality of theologians, following St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, St. Augustine, and other Fathers, teach that prayer is necessary 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 concupiscence to assail us from within, and the world and the devil to assail us from without" (P. 3, q. 39, a. 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 except he strive lawfully."(2 Tim. 2:5) But without the divine assistance we cannot resist the might of so many and so powerful enemies: now this assistance is only granted through prayer; therefore without prayer there is no salvation.
    7. We, in a word, are merely beggars, who have nothing but what God bestows on us as aIms: "But I am a beggar and poor." (Ps. 39:18) 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." This is declared in the words, "Seek and it shall be given to you."
    8. Whence it follows, says St. Teresa, that he who seeks not, does not receive. As moisture is necessary for the life of plants, to 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 vivifies the body: "As the body without the soul cannot live, so the soul without prayer is dead and emits an offensive odor." 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 without 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." All these comparisons used by the holy Fathers are intended by them to teach the absolute necessity of prayer for the salvation of everyone.

    What is prayer?

    Conditions for infallibly obtaining what is asked

    St. Thomas lists four of them: one should pray for oneself, one should pray for that which is necessary for salvation, one should pray piously, and that one should pray with perseverance.

    1. The reason that one must pray for oneself is that the granting of a divine grace always demands a subject who is properly disposed. For this reason, prayer for others is always inefficacious because we cannot be certain of the dispositions of the person for whom we pray. Nevertheless, praying for other is still infallibly efficacious if the person prayed for puts no impediment in the way. This is assured by St. James (5:16): "Pray one for another, that you may be saved; for the continual prayer of the just man availeth much."
    2. Since "God wills all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4), it is pleasing to Him when one prays for what is necessary for one's salvation. For instance, one can petition God to "give me only the necessaries of life" (Prov. 30:8), to save oneself, to prevent oneself from committing mortal sin, to perform some salutary act, or even the gift of final perseverance.
    3. To pray piously means we must pray with humility, confidence, attention, and petition in the name of Christ.
      1. HUMILITY-- The Lord does indeed regard the prayers of his servants, but only of his servants who are humble. "He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble." (Ps. 101:18). "A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." (Ps. 1:19) Others he does not regard, but rejects them: "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." (James 4:6) He does not hear the prayers of the proud who trust in their own strength; but for that reason leaves them to their own feebleness; and in this state deprived of God's aid, they must certainly perish. It is of faith, that without the aid of grace we cannot do any good work, nor even think good thought. "Without grace men do not good whatever, either in thought or in deed," say St Augustine. 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. 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 will be able to do all things: "The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds, and he will not depart until the Most High behold." (Ecclus 35:21).
      2. CONFIDENCE -- 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 wavering." (James 1:6) 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. God protects and saves all those who confide in Him: "He is the Protector of all that hope Him." (Ps. 17:31), "Thou who savest them that trust in Thee." (Ps. 16:7) God himself says: "Because he hoped in me I will deliver him; I will protect him; I will deliver him all I will glorify him." (Ps. 90:14) lsaias 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." (Is. 40:31) And when did it ever happen that a man had confidence in God and was lost? "No one bath hoped in the Lord and bath been confounded." ( Ecclus:2:11) David calls the man happy who trusts in God: "Blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee." (Ps. 83:13) 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."(Ps. 31:10) So that he shall be surrounded and guarded by God on every side in such a way that he shall be prevented from losing his soul.
      3. ATTENTION -- We should pray with attention, i.e. with concentration and focus of all our psychological energy on the prayer, on the meaning of prayer, or on God himself.
      4. PRAY IN THE NAME OF CHRIST -- Our Saviour swears to us: "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you." (John 16:23) ("Amen, amen, I say to you," which, according to St. Augustine, is a species of oath). What our Lord says amounts to: Go to My Father in My name, through My merits ask the favors which you want, and I promise and swear to you that what ever you ask, My Father will grant. O God, what greater comfort can a sinner have after his fall and to know for certain that all 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 no give them; because he sees that they would injure our soul. But so far as relates to spiritual goods, his promise to hear us is not conditional, 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. And how, says the Saint, can God ever deny us his grace than we to receive them! "He is more willing to be munificent of his benefits to thee than thou art desirous to receive them."
    4. One must pray with perseverance. 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 perseverance. Now, to this chain of graces here ought to correspond another chain (as it were) of our prayers if we, by neglecting to pray, break the chain of our prayers, the chain of graces will be broken too; and as it is by this that we have to obtain salvation, we shall not be saved. Fr. Suarez says that anyone who prays for final perseverance will infallibly obtain it. But it is not enough, says St. 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. The Lord repeated time and again the necessity of perseverance in prayer until we obtain what we ask. Recall the parable of the friend who came to beg for bread (Luke 11:5-13), of the evil judge and the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-5), the moving episode of the woman of Cana who insisted in spite of an apparent rebuff (Matt. 15:21-28), and the sublime example of Christ himself, who frequently spent the whole night in prayer and in Gethsemane prayed in great anguish to his heavenly Father (Luke 6:12; 22:44). "Watch ye therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:36) "Pray without intermission." (1 Thess. 5:17) To obtain perseverance we must always recommend ourselves to God morning and night, meditation, at Mass, at Holy 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 pit upon me!" Is there anything easier than to say Lord, help me, assist me! In the Gospel Jesus declares, "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." (Luke 11:9).

    Prayers of sinners

II. Baptism

Sections on Baptism and Faith are taken and adapted from "The Catechism of Perseverance" by Monsignor Gaume, imprimatured by Paulus Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop Dubliniensis; reprinted in Jesus Christ Catholic by K.E. Gillette with Ecclesiastical permission, Victory Publications, Arcadia, California.

III. Faith

III. Summary of Salvation

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Marian Cross

The End Days

"Who is like unto God?"

Created July 16, 1996.