“… keeping alive the thought of God’s presence consists in beholding God within our very selves. It is not necessary to ascend to Heaven to find the Lord God; we need only to recollect ourselves, and we shall find Him within us. He who, at prayer, pictures the Lord at a great distance from him is preparing for himself a source of abundant distractions.
St. Teresa says: “I never really knew what it meant to pray well until the Lord Himself taught me the proper way to converse with Him. I entered within my very self and found this practice exceedingly profitable for my soul.” God is within us in a different manner from what He is in other creatures; in us He dwells as the Lord in His temple and in His house.
“Know you not,” says St. Paul, “that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). And our Divine Saviour Himself has said: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with”
St. Alphonsus Liguori. “The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation” (p. 164). Saint Benedict Press and TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
St. Alphonsus Liguori was born in 1696 to Neapolitan nobility at Marianella, Italy. He became a recognizable lawyer after going through law school at the age of sixteen, but later decided to leave law in favor of giving his salvation more attention. Alphonsus joined the Oratory of St. Philip Neri as a seminarian and was ordained in 1726, when he was thirty.
The homilies he gave had the special ability of converting those who had fallen away from the faith. He also founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and authored such works as The Glories of Mary, The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Attaining Salvation, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Preparation for Death Abridged, What Will Hell Be Like?, The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation, and The Way of the Cross.
After being a bishop for over a decade, St. Alphonsus Liguori died on the first of August, 1787. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. His feast is celebrated on August 1.
“The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation” is a concise, easy to read little book available on Kindle for $5.00, and this is one of the easiest reading and understanding spiritual books I have ever read. Perhaps if I had found this in my teens I would never have left the church but who knows … we encounter these things when we are ready and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are easy to ignore if we are busy loving ourselves to death … and we really are “loving ourselves to death” aren’t we?
Here is a bit more from that lovely little book:
“We ought always to pray and not to faint.” —Luke 18:1 According to the teaching of the angelic St. Thomas, the worship of God takes the first place in the order of moral virtues; it is occupied more with God and leads us nearer to Him than the others. For every Christian, therefore, who is striving after perfection it must be a matter of no little concern to make this virtue his own in the highest degree.
Now the easiest means of doing so, a means that we can employ at all times and in all places, is found in prayer. Whether it be the prayer of praise or thanksgiving or impenetration or propitiation, we are worshipping God, for every prayer is a humble acknowledgment of the greatness or goodness or fidelity or mercy of God. Vocal prayer, or prayer pronounced by the lips, is very pleasing to God because by it the endless Majesty of God is acknowledged and glorified.
“The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me,” says the Lord by the mouth of the prophet David, “and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God.” (Ps. 49:23).
Liguori, St. Alphonsus. The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation (p. 167). Saint Benedict Press and TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
QUALITIES OF VOCAL PRAYER: In order, however, that vocal prayer may tend to God’s glory and our own salvation, it must be accompanied by attention and devotion. Not only the pronouncing of the words, says St. Gregory, but also the devotion of the heart is required for true prayer; for in the eyes of God, our sentiments are of greater worth than the sound of our voice. If we wish, therefore, to please God we must pray not only with the lips, but also with the heart. How could the Lord, continues the same Saint, hear the prayers of him who knows not what he wants, and does not even wish to be heard?
How can you expect the Lord to hear you when you cannot hear yourself? says St. Cyprian. Prayer made with attention and devotion is like sweet-smelling incense that is agreeable to God and wins for us treasures of graces. On the other hand, prayer without recollection is insulting and offensive to God and calls down His wrath on the offender. If a subject came into the presence of his sovereign, and while petitioning some favor, gazed about and occupied himself with irrelevant matters in such wise that he scarcely knew what he was saying, would not that sovereign be justly offended?
For this reason St. Thomas teaches that he who permits his mind to wander about during prayer cannot be excused from sin, because by such conduct he seems to be guilty of contempt of God. The Lord might well say of many Christians what He once said of the Jews: “They honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me.” (Matt. 15:8). It is easy to understand why the devil is so intent upon turning our thoughts towards worldly affairs during prayer. On the one hand, he desires to rob us of the benefit we derive from fervent prayer; and on the other he wishes to make us guilty of disrespect towards God, and therefore, deserving of punishment.
Liguori, St. Alphonsus. The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation (pp. 168-169). Saint Benedict Press and TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
The angels that St. John the Evangelist saw held golden vials of incense and odors which were the prayers of the Saints. (Apoc. 5:8). In a word, think before prayer that you are going to converse with God and to treat with Him about some very important affairs. Then the Lord will look upon you with a gracious eye and turn an attentive ear to your petitions. Offer Him beforehand the prayers you intend to say, and beg Him to preserve you from distractions.
During prayer, avoid haste. Many people, when praying, seem to be intent only on reaching the end of their prayers, as if it were a torture that must be endured, but during the shortest possible time. Such irreverent haste can hardly be pleasing to God or profitable to ourselves. “Zeal and fervor,” says St. Augustine, “gradually cool off and, like a fire, become extinct unless they are kept alive.” Endeavor from time to time to renew your attention while at your prayers and devotions.
Liguori, St. Alphonsus. The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation (pp. 169-170). Saint Benedict Press and TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
That’s enough for now, Cheers and GOD bless you all