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Dear Father Angelo,

I would like to know if, ultimately, it is always true what St. Alphonsus Maria De Liguori once affirmed: “He who prays is certain to be saved; while he who prays not is certain to be damned”.

Thank you for your kind attention. I await your response within a time of your convenience.

I will remember you in my prayers.

Answer from the priest

Dear friend,

1. Since the goal of the Christian life is to possess God, as our Lord said when he said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3), it goes without saying that this goal cannot be attained unless we are united with Him.

Just as it is necessary to move in order to go to a certain place, so also for our possession of God.

In our case, it is not a question of bodily movement, even if for certain acts of worship, such as going to Mass, this is also required, but of acts of the mind and of our affection.

St. Gregory the Great says that people in this world approach God  by their steps, or their acts of love (gressibus amoris).

2.  This is not impossible for anyone.  Even a paralytic can accomplish this interior movement of his own soul.  Saint Augustine is right when he says:  “ God therefore does not command impossibilities;  but in His command He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do” (On Nature and Grace,  Book II, chapter 50).

3. Praying, however, before being an obligation ( only those who are far away from the Lord perceive prayer as an obligation), it is a necessity of our soul.  Saint Benedict, in his The rule, says that “ the prayer is alway necessary for the health of the soul just like breathing is for the life of the body”.  Breathing is a forced action only to those who are in a life threatening condition.  Therefore, they are helped with oxygen or even with mouth to mouth respiration. 

4.  Only the dead do not feel the need to breathe.  Likewise, you can tell that those who do not pray and do not feel the need to pray are spiritually dead, as a result, is worth mentioning what Saint Alphonsus De Liguori has written in that nice, little booklet titled   A short treatise on prayer: “ We end this point, concluding from what we have said so far, that those who pray are certainly saved, while those who do not pray are certainly damned” (A short treatise on prayer, 1, 1).

5. In his writing, Saint Alphonsus continues:  “All the blessed, except the children, saved themselves with the prayer.  All the damned were lost for not praying;  if they had prayed, they wouldn’t have been lost”.  And, this is, and will be, their greatest desperation in hell:  they could have been able to save themselves  easily, as it would have been asking God for his graces, and now, the miserables, no longer able to ask for it”(Ib).

6.  It is understood, therefore, why Pope John Paul II said that for those who pray little or pray badly, their faith is at risk.  Let’s imagine if one does not pray at all.

But, here are the precise words of the Saint Pontiff:  “But it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life.  Especially in the face of the many trials to which today’s world subjects faith, they would be not only mediocre Christians but “Christians at risk”.  They would run the insidious risk of seeing their faith progressively undermined, and would perhaps end up succumbing to the allure of “substitutes”, accepting alternative religious proposals and even indulging in far-fetched superstitions” (Novo millennio ineunte 34).

Wishing you to alway feel this love of the heart for Our Lord, I remember you in my prayers and I bless you.

Father Angelo