Prayer, The Rosary, And Salvation

We cannot, strictly speaking, merit Salvation. Strictly speaking, we cannot and do not merit anything at all. Whatever we have, God has given us. Whatever we attain, God has preordained that we should be given the grace to do so. This applies to absolutely everything we do, up to the last consequences and our eternal destiny. God has, in His Justice, preordained from all eternity whether we will be saved or damned, whether we are elects or reprobates. This brutal truth is a mainstay – nay, it is the foundation – of Catholic theology. If it were not so, God would depend on our decisions and would, therefore, not be Omnipotent.

I can, of myself, merit exactly nothing. What I do is merely collaborate with God's grace; and even this collaboration is, in fact, nothing more than God's grace: an unmerited gift.

The human mind being very limited, and unable to fathom how in God infinite Justice and infinite Mercy meet, the statement above appears rather scary. It is, in fact, not pleasant to realise that God has already decided, out of all eternity, whether I will be saved or damned. What I can know with certainty is that I am given sufficient grace to collaborate with God's will and – in this strict sense – “merit” Salvation. What I do not know is whether I will persevere in making use of it. I don't know; God not only knows, and He Has decreed what the final outcome shall be.

Now, whilst I try to cultivate the virtue of hope – which is, like everybody else, a gift; I for myself could not have any hope, but God gives it to me -, the uncomfortable thought unavoidably remains: could it be that God has already decreed that I will waste the sufficient grace given to me and deserve to be punished with hell? This fear must, I would add, remain, then otherwise we would be thinking like those Protestant and rosewater Catholics sure of their salvation – and thus, gravely sinning – because they love the polar bear cub or say good morning to their neighbours or are best buddies with Christ (you talk to some Prodfies, you wonder whether they thought they just met Him for breakfast). A healthy Catholic soul is healthily optimistic about his salvation, but healthily scared of hell, too. A just God will judge everyone with perfect Justice. Good and scary thought, uh?

At this point, God gives us – in His Mercy – an ace to be played in the game of salvation: prayer.

Prayer is the antidote to the poison of our sinfulness. It is the passepartout allowing us to base our hope in something we actually do. I choose to pray, and whilst doing so I am aware that it is God's grace that prompted me to pray. But I am still collaborating with His grace.

Prayer is the key that opens the door of God's Mercy. Sinful as I am, I do not need to be terrified that my damnation might already have been decreed, I do not need to be (overly) afraid that I will not make use of God's sufficient grace and waste the possibility of salvation; I do not, because I pray, thus collaborating with God in opening a path for me in which mercy will supply what justice cannot give.

This is why a prayerful attitude is a very good sign of predestination. It is the evidence, in our daily life, that we are collaborating with God in such a way that we can be very reasonably, very robustly confident that His Mercy will supply that in which we are, by justice, deficient.

I do not know whether I am one of the elect. But I know that I pray the Rosary every day. That is a fact, a certainty, a solid base for my future, the plaster of my way to Purgatory. My healthy fear of hell is, then, reduced to this: a prompt to pray the Rosary every day. Blessed, blessed fear!

The Rosary is the queen of all prayers. No prayer is as safe, as reassuring as the Rosary. Catholic tradition has attached such devotion to the Apparitions about the Rosary and the promises concerning those who pray it, that it is not reasonable – much less smart – to doubt the ones or the others.

Wretched sinner as I am, I know that God's Mercy has opened for me a path to Purgatory; a path following which I can be very confident to, one day, “merit” Purgatory – which, sub specie aeternitatis , simply means that I hopefully will, one day, realise that God preordained and decreed, out of all eternity, that it should infallibly be so – .

Yes, I am still scared of hell. It is good that I should be, lest I neglect prayer and, little by little, abandon the practice of the daily Rosary. The fear of hell is the guard rail that keeps me on the path.

Prayer is the way I live life everyday, confidently hoping that God's Mercy will supply what I, by justice, should not obtain.

What a beautiful thing, prayer. What a wonderful thing, the Rosary.

Pray the Rosary every day as devoutly as you can.

Your path to salvation is right there, in front of you, now.

M

 

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Posted on October 16, 2017, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Thank you from today I will pray the rosary for Family life and World Peace and justice.

  2. Beautifully said, Mundy. Yes, what a gift the prayer of the rosary is…and what a gift to have such a Mother as Mary to love and pray to:+) God bless~

  3. I agree with everything you said, and coincidentially it’s the same reason that prompted me to pray every day, and for another coincidence i’m Italian like you. 😅

    Just one thing: you don’t have, strictly speaking, to pray only in order to obtain Purgatory.

    I’m telling you this for two reasons:

    1) the Handbook of Indulgences #28 states: “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence. In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way”;

    2) we have another very important devotion, the fifteen prayers of Saint Bridget http://www.marypages.com/BrigittaEnglish.htm a devotion with which our Lord granted us many promises, and not only for us but even for our loved ones.

    I just wanted to point out that if you persevere in prayer in order to obtain contrition for your sins and to obtain and holy death, you can hope, by the Grace of God, for more than Purgatory.

    • It never ceases to amaze me how some people are not happy with Purgatory.
      Tell me where to sign and let me die now, this instant, to obtain it.
      This idea that heaven is so easily obtained is a VII concept. In the end, God will allow straight access to paradise only to a limited number of saints. This is why we must pray for the dead, all of them, even those we knew most saintly.

  4. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ:
    As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.
    Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will:
    Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son.
    In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1,3-7)

  5. @Mundabor

    Of course i agree, what i was trying to show is that God grants us, through the Church and some devotions, the graces needed to avoid Purgatory.

    It’s not my interpretation, i’ve just quoted the sources. And I’m far from being a Vatican Second Catholic, believe me.

    • Beautiful, but hat has traditionally been believed is that only very few manage to go straight to heaven. It’s not done with “some prayers ” and an extreme unction.

  6. Of course Mundabor, but that’s because many don’t pray enough, and if they don’t pray enough they can’t expect to receive the Grace of perfect contrition, which along with confession sends you straight to Heaven.

    So i agree that most of the saved have to endure Purgatory after death, but i think that the fact that they don’t make treasure of God’s gifts plays a big part in that.

    If you ask from God the gift of salvation and perfect contrition i think He will give it to you, expecially if you take in account the promises He made to Saint Bridget and what the Church herself promises in the apostolic pardon.

    The thing is that many don’t believe it, and they don’t take advantage of this, they pray less frequentely than they should and that result in many mortal sins and when they manage, by the grace of God, to be saved, a long Purgatory.

    • Perfect contrition does not send straight to heaven. Perfect contrition only washes away the sin.
      In order to get straight to heaven one needs a valid plenary indulgence or a very saintly life.
      Purgatory is the common destiny of the elect not because they are doing it wrong, but because God providentially want it so. God does not say “I am sorry my dear, I would want to give you heaven straight, but you did not ask and therefore you’ll have to suffer in purgatory”. This would make God dependent on man’s lack of optimism.
      On the contrary, every soul who lands in purgatory does so because this is the perfect, providential order of things.
      This is a very salutary thought for us, so that we can, mindful of our (hoped for) destination, pray for the dead every day.
      M

  7. If you think about it, nobody can have perfect contrition if not for the Grace of God. If you ask for it in prayer, i think that God will not refrain from giving that gift to you, and perfect contrition erases all the “debts” you have with Divine Justice, as was always taught by the Church.

    My point was this: let’s not be afraid to ask God this gift, for God is very generous .

    Let me quote from this site http://www.willingshepherds.org/Heaven%20Hell%20Etc.html

    “The Fifth Means of avoiding Purgatory is asking God for this grace. Some wise Catholics have a really great, if simple secret, which is well worth learning and using for our own benefit. God promises us in the most solemn and deliberate way (and He cannot fail to do what He promises) that He will give us everything we ask in prayer, if it is good for us. Now two conditions, especially, make prayer infallible, namely perseverance and faith. God cannot refuse such a prayer. These Catholics we speak of pray expressly every day of their lives that
    God will free them from Purgatory. In every single prayer they say, in every Mass they hear, in every good act they perform, they have the express intention of asking God first of all and with all their hearts to deliver them from Purgatory. How? That is for God to decide.
    It is not easy to see how God can possibly refuse such constant, unceasing prayer. The fact that such prayers are said daily and many times in the day, for 20, 30, 50 years, shows that they are said with undoubting faith and magnificent perseverance. We exhort all our readers to adopt this practice. The more they know and think on Purgatory, the more fervently will they make this prayer”

    And i would like to point out that even Saint Therese of Lisieux believed that we can and should believe that we don’t have “necessarily” to go to Purgatory. http://carmelphoenix.blogspot.it/2012/11/st-thereses-teaching-on-purgatory.html

    Allow me to quote her

    “Once St. Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sr. Marie Febronia, who not only was sixty-seven years old but also was sub-prioress. She had heard that St. Therese encouraged the novices to believe that they could go straight to heaven. She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and thus she reproached St Therese. St Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sr. Febronia her point of view but with no success as Sr. Febronia clung to belief. For St. Therese God was more Father than Judge, and she took the liberty offinally responding, “My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from God exactly what she desires.”

    Mind you that i appreciate very much your attitude, because you have not presumption, but asking Grace from God with perseverance is not presumption. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, because we recognize that without His efficacious Grace we would go straight to hell for our sins, and rightly so.

    So let’s not be afraid to ask from God the Grace to be saved and to receive perfect contrition.

    I hope i wasn’t too prolix, if i was I’m sorry.

    • The first example is the contrary of what you had said before, as it deals with a soul who prays continuously, and therefore a very prayerful soul. This is very different from “having prayed at some point”.

      As to the second, it is very obvious that the sub-prioress was right and the saint was, if taken literally, very wrong. To just say that “the soul will receive from God exactly what she desires” smacks of Medjugorje. The soul will receive from God exactly what she deserves according to God’s ineffable judgment that is just and merciful at the same time. What the soul wishes is neither here nor there.

      Pay much attention not to have Catholic belief watered down or even disfigured by quotes taken here and there, from this or that saint. They are easily quoted out of context and they were, of course, not infallible.

      In your example, God is generous with those who show that they love him in deed and in prayer. If we stray from that we end up with the “heart in the right place” thinking, which I suspect has already sent countless people to hell.

  8. “The first example is the contrary of what you had said before, as it deals with a soul who prays continuously, and therefore a very prayerful soul. This is very different from “having prayed at some point”.”

    Actually i have always intended that continuos prayer is necessary, I’ve never tought that if you
    pray “sometimes” you could obtain such a wondrous gift. Anyway, the first example clarifies my
    point, that is, if you pray constantly to obtain that Grace that means that God is working in
    and with you, and that’s a good sign.

    “As to the second, it is very obvious that the sub-prioress was right and the saint was, if taken literally, very wrong. To just say that “the soul will receive from God exactly what she desires” smacks of Medjugorje. The soul will receive from God exactly what she deserves according to God’s ineffable judgment that is just and merciful at the same time. What the soul wishes is neither here nor there.”

    Actually, from a thomistic point of view, Saint Therese was right, because if you pray to obtain
    a Grace you pray because you wish it (see the first example made about praying everyday in
    order to obtain salvation and avoid Purgatory). But you wished it in the first place because God
    had inspired you with His Efficacious Grace to do so, and you prayed for the same reason.
    Of course God didn’t take away your free will, but Efficacious Grace makes sure that you freely want to do what God has decreed from all eternity.

    So in this sense it’s true that you will receive exactly what you desire.

    • Short answers please.
      No, it is not as you say.
      I can wish to be the Emperor of China, it does not mean that God wants me to become it.

      Your first message explicitly mentions prayer “at some point” as meriting heaven, this point I have corrected.

      When you clean the reasoning from this idea that some prayer, at some point, may be enough to save one, we are exactly at the point that informed my first post.

      I see in you (and not only in you) a worrying tendency to circle around simple truths until they become something different from what Catholics have always believed.

      Most elects go through Purgatory.
      This is why we pray for them.
      Salvation is serious work.
      To desire salvation is nowhere near to get it.
      We must all be reasonably scared of hell.
      A lot of people go to hell.

  9. “Your first message explicitly mentions prayer “at some point” as meriting heaven, this point I have corrected”

    My first message says, reporting the handbook of indulgences

    “In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way”.

    As you can see it mentions regular prayer.

    I always meant perseverant prayer.

    ” When you clean the reasoning from this idea that some prayer, at some point, may be enough to save one, we are exactly at the point that informed my first post.”

    But I’ve never tought that. I really meant perseverant prayer, not some prayer at some point.

    What i mean is that perseverant prayer gives you the Grace of observing the Commandments and contrition for sins, and in the end final repentance.

    It has to be perseverant, though, otherwise…

    “I can wish to be the Emperor of China, it does not mean that God wants me to become it.”

    Wishing to become the Emperor of China is very different from wishing salvation and praying in order to obtain it.

    You mentioned in your post that praying everyday is a sign of predestination, and why? Because you wouldn’t do that if God didn’t inspire you to do that with his efficacious Grace.

    There has been a misunderstanding about the “some prayers at some point” but i hope it has been cleared.

    Thank you for your answers.

  10. Misunderstanding aside, what i think it’s exactly what was taught by Garrigou Lagrange here http://www.catholictradition.org/Tradition/efficacious-grace.htm

    I quote him, if you don’t mind

    “Lastly, this doctrine reminds us that even for prayer efficacious grace is necessary[…]
    Moreover, every humble, confident, persevering prayer by which we ask what is necessary or useful for our salvation is infallibly efficacious, because our Lord uttered such a promise and because God Himself caused this petition to well up in our hearts. Resolved from all eternity to grant us His benefactions, He leads us to ask them of Him. ”

    That’s what i was trying to say with my imperfect english, nothing more nothing less.

    Returning to your example, desiring to become the emperor of Chin doesn’t require efficacious Grace, on the other han desiring salvation, and praying in order to obtain it, does require efficacious Grace.

    Of course it has to be perseverant and humble, but that was already clear.

    • This is absolutely correct. Notice how garrigou-lagrange talks of “humble, confident, persevering prayer”. This is the prayer of a person whose life is informed by Catholicism, not the prayer of a “casual” earthling who, on rare occasions, uttered some prayer in the midst of a life of unrepentant sin.

      I have insisted so much on this point because every concept of easy salvation, “heart in the right place” and such rubbish is utter poison.

      My two blog posts about prayer were inspired by my rereasing durign the weekend of parts of a wonderful book of that same Garrigou-Lagrange, “Providence”. No idea whether a translation is available in Italian but I think you will, with some effort perhaps (not the easiest of readings), master it.

      Garrigou-Lagrange is a true cannon.

      M

    • The problem here would the guy who goes on sinning without nay qualm but hey, not only desires salvation but probably even thinks it is due to him because “God is lurv”. I don’t know in Italy, but this is so much your average son of the churchgoer here in England that every hint of this must be – as i did – corrected.

      A very strong streak of V II is exactly this: salvation because you love the cuddly bear cub and think Jesus is a great buddy of yours whilst you go on tattooing, fornicating, “supporting” the “gays”, or even aborting.

      I kid you not. It’s the reality up here.

      M

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