Discover the profound reflections of Saint Alphonsus Liguori on the soul's yearning for heaven and the ultimate union with God. Attaining Salvation offers insights into our existence as exiles in this world, longing for our true home.

Sighs For Our Heavenly Home

We live as exiles in this world, longing for our native land: heaven. In this excerpt from Attaining Salvation, Saint Alphonsus Liguori reflects on the soul sighing for Paradise and the moment when we will be eternally united with God.

HAPPY is he who is saved and who, leaving this place of exile, enters into the heavenly Jerusalem, to enjoy that perfect day which shall be always day and always joyful, free from all cares and from all fear of ever losing that immense happiness.

The patriarch Jacob said: “The days of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years, few and evil.” (Genesis 47:9). The same may be said by us miserable pilgrims, while we remain on this earth, enduring the labors of our exile, distressed by temptations, harassed by passions, and afflicted by miseries and still more by the dangers to our eternal salvation. Seeing all this, we should reflect that this is not our home, but a land of exile where God detains us, in order that we may, by suffering, merit to enter one day into the happy country of Heaven.

Detachment From Earthly Things

And therefore, living detached from this earth, we ought always to sigh for Paradise saying: “When shall it be, O Lord, that I shall be delivered from so many anxieties and think of nothing but of loving Thee and praising Thee? When shall it be that Thou wilt be all to me in all things, as the Apostle writes: ‘That God may be all in all?’ (1 Corinthians 15:28). When shall

I enjoy that unchanging peace, free from all affliction and from all danger of being lost? When, O my God, shall I find myself swallowed up in Thee and behold Thine infinite beauty, face to face and without veil? When, in a word, O my Creator, shall I attain to the possession of Thee in such a manner that I may say: ‘My God, I cannot lose Thee anymore?’ ”

Meanwhile, O my Saviour, while Thou seest me an exile and afflicted in this land of enemies, where I have to be fighting in ceaseless internal wars, help me by Thy grace and console me in this so sorrowful a pilgrimage. Whatever the world may offer me, I already know that nothing in it can give me peace and satisfy me; but yet I fear lest, if I have not help from Thee, the pleasures of the world and my evil inclinations may draw me down some precipice [of committing mortal sin].

Exiles In A Valley Of Tears

Seeing myself an exile in this valley of tears, I would wish at least to think of Thee continually, O my God, and rejoice in that infinite happiness which Thou enjoyest; but the evil desires of the senses often cry out within me and disturb me. I would wish to keep my affections ever occupied in loving Thee and thanking Thee, but the flesh entices me to enjoy sensual delights; hence, I am constrained to exclaim with St. Paul: “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Miserable man that I am, in continual combat, not only with external enemies, but with myself, so that I am weighted down and a trouble to myself! “I am become burdensome to myself,” said holy Job. (Job 7:20).

Who, then, will deliver me from the body of this death, that is, from the danger of falling into sin, from that peril, the fear only of which is to me a continual death, which torments me and will not cease to torment me all my life through? “O God, be not Thou far from me; O my God, make haste to my help.” (Psalms 70:12).

My God, go not far from me, because if Thou goest from me, I fear I shall displease Thee. Rather, draw nearer to me with Thy powerful help; that is, succor me continually, that I may be able to resist the attacks of my enemies. The Royal Prophet tells me that Thou art near, that is, that Thou dost give holy patience to all who are sorrowful of heart and are in interior affliction. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart.” (Psalms 33:19). Remain very near me, then, my beloved Saviour, and give me that patience that I need to overcome the continual attacks by which I am tormented. How often, when I apply myself to prayer, do not troublesome thoughts draw me away and distract me with a thousand follies! Do Thou give me strength to drive them from me, when occupied with Thee, and crucify all the evil inclinations that hinder me from uniting myself with Thee. And take from me, I pray Thee, the great repugnance that I feel to embrace with resignation anything that is not agreeable to my self-love.

Longing For Paradise

O house of my God, prepared for those that love Thee, to Thee I sigh from this land of misery. “I have gone astray, like a sheep that is lost; seek Thy servant.” (Psalms 118:176). O beloved Shepherd of my soul, who didst descend from Heaven to seek and to save the lost sheep, behold, I am one who, turning my back on Thee, am miserably lost. Seek Thy servant, seek me, O Lord; abandon me not as I deserve; seek me and save me; take me and hold me tight upon Thy shoulders, that I may not leave Thee again.

But, even while I am longing for Paradise, my enemy is terrifying me with the remembrance of my sins; but the sight of Thee, my crucified Jesus, consoles me and gives me courage to hope that one day I shall come to love Thee and behold Thee unveiled in Thy blessed Kingdom. Queen of Heaven, continue to be my advocate. Through the blood of Jesus Christ and through thy intercession, I have a firm hope of being saved.

This article is taken from a chapter in Attaining Salvation: Devout Reflections and Meditations by Saint Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books



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