POSTED BY DEACON AUGUSTINE
“I offer the following Lenten fare for the readers of Protect the Pope. It is from a true classic by St Alphonsus Liguori on the dangers of the sin of Human Respect:
In exhorting His disciples to be faithful to Him, under the persecutions which they were to endure, the Saviour said: “Yea; the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.” Thus, the enemies of the faith believed that in putting Christians to death, they did a service to God. It is thus that many Christians of the present day act. They kill their own souls by losing the grace of God through Human Respect, and to please worldly friends. Oh! How many souls has Human Respect – that great enemy of our salvation – sent to hell! I shall speak on this subject today, that, if you wish to serve God and save your souls, you may guard, as much as possible, against Human Respect. In the first point, I will show the importance of not being influenced by Human Respect; and in the second. I will point out the means by which this vice may be overcome.
Second point – On the Means of overcoming Human Respect
To overcome Human Respect, it is necessary to fix-in our hearts, the holy resolution of preferring the grace of God, to all the goods and favours of this world, and to say with Saint Paul: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” – Romans 8:38-39. Jesus Christ exhorts us not to be afraid of those who can take away the life of the body; but to fear him only, who can condemn the soul and body to hell. “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, that can destroy both soul and body in hell” – Matthew 10:28. We wish either to follow God or the world; if we wish to follow God, we must give up the world. “How long do you halt between two sides?” said Elijah to the People. “If the Lord be God, follow Him” – 1Kings 18:21. You cannot serve God and the world. He that seeks to please men, cannot please God. “If”, says the Apostle, “I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” – Galatians1:10.
The true servants of God, rejoice to see themselves despised and maltreated for the sake of Jesus Christ. The Holy Apostles went from the presence of the council, “Rejoicing, that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the Name of Jesus” – Acts 5:41. Moses could have prevented the anger of Pharaoh, by not contradicting the current report, that he was the son of Pharaoh’s Daughter. But he denied that he was her son, preferring, as Saint Paul says, the opprobrium of Christ, to all the riches of the world. “Rather, choosing to be afflicted with the people of God; … esteeming the reproach of Christ, greater riches, than the treasure of the Egyptians” – Hebrews 11:25-26.
Wicked friends come to you and say: “What extravagancies are those in which you indulge? Why do you not act like others?” Say to them in answer: “My conduct is not opposed to that of all men; there are others who lead a holy life. They are indeed few; but I will follow their example; for the Gospel says: “Many are called, but few are chosen” – Matthew 20:16. “If” says Saint John Climacus, “you wish to be saved with the few, live like the few”. But, they will add: “Do you not see that all murmur against you, and condemn your manner of living?” Let your Answer be: “It is enough for me, that God does not censure my conduct. Is it not better to obey God, than to obey men?” Such was the answer of Saint Peter and Saint John to the Jewish Priests: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you, rather than God, judge ye” – Acts 4:19. If they ask you how can you bear an insult? or how, after submitting to it, can you appear among your equals? Answer them by saying, that you are a Christian, and that it is enough for you to appear well in the eyes of God. Such should be your answer to all these satellites of Satan: you must despise all their maxims and reproaches. And when it is necessary to reprove those who make little of God’s Law, you must take courage and correct them publicly. “Them that sin, reprove before all” – 1Timothy 5:20. And when there is Question of the Divine honor, we should not be frightened by the dignity of the man who offends God; let us say to him openly: “This is Sinful; it cannot be done”. Let us imitate the Baptist, who reproved King Herod for living with his brother’s wife, and said to him: “It is not Lawful for thee to have her” – Matthew 14:4. Men indeed shall regard us as fools, and turn us into derision; but, on the Day of Judgment, they shall acknowledge that they have been foolish, and we shall have the glory, of being numbered among the Saints. They shall say: “These are they, whom we had some time in derision . . . we fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints” – Wisdom 5:3-5.”