Saint Alphonsus Liguori, great Doctor of the Church, has written six of the most powerful discourses on how God uses natural calamities such as Floods, Storms, Droughts, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Plagues, etc. to warn people to change their ways, rather than as punishments.
He discusses how God threatens to chastise us in order to save us from chastisement; how sinners often refuse to believe in God’s Divine Threats until the chastisements come upon them; how God is merciful for a season and then chastises; how external devotions are useless if we do not cleanse our souls from sin; how God chastises us in this life for our good, not for our destruction; and the four principal gates of Hell, which are Hatred, Blasphemy, Theft and Impurity.
This booklet is available as a free PDF download from Virgo Sacrata library: “Six Discourses on Natural Calamities, Divine Threats, and the Four Gates of Hell” by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
Included are quotes from Scripture on particular calamities that God uses to warn us to change our ways
“The earth shook and trembled: the foundations of the mountains were troubled and were moved, because He was angry with them.” Ps. 17:8.
” The earth shall be moved out of her place for the indignation of the Lord.” Is. 13:13.
“With shaking shall the earth be shaken as a drunken man.” Is. 24:20.
On these words Cardinal Hugo makes the following comment: “The earth shall eject sinners.”
St. John Chrysostom says: “The cause of the earthquake is God’s anger; but the cause of the Divine anger is our sins. But do not fear the punishment, but fear sin, which is the cause of the punishment.” De Lazaro, conc. 6.
“The Lord shook the earth not to overthrow it, but to convert unto salvation those that lead wicked lives.” Serm. de S. Basso Mart.
“The city is shaken, but your mind remains unmoved.” De Laz. conc. 6.
“The earthquake has preceded like a herald announcing God’s anger that we may escape by penance the punishment that we have merited.” Ibid.
“Behold, there came an earthquake; what have riches profited thee? The possessor has perished along with the possession. The city has become for all a common sepulchre, which has been built, not by the hand of the artificer, but by calamity.” Ibid.
“The hearts of men are first disturbed, then the elements.” Ibid.
“If you walk in My precepts, . . . I will give you rain in due seasons. But if you will not hear Me, . . . I will make to you the heaven above as iron, and the earth as brass. Your labor shall be spent in vain, the ground shall not bring forth her increase, nor the trees yield their fruit.” Levit. 26:3, 14, 19.
“How long shall the land mourn, and the herb of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The beasts are consumed.” Jer. 12:4.
“Thou shalt case much seed into the ground, and gather little.” Deut. 28:38. Commentary: “Therefore the fields are sterile, because charity has grown cold.”
“Thou hast polluted the land with thy fornications and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers were withholden.” Jer. 3:2.
“You have not returned to Me, saith the Lord. I also have withholden the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest.” Amos 4:6.
St. Basil: “Let us learn that because we have turned our backs upon God He has inflicted upon us calamities.” Hom. in fame et siccit.
“. . . Let his roots be dried up, . . . and his harvest destroyed.” Job 18:16.
Solomon, when dedicating the Temple to God, thus spoke to God in prayer: “If Heaven shall be shut up, and there shall be no rain because of their sins, and they praying in this place shall do penance, . . . hear Thou them in Heaven.” 3 Kings 8:35.
The Lord says: “I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.” Is. 5:6.
“Because My house is desolate, . . . therefore the heavens over you were stayed from giving dew, . . . and I called for a drought upon the land.” Agg. 1:9.
St. Augustine: “Punishments continue, because sins continue.” Serm. 46, E.B. app.
St. Basil: “We see the heavens closed, and are saddened by their serenity. The earth is already dried up, is horrible, and on account of the dryness is full of fissures; the water fountains have left us.” Hom. in fame et siccit.
3. Scarcity and Sterility
“He hath turned . . . a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” Ps. 106:33. Cardinal Hugo: “What does sin do? It turns fruitful land into sterile land.”
“Cursed is the earth . . . thorns and thistles shall it bring forth.” Gen. 3:17.
“A curse shall devour the earth, and the inhabitants thereof shall sin.” Is. 24:6.
“The heavens shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.” Job 20:27.
“I gave her corn and wine, . . . which they have used in the service of Baal; therefore I will return, and take away My corn.” Osee 2:8.
There are some that abuse the goods that God has given to them; they make idols of them, that is, objects of sin. St. Augustine says: “Why are you suffering hunger: Why do you experience want? Because your guilt also increases daily. Be ye converted to God, and leave your idol.” Serm. 46, E.B. app.
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, . . . and thy barn shall be filled. Want is from the Lord in the house of the wicked; but the habitations of the just shall be blessed.” Prov. 3:9, 33.
4. Hail and Lightning
Fire, hail, famine, and death, all these were created for vengeance.” Ecclus. 39:35.
“His lightnings have shone forth to the world; the earth saw and trembled; . . . the heavens declared His justice; . . . let them all be confounded that adore graven things.” Ps. 96:4. Alphonsus Tostatus says: “When we hear the thunder, we should remember that God wishes to admonish us to cease committing sin.”
5. Hurtful Animals
“And I will send in upon you famine and evil beasts unto utter destruction,” Ezech, 5:17. On this point St. Jerome remarks: “It is manifest that hunger, pestilence, and wild beasts are sent on account of our sins.”
“I will bring seven times more plagues upon you for your sins; and I will send in upon you the beasts of the field to destroy you and your cattle, and make you few in number, and that your highways may be desolate.” Levit. 26:21.
“Thou shalt cast much seed in the ground, and gather little: because the locusts shall consume all.” Deut. 28:38.
Dauraltius says: “There is no animal so small that it cannot be a most powerful enemy of the sinner.” Flores Exempl. c. 6, tit. 2, n, 9.
And St. John Chrysostom: “So long as Adam preserved his countenance pure, the animals obeyed him; but when he defiled it by disobedience, they hated him.” In Ps. 3.
“I will stretch out My hand to strike thee and thy people with pestilence.” Exod. 9:15.
“He that sinneth before his Maker, shall fall into the hands of the physician.” Ecclus. 38:15.
7. Calamities in General
“And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof” . . . and few men shall be left.” Is. 24:5.
“Evil-doers shall be cut off.” Ps. 36:9,
“He will arm the creature for the revenge of his enemies.” Wisd. 5:18.
“I have seen them that work iniquity, and that sow sorrows, and reap them.” Job 4:8. He that sows sins shall reap sorrows and pains.
“Because thou hast forgotten Me and hast cast Me off behind thy body, bear thou also thy wickedness and thy fornications.” Ezech. 23:35.
St. Cyprian says: “Why should you wonder that God’s anger is growing when what is punishable is every day growing?” Ad Demetianum.
St. Basil: “No one troubles himself about inquiring why drought, lightning, hail, are sent down upon us; they are sent us on account of our sins, and because we preserve an impenitent heart.” In cap. 9 Isaiae.
St. John Chrysostom: “We must repress sin, the fountain of evils.” In Ps. 3.
St. Gregory: “Rightly is everything hostile to us that has gratified our passions.” In Evang. Hom. 35.
St. Anselm: “By offending God we not only excite His anger, but the anger of all creation.” De Simil. c. 102.
Salvian: “Why wonder that we are chastised? Miseries, infirmities, are signs of evil. We force God to punish us.” De Gubern. Dei, 1. 4.
Cardinal Hugo: “Every creature complains of those that abuse it.”
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