“Love is good actions freely performed. I never refuse love to someone who asks for it—but it is your will*, your actions that will develop it in you.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity
*We must not forget, however, that we can do absolutely nothing good without God. To attribute ‘our’ good works or virtues to ourselves is a sign of great pride; the more we receive, the more we should grow in gratitude and humility.
(The following words are taken from Chapter 2 of ‘Prayer, The Great Means to Salvation’ by St. Alphonsus Liguori)
“… if the sinner was quite abandoned by grace, either his sins afterwards committed could no longer be imputed to him, or he would be under an obligation to do that which he had no power to fulfil; but it is a positive rule of St. Augustine that there is never a sin in that which cannot be avoided: “No one sins in that which can by no means be avoided.” And this is agreeable to the teaching of the Apostle: “But God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will also make with the temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.” [1 Cor. 10: 13] The word “issue” means the Divine assistance, which God always gives to the tempted to enable them to resist, as St. Cyprian explains it: “He will make with the temptation a way of escape.” … St. Augustine and St. Thomas go so far as to say that God would be unjust and cruel if He obliged anyone to a command which he could not keep. St. Augustine says, “it is the deepest injustice to reckon anyone guilty of sin for not doing that which he could not do.” And St. Thomas: “God is not more cruel than man; but it is reckoned cruelty in a man to oblige a person by law to do that which he cannot fulfill; therefore we must by no means imagine this of God.” [In 2 Sent. d. 28, q. 1, a. 3] “It is, however, different,” he says, “when it is through his own neglect that he has not the grace to be able to keep the Commandments,” [De Ver. q. 24, a. 14] which properly means, when man neglects to avail himself of the remote grace of prayer, in order to obtain the proximate grace to enable him to keep the law, as the Council of Trent teaches: “God does not command impossibilities; but by commanding admonishes you to do what you can, and to ask for that which is beyond your power; and by his help enables you to do it.” [Sess. 6, Cap. 11]
There is much confusion on this topic. For example: the doctrine of ‘sufficient grace’, which is infallibly inefficacious (i.e. it cannot produce a good act in and of itself) contradicts the above words of St. Augustine and St. Thomas. No work on predestination that I have encountered is without its flaws, but the following brief writings (from Fr. William Most) will at least help you to avoid falling into certain tragic errors:
Our Lord confirmed to Sr. Consolata Betrone that He loves all souls, and that we are only lost if we die without repentance:
“Consolata, frequently good souls, pious souls, and very often souls consecrated to Me, with one distrustful phrase they wound me deep within My Heart: ‘Who knows if He will save me?’ Open the Gospel and read my promises. To my little sheep I have promised: ‘And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish forever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand.’ (Jn 10:28). Consolata, do you understand? No one can take or snatch a soul away from me… forevermore they will not perish… because I give them eternal life. For who have I pronounced these words? For all the sheep, for all the souls… Believe me Consolata, that whoever wants to go to Hell will go, that is whoever truly wishes to go there; because if no one can take a soul away from my hands, the soul, because of the liberty I have given it, can flee, and it can betray me; it can renounce me and then go, by its own volition, to the devil. Oh, if instead of wounding My Heart with these distrusts, they would think a little more about the Paradise which is awaiting them! Because I did not create them for the Inferno but for Paradise, not to go and keep company with the devil but to enjoy Me in love eternally. Look Consolata, to the Inferno goes whoever wants to go there… Think about how foolish your fear of damning yourself is: after that in order to save your soul I spilled My Blood, after for an entire existence I surrounded it by grace, by grace, and by grace…at the last instant of life, when I am about to reap the fruit of the Redemption and then this soul is about to love Me for all eternity, I, actually I, who in the holy Gospel promised to give to it eternal life and that no one could take it from Me, I would let myself be robbed by the devil, from My worst enemy? But, Consolata, can a person believe this monstrosity? Look; the final refusal of repentance belongs to that soul who purposely wishes to go to Hell and therefore obstinately refuses My mercy, because I will never refuse pardon to anyone; I offer to everyone and give My immense mercy; because for everyone I spilled My blood, for everyone! No, it is not the multitude of sins that damns a soul, because I forgive them if they repent, but it is the obstinacy of not wanting my pardon, which wishes oneself to be damned. Saint Dismas, on the cross, has only one act of confidence in Me and many, many sins; but in an instant he is pardoned, and he, in the same day of his reformation, enters to take part in My Kingdom and is a Saint! See the triumph of My mercy and of confidence in Me! No, Consolata: My Father who gave them to Me, the souls, is more grand and powerful than all the demons; you know! And no one can steal them from the hand of My Father.” (This translation differs slightly to that which appears in ‘Jesus Appeals to the World’, but the message remains the same.)
“Do not be afraid to abandon yourself unreservedly to His loving Providence, for a child cannot perish in the arms of a Father Who is omnipotent.” – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque