Diffidence in Ourselves

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus shows how the yield is proportionate to the quality of the soil. Father Geiermann mentions four qualities that dispose a person to yield a great spiritual harvest: diffidence in ourselves, confidence in God, submission to God’s representatives, and determination to attain perfection.

Concerning the first, he writes: “Whatever we are in body and soul, in mind and heart—with the exception of sin—is a gift of God. Even virtue and merit is the effect of His grace. Hence we must say with St. Paul, ‘By the grace of God, I am what I am’ (1 Cor 15:10).”

“The same power which created us keeps us in existence. The same God, who implanted a universal desire for happiness in mankind, gives every individual the free will to choose the particular means to attain this happiness. But, if in the natural order man can not act without God’s assistance, how much less can he acquire the treasures of grace and merit independently of God? No wonder the Saviour said: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5).”

Original sin “robbed mankind of original justice and holiness, darkened the mind, weakened the will, and inclined human nature to evil. . . . In addition to this corruption of human nature we individually suffer the consequence of our personal sins and bad habits. . . . We may all lament with King David: ‘I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me’ (Ps 50:5).”

We cannot, “relying on our unaided strength, hope to attain the perfection and the reward of children of God. Our only hope of heaven is in Him who said to Abraham of old: ‘Fear not, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great’ (Gn 15:1).”

“The flesh, the world, and the devil conspire against our salvation. ‘The flesh lusteth against the spirit’ (Gal 5:17). ‘The friendship of this world is the enemy of God’ (Jas 4:4). ‘Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Pt 5:8). Our only hope of victory is in God. Only when we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation may we confidently say with St. Paul: ‘I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me’ (Phil 4:13).”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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