Striving for Perfection – Part 2 of 10

Father Geiermann teaches that the determination to attain perfection is a quality that disposes a person to yield a great spiritual harvest. Such a determination includes the following: a horror for sin; a spirit of reflection and of compunction; subjugation of the flesh and the spirit; contempt of Satan and “the world”; cultivation of a spirit of prayer; sincerity; holy desires; a resolution to please God; generosity, fervor, and promptitude in the service of God; docility and patience in submission to the will of God; avoiding sin and seeking to do good.

Concerning horror for sin and its consequences, he writes: “Sin is a revolt, an act of the basest contempt and the vilest ingratitude towards the God of infinite majesty and goodness; an act which renews the cause of the death of Jesus Christ. Sin robs man of the blessings of grace and of the treasures of merit and virtue. It turns him from the pursuit of happiness and plunges him into misery. . . . An abiding horror for sin thus impels man to negative perfection (1) by guarding him against sinful temptations and occasions; (2) by prompting him to avoid every deliberate sinful action; and (3) finally, by spurring him on to do penance for his past sins.”

Concerning a spirit of reflection, he states: “No matter how fascinating the Christian ideal, or how shocking the malice and consequences of sin, the former will not attract us, nor the latter repel us unless we keep them vividly before our minds. . . . If the stress and confusion of modern life will not permit us to set aside certain hours of the day for serious reflection, we must, to ensure our salvation, make up for this misfortune by cultivating a spirit of closer recollection and prayer in the performance of our routine duties. For, unless we keep the Christian ideal and the evil of sin vividly before our minds, they will gradually fade away, and, in proportion as they do, will they be replaced by worldly-mindedness and selfishness of heart.”

A spirit of compunction is “the habitual grief of the soul arising from a constant remembrance of our own sinfulness. . . . It arises from concentrating our horror of sin in general on our own sins in particular. This reflection makes us realize our guilt and the punishment our sins deserve. . . . It grounds us in humility and the fear of the Lord, and spurs us on to serve God ever with greater generosity and stronger fidelity.”

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

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