Objects of Self-Examination – Part 3 of 3

Continuing his discussion of things to consider when examining one’s spiritual life, Father Geiermann mentions three things that frequently cause us trouble:

Ambition is “any desire and willingness to do great things. . . . God has implanted ambition in human nature that we may strive to do His holy will in all things. Hence, when enlightened by faith, prompted by charity, and directed by obedience, ambition becomes true zeal for the glory of God and the welfare of souls. It prompts us to spare neither labor nor sacrifice, but to press forward in close imitation of the Master, and, with the help of His grace, to do the will of the heavenly Father in all things. On the other hand, when perverted by self-love, ambition prompts us to offend against charity and justice, to rebel against lawful authority.”

Self-will is “personal opposition of an individual to the will of God. . . . If we follow the promptings of self-will we may have the satisfaction of doing our own will, but we thereby forfeit all claim to a reward in heaven. Hence, the beginning of the spiritual life consists in conquering our self-will, and its perfection in doing the will of God in all things.” We are encouraged in this by Christ Himself, Who said, “I do always the things that please Him” (Jn 8:29).

Sensuality is the tyranny of the flesh over the spirit. As intended by God man should be guided by reason in ministering to his temporal wants. By the corruption of his nature, however, not only was man’s mind darkened and his will weakened, but his inferior faculties were perverted and his bodily members condemned to decay and death. This perversion inclines man’s carnal nature to rebel against the dictates of reason, and to throw off the dominion of the will. In proportion as he yields man becomes the slave of his sensual nature. This slavery is called sensuality because it pampers the senses, though in reality it consists in pandering to the abnormal cravings of the vegetative faculties through the senses.” Geiermann argues that we have cause to fear sensuality more than any other perverse inclination for this reason: man craves for endless possession of an infinite good, and “this craving, which prompts all man’s actions, is perverted and intensified, but never satisfied by sensuality.”

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

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