Necessities

Father Geiermann cautions against extravagance concerning shelter, clothing, and food.

Concerning shelter, he says: “The greatest slaves of the world make their dwellings places of luxury and cultivate a haughty reserve in their conduct. A true child of God, however, manifests his indifference to the follies of the world as well as his spirit of faith in the erection and furnishing of his earthly dwelling without violating the canons of taste or sacrificing his station in life.”

Regarding clothing, he writes: “The Scriptures tell us that our first parents invented clothing to cover their nakedness. In our day clothing is often a necessary protection against the inclemency of the weather. But the fashions of dress are indicative of Christian modesty, or of a worldly spirit. For this reason St. Paul wrote: ‘Let your modesty be known to all men’ (Phil 4:5). . . . As children of God we must therefore (1) remember that our clothes should indicate our Christian modesty; (2) dress according to our station in life; (3) prefer utility and modesty in dress to style or fashion; and (4) guard against taking scandal from the immodest clothing of the slaves of the world.”

Concerning food, he says: “The world deifies the flesh and worships it by ministering to its cravings. According to St. Paul those are the slaves of the world, ‘whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things’ (Phil 3:19). We must indeed eat to live, but we should not live to eat. The slaves of the world gratify their vanity and pervert their taste by serving costly viands, and they degrade themselves and court sickness and death by intemperance in eating and drinking. Plain fare on the other hand is more nutritious, more easily digested, and more conducive to health, happiness, and a ripe old age.”

“Life and health are gifts of God. In bestowing them upon us He also imposed the obligation of caring for our health and thereby prolonging life. Both extremes should be avoided in fulfilling this obligation. ‘Be not solicitous therefore,’ warns the Saviour, ‘saying, What shall we eat: or, what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?’ (Mt 6:31). On the other hand St. Paul says: ‘Know you not that you are the temples of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Cor 3:16).”

On the one hand, “we would manifest an inordinate care of health (1) by unnecessarily thinking, talking, and worrying about it; (2) by developing fads and eccentricities in caring for it; (3) by neglecting our duty on account of it; (4) by being more solicitous about the body than about the soul.” On the other hand, “we would be wanting in the proper care of our health (1) if we did something positively to injure it; (2) if we did not use the ordinary means of preserving it; (3) if we wantonly exposed it to danger; (4) if we refused medical aid when sick.”

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

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