Occasions of Sin and Remorse

Father Geiermann concludes his discussion of things that trouble the soul by explaining how proximate occasions of sin come about:

“The proximate occasion of sin is the opportunity of committing that sin to which one is strongly tempted. Three things combine to make an occasion of sin proximate: (1) inclination, (2) temptation, (3) an opportunity.”

A temptation “is easily aroused and greatly intensified when it follows the inclination of a bad habit,” and “it is most severe when it affects man’s predominant passion, or the defects of his temperament and character.” In such cases, there is “less prompt and less decisive resistance from the will.”

“By wilfully exposing himself to the proximate occasion of sin, or by remaining in it unnecessarily when it presents itself, man (1) withdraws himself from the influence of grace; (2) makes himself unworthy of the special protection of divine Providence; and (3) incurs the guilt of the sin by heedlessly exposing himself to it.”

Lastly, Father Geiermann mentions the devastating effects of sin, which begin to be felt even in the present life as remorse: “Remorse of conscience is that sadness of heart which all suffer who act contrary to the dictates of their conscience. It is a self-reproach and condemnation for having done wrong. When man seeks his happiness in the honors, riches, or pleasures of life, his conscience becomes his first accuser.”

“During life man may smother the voice of conscience by plunging still deeper into vice and dissipation. At the hour of death, however, his remorse will be intensified by contemplating the emptiness of his life and the terrors of the approaching judgment. This remorse of conscience will be the greatest torment of the reprobate in hell. The Saviour calls it ‘their worm that dieth not’ (Mark 9:43). Like a worm gnawing at their heart, it will continually remind them (1) that it was so easy for them to save their souls; (2) that they lost the ‘reward exceeding great’ through their own fault; (3) that they did this for the vanities of this fleeting life. Thus their outraged consciences will obtain justice by tormenting them for ever and ever.”

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

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