Continuing Father Geiermann’s discussion of six things that occasion the practice of penance, we mention these three:
The third cause for penance is tepidity, which is “habitual negligence in doing good and in avoiding evil.” It is “a stagnation in the spiritual life, that enervates the mind, smothers charity, extinguishes devotion, weakens virtue, and darkens the understanding. . . . A complete reconstruction of the spiritual edifice is necessary to cure a tepid soul.”
A fourth cause for penance is participation in the sins of others. “We may participate in the sins of others (1) by neglecting a reproof suggested by charity; (2) by not preventing the sins of others when our duty demands it; (3) by scandalizing others or offering them the occasion of sin; (4) by aiding them in the commission of sin; (5) by committing sin with them; (6) and by tempting them or coercing them to sin. . . . We incur the guilt of the sins of others, as well as the obligation of leading them to repentance in so far as we have participated in their sins.”
A fifth cause for penance is the sins of the world. Father Geiermann explains how this works: “There are many sins committed that are not of our volition and which we cannot prevent. They offend God, wound the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ruin countless souls. Zeal for the honor and glory of God should prompt us to regret them, to grieve over them, and thereby to make atonement to the outraged majesty and goodness of God. Our love for Jesus Christ should prompt us to offer Him sympathy and consolation, and to make reparation to His adorable Heart for the coldness, indifference, and malice of mankind. Finally, zeal for the salvation of souls and the brotherhood of mankind should prompt us to desire the welfare of every human being, and to do all in our power to promote it by making satisfaction for the sins of the world.”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).