Causes for Penance – Part 4 of 5

In the previous post, we read what Father Geiermann has to say about inclinations to the capital sins of pride and avarice. Now we hear what he says about inclinations to the capital sins of lust and gluttony.

Concerning imperfections inclining to lust, he says: “Impure feelings may be aroused without any fault on our part, (1) by our corrupt nature; (2) by the devil; (3) by necessary associations with others, especially with persons of the opposite sex; (4) by innocent familiarity with virtuous persons; (5) by a sympathy between devotion of the heart and sensual inclinations in our pious exercises; (6) by too great or too vivid a fear of impurity itself.” To forestall inclinations to lust, Father Geiermann recommends, among other things, that “we should (1) guard against doing anything in the discharge of our duty that might unnecessarily arouse improper feelings; (2) despise those that arise spontaneously, and not omit our duty to God, to our neighbor, or to ourselves on their account; (3) to abstain from all sentimentality, inordinate familiarity, and carnal friendship; (4) to redouble our prayers; (5) to seek to please God in all things and implicitly to trust in His help; (6) in our mistrust of self not to picture particular temptations to our minds.”

As for imperfections inclining to gluttony, he explains: “The imperfections that tend to gluttony may be carnal or spiritual. Those of a carnal tendency manifest themselves (1) in the pleasure we might take in thinking of food and drink; (2) in speaking unnecessarily of it; (3) in wishing for it out of due season. Those which tend to spiritual gluttony are: (1) to desire spiritual consolations and favors rather than solid piety; (2) to follow one’s own inclination in doing good rather than the will of God; (3) to forget one’s own sinfulness and become too familiar with God; (4) to indulge in extraordinary works of penance for the delusive consolation they may afford. To counteract these tendencies to gluttony we should (1) seek to please God, and not to gratify ourselves; (2) be indifferent to all but the holy will of God, and accept material and spiritual favors with humble gratitude; (3) above all mortify our will by cultivating obedience, purity of heart, and conformity to the divine will; (4) cultivate a special devotion to Christ crucified.”

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

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