Causes for Penance – Part 5 of 5

Father Geiermann concludes his discussion of inclinations to the capital sins by mentioning the sins of anger, envy, and sloth.

Concerning imperfections inclining to anger, he writes: “We manifest a tendency to anger (1) when through false zeal we grow impatient at the mistakes of others, or take delight in denouncing them; (2) when we grow impatient with ourselves on account of our repeated faults and slow progress in virtue; (3) when we grow sad, discouraged, or impatient because God has seen fit to leave our souls dry, dark, and languid, without sensible consolation. By such conduct we disgrace the spiritual life, scandalize others, and give ignorant persons reason to infer that sanctity is a mixture of haughtiness, temper, and effeminacy. To counteract these tendencies we should (1) concentrate our attention on our duty, and be patient but firm and persevering in our efforts to make progress; (2) pay no attention to the defects of others, and treat them with indulgence when brought to our notice; (3) place our trust in God and make ourselves worthy of His favors by humility, prayer, mortification, and honest effort; (4) be alert to suppress the first impulse to anger when we are specially prone to it; (5) seek the grace to do God’s will and not heavenly consolations in our prayers.”

Concerning imperfections inclining to envy, he explains: “Envy is sadness at another’s welfare in so far as this diminishes one’s own excellence. Its tendencies are: (1) to feel hurt when others are praised or honored; (2) to minimize the reputation of others by disparaging remarks; (3) to be pleased when the defects of others are made known; (4) to rejoice when such defects are criticized by others. To cure imperfections tending to envy we should (1) practise charity; (2) rejoice at the success of others; (3) wish them well; (4) extol their virtues; (5) praise them publicly when circumstances permit.”

And as for imperfections inclining to sloth, he writes: “Sloth is indifference in action. When sloth becomes habitual it is called tepidity or lukewarmness. . . . The tendencies to sloth are: (1) a facility in omitting or curtailing our spiritual exercises; (2) irreverence or voluntary distractions in them; (3) a want of recollection; (4) a want of practical faith in our daily actions. To remedy the imperfections tending to sloth we should (1) cultivate a spirit of recollection; (2) frequently strengthen our good resolution; (3) frequently purify our motives; (4) frequently renew our good intention; (5) cultivate a spirit of prayer.”

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

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