Inordinate Attachments – Part 1 of 4

In previous posts, we heard Father Geiermann explain that a person striving for perfection should strive to submit the following human faculties to the governance of reason: the five external senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), the four internal senses (the central sense, instinct, imagination, and memory), and the sensitive appetite. The sensitive appetite inclines a person to good and evil discovered by the instinct; these inclinations we call passions. The will, which is the intellectual appetite, inclines a person to propositions found in the intellect. Father Geiermann explains that the will, like the other faculties, should be subject to reason. He writes: “The will or rational appetite is the power of exercising dominion over our own actions. This dominion should be exercised according to the dictates of reason enlightened by faith. Unfortunately, it is too frequently influenced by passion in daily life. By the subjugation of the will we therefore mean constraining ourselves to act in accordance with Christian reason. . . . To enable it to do this we must detach it from riches, comforts, and pleasures, from inordinate attachment to relatives and friends, and from honors, self-esteem, and self-will.”

Concerning riches, we note that Christ declared in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). Father Geiermann comments: “No matter what our vocation or station in life may be, we must be poor in spirit, or detached from the things of the world, to have hope of life everlasting. The young man in the Gospel, who asked Jesus what he must do to attain life everlasting, was given to understand that a rich man ‘shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 19:23). The things of earth are intended by God to serve us as stepping-stones on which to ascend to heaven. By cultivating attachment to them we become covetous and avaricious, pervert the divine order, and give them the place of God in our hearts. As children of God we dare let nothing come between Him and ourselves. Hence the Saviour exhorts us, saying: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt 6:33).”

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

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