Inordinate Attachments – Part 4 of 4

Father Geiermann concludes his discussion of inordinate attachments:

Concerning inordinate self-esteem, he writes: “Self-esteem consists in paying tribute to our own excellence. In the natural order, and especially in the order of grace, our excellence is primarily the work of God. We are His instruments. Sin alone is our work, and, as sin degrades and brands us with infamy, we have no excellence independently of God, Unless we, therefore, say with St. Paul: ‘By the grace of God, I am what I am’ (1 Cor 15:10), we are robbing God when we pay tribute to our own excellence. . . . We should, indeed, esteem ourselves as the noblest creatures of God on earth, as the brethren of Christ and coheirs with Him to the kingdom of heaven, and strive to make ourselves worthy of our sublime destiny. But every esteem contrary to, or not subordinated to our Christian dignity is carnal, worldly, and sinful. Hence we must practise detachment from all inordinate self-esteem, before we can honestly say with the Apostle of the Gentiles, ‘I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me’ (Phil 4:13).”

Concerning inordinate self-love, Father Geiermann writes: “Self-love is the affection man has for himself, though the term is more frequently applied to that inordinate love of self whereby he makes himself the object of his affections. It is in this latter sense that the masters of the spiritual life condemn self-love. We love ourselves rightly as long as we seek the will of God in all things. In proportion as we go beyond that we deify ourselves by putting ourselves before God. As Christians we must, therefore, practise detachment from inordinate self-love.” St. Denis said, “From self-love arise simulation, hardness of heart, infidelity, hypocrisy, singularity, idle complacency, disobedience, rebellion, contention, pertinacity, and the like.” St. Prosper of Aquitaine observed that “self-love causes spiritual blindness.” And he remarked: “He loves himself well who loves the works of God in himself.” Likewise, St. Augustine advised: “Love yourself in God, for God, and to possess God.” And Blosius said: “The love of God will increase in you in proportion as you decrease self-love.”

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

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