The Flesh

The Redemptorist Father Geiermann lists eight things that trouble the human soul: the flesh, the world, the devil, temptation, occasions of sin, a bad will, vice, and remorse of conscience. Here and in the next four posts, we shall see how he defines each of them. First, public enemy number one: “the flesh.”

“The flesh is man’s corrupt nature. As God created him man was sincere and faithful in mind, generous, constant, and fervent of will, and so devout of heart that even his sensual nature was spiritualized by it. In consequence of original sin, however, man now inclines to imprudence, ambition, and infidelity of mind, to inconstancy and sloth of will, and to selfishness of heart to so alarming a degree that his entire lower nature rebels against the dictates of his reason and the dominion of his will.”

“In consequence of this corruption of human nature, man inclines to make his life on earth a time of carnal indulgence and mental dissipation, instead of regarding it as a period of probation that should be employed and sanctified by labor, sacrifice, and daily prayer. . . . He is the slave of human respect, exposes himself heedlessly to the occasions of sin, and becomes the slave of his sensual desires. Or, if he is naturally proud, his self-love impels him to gratify his desires in striving after the honors, riches, and applause of the world.”

Thus, Geiermann concludes: “The flesh is man’s greatest enemy (1) because it weighs him down to earth; (2) because it is a constant part of himself from the cradle to the grave; (3) because the world and the devil use it to lure his soul to perdition.”

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

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