External Senses – Part 3 of 3

Concluding his discussion on bringing the five external senses under the control of reason, Father Geiermann mentions the senses of smell, taste, and touch.

Concerning the sense of smell, he notes: “St. Bonaventure exhorts his readers to dispense with the perfumes of earth, and to fill their lives with the fragrance of virtue, that they may abound in the dew of heavenly grace, in the scented air of holy aspirations, and in the burning fire of divine charity.”

Concerning the sense of taste, Geiermann writes: “An unmortified taste is most pernicious, especially in this age of materialism and sensuality. Two evils result from a want of mortifying the taste: (1) the vices of gluttony and intemperance; and (2) a perversion of the sense of taste and of the craving for nourishment. According to St. Gregory the Great we may be intemperate in eating and drinking in five ways: (1) by eating or drinking out of season; (2) by desiring expensive food or drink; (3) by desiring things prepared with great care; (4) by too great eagerness in eating or drinking; (5) by an inordinate use of food or drink.” To exercise custody over the taste, Father Geiermann suggests that we always observe moderation in eating and drinking, and that we take nourishment to strengthen the body, and not merely to gratify the palate.

Concerning the sense of touch, Father Geiermann writes: “The sense of touch is not easily kept under the control of reason (1) because it seems so harmless that often not sufficient attention is paid to it; (2) it covers the entire body and is not easily subjugated; (3) it easily excites impure feelings. To subjugate the sense of touch we must avoid whatever enervates it.” The saints advise such practices as living a simple life, wearing plain clothes, cultivating habits of industry and modesty, patiently enduring inclement weather, and not pampering the body.

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

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