Internal Senses – Part 2 of 2

Continuing his explanation of the operation of the four internal senses, Father Geiermann elaborates upon imagination and memory.

“The imagination receives and reproduces the impressions made on the external senses. . . . The subjugation of the imagination consists in preserving and purifying it from all sinful and dangerous impressions. To attain this end we must guard against idle, dangerous, and sinful impressions, and try to forget the dangerous ones we have received. Hence we should (1) not permit the imagination to roam aimlessly; (2) not excite it uselessly; (3) not permit it to dwell too much on worldly things; (4) not over-indulge it even on indifferent subjects; (5) not believe it too readily; (6) not blame it for our levity, impatience, or laziness; but (7) constrain it gently to become preoccupied with useful and devotional subjects.”

“The memory retains and identifies past impressions. The voluntary reproduction of these impressions in man is called reminiscence, while the retention and reproduction of past thoughts is the work of the mind. We subjugate the memory by purifying it of impressions that are dangerous to virtue, or that hamper us in concentrating our energies on elevating and useful things. To succeed we must (1) avoid sinful occasions and association; (2) not recall in too vivid a manner the memory of past sins; (3) forget injuries received; (4) cultivate detachment from earthly things; (5) not dwell too frequently or too fondly on the pleasant recollections of life.” It is useful, he notes, to ponder the sad condition of sinners, the poverty of the poor, the suffering of the sick, our humble origin, our obligations, our infidelities, the shortness of life, the value of grace, the certainty of death and of judgment, the suffering of the souls in purgatory, and the beatitude of heaven. He adds: “The benefits we derive from this subjugation of the memory are: (1) tranquillity and peace of heart: (2) purity of conscience; (3) freedom from countless temptations: (4) the special protection of Divine Providence; (5) the inspiration of grace; (6) the special guidance of the Holy Ghost.”

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

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