Sensible Devotion

A person seeking spiritual perfection receives from God the grace of sensible devotion in the form of consolations felt by the human sensitive faculties. The Redemptorist Father Geiermann explains: “By the special dispensations of His Providence and the stimulating influence of His grace, God first fills the soul that surrenders to His influence with the rapture of sensible devotion. As an anaesthetic renders man insensible to pain, so sensible devotion fills the soul with such transcending pleasure that even amid pain and sacrifice it can exclaim with St. Peter at the Transfiguration: ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ (Matt 17:4). While man is thus encouraged the divine influence prompts and sustains him in subjugating his lower nature to the dictates of reason, and his reason to the guidance of Faith.”

“Sensible devotion is that accidental feature of man’s promptitude in God’s service which arises from the allurement of grace and fills the heart with so great a measure of spiritual sweetness that it floods his sensitive nature. It is to the soul what the fondest caresses of a loving mother are to a child. . . . The grace of God operates in a threefold way to produce this spiritual sweetness in the soul. It enlightens the mind so clearly about a certain truth as to expel all lurking hesitation and force its assent by the brightness of its light. It warms the heart, that perhaps had been chilled by the coldness and hypocrisy of the world, with such tender affection that it melts like the snow under the influence of the glowing sun. And it strengthens the soul with its divine influence so that, like a giant, it rises above every obstacle and accomplishes with facility what was impossible before. . . . Under the influence of sensible devotion man not only laments his past folly and weeps over his sins, but begins the work of reparation and reconstruction with an alacrity and despatch that corresponds with the holy enthusiasm with which he is filled.”

“Before she was harassed with doubt and anxiety, but under the stimulating influence of sensible devotion they have vanished like so many phantoms. Before she was oppressed with sadness that brought her to the verge of despair, now she is joyous and filled with delight. Before her heart was famished by feeding on the vain desires of the world, now it overflows with joy at the thought of the Infinite Good.”

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

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