Piety Calms the Senses

Father Guibert writes: “The brute passions of the flesh become calm in the beneficent atmosphere of piety. . . . This happy efficacity of piety is a fact. Spiritual directors know it; and this is why they prescribe piety to sinners as a remedy, and to the pure as a safeguard.”

Piety get its power “first from grace; for, since it is a prayer, and, above all, a form of communion with God, it opens for itself the treasures of grace, and takes from them the gifts of preservation and strength.”

“Piety, where it is a living reality, withdraws the soul from the flesh. Certainly, it cannot, in our present conditions, altogether detach the soul from the senses; but at least it carries it away far from all that is low into the higher regions of the moral ideal, towards heaven, where God calls it and awaits it. In fact, by means of contemplation, it keeps the attention fixed upon God, upon Christ and the Saints; it raises the mind into the realm of light. By the holy desires that it provokes, it awakens the taste for things that are pure, and gives the soul a distaste for gross pleasures, filling it with celestial delights.”

“Piety, being by nature an interior impulse, liberates the soul from the prison of the senses, to introduce it unshackled into the kingdom of life. And, at the same time as it strips the soul free from its bonds, piety takes away from the flesh that which fosters its lusts and stimulates its rebellion. . . . It watches at the gate of the soul to close it against the entry of all sensations that may do injury to its peace.”

“Piety, carries its solicitude still further. . . . Without depriving the flesh of its necessary sustenance, it forbids it exciting gratification, such as dainty dishes and highly spirituous drinks; for, if it is necessary for the flesh to live, it is not good for it to get the upper hand.”

“Let it not be said that the flesh is thus rather enfeebled than subdued, for experience shows that, in the chaste, life is not extinguished, but flourishes. In the happy peace which they have secured by means of piety, they are the most energetic, the most hard-working, and the most devoted. They are neither enervated nor lessened; they are strong, because they possess freedom and integrity. Would that piety, attaining its highest activity in all those who profess it, might produce in all Christians this calm of the senses, and this increase of the higher life!”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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