Custody of the Senses

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The deliberate effort of the Christian to correct, train, and discipline his five external senses and the internal senses of memory and imagination. The Christian is aware that human nature, with its senses, is good, but that it has been weakened by original and personal sin. There are inordinate tendencies in our bodies and our senses that seek pleasures to the detriment of our life in Christ. There is need, then, for every Christian to guard and discipline his senses. Custody of the senses becomes all the more urgent in the light of their deep and abiding influence on the emotions, intellect, and will. The senses play an important and powerful role in the attraction and inclination to evil. The senses must not only be deterred from evil (e.g., evil talk, evil touches) but they must be controlled also in seeking what is licit. Experience teaches that mortification in what is licit is necessary if one is to achieve the control needed to avoid what is sinful. But prudence and guidance are necessary, so as to avoid extravagant and ridiculous extremes.

Bibliography: a. royo, The Theology of Christian Perfection, tr. and ed. j. aumann (Dubuque 1962). a. tanquerey, The Spiritual Life (Westminster, MD 1945).

[n. lohkamp]