The Government of the Imagination

December 21, 2021 • 2 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 414
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Section VIII.

The Government of the Imagination.

Besides these two faculties of the sensitive appetite there are two others, imagination and understanding, which belong to the intellect.

The imagination, a less elevated power than the understanding, is of all the faculties the one in which the effects of original sin are most evident, and which is least under the control of reason.

It continually escapes our vigilance, and like a restless child runs hither and thither, sometimes flying to the remotest corners of the world before we are aware of its ramblings.

It seizes with avidity upon objects which allure it, persistently returning after we have withdrawn it from them.

If, therefore, instead of controlling this restless faculty, we treat it like a spoiled child, indulging all its caprices, we strengthen its evil tendencies, and in time of prayer we shall vainly seek to restrain it. Unaccustomed to pious objects, it will rebel against us.

Knowing the dangerous propensities of this power, we should vigilantly guard it and cut off from it all unprofitable reflections.

To do this effectually we must carefully examine the thoughts presented to our minds, that we may see which we shall admit and which we shall reject.

If we are careless in this respect, ideas and sentiments will penetrate our hearts and not only weaken devotion and diminish fervor, but destroy charity, which is the life of the soul.

We read in Holy Scripture that while his door-keeper, who should have been cleansing wheat, fell asleep, assassins entered the house of Isboseth, son of Saul, and slew him. [2 Kings iv.]

A like fate will be ours if we permit sleep to overcome our judgment, which should be employed in separating the chaff from the grain—that is, good thoughts from evil thoughts. While thus unprotected, bad desires, the assassins of the soul, enter and rob us of the life of grace.

But this vigilance not only serves to preserve the life of the soul, but most efficaciously promotes recollection in prayer; for as a wandering and uncontrolled imagination is a source of much trouble in prayer, so a subdued imagination accustomed to pious subjects sweetens our conversation with God.

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