How degrading and yet common it is to hand our reason over to our instinct!

January 20, 2022 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 182
By Venerable Louis of Granada

Our souls may be considered as consisting of two parts, which theologians call the superior and the inferior part.

The first is the seat of the will and of reason, the natural light with which God endowed us at creation. This noble and beautiful gift of reason makes man the image of God and capable of enjoying God, and raises him to a companionship with the Angels.

The inferior part of the soul is the seat of the sensual appetites, which have been given to us to aid us in procuring the necessities of life and in preserving the human race.

But these appetites are blind—they must follow the guidance of reason. They are unfitted to command, and, therefore, like good stewards, they should act only in obedience to their master. Alas! how often do we see this order reversed! How often do we behold the servant become the master!

How many men are so enslaved by their appetites that they will outrage every law of justice and reason to gratify the sensual desires of their hearts! They carry their folly still farther, and make the noble faculty of reason wait upon their base appetites and furnish them with means to attain their unlawful desires.

For when man devotes the powers of his mind to the invention of new fashions in dress, new pleasures in eating; when he strives to excel his fellow-men in wealth and voluptuous luxuries, does he not turn his soul from the noble and spiritual duties suited to her nature, and make her the slave of the flesh? When he devotes his genius to the composition of odes and sonnets to the object of a sinful love, does he not debase his reason beneath this vile passion?

Seneca, though a pagan, blushed at such degradation, saying: “I was born for nobler things than to be a slave to the flesh.” [Epist. 65.]

Notwithstanding the folly and enormity of this disorder, it is so common among us that we give it little attention. As St. Bernard says: “We are insensible to the odor of our crimes, because they are so numerous.”

In the country of the Moors no one feels affronted if called black, because it is the color of all the inhabitants. So where the vice of drunkenness prevails no one thinks it disgraceful to drink to excess, notwithstanding the degrading nature of this sin.

Yes, the bondage of the flesh is so general that few realize its enormity. How complete, therefore, is this servitude, and how great must be the punishment reserved for one who delivers so noble a creature as reason into the hands of so cruel a tyrant!

It is from this slavery that the Wise Man prays to be delivered when he asks that the inordinate desires of the flesh be taken from him, and that he be not given over to a shameless and foolish mind. [Ecclus. xxiii. 6.]

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