Guard of the Senses
Presence of God– O my God, I recollect my senses and faculties in Your presence, withdrawing them from all exterior occupations, in order to fix my attention wholly on You.
To live a serious interior life, one that is wholly concentrated on seeking God, it is necessary to prevent the outside world from entering the soul and filling it with distractions and noise; it is necessary, therefore, to guard its doors assiduously. The senses are precisely the doors which open to earthly things: sight permits its images to enter; hearing, its sounds, and so forth, so that, without a discreet mortification of the senses, the soul, the living temple of the Blessed Trinity, becomes like a market-place, open to all kinds of traffic, open to every wind of rumor. Then Jesus might well say to us what He once said to the profaners of the temple, “Make not the house of My Father a house of traffic” ([cf] John 2:16). A temple of the Blessed Trinity by Baptism, the consecrated soul is doubly so by reason of its vows and promises, and is, therefore, doubly obliged to guard the recollection of its spirit, in order to make it really a “house of prayer.” According to St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus, “It suffices to keep well closed the outside doors, that is, the senses, so that the soul and the heart cannot go elsewhere than to their center, which is God.” This was her method: “I shall fix my gaze on my heart and I shall raise my heart to God” (Spirituality of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus). Mortification of the senses should not be limited to Carthusians and to those in cloisters, as it is an indispensable exercise for all souls, that they may become recollected and wholly concentrated upon God.
O Lord, guard my senses, so that I may never be separated from You. With Your help, I will keep a vigilant watch over the doors of my soul, and apply myself more fervently to a perfect observance of the rules of modesty which apply to my state in life. I will make the spirit of mortification the guardian of my senses, exercising myself in not wishing to see, hear, or discuss anything but what is required for the fulfillment of my duties. “But if You, O Lord, do not keep my house, I shall watch it in vain” (cf. Ps 127); therefore, with my whole heart I beg You to restrain and moderate my tongue, guard my eyes so that they will not be fed by vanity. “Lord God, King of heaven and earth, deign to direct and sanctify, rule and govern my heart, my body, my thoughts, words, and deeds in Your law and in the works of Your commandments, so that now and forever, by Your help, I may attain salvation and freedom from all evil” (old Roman Breviary).
O my God, place a guard on my eyes, my ears, my lips—on all my senses—and may this guard be Your love. Your love does not permit me to occupy my senses voluntarily with useless, un-necessary, or frivolous things; Your love does not permit the rumors, images, or the vain curiosity of earthly things to enter the sanctuary of my soul.
May Your love be the weight which draws me continually toward you. Thus my eyes will always seek Your face; my ears, Your word; all my senses will ever tend toward You, to seek, enjoy, and possess You alone. Grant that this love may always attract my senses and faculties; Lord, fill them completely with Your beauty, Your words, the knowledge of Your mysteries, so that when they are obliged by necessity to turn to creatures, they will feel uneasy and be anxious to return in haste to recollect and fix themselves in You.
But if, through frailty and misfortune, I relax the watch over my senses and allow them to stray far away from You amongst the things of the world, I beg You, Lord, come to my aid at once! “Do not permit my senses to go astray, but do You Yourself deign to call them back to You, like the good shepherd who, with his flute, calls his sheep dispersed in the valley. You, more than any other shepherd, have a call so sweet and so powerful that the senses, as soon as they hear it, cannot resist, and quickly come back into the sanctuary of the soul where You await them and to which You call them. O loving Shepherd of my soul, do not refuse to show me this mercy, so necessary for my weakness” (cf. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle [also known as The Mansions] IV, 3).
Note from Dan: This post on the guard of the senses is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on the guard of the senses: St. Teresa Margaret, painted after her 1770 death by Anna Piattoli, meets public domain criteria. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.