This is what we can learn from Christ who once said: “This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” (Mt 13,13)
He continued: “Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.” (Mt 13,14-15)
This “complaint” of Christ echoes the same observation expressed in the Book of Jeremiah where our Lord said, “Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (5,21)
The problem, of course, is that the senses are not united or inspired by faith. They are just left on their own, ruled mainly by instincts and other biological factors. Or at best they may be guided only by an intelligence that is not yet enlightened by faith.
And things can become so bad that these senses can get quite hostile to anything related to faith that definitely involves spiritual and supernatural realities. We need to realize that the first, last and constant object that our senses should perceive is God since he is the origin of everything, the maintainer of the existence of all things. He is everywhere.
As St. Augustine once said: “To find where God is may be difficult, but to find where he is not, that is even more difficult.” And to be sure, God’s presence in everything is not something cold and indifferent. It is full of love and solicitude. He is always and actively intervening in our lives.
We need to train our senses to be guided by our Christian faith, hope and charity, so we can capture this very consoling reality. They should not just be left on their own, guided and ruled only by factors other than our faith, hope and charity. That state of affairs would lead us nowhere other than trouble.
Thus, if we are serious with guiding our senses and emotions with faith, we have to realize that our faith should not just be an intellectual affair, lived and pursued only in the spiritual world of good intentions and right doctrine. It has to involve the basic elements of our humanity, which are our senses, our feelings, our emotions and passions.
With respect to our emotions and passions, our Catechism tells us that they are “movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.” (1763)
As such, we can say that our senses, emotions and passions play an important and crucial role in our life. And that’s why we have to take pains in forming them well. We just cannot be complacent with this responsibility. We need time, effort and an appropriate plan that would make faith an effective guide to these basic faculties of our humanity.
We have to pray, offer sacrifices, avail of the sacraments, have devotion to Our Lady and the saints. Then we truly have to study a lot and go through the process of developing virtues.*