The Rule of Reason

In the letter embedded above Bl. Columba Marmion says exactly what I’ve tried to say to certain “enthusiastic” penitents in the confessional. It is dangerous to think that one is being guided by the Holy Spirit when one is in fact just being guided by one’s own fancy; man was meant to be ruled by reason enlightened by faith:

You must begin at the foundation of your soul, and try to accustom yourself to follow reason enlightened by faith, and no longer be the slave of your impressions. What distinguishes man from the animal is, that the animal, having no higher principle of action than sense, follows his impressions alone; whereas man has a spiritual principle which he should alone follow, using his senses, his impressions; but without being swept along by them.

Ronald Knox’s strange masterpiece Enthusiasm is a study of religious movements which give primacy to “impressions”.

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