Imagination & Memory
Internal Senses of the Brain

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[Love/Hatred, Desire/Aversion, Joy/Sorrow, Hope/Despair,
Fear/Courage, Envy/Lust/Anger]

Frontal Lobe: Controls how we react to situations Emotionally (Passions).

Five (5) External Senses
[Touch, Smell, Hearing, Sight, Taste]

Cerebrum: Controls how we respond to different Sensory signals (Sensation).
Parietal Lobe: Controls our Sense of Touch.
Occipital Lobe: Controls our Sense of Vision.
Temporal Lobe: Controls our Sense of Hearing.

Four (4) Internal Senses
[Sentient Consciousness, Imagination, Sentient Memory, and Estimation]



Pons: Controls our Breathing and Heartbeat.
Brain Stem: Sends all of the Decisions that the Brain makes
to the rest of the Body.

Cerebellum: Coordinates Locomotion.


He (Satan) is the Malign, Clever Seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the Senses, the Imagination and the Libido, through Utopian Logic, or through Disordered Social Contacts in the give-and-take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us Deviations that are all the more Harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our Profound, Instinctive Aspirations.

Blessed Pope Paul VI


Imagination & Memory
Internal Senses of the Brain

From the Three Ages of the Interior Life
by Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

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Chapter 25: The Active Purification of the Imagination and the Memory

"In all thy Works, remember thy Last End, and thou shalt never Sin" - Ecclesiasticus  7:40

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Body/Inferior Will/
Psychosomatic Powers
Sensible Appetites/

Superior Will/
Infused Knowledge/
(Dominant Partner)

Heart includes the Rational Thought Process (Intellect/Will) of the Soul and the Bodily Emotions that influence the Will.


What we have said of the Active Purification of the Senses, and of the Sensible Appetites, has already demonstrated that Exterior Mortification is not the most-Important; yet he who Neglects it, will also Neglect all 'Interior' Mortification, and End by Losing-completely, the Spirit-of Abnegation.

This Loss would occur, Especially-if a Person, Deliberately Wished no-longer to-Trouble himself about Mortification. He would thus Fall, as frequently happens, into Practical Naturalism, substituted-for the Spirit-of Faith, and finally, he would no-longer keep practically anything of Christ's Precept: "If any Man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross". (Note 1)

If anyone Deliberately Wishes to take as-Food, all that is Pleasing, and always to be at his Ease, without any Spirit-of Christian Temperance, he no-longer tends-toward Perfection, and Forgets the Loftiness-of the Supreme Precept: "Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with thy Whole Heart, and with thy Whole Soul, and with all thy Strength and with all thy Mind". (Note 2) A Religious, who Acts in this manner, loses sight of the Special Obligation of the Religious Life.

But the Exterior Mortification of the Body and Senses, would be without Great Result, if it were not accompanied-by the Interior Mortification of the Imagination and the Memory, of which we are going to Speak, and by the Active Purification of the Intellect and Will, which we shall Treat-of next.


The Active Purification of the Imagination

The Imagination is a Faculty that is Undeniably very-useful to us, since the Soul, United-to the Body, cannot Think without Images; (Note 3) an Image always Accompanies the Idea. This fact explains why Christ spoke to the Multitudes in Parables, that He might Lift-them Gently, from the Sensible Image to the Spiritual Idea of the Kingdom of God; in like manner, to make the Samaritan Woman understand the Value-of Divine Grace, He did not tell her about it in Abstract Terms, but used the Figure-of the "Fountain of Water, springing-up into Life Everlasting".

But, to be useful, the Imagination must be directed-by Right Reason, Illumined-by Faith; otherwise it may become, as someone has said "the Mad Woman in the House". It Diverts us from the Consideration-of Divine Things and Inclines us toward Vain, Inconsistent, and Fantastic, or even Forbidden Things. At the very least, it leads us to Daydreaming, that gives rise to Sentimentality, which is Opposed-to True Piety.

It is not always in our Power, especially in Periods-of Fatigue, to Dispel at-once, Vain or Dangerous Images; but, with the Help-of Grace, we can Will, not to-Grant them the Attention-of the Mind, and we can Gradually Diminish their Number, and their Attraction. Even Perfect Souls, continue to Suffer certain Involuntary Ramblings of the Imagination, aroused-Occasionally by the Devil, as Saint Teresa points-out in the Fifth Mansion, and even in the Sixth. (Note 4) But, as the Interior Soul advances, it gradually Frees itself from these Wanderings-of the Fancy, and ends by Contemplating God and His Infinite Goodness, Scarcely Paying any-Attention to the Images which accompany this Act-of Penetrating and Sweet Faith. Thus, we write-with a Pen, without noticing its Form, and frequently we Converse-with a Person, without Paying any-Attention to the Shape or Color of his Garments, unless there is something Strange or Unusual about them.

Consequently the Imagination ceases, little-by-little, to Trouble the Exercise-of the Intellect, and finally is placed Positively at its Service, that it may occasionally express in Beautiful Images, those things that Pertain-to the Interior Life, somewhat as Christ expressed them in Parables or in His Conversations with Nicodemus or the Samaritan Woman. These Images ought, therefore, to be Unimpassioned and Discreet, in-order-to Draw-attention not to themselves, but to the Superior Idea which they Express. Then, as a well-born Person wears a Garment that is Simple and in Good Taste, without according it any-more Attention than is necessary, so the Thought makes use of the Figure, without dwelling-on it. The Image is there, only for the Thought, and the Thought, only for the Expression-of Truth.

But such a Harmony of our Faculties is not Realized without True Discipline of the Imagination, in order that it may Cease to-be the Mad Woman in the House, and may Truly be Placed-at the Service-of the Intellect, Illumined-by Faith. In this way alone, can we gradually Re-establish the Order that existed in the State of Original Justice, in which the Superior Part of the Soul retained the Direction-of the Imagination and the different Emotions of the Sensibility, as-long-as it Obeyed God, Whom it Contemplated and Loved above all.

According to these Principles, we must Brush-aside at-once, Dangerous Images and Memories, Put-away also, Useless Reading and Vain Reveries that would make us lose Precious Time and might expose us to all Sorts-of Illusions, in which the Enemy would make Sport of us, in-order-to Ruin us.

To effect this Discipline, we must apply ourselves to the Duty-of the Moment (age quod agis) with a Healthy Realism, directing the Accomplishment-of this Duty-to God, Who should be Loved, above all. Thus will our Intellect and Will, gradually Dominate our Imagination and Sensibility; and our Obedient Imagination will find in the Beauties-of the Liturgy, Food-for our Interior Life.

Saint John of the Cross points out that True Devotion is concerned with the Spiritual and Invisible Object, represented by Sensible Images, without pausing-at these, and that the nearer a Soul draws to Divine Union, the less it depends-on Images. (Note 5)

However, it is important, at this point, to speak more-particularly of the Mortification of the Memory, which exposes us to Live-in the Unreal, and which only too often Recalls to us, what Ought-to-be Forgotten.


The Active Purification of the Memory

Saint John of the Cross discusses this Subject at-length. (Note 6) Here we are concerned, at the same time, with the Sensible Memory, which exists in Animals, and the Intellectual Memory, that is common-to Men and Angels. (Note 7) The Intellectual Memory is not a Faculty, really distinct-from the Intellect; it is the Intellect, in so far as it Retains Ideas. (Note 8)

Why does our Memory need to be Purified? Because, since Original Sin, and as a result-of our repeated Personal Sins, it is Full of Useless and sometimes Dangerous Memories. In Particular, we often Recall the Wrongs our Neighbor has done us, the Harsh Words for which we have not yet completely Pardoned him, although he himself may have Keenly Regretted them. We remember less, the Favors we have received from our Neighbor, than what we have had to Suffer from him, and a Harsh Word often makes us Forget all the Kindnesses that have come to us from him, in the Course of Several Years. But the Chief Defect of our Memory is what Scripture calls the Proneness-to Forget God. Our Memory, which is made to Recall-to us what is Most Important, often Forgets the One Thing necessary, which is above Time and does not-Pass.

What Saint John of the Cross says (Note 9) about the Necessity-of the Purification-of the Memory may seem Exaggerated at First Reading; but our Impression Changes, if we read, First-of-all, what the Scriptures say on the Subject.

Scripture often speaks of Man's Proneness-to Forget God. Isaias writes: "Truth hath been forgotten: and he that departed from Evil, lay open to be a Prey. And the Lord saw, and it appeared Evil in His eyes, because there is no Judgment." (Note 10)

Jeremias, speaking in the Name of God, says: "Will a Virgin forget her Ornament? . . . But My People hath Forgotten Me, days without number". (Note 11) Recalling the Mercies-of God, in regard to the People of Israel, saved by Him in their Passage through the Red Sea, the Psalmist writes: "They forgot His Works. . . . They forgot God, Who saved them, Who had done Great Things". (Note 12) Several times, Scripture adds that especially in Tribulation, we should Recall the Mercies-of God and Implore His Aid.

If we Forget God, and do not-appreciate His Immense Benefits, those of the Redemptive Incarnation, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, Daily Mass, we are Guilty-of Ingratitude and Lose the Time of the Present Life, which ought to tend-toward Eternal Life.

Proneness-to Forget God, causes our Memory to be as if Immersed-in Time, whose Relation-to Eternity, to the Benefits and Promises-of God, it no-longer sees. This Defect, Inclines our Memory to see all things Horizontally, on the Line-of-Time that flees, of which the Present alone is Real, between the Past, that is gone, and the Future, that is not yet. Forgetfulness of God prevents us from seeing that the Present Moment is also on a Vertical Line, which attaches it to the Single Instant-of Immobile Eternity, and that there is a Divine Manner of Living the Present Moment, in order that by Merit, it may enter-into Eternity. Whereas Forgetfulness of God leaves us in this Banal and Horizontal View of things on the Line-of Time which passes, the Contemplation-of God is like a Vertical View of things which pass, and of their Bond with-God, Who does not Pass. To be Immersed-in Time, is to Forget the Value-of Time, that is to say, its Relation-to Eternity.

By what Virtue, must this great-Defect of Forgetfulness of God be Cured? Saint John of the Cross (Note 18) answers that the Memory which Forgets God must be Healed-by the 'Hope-of Eternal Beatitude', as the Intellect must be Purified-by the Progress-of Faith, and the Will, by the Progress-of Charity.

This Doctrine is based-on Numerous Sayings of Holy Scripture, Relative to the Remembrance-of the Benefits of God and His Promises. The Psalmist often says: "In the day of my Trouble, I sought God . . . . I Remembered the Works of the Lord". (Note 14) "I will be Mindful of Thy Justice alone". (Note 15) "The Proud did Iniquitously altogether: but I declined not from Thy Law. I remembered, 0 Lord, Thy Judgments of Old: and I was Comforted". (Note 16) We read in Ecclesiasticus also: "In all thy Works, remember thy Last End, and thou shalt never Sin". (Note 17)

Holy Scripture often says also that we must Ceaselessly Remember the Divine Promises, which are the Foundation-of our Hope. The Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, lived by the Promise of the Messias, Who was to-come; and we should Live Daily, more Profoundly, by the 'Promise-of Eternal Beatitude'. It is one of the great Recurrent Themes, in Holy Scripture.

On this point, as on so many others, The Imitation of Christ preserves Admirably-for us the Spirit-of Saint Augustine, often using his very words. (Note 18) This Teaching helps us to Understand Clearly, what Saint John of the Cross wrote later. The Author of The Imitation often Treats-of the Purification-of the Memory in the Passages where he speaks of the Forgetfulness of all Creatures, in order to find the Creator, (Note 19) of Meditation-on Death, (Note 20) of Anxiety to be Avoided about one's Affairs, (Note 21) of Vain and Worldly Learning, (Note 22) of the Remembrance-of the Benefits-of God, (Note 23) of Liberty-of Heart, which is Acquired-by Prayer, rather than by Reading. (Note 24)

This Teaching on the Purification of the Memory was particularly Developed-by Saint John of the Cross, especially in relation-to the Remembrance-of Exceptional and so-to-speak Exterior Graces, on which we must not dwell too-much. The Memory of them, accompanied by Vain Complacency, would Turn us away-from Union with God. Hope lifts us up, more to the Love of God, than Experience-of Extraordinary Graces. "What we have to do, then", says the Holy Doctor, "in order to Live in the Simple and Perfect Hope of God, whenever these Forms, Knowledge, and Distinct Images occur, is not to fix our Minds upon them, but to Turn immediately to God, Emptying the Memory of all such matters, in Loving Affection, without Regarding or Considering them more than suffices to enable us to Understand and Perform our Obligations, if they have any reference thereto". (Note 33)

Here we have Truly, the Active Purification of the Memory, which is too Preoccupied-with Useless or Dangerous Memories. We should put this Teaching into-Practice, that our Memory may no longer be, so-to-speak, Immersed in Ephemeral Things, that it may no longer see them only on the Horizontal Line of Fleeting Time, but on the Vertical Line which attaches them to the Single Instant of Immobile Eternity.

Thus, little-by-little the Soul rises-often to the Thought-of God, recalling the Great Benefits of the Redemptive Incarnation, and the Holy Eucharist. Often, on the contrary, we enter a Church to ask for some Urgent Grace, and we Forget to Thank God for the Measureless Blessing of the Eucharist. Its Institution demands a Special Thanksgiving; this Sacrament reminds us of the Promises-of Eternal Life.



1. Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23.

2. Luke 10:27.

3. Cf. Saint Thomas, Ia, q.78, a.4; q.84, a.7.

4. The Interior Castle, Fifth Mansion, chap. 4; Sixth Mansion, chap. I.

5. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. III, chaps. 12, 34. Cf. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q. 180, a.5 ad 2um.

6. Ibid., Bk. III, chaps. 1-15. Chapter 15 sums up the preceding chapters.

7. Saint Thomas, Ia, q.77, a.8; q.78, a.4; q.79, a.6 f.

8. Saint Thomas (Ia, q.79, a. 7) explains it well, for he says that the Faculties are specified by their Formal Object, and that there is no difference between the Formal Object of the Intellect (specified by Intelligible Being or the True) and the Intellectual Memory which retains Ideas and Judgment.

In the First Objection stated in this Seventh Article, St. Thomas notes that St. Augustine (De Trinitate, Bk. X, chaps. 10 f.) "assigns to the Soul Memory, Understanding, and Will" and thereby seems to distinguish between them. Then he replies that St. Augustine, as is indicated in De Trinitate, Bk. XIV, chap. 7, understood by Memory, the Soul's Habit of Retention; by Intelligence, the Act of the Intellect; and by Will, the Act of the Will.

In other words, Saint Augustine takes the descriptive Point-of View of Experimental Psychology, or of Introspection (it is thus that Saint John of the Cross speaks), whereas Saint Thomas, as a Metaphysician, takes the Ontological Point of View of the Real Distinction of the Faculties, according to their Formal Object. But such a distinction does not exist between the Intellect and the Intellectual Memory.

9. Loc. cit.

10. Isa. 59: 15.

11. Jer. 2:32.

12. Ps. 105:13,21.

13. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. III, chaps. 6 f. Hope, he says, is so much the greater as the Memory is Empty of Notions of Created Things.

14. Ps. 76:3, 12.

15. Ps. 70: 16.

16. Ps. 118: 51 f.

17. Ecclus. 7:40.

18. The Imitation seems to have been written by a Holy Religious who culled from the Works of Saint Augustine what is most applicable to the Interior Life. It matters little whether we know the Name of its Author; this book somewhat resembles Melchisedech, a Type of the Messias, of whom it is said that "he had neither father nor mother" because he belonged, so to speak, to a Supratemporal Order. Likewise, many Sublime Hymns of the Liturgy, bear the name of no-Author; the same is true of many famous melodies. Among anonymous writings, some are Debasing, others Sublime. There are two classes of people who hide themselves: the Criminal who flees punishment, and the Saint, who through Humility, wishes to remain Unknown.

19. The Imitation of Christ, Bk. III, chap. 31.

20. Ibid., Bk. I, chap. 23.

21. Ibid., Bk. III, chap. 39.

22. Ibid., chap. 43.

23 Ibid., chap. 22.

24. Ibid., chap. 26.

33. The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. III, chap. 14. On this subject we must recall what St. John of the Cross says in The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. III, chap. I passim: "When the reader observes that I teach the annihilation of these powers in the matter of their operations, he will perhaps imagine that I am destroying and not building up the spiritual edifice. This objection would be valid if my purpose here were to instruct only beginners, who are to be led onwards by means of these discursive and tangible apprehensions. But as I am teaching how to advance by contemplation to the divine union, for which end all these means, and the sensible exertion of the powers of the soul must cease and be silent, in order that God, in His own way, may bring that union to pass - it is necessary to release the faculties and to empty them, and to make them renounce their natural jurisdiction and operations, that the supernatural may fill and enlighten them; seeing that their powers cannot compass so great a matter, but rather, unless suppressed, prove a difficulty in the way . . . . .

"You will, perhaps, object and say: All this is very well, but the principle involves the destruction of the natural use and course of our faculties . . . . Surely God does not destroy nature, but rather perfects it; but its destruction is the natural issue of this doctrine . . . .

"To this I reply: The more the Memory is United to God, the more it loses all Distinct Knowledge, and at last all such fades utterly away when the state of perfection is reached. In the beginning, when this is going on, great forgetfulness ensues, for these forms and knowledge fall into oblivion, men neglect themselves in outward things, forgetting to eat or drink; . . . and all this because the memory is lost in God. But he who has attained to the habit of union does not forget in this way that which relates to moral and natural reason; he performs in much greater perfection all necessary and befitting actions, though by the ministry of forms and knowledge in the memory, supplied in a special manner by God. . . . The operations of the memory, therefore, and of the other powers in this state are, as it were, divine . . . . Therefore the operations of the soul in the state of union are the operations of the Holy Ghost, and consequently, divine". The soul is then clearly under the Regime of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the special inspirations of the Holy Ghost incline it to the superior acts of the infused virtues which the gifts accompany. "The actions and the prayers of such souls", says St. John of the Cross (ibid.), "always attain their end".