Selections from
by St. Ælred of Rievaulx


 Saints Protasius and Hyacinth BM MS 2, Paris Breviary ca. 1414

The Mirror of Charity, BOOK 3, ch. 27
Latin: PL 195,
599-601 Aelredus Rievallensis: Beati Aelredi Abbatis Rievallis Speculum Charitatis, tr. L. Dysinger, O.S.B.



Concerning physical attraction: that it should neither be vigorously suppressed
(omnino respuendus), nor uncritically accepted.


De affectu carnali, quod nec omnino respuendus, nec plene sit admittendus.



THIS physical attraction, which is born of some particular quality of a person’s external attractiveness, should[:] 

Igitur carnalis affectus, quem parturit quidam hominis exterioris ornatus,

[1] neither be vigorously suppressed [as evil],

[2] nor [simply] accepted [whenever] it pours forth [within us].

nec omnino respuendus [0601A] est;

nec ita ut se profuderit, admittendus.

It is true that this attraction is closely related to that which leads to vice;  and unless one very wisely (prudentius) keeps guard, it will insinuate it’s way in unnoticed.

Vicinus enim illi est affectus ille, qui ducit ad vitia; et nisi iste prudentius caveatur, ille sine sensu pene patientis illabitur.



BUT this attraction can be accepted in a healthy (salubriter) way if it is received[:]

Ad hoc igitur affectus iste salubriter admittitur, si

[1] cautiously (suspense) and

[2] moderately (temperate),

tamen suspense
et temperate
quodammodo admittatur;

in such a way that

ut videlicet

if it is virtue that shines forth from someone,

si virtus in eo claruerit,

we may happily embrace [the experience of] our [attraction towards them].

 facilius amplectatur;



HOWEVER if it is vice [that shines forth],

si vero vitium,

we must powerfully compel the correction [of our attraction].

correctioni ejus vehementius insistatur.

What we have previously said in regard to attraction arising in the context of assigned duties may also be applied to this attraction.

Quidquid enim de officiali affectu diximus, de hoc quoque sentiendum nihilominus arbitremur.



But this kind of attraction should be deliberately suppressed by anyone who is still assaulted by vices of the flesh; for it will seldom have any effect in them other than to stimulate vices.

Ab his tamen, qui adhuc carnalibus vitiis appetuntur, consulte affectus iste respuitur, a quibus rarissime sine vitii titillatione sentitur.




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