Sermon quotes on the five senses

Diane Ackerman

Mothers and infants do an enormous amount of touching. The first emotional comfort, touching and being touched by our mother, remains the ultimate memory of selfless love, which stays with us lifelong.

A Natural History of the Senses

Augustine of Hippo

The senses are not content to take second place.

John Calvin

We ought to attend, first of all , to the metaphor in the verb smell, which means that Christ will be so shrewd that he will not need to learn from what he hears, or from what he sees; for by smelling alone he will perceive what would otherwise be unknown.

Commentary on Isaiah

Bernard of Clairvaux

When thou writes, promise me nothing, unless I read Jesus in it. When thou converses with me on religious themes, promise me nothing if I hear not Jesus’ voice. Jesus—melody to the ear, gladness to the soul, honey to the taste.

Quoted in Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma, vol. 6, trans. William McGilchrist (London: Williams and Norgate, 1907), 11.

E.E. Cummings

how should tasting touching hearing seeing

breathing any—lifted from the no

of all nothing—human merely being

doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened) 

I Thank You God For Most This Amazing

Lisa Sharon Harper

Shalom is what the kingdom of God smells like.

The Very Good Gospel (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook, 2016), 14.

Elisabeth of Schonau

Cinnamon has a naturally pleasing sweetness that delights the taste. At the same time, it also has a sharp strength that inflames the palate of the one who tastes it and that becomes more piquant and aromatic the more one chews it. Such is the Lord our God to us who always wait to see His desirable face. To us He is sweet beyond all things that can be tasted; nothing among other desirable things can be compared to His sweetness. It touches us with ineffable strength and penetrates us most intimately. It ignites and continually enflames us to love Him. And the more we feast on the taste of His sweetness, the more piquant and appetizing He is for us and the course of our desire for Him will have no end.

Quoted in Mazzoni, The Women in God’s Kitchen, 55–56.

Anne F. Elvey

Smell — as the matter emitted from a thing, its being sensed, and the sensory communion of smelling—links self and other, in such a way that the fragrant or odorous other gives of its essence and is taken into the body of the self. 

Matter of the Text: Material Engagements between Luke and the Five Senses (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011), 110.

Gregory the Great

And we, as often as we hear anything of good people, draw in as it were through our nostrils a breath of sweetness. And when Paul the Apostle said, “We are a good odor of Christ unto God,” it is plainly given to him to be understood that he exhibited himself as a savor indeed to the present, but as an odor to the absent. We therefore, while we cannot be nourished by the savor of your presence, are so by the odor of your absence.

Writing to a friend he missed, Quoted in Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Scenting Salvation: Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), p.126.

Ibn Ezra

The ear is sometimes deceived in hearing sounds, which are only imaginary; the eye, too, sees things in motion, which in reality are at rest; the sense of smell alone is not deceived.

Commentary on Isaiah

Helen Keller

If I, deaf, blind, find life rich and interesting, how much more can you gain by the use of your five senses!

Thomas Merton

All men who live only according to their five senses, and seek nothing beyond the gratification of their natural appetites for pleasure and reputation and power, cut themselves off from that charity which is the principle of all spiritual vitality and happiness because it alone saves us from the barren wilderness of our own abominable selfishness.

The Seven Storey Mountain, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1998, p.172.

Czeslaw Milosz

Leaves glowing in the sun, zealous hum of bumblebees, From afar, from somewhere beyond the river, echoes of lingering voices And the unhurried sounds of a hammer gave joy not only to me. Before the five senses were opened, and earlier than any beginning They waited, ready, for all those who would call themselves mortals, So that they might praise, as I do, life, that is, happiness.

An Hour

Mother Teresa

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

A Gift for God, Willing Slaves to the Will of God. 1975.

James Bryan Smith

God sings his love to you in birdsong. God smiles at you in maple trees. God charms you with the color green. He gave you eyes to see sunsets, ears to hear rainfall, a nose to smell a rose. God’s massive love appears in the small fragments. God is loving you in these moments, even if you don’t know it.

Taken from The Magnificent Story  by James Bryan Smith. Copyright (c) 2018 by James Bryan Smith. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Source Unknown

If a man has common sense, he has all the sense there is.

Dallas Willard

[Beauty] “is goodness made manifest to the senses.

Dallas Willard, chapel talk, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA, September 12, 2011.

Winkie Pratney 

Every Christian a missionary; every non-Christian a mission-field.

Ted Loder

I am so thankful to be alive—breathing, moving, sensing, wide-eyed, cock-eared alive—in this mysterious instant, at this luminous time, on this nurturing earth, this blue pearl of great price whirling through uncharted space, attended by vigilant stars. . . . I am . . . eager to miss no message of grace in the ballet of beauty or in the cramp of struggle of this incredible gift of life.

Harold Best

Christians should be as delighted in the things of sight and sense as God is himself, when at the instant of every creational act, he declares goodness to be observable, enjoyable and usable. Of all people, Christians should have the best noses, the best eyes and ears, the most open joy, the widest sense of delight. That the opposite is often the case is no fault of the Lord’s. How interesting that God, in correcting the ruminations of Job and his three advisers, turned to his work as Imaginer and Maker rather than to his holiness.

Unceasing Worship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 59.