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Even Gregory the Great, who regarded physical senses as disruptive of any spiritual perception, appealed to the spiritual senses to express [End Page ] pastoral and ascetic concerns. Sacraments such as baptism activated spiritual perception, as other sacraments energized the ascent toward contact with God.

Maximus the Confessor also regarded ascetic virtues and contemplation as the training ground for spiritual perception and thereby progress.

2 Foundations of Christian Spirituality: What God is Like

Two essays on medieval writers deserve special mention for the methodological questions they raise. In a lucid and engaging essay, Richard Cross considers how Aquinas, informed by Aristotelian principles, dispensed altogether with the need for any notion of the spiritual senses. And Bernard McGinn provides a useful comparative context in an essay on five late-medieval mystics, several of them women.

He calls attention to the increased use of vernacular languages and somatic language in mystical writings as expanding linguistic possibilities for describing spiritual perception of God. This collection will interest a wide range of scholars, including those interested the relation between affect and cognition, patristic and medieval spirituality, the role of the senses in shaping liturgical and the sacramental experiences, the legacy of both Plato and Aristotle for Christian mysticism, and late-antique and medieval attitudes toward the body, in general, and the physical senses, in particular.

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The Spiritual Senses

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