Passions

We have heard Father Geiermann explain that a person striving after perfection should subjugate his five external senses and four internal senses to reason. Now we shall hear him explain that a person ought to subjugate his sensitive appetite to reason as well. He states: “The sensitive appetite is the faculty which tends towards the good and from the evil discovered by the instinct. This inclination of the sensitive appetite is called feeling or passion. St. Thomas [Aquinas] enumerates eleven passions: love, hatred, desire, aversion, joy, sadness, hope, despair, courage, fear, and anger.” The first six are concupiscible passions because “their object is agreeable or repugnant in itself.” The remaining five are irascible passions because they are “apprehended as subject to some condition of difficulty or danger.”

“Though indifferent in themselves, the passions strongly tend to evil on account of the corruption of human nature. When violently aroused they hamper the judgment of the mind and shackle the freedom of the will. When aroused and directed by a reflex action of the will, the passions are called emotions. As such they powerfully second the efforts of the will for good and for evil.”

“As a result of original sin man’s will is not only weakened, but his nature inclines inordinately to one of the eleven passions. This inclination is called his predominant passion.”

Geiermann asserts that “the passions are the battlefield on which the fiercest conflicts between the flesh and the spirit take place. ‘Here,’ says St. Augustine, ‘pride is opposed to humility, vain-glory to the fear of the Lord, hypocrisy to true devotion, contempt to submission, envy to fraternal congratulation, hatred to love, detraction to fraternal correction, anger to patience, impertinence to meekness, insult to satisfaction, a worldly spirit to spiritual joy, sloth to the practice of virtue, vagrancy to stability, despair to confidence in God, cupidity to contempt of the world, hardness of heart to mercy, fraud and theft to innocence of life, lies and deception to truth, intemperance to moderation, immoderate rejoicing to sorrow for sin, an unbridled tongue to discretion and silence, impurity to carnal integrity, sensual desires to purity of heart, and worldly desires to the longing for heaven.'”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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