Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

passions

52 Entries

... when the intellect has been perfected, it unites wholly with God and is illumined by divine light, and the most hidden mysteries are revealed to it. Then it truly learns where wisdom and power lie... While it is still fighting against the passions it cannot as yet enjoy these things... But once the battle is over and it is found worthy of spiritual gifts, then it becomes wholly luminous, powerfully energized by grace and rooted in the contemplation of spiritual realities. A person in whom this happens is not attached to the things of this world but has passed from death to life." St. Thalassios, "On Love, Self-control and Life in accordance with the Intellect" Philokalia (Vol. 2)", p. 355)



"Passion is an impulse of the soul contrary to nature, as in the case of mindless love or mindless hatred for someone or for some sensible thing. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 16)

... to overcome and kill one's own evil tendencies and lusts, however insignificant, is more worthy of praise than the capture of many fortresses, or the defeat of powerful and well-equipped armies; more even than the power to perform miracles and to raise the dead. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare, Chapter Seven)

...God is not the cause of evil. He has given men knowledge and understanding, the power of discriminating between good and evil, and free will. It is man's negligence and indolence that gives birth to evil passions, while God is in no way the cause. St. Antony the Great(On the Character of Men no. 89)

...as soon as you feel a passionate impulse, whether of lust or irritation, hasten to curb it by an effort of will, descend into your heart with the attention of your mind, and try in every possible way not to let the passion enter your heart. Watch to prevent the heart being irritated by what irritates, or attracted by what attracts. If, however, either the one or the other happens suddenly to be born in your heart, to begin with try and prevent it from coming out; do not express it either by word, look or gesture. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare:Chapter 18)

...when a man pays little attention and care to repulsing small passionate desires from the heart, after he has overcome the great, he is subjected to sudden and unexpected attacks of the enemy, so impetuous that he is unable to hold his ground in battle and his downfall is more grievous than those of old. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare

A brother questioned Abba Poemen in these words, "What does the Scripture mean: 'See that none of you repays evil for evil?'" The old man said to him, "Passions work in four stages: first, in the heart; secondly, in the face; thirdly, in words; and fourthly, it is essential not to render evil for evil in deeds. If you can purify your heart, passion will not come into your expression; but if it comes into your face, take care not to speak; but if you do speak, cut the conversation short in case you render evil for evil." The Desert Fathers

A mind which wages passionate war does not see the plans of the adversary; for then it is like a warrior fighting at night. But after gaining passionlessness, it easily discerns the wiles of the enemy. Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 55)

An intellect subject to passion cannot penetrate the narrow gate of prayer until it abandons the cares to which it has attached itself. So long as it remains continually occupied with bodily matters, it will inflict suffering on itself. Ilias the Presbyter (Gnomic Anthology II no. 81)

BROTHER: How can I conquer the passions which trouble me when they are fixed in me by nature?

OLD MAN: By your death to this world; for if you do not bury your soul in the grave of persistent endurance the spiritual Adam can never be quickened in you. When a dying man has departed from this temporary life he has no consciousness of this world, and all his perceptions are at rest and are abated. Now if you forsake that which is of nature naturally, and you do not perform it voluntarily in your person, you are dead; but if your desire dies in repentance, the whole of your nature ceases from this temporary life by the death of the spirit just as do the motions of the body at the natural end of time. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 264-265



Christ’s Resurrection became life and healing from passions for those who believe on Him, that they might live in God and bring forth the fruits of truth. Venerable Abba Isaiah

Dispassion does not mean that a man feels no passions, but that he does not accept any of them. St. Isaac of Syria

Dispassion is a peaceful condition of the soul in which the soul is not easily moved to evil. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 36)

Fire, darkness, worm, hell correspond to passions - lusts of all kinds, the all-embracing darkness of ignorance, the unquenchable thirst for sensual pleasures, the stench of evil-smelling sin, which, like precursors and foretastes of the torment of hell, even now begin to torture sinners in whose souls they take root through long-established habit. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 34)

First the memory brings some passion-free thought into the intellect. By its lingering there, passion is aroused. When the passion is not eradicated, it persuades the intellect to assent to it. Once the assent is given, the actual sin is then committed. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 84)

He who refuses to give into passions does the same as he who refuses to bow down and worship idols. St. Theophan the Recluse

He, then, who knows what is to his benefit should struggle to acquire this virtue before anything else, according to St. Basil the Great. For St. Basil advises us not to fight against all the passions at once ... Rather we should fight the passions one at a time, and start by patiently enduring whatever befalls us. This is right; for the person who lacks patient endurance will never be able to stand fast even in an ordinary battle, but will bring only flight and destruction upon himself and others by retreating. St. Peter of Damaskos, The Philokalia, Vol. 3

He, then, who knows what is to his benefit should struggle to acquire this virtue before anything else, according to St. Basil the Great. For St. Basil advises us not to fight against all the passions at once, since if we are unsuccessful we might turn back and no longer be fit for the kingdom of heaven. Rather we should fight the passions one at a time, and start by patiently enduring whatever befalls us. This is right; for the person who lacks patient endurance will never be able to stand fast even in an ordinary battle, but will bring only flight and destruction upon himself and others by retreating. St. Peter of Damaskos, The Philokalia, Vol. 3

If you have faith in the Lord you will fear punishment, and this fear will lead you to control the passions. Once you control the passions you will accept affliction patiently, and through such acceptance you will acquire hope in God. Hope in God separates the intellect from every worldly attachment, and when the intellect is detached in this way it will acquire love for God. St. Maximos the Confessor(First Century on Love no. 3)

If you wish, you can be a slave of passions, and if you wish, you can remain free and not submit to their yoke; for God has created you with that power. St. Antony the Great(170 Texts on Saintly Life no. 67)

If, then, the Creator of everything that is beautiful is superior to all His creation, on what grounds does the intellect abandon what is superior to all and engross itself in ... the passions of the flesh? Clearly this happens because the intellect has lived with these passions and grown accustomed to them since birth, whereas it has not yet had perfect experience of Him who is superior to all and beyond all things. Thus, if we gradually wean the intellect away from this relationship by long practice of controlling our indulgence in pleasure and by persistent meditation on divine realities, the intellect will gradually devote itself more and more to these realities, will recognize its own dignity, and finally transfer all its desire to the divine. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 72)

In order not to be in daily bondage to the passions and the devil, you must set yourself an object to aim at, have this object constantly in view, and endeavor to attain it, conquering all obstacles by the name of the Lord. What is this object? The Kingdom of God, the Divine palace of glory, prepared for believers from the creation of the world. But as this object can only be attained by certain means, it also is necessary to have such means at one's disposal. And what are these means? Faith, hope, and love, especially the last. Believe, hope, and love, especially love, disregarding all obstacles; love God above everything and your neighbor as yourself. If you have not sufficient strength to preserve in your heart these inestimable treasures, fall down more often at the feet of the God of Love. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you," for He Who has promised is true. Walking, sitting, lying down, conversing, or working, at every time, pray with your whole heart that faith and love may be given to you. You have not yet asked for them as you should ask - fervently and instantly - with the firm purpose of obtaining them. Say now, "I will begin to do so henceforth. St. John of Kronstadt - My Life in Christ

In the Lives of the Saints are shown numerous but always certain ways of salvation, enlightenment, sanctification, transfiguration, "christification," deification; all the ways are shown by which man conquers sin, every sin; conquers passion, every passion; conquers death, every death; conquers the devil, every devil. There is a remedy there for every sin: from every passion-healing, from every death-resurrection, from every devil-deliverance; for all evils-salvation. There is no passion, no sin for which the Lives of the Saints do not show how the passion or sin in question is conquered, mortified, and uprooted. Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

It is through our fulfilling of the commandments that the Lord makes us dispassionate; and it is through His divine teachings that He gives us the light of spiritual knowledge. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 77)

Let everyone find out then where he is: how many milestones he has passed on the road. We ought not only to examine ourselves every day but also over a period of time, every month, and every week. `The first week I was a prey to such and such a fault - how do I stand now?' Similarly over a period of time: `Last year I was overcome so many times by such and such a fault, how about now?' And likewise we ought to examine for ourselves each of our faults - whether we have made a little progress or are in the same condition, or have become worse. For so long as we have not uprooted our evil tendencies, may God give us the strength not to give them free reign but to hold them in check. For it is a very grave thing to let loose our passions and not to check them. St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

Like a vapor or gases that have accumulated in a great quantity in a shut-up place strive to rush out, so also the passions, like the breathing of the spirit of evil, having filled the heart, strive to rush out of one man to pour themselves into others, and corrupt, by their ill-odor, the souls of others." St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery, pg. 50)

Passionate habits are the precursors of the torment of hell, just as active virtues are the forerunners of the kingdom of heaven. By good deeds one should understand actions in accordance with the commandments, and by virtues good tendencies rooted in habit ... all alike will receive their reward according to their merits. The amount and nature of the reward will be determined either by virtues or passions, rooted in habit. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 35-36)

Passions of the soul receive their impulse from people, and those of the body from the body. The movement of bodily passions is arrested by self-mastery, and of the soul by spiritual love. Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 24)

Peace is liberation from passions, which cannot be attained without the action of the Holy Spirit. St. Mark the Ascetic

Some men abstain from the passions because of human fear, others because of self-esteem, and others through self-control. Some, however, are delivered from the passions by divine providence. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 23)

The Logos bestows adoption on us when He grants us that birth and deification which, transcending nature, comes by grace from above through the Spirit. The guarding and preservation of this in God depends on the resolve of those thus born: on their sincere acceptance of the grace bestowed on then and, through the practice of the commandments, on their cultivation of the beauty given to them by grace. Moreover, by emptying themselves of the passions they lay hold of the divine to the same degree as that to which, deliberately emptying Himself of His own sublime glory, the Logos of God truly became man. St. Maximos the Confessor, On the Lord's Prayer, The Philokalia, Vol. 3

The body is a slave, the soul a sovereign, and therefore it is due to Divine mercy when the body is worn out by illness: for thereby the passions are weakened, and a man comes to himself; indeed, bodily illness itself is sometimes caused by the passions. Abba Tithoes

The body is a slave, the soul a sovereign, and therefore it is due to Divine mercy when the body is worn out by illness: for thereby the passions are weakened, and a man comes to himself; indeed, bodily illness itself is sometimes caused by the passions. St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions

The one who has come to understand the weakness of human nature has had experience of the divine power, and such a person who because of it has succeeded in some things and is eager to succeed in others never looks down on anyone. For he knows that in the same way that God has helped him and freed him from many passions and hardships, so can He help everyone when He wishes, especially those who are striving for His sake. Although for His own reasons He does not deliver all from their passions right away, still as a good and loving physician He heals in His own good time each one of those who are striving. St. Maximus the Confessor, Four Centuries on Love

The origin of all the passions is self-love; their consummation is pride. Self-love is a mindless love for the body. He who cuts this off cuts off at the same time all the passions that come from it. St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 57)

The passions of the soul's incensive power are more difficult to combat than those of its desiring aspect. Consequently our Lord has given a stronger remedy against them: the commandment of love. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Love no. 66)

There exists three states of soul: natural, unnatural, and supernatural. `The natural state of the soul is the knowledge of God's creation, both visible and spiritual. The supernatural state of the soul is the contemplation of the super-essential Divinity. The unnatural state of the soul is its involvement in the passions,' for the passions do not belong to its nature. Passion is an unnatural state of the soul, but virtue is its natural state. St. Justin Popovich, The Theory of Knowledge of St. Isaac the Syrian (in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ)

There is no shorter ascent to the royal and Divine mansions...than through subduing the five passions hostile to obedience, namely: disobedience, argumentativeness, self-gratification, self-justification and pernicious high opinion of oneself...Disobedience is the mouth of hell; argumentativeness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification is its sharp teeth; self-justification its throat; high opinion of oneself, which casts one into hell, is the belching of its all-devouring belly. But he who, through obedience, conquers the first, by one stroke cuts off all the rest and with one stride reaches heaven. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 121)

They were the same three principal lusts which provoked the heart of Eve, so that her heart being emptied of love, it tasted the same evil spirits as Christ the Savior encountered in the wilderness near Jericho. These are: desire for earthly satisfaction, desire for worldly possessions that the eye sees, and desire for recognition - all outside and contrary to God and the love of God. But Jesus imperiously drives them away from Himself - and like Eve - with the words: `Get thee hence, Satan' (Mt. 4:10). Kassiana: Lessons in Divine and Christian Love

Through genuine love for God we can drive out the passions. Love for God is this: to choose Him rather than the world ... St. Maximos the Confessor (Third Century on Love no. 50)

To the aspect of the soul that is accessible to passion we impart the best of all dispositions, that of love; and we also raise the level of the intelligence by repelling whatever impedes the mind in its ascent towards God: this aspect of the law we call watchfulness. St. Gregory Palamas (Those Who Practice a Life of Stillness no. 2, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 333)

To yield and give way to our passions is the lowest slavery, even as to rule over them is the only liberty. The greatest of all good is to be free from sin, the next is to be justified; but he must be reckoned the most unfortunate of men, who, while living unrighteously, remains for a long time unpunished. The end contemplated by a philosopher is likeness to God, so far as that is possible. Fragments from the writings of St. Justin Martyr

Watch yourselves - your passions especially - in your home life, where they appear freely, like moles in a safe place. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 33)

You cannot destroy the passions on your own, but ask God, and He will destroy them, if this is profitable for you. St. Anatoly of Optina

...we experience temptations even against our will; and we grieve over passions (when they arise), yet we love to prolong their impulses and their sweetness. Sins we do not desire; yet we accept with enjoyment the impulses which lead us to them. So in practice the latter become for us the cause of the former. He who enjoys the sweetmeats of passions becomes involuntarily subjected to them and is a slave to his passions against his will. Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 28, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 199)

He who refuses to give into passions does the same as he who refuses to bow down and worship idols. St. Theophan the Recluse

It does not lie within our power to decide whether or not the passions are going to harass and attack the soul. But it does lie within our power, but it does lie within our power to prevent impassioned thoughts from arousing the passions into action. The first of these conditions is not sinful, inasmuch as it is outside our control; where the second is concerned, if we fight against the passions and overcome them we are rewarded, but we will be punished if because of laziness and cowardice we let them overcome us. St. Theodorus the Great Ascetic, A Century of Spiritual Texts, text 9

... when the intellect has been perfected, it unites wholly with God and is illumined by divine light, and the most hidden mysteries are revealed to it. Then it truly learns where wisdom and power lie... While it is still fighting against the passions it cannot as yet enjoy these things... But once the battle is over and it is found worthy of spiritual gifts, then it becomes wholly luminous, powerfully energized by grace and rooted in the contemplation of spiritual realities. A person in whom this happens is not attached to the things of this world but has passed from death to life." St. Thalassios, "On Love, Self-control and Life in accordance with the Intellect" Philokalia (Vol. 2)", p. 355)

Like traders sailing on a ship during fair winds and a calm sea fear that sudden strong winds and turbulent waters may place their ship in danger before they reach port, so do Christians, even though they feel benevolent winnowing of the Holy Spirit, fear that an ill-wind may arouse a turbulence of passions. Consequently, it is essential to take great care in order to reach the tranquil port of eternal life and eternal joy — the cities of Saints, Heavenly Jerusalem and the Churches of the firstborn. [Hebrews 12:23]. REF:St Macarius the Great

119. He who hates the passions gets rid of their causes. But he who is attracted by their causes is attacked by the passions even though he does not wish it. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

122. We cannot entertain a passion in our mind unless we have a love for its causes.

123. For what man, who cares nothing about being put to shame, entertains thoughts of self-esteem? Or who welcomes contempt and yet is disturbed by dishonor? And who has 'a broken and a contrite heart' (Ps 51:17) and yet indulges in carnal pleasure? Or who puts his trust in Christ and yet worries or quarrels about transitory things? REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779



It is well known how powerfully corrupt images act upon the soul, no matter in what form they may touch it! How unfortunate is the child who, closing his eyes, or being left alone and going within himself, is stifled by a multitude of improper images -- vain, tempting, breathing of the passions. This is the same thing for the soul as smoke is for the head. REF:St Theophan the Recluse, "The Path to Salvation" p54





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