Friday, April 1, 2011

Rooting Out Hidden Passions

GuardianAngel.jpgAfter much effort we often feel like we have mastered the passions yet we still sense a block in our pathway to God.  Often we only think of the obvious forms of passions.

Here is how Saint Theophan explains the realms of passions:
One should be humble, but passion teaches pride and conceit; one should be meek, but passion incites irritation and anger; one should be rejoice at another's good fortune, but passion stirs up envy; one must forgive wrongdoing, but passion provokes vengeance.  thus, passionate feeling and action is contrary to everything that is just.

Often we do not recognize our passions because they emerge in a hidden form.  For example, when we become angry, our anger is obvious to everyone.  But anger is not always obvious.  Sometimes it is cloaked as righteous indignation. You may justify to yourself that because you (falsely) know you are right, your feeling of anger or your rebuke is justified.  You may harbor an inner judgment of the person involved so there is not immediate outward sign of your anger.  It can be silent and well as deceptive.  We have to constantly be on the watch for all forms of our passions.

As we grow spiritually, at first, our guardian angel may whisper a warning in our ear.  This is an inner voice we must learn to pay attention to at the very beginning of our spiritual life.  As our spiritual experience grows we develop the ability to distinguish intuitively between what is a proper action and what is against God's will.  It is as Saint Paul says, those "who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb 5:14).

Saint Theophan gives this advice:
Consider where your thoughts and feelings are inclined––whether to pleasing God or to self-indulgence.  It is not at all difficult to do this.  Just pay attention to yourself.  You know it is not a mistake if you do something in opposition to self-indulgence....Self-indulgence is to blame for all troubles.  If you examine it, you will see that every bad thing that is allowed comes from this. Consequently, if you go  counter to it with steadfast resoluteness, you will probably not allow anything that you should not...

Reference: The Spiritual Life, pp 230-233 

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