Thursday, May 9, 2019

Passions are the root of sinfulness

Saint Maximos the Confessor says, “When the passions dominate the mind, they bind it to material things...” This separates us from God and divine grace. This is why our church fathers and elders like Aimilianos tell us to know ourselves in a deep way to uncover our passions. We often find our passions buried in our habits and our reactions to worldly events or encounters with others. We can often find them by digging into what upsets or hurts us. Also, there are often patterns of behavior that point us to our passions.

Elder Aimilianos warns us that we have to be very careful and observant of our behavior and attachment to material things, because we fail to recognize the harm we are doing to our soul. 

He says,
The passions bind the mind to material things that we think are harmless, since we tell ourselves, God gave them to us and in them selves they are not sinful.
He uses food as a simple example. God did give us the passion of hunger so we can maintain a healthy life. But when our desire for food or drinks goes beyond what is necessary for good health we become consumed by it and lose our focus on God. We eat unhealthily, we obsess over certain foods and drinks, or desire things that are very expensive, creating other issues. Food can easily become a source of conflict between married couples driving them to separate meals, denying them of need social interaction to share and express their loving care for each other.

The path to a passionless life is our love of God. Saint Maximos says, “When the love of God prevails, it frees our mind from bonds...” When we love God with passion we think about the life to come and how we must prepare for this future life. In this way we can see all material things in the right light. They can not be bad in themselves but it depends on how we view them. We need to discern God’s purpose in all things.

Elder Aimilianos says,
Real maturity is when you understand that the problem you are struggling with is the sign of a worldly spirit, an indication that you do not love God.The true meaning of life is spiritual... Preoccupation with material things, worldly interests, and the cares of life, are like weights that oppress and drag us down.Too often we go to our spiritual father, even when we go to confess our sins, not because we care about God, but because we care only about things of this world; because we are looking for solutions to the problems of this life.

Mystical Marriage by Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra, pp 27-32

Ten Points for an Orthodox Way of Life

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