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“Are the choices that people make in their lives based on reason? The “Rational Choice Theory” claims that people choose the options they believe are in their best interest. That is, they select the most reasonable choices among alternatives. Our reading of Proverb 15:7-19 rejects this presupposition. The wise sage of Proverbs writes, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf with hatred” (vs. 17). This saying suggests that the theory that people make reasonable choices fails to consider the role of the passions in human decisions…if we let the passions manipulate us, then our choices may seem reasonable. But they seem practical only because our passionate desires corrupt our reasoning. And yes, this way of living has its treasures. It rewards us with the temporary satisfaction of our passions. Yet each set of choices has its consequences. In the fear of the Lord there is liberty. But giving awe and respect of the Lord promise us little more. In contrast, slavery to passions offers the reward of the gratification of the passions. Yet, it also comes with “trouble.” The Greek word means disruption, unrest, and turmoil…The passions will not allow those they rule to rest. Satisfaction incites more hunger. Gratification stirs up the need for more indulgence. The fulfillment of desire enflames more craving. In the end, the yearning of the passions is self-destructive.” (Fr. Basil)

“We are all the prodigal son, for like him we have chosen to live as isolated individuals seeking fulfillment in our self-centered desires for pleasure. It does not matter what forms of pleasure we have put before God, for if we put love for anything before Him we become slaves to our passions in ways that inevitably hinder us from embracing the joy that is ours as “partakers of the divine nature.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“God’s knowledge of us is striking: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jer. 1:5). The self whom we do not yet know is known to God, and it is God alone who reveals us to ourselves. This is without the distortions of the noise and passions that darken our understanding and rob us of our sight.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Without Christ, it is impossible to correct ourselves. We will not be able to detach ourselves from our passions. On our own, we cannot become good… There is one thing we must do and that is turn to Him and love Him with all our soul. Love for Christ, this is the best and sole remedy for the passions.” (St. Prophryrios)

“The more we know Christ, the more we are changed into His likeness. Ultimately, to know Christ our God is to think, feel, desire, reason, and will as He does. By submitting to His will, we become like Him and thus enjoy true freedom (John 8:32). This freedom is neither political, economic, nor social in its essence, but an inner freedom of the heart, soul, and mind. The Lord refines our appreciation of the inner freedom He imparts by promising to release us from our bondage to the passions. If we abide in Christ, we are no longer the “slaves of sin” (John 8:34). We are set free from servitude to the passions and to our desire to live for the pleasures of the flesh. The impulses of the flesh are stilled, and at the same time we are freed from pressure from others who are still controlled by sin. The Lord frees, for “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).” (Dynamis 5/16/2020)

“To sin is to miss the mark, to fail to realize one's vocation and destiny. Sin brings disorder and fragmentation. It diminishes life and causes the most pure and most noble parts of our nature to end up as passions, i.e., faculties and impulses that have become distorted, spoiled, violated and finally alien to the true self…we have responsibilities to one another and, of course, to God. When we sin, or relationship to God and to others distorted. Sin is ultimately alienation from God, from our fellow human beings, and from our own true self which is created in God's image and likeness.” (Rev. Alkiviadis Calivas, Rev. Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald)

“…our sins and passions are the manifestation of us turning things toward ourselves in order to appease our will, our insatiable desires, and even at times our wicked intentions. But Christianity is about conforming to Christ, to His commandments, and taking the necessary steps toward turning ourselves away from the world, from the easy path that leads to the wide gate—from sin and the passions, in other words—and toward the straight and narrow path that leads to life (Matt. 7: 14).” (Constantina R. Palmer)

“True necessity is not passion, nor is it driven by the passions. We need to eat. We need to be clothed. We need shelter. We need family and friendship. We need work. We need meaning. We need love. We need beauty and transcendence. None of these things are passions, though the passions can easily distort them. The monastic life is, in many ways, a life reduced to necessity. It seems that living within the range of necessity makes it possible to discover the “one thing needful.” It deeply assists, as well, in discovering the truth of our identity. The soul is not the product of passions, but the image of God. To see the soul clearly, without distortion, is to see the face of God, or, at least, its reflection.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“How then do we break the tyranny of the passions? According to Saint Maximos the Confessor, such freedom comes only from the Holy Spirit. We must love and practice self-control by “first curbing passions of the soul and . . . second, those of the body”…Our desires must be surrendered one by one until we reach what the Fathers call dispassion. We steadily subdue the passions with the help of the life-giving Spirit, receiving in return the peace of soul that equips us for those seasons when we shall be asked to witness – when persecution of the faith will require a stand. The Lord gives us words and wisdom that no adversary can contradict or silence (Lk 21:13-15).” (Dynamis 12/8/2020)

“Strife and contention are predominant in human society…What then is the source of human contention in human society?  The apostle’s penetrating insight discloses that the cause is found in the “desires for pleasure” (James 4:1). But the term that this phrase translates has a broader meaning than this phrase suggests. It refers to sensual gratifications, that is, insatiable lusts…James says that these passions “war in your members”…He does not mean that the cravings set different parts of the body against each other. Rather the passions tear up our psyches with internal conflict as they compete with one another. Outer conflict, therefore, begins with inner turmoil. Humans project the warfare within by making war on the world around them…the struggle with the passions is internal.  But it has external consequences for how we live in this world.  The Lord’s call for us to be peacemakers is one of many motives for us to redouble our spiritual labor in the Spirit to overcome the passions. It is good reason to replace the worldly desires with the heavenly virtues that are the characteristics of peacemakers.” (Fr. Basil)


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