The Passions

Cowardice and Agitation

Cowardice and agitation are born of unbelief; but as soon as the ascetic has recourse to faith, cowardice and agitation vanish, like the darkness of night before a rising sun. – St. Ignatius Brianchaninov


At the present time many suicides are taking place, not only from disbelief, but also from lack of patience. They do not want to endure anything. If the Lord had not given men the natural desire to live, then almost all would kill themselves. – Elder Joseph of Optina

The Path Over Anger

The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of the soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds. – St. John Climacus

Condemnation comes from Lacking Self Knowledge

“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.” – St Seraphim of Sarov

Fierce Faith

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” – The Holy Apostle Paul to the Church at Rome

The Passions vs. True Learning

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. ” – St. Paul the Apostle

A Cause of Listlessness

“Do not befoul your intellect by clinging to thoughts filled with anger and sensual desire. Otherwise you will lose your capacity for pure prayer and fall victim to the demon of listlessness.” – St. Maximus the Confessor

The Passions

A (very) partial list of the passions that St. Peter of Damascus (Damascene) found mentioned or discussed in the Holy Scriptures.

    • Listlessness
    • Despair
    • Mindlessness
    • Cowardice
    • Idle chatter
    • Dissipation
    • Lack of progress
    • Voracity
    • Exasperation
    • Implacability
    • Drowsiness of soul
    • Mindless enjoyment
    • Feigned affection
    • Pettiness
    • Contemptuousness
    • Mindless friendship
    • Silly talk
    • Irritability
    • Clinging to life
    • Affectation
    • Scorn for one’s neighbor
    • Mercilessness
    • Insensitivity
    • Spiritual paralysi

    Constant Stimulation vs. Calm and Control

    “He who is under the power of sin cannot by himself prevail over the will of the flesh, because he suffers continual stimulation in all his members.” — Saint Kosmas Aitolos

    Free Will vs. the Passions

    “A passion which we allow to grow active within us through our own choice afterwards forces itself upon us against our will.” — Saint Kosmas Aitolos

    Comment: Heraclitus said, “Character is destiny.” For those interested in predestination, the war that Orthodox are called to make continually upon the passions is an interesting corollary. – DD

    Resist More

    The Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews  Chapter 12, 1-15.

    Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

    Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. …

    What is Insight?

    “Spiritual insight is characterized, first, by awareness of one’s own failing before they issue in outward actions, as well as of the stealthy tricks of the demons; and, second, by the knowledge of the mysteries hidden in the divine Scriptures and in sensible creation.” – St. Peter of Damaskos.

    The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

    O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.  Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages.  Amen.

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