Thursday, June 22


[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin passi, passin-, sufferings of Jesus or a martyr, from Late Latin, physical suffering, martyrdom, sinful desire, from Latin, an undergoing, from passus, past participle of pat, to suffer. See p(i)- in Indo-European Roots.]

n 1: strong feeling or emotion [syn: passionateness] 2: intense passion or emotion [syn: heat, warmth] 3: something that is desired intensely; "his rage for fame destroyed him" [syn: rage] 4: an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action [syn: mania, cacoethes] 5: a feeling of strong sexual desire 6: any object of warm affection or devotion; "the theater was her first love" or "he has a passion for cock fighting"; [syn: love] 7: the suffering of Jesus at the crucifixion [syn: Passion, Passion of Christ]

A blog of a person found in my not-so-distant past wrote a post recently about passion. I won't get into the details of the post, but the post actually got me thinking. The post's definition of passion was something to the effect of "anything that affects [your] life in a large way or occupies even a portion of the majority of the days in any given year." Meaning, basically, you may really like kayaking, for example, but does it mean so much to you that you devote much of your life to it on a daily basis? And what is that fine line between interest, passion, and even love?

I think there's a difference between passion and love. Love is satiable and simply "is", passion is not. Passion, to me, is an insatiable desire to participate and revel in a certain task or thought or person in a way that cannot be satiated. It's like being hungry and never being full. I can understand passion and appreciate it. But then I also think that love is also very rewarding. It's good to feel the emotions from the passion, but love is the byproduct of a healthy passion.

And, of course, it's impossible to think of the word "passion" without thinking of the Passion of Christ. Now, this is different from the noun in quite a symbolic way. I never understood what was meant when I saw the movie title of "Passion of the Christ" before I became Catholic. Christ's Passion was his death for us. Not just his giving up of his life, but the entire process of being condemned to die, his beatings, the carrying of his cross, his nails being driven into his hands, and his suffering for three hours hanging on the crucifix.

I decided to do a little bit of investigating on the Catholic interpretation of Passions when I came across the New Advent definition of "passions":

By passions we are to understand here motions of the sensitive appetite in man which tend towards the attainment of some real or apparent good, or the avoidance of some evil. The more intensely the object is desired or abhorred, the more vehement is the passion. St. Paul thus speaks of them: "When we were in the flesh, the passions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death" (Romans 7:5). They are called passions because they cause a transformation of the normal condition of the body and its organs which often appears externally.


The chief passions are eleven in number:

* Six in the concupiscible appetite -- namely, joy or delight, and sadness, desire and aversion or abhorrence, love and hatred -- and
* five in the irascible -- hope and despair, courage and fear, and anger.

The moral virtues are to regulate the passions and employ them as aids in the progress of spiritual life. A just man at times experiences great joy, great hope and confidence, and other feelings in performing duties of piety, and also great sensible sorrow, as well as sorrow of soul, for his sins, and he is thus confirmed in his justice. He can also merit constantly by restraining and purifying his passions. The saints who reached the exalted state of perfection, have retained their capacity for all human emotions and their sensibility has remained subject to the ordinary laws; but in them the love of God has controlled the mental images which excite the passions and directed all their emotions to His active service. It has been justly said that the saint dies, and is born again: he dies to an agitated, distracted and sensual life, by temperance, continency, and austerity, and is born to a new and transformed life. He passes through what St. John calls "the night of the senses", after which his eyes are opened to a clearer light. "The saint will return later on to sensible objects to enjoy them in his own way, but far more intensely than other men" (H. Joly, "Psychology of the Saints", 128). Accordingly we can understand how the passions and the emotions of the sensitive appetite may be directed and devoted to the service of God, and to the acquisition, increase, and perfection of virtue.

When I began thinking of my own passions, I realized I only have a few that really affect my day-to-day life. First, I am passionate about being Catholic. I'm passionate about going to church, and reading the prayers, and spending time in contemplative worship. Finding my place with God has changed my life, and the more time that I spend dedicating my life to God, the better I feel in my soul. I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours, praising God and being thankful for all that I have been given. I'm thankful for all of the many opportunities that I have every day to praise God for his goodness in my life, and He rewards me with a peace I have been searching for all of my life. The first thing I do in the morning is rise, set eyes on my crucifix and pray, and the last thing I do at night is to look on my crucifix and pray before I go to sleep. It boggles my mind that this force has been around me my entire life and only now have I tapped into it.

My second passion is the environment, and the world around me. This passion affects many small and large decisions I make every day. I don't throw paper away, I put it in the recycle bin. I walk to the grocery store to save the atmosphere from a few blocks of my driving. I eat organic foods. I buy products that are recyclable or are made from recycled material. I make my own cleaners. I also talk a lot about how important it is to be aware of the daily choices made by each and every one of us. One person can make a difference. These daily actions take up quite a bit of my time, but they have become a part of who I am. In context of being Catholic, I'm going to steal a line from a commenter on an earlier post and say that being a steward of the Earth is something we are all called to be. I take my role as a steward of this planet very seriously.

My third passion is knowledge. I'm like a sponge. I read, I peruse the Internet, I have discussions, I go see films, I listen to what other people have to say. I refuse to stew in ignorance. I also find that being passionate about knowledge goes past simply learning so as to not be ignorant of a topic, but also to learn the depths and layers of a topic. It's one thing to, for example, go to Mass and learn about its meaning. It's another thing to learn specifically about what many of the learned saints have to say about the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Tridentine Mass vs the Novus Ordo mass, Vatican II, the meanings behind the symbolism of Mass, etc. I have been Catholic for less than two months and investigating the Catholic church since October, but I have dozens of books on multiple different topics within Catholicism. It's important for my faith for this desire for knowledge to be fed. I also have bookshelves full of different books about a ton of different topics, and I read on average a book a week, sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction. I encourage the pursuit of knowledge with people around me and enjoy learning new and interesting things.

Since converting to Catholicism, I find that my passion towards loving and serving God has fulfilled a need in me that I was aware of but never quite understood. I searched high and low my entire life trying to quench this internal thirst I had. I tried to fill it with passion for music, for literature, focusing this desire on television shows or musicians or boys or hobbies. But it always felt like I needed more. The passions I had were consuming and destructive to me. But that insatiable craving is gone, filled with the happiness I have found in the Catholic church. I know now what I was craving.


At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Victor said...

You might want to add one passion: that for your husband (or so I hope)... :-)
Honestly, a beautiful post!


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