Tuesday 11th December 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Morality Of The Passions

August 4, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Two deeply flawed moral theories that have gained much popularity in contemporary times were scrutinized in last week’s installment: proportionalism and consequentialism.
As we saw, Pope St. John Paul II authoritatively repudiated both notions in his tenth encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (VS), which was promulgated in 1993 after a preparation period of roughly six years.
To summarize the basis of these false concepts and how each errs, we draw once again upon the illuminating intellect of master catechist and Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, as expertly condensed in his booklet entitled Catechism on The Splendor of Truth (CST).
Proportionalism “is the erroneous moral theory which claims that the value of a human act depends on the proportion of good and evil effects which this action produces,” explains Fr. Hardon. “In the last analysis this is moral subjectivism. Each person then decides for himself whether something is good or bad, depending on the balance of good and evil effects which his action is expected to produce” (CST, p. 32; cf. VS, n. 75 § 1).
Similarly, consequentialism “is the erroneous moral theory which claims that the goodness or badness of our actions basically depends on the results or consequences foreseen as following on our actions,” continues Fr. Hardon.
“As with proportionalism, consequentialism is essentially a subjective morality. Each person, on his or her own, evaluates what they foresee as the result of their conduct. Then, guided by this norm, they are supposed to pass judgment on their moral behavior. Behind both theories, proportionalism and consequentialism, is a proud refusal to accept God’s word, as taught by the Church, on the morality of our human behavior” (ibid.).
Having considered the sources of morality (object, intention or end, and circumstances) and the necessary condition that all three must concurrently be good for a human act to be good, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) now examines the role that the passions play in one’s moral life.
A term that “belongs to the Christian patrimony,” passions (or feelings) can be defined as “emotions or movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil” (CCC, n. 1763).
The passions are “natural components of the human psyche,” teaches the Catechism. “They form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind” (CCC, n. 1764).
In his work entitled Both a Servant and Free: A Primer in Fundamental Moral Theology (BSF), Fr. Brian Mullady, OP, affirms that “the passions were created by God as a natural part of the human soul and they must be allowed to fulfill their God-given role” (BSF, p. 140). First, however, he provides a brief description of two contrary and extreme schools of thought that have negatively influenced authentic teaching on the morality of the passions.
One extreme, that of Stoicism, views passions as “sicknesses of the soul” that interfere with human freedom and cause human beings to act contrary to their nature. Emotions are considered to be evil in themselves and the ideal disposition for a “perfect human being” is one of complete dispassion. In other words, virtue has nothing to do with the passions.
The other extreme, that of Hedonism, endorses the view that the passions are to be indulged to the fullest, that any attempt to control them “would produce a psychological complex.” The mentality “If it feels good, do it!” perhaps best describes this destructive ideology, which insists that virtue does not consist in regulation of the passions, but just using them for pleasure (cf. BSF, pp. 137-140).
In slightly different terms, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, expresses the same idea in the first volume of his masterpiece on the spiritual life, The Three Ages of the Interior Life (AIL-1). “The partisans of the morality of pleasure have said that all passions are good, as the legitimate expansion of our nature,” says Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange.
“The Stoics, on the contrary, condemned the passions, saying that they are a movement which, opposed to right reason, troubles the soul. According to them, the wise man must suppress the passions and reach impassibility” (AIL-1, p. 325).
In reality, however, the passions are neither morally good nor bad in themselves. Since they are capable of being obedient to reason, they become morally good or bad insofar as they are voluntary — either by being commanded or left unimpeded by the will.
Drawing on the teaching of St. Thomas, the Catechism clearly treats this key tenet of moral theology:
“In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, ‘either because they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place obstacles in their way’ (STh I-II, Q. 24, art. 1, resp.). It belongs to the perfection of the moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason (cf. STh I-II, Q. 24, art. 3, resp.)” (CCC, n. 1767).
The exact words of St. Thomas on this matter are profound:
“If we give the name of passions to all the movements of the sensitive appetite, then it belongs to the perfection of man’s good that his passions be moderated by reason. For since man’s good is founded on reason as its root, that good will be all the more perfect, according as it extends to more things pertaining to man” (STh I-II, Q. 24, art. 3, resp.).
In other words, it might be accurately said that man’s perfection does not consist in eliminating the passions, but in causing them to participate in the order of reason. God created man with passions or emotions for a wondrous purpose: that in harmony with his spiritual faculties and properly regulated, they might contribute to human perfection. The Catechism acknowledges that “there are many passions” (CCC, n. 1765).
The Angelic Doctor distinguishes eleven chief passions. As enumerated by Msgr. Paul J. Glenn in A Tour of the Summa (ATS), six belong to the concupiscible appetites: love and hatred, desire and aversion, and joy and sadness; and five belong to the irascible appetites: hope and despair, fear and courage, and anger.
“The concupiscible passions,” explains Msgr. Glenn, “stand related to good and evil simply, . . . but the irascible passions are to related to good and evil under the aspect of difficulty” (ATS, p. 119). For example, love is for good and hatred is for evil whereas hope is for a good that is difficult to achieve and despair for an evil difficult to avoid (cf. ibid.).
“The most fundamental passion is love,” teaches the Catechism, “aroused by the attraction of the good” (CCC, n. 1765). And how is authentic, benevolent love to be defined? “To love,” says St. Thomas, “is to will the good of another” (STh I–II, Q. 26, art. 4, corp.); it is to seek what is best for the other.
“All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good,” affirms the Catechism. “Only the good can be loved” (CCC, n. 1766).
In the Christian life, then, correct and reasonable formation of the passions is indispensable. As a consequence of the original sin of our first parents, “the passions tend to arise in us before reason can be brought to bear and color our judgment. It is precisely for this reason that the formation of the passions in a good way is so essential to morals” (BSF, p. 141).
As taught by the Catechism: “The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices” (CCC, n. 1768).
“The moral virtues are acquired by human effort,” states the Catechism. “They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love” (CCC, n. 1804).
Fr. Mullady provides a helpful analogy that demonstrates the importance of their proper development:
“The passions are like tools of the will, albeit tools with a knowing and desiring life of their own. If one were an expert carpenter but tried to make a bench with a bent saw, it would be impossible. In a similar way, if the intellect and will are to sufficiently guide free human choices, the passions must be well formed to support this guidance. So they must be respected and habits must be introduced into them which make them easily amenable to the movement of reason and will” (BSF, pp. 143-144).

The Holy Spirit

Conversely, unrestrained passions result in vices. “Unbridled passions,” declares the Catholic Encyclopedia, “cause all the moral ruin and most of the physical and social evils that afflict man.” Ultimately, it is only with the aid of the Holy Spirit that the passions can be perfectly ordered to assist man in his pursuit of holiness and eternal beatitude (cf. CCC, n. 1769).
A Psalm beautifully assimilates the theme of this column: “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalm 84:2).
As expressed by the Didache Bible commentator, “The heart and flesh signifies that our will together with our appetites and passions must be conformed to the moral law and God’s will. Through the practice of virtue, by which our will is strengthened and our passions are placed under the governance of reason, we can advance toward moral perfection” (p. 677).

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

#Apple CEO Tim Cook took the mask off & said
They use Liberal Values to decide what content to censor

They once fought Big Brother
Now they & the rest of Big Tech
Are the #ThoughtPolice

Load More...

Pro-LGBT priest promotes ‘rainbow’ rosary with prayers for ‘full acceptance’ of gay couples

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin is promoting on social media a rosary with “rainbow” beads for one of the decades which are to be used, the rosary’s creators say, to pray for the “full…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being…Continue Reading

Vatican’s former doctrine chief: ‘LGBT’ has ‘no place’ in Church documents

VATICAN CITY, November 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An influential cardinal says that pro-homosexual terminology such as “LGBT” has no place in the documents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a recent interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, formerly the Prefect of the…Continue Reading

$25 MILLION PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT TO VATICAN REMAINS UNACCOUNTED FOR

PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) – After Cdl. Donald Wuerl spearheaded a $25 million grant to the Vatican earlier this year through the Papal Foundation, sources confirm the money remains unaccounted for, the Rome hospital designated as beneficiary apparently never having received the grant. Sources also confirm Wuerl…Continue Reading

Cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse addresses US bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal barred from public ministry since 2013 as a result of his systematic cover-up of sex abuse spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore Tuesday, telling the bishops they “need to lead by witness.” In…Continue Reading

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Cdl. Burke: ‘Synodality’ suggests some kind of ‘new church’ where pope’s authority is destroyed

LIMERICK, Ireland, (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke has come out criticizing the concept of “synodality” that was barely discussed during the recently concluded “Youth Synod,” but, nevertheless, found its way into the final document, surprising many of the Synod Fathers. “It’s become like a slogan, meant to suggest some kind of new church which is democratic and in which the authority of the Roman Pontiff is relativized and diminished—if not destroyed,” said Card

Facebook unblocks image of Santa kneeling before Baby Jesus after LifeSite report goes viral

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook is no longer censoring an image of Santa Claus kneeling before the Baby Jesus that it had deemed “violent or graphic content” after a report on LifeSiteNews about the matter went viral yesterday. Facebook had obscured the picture, explaining that the “photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to se

Pro-LGBT Catholic prof: Many German bishops don’t believe homosexual acts are wrong

December 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic German ethics professor calls Cardinal Müller’s recent remarks on homosexuality “unbearable” and claims that, just as the Church’s teaching on the death penalty has changed, the teaching on homosexuality is also open to change. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has been under constant sharp criticism since his 21 November interview with LifeSiteNews, in whi

Cardinal accuses EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo of attacking Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has come out swinging against EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, accusing him of reporting “negatively” on as well as “attack[ing]” Pope Francis. The former Archbishop of Durban tweeted last night that Arroyo was like a “throwback” to Northern Ireland’s most notorious anti-Catholic “Ian Paisley & his ilk.” “The World Over” hosted by Raymond A

Taxpayer dollars help California Planned Parenthood surpass record high income level

November 30, 2018 (American Life League) – For the first time in the history of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of its 56 affiliates documented that its annual income surpassed $100 million. The affiliate is Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, headquartered in San Jose, California. In its latest official document (Federal Form 990) filed with the federal government, PPMM reported that in the fiscal year, July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, it had a…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

When Can Americans Be Arrested In Retaliation For What They Say?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + It may be a prudent policy to always be polite to the police, but does that mean Americans must give up the right to be rude? A question similar to…Continue Reading

Who Shall Inherit The Earth?

By DONALD DeMARCO Abortion means that aborted babies will not inherit the Earth. Herein is an unequivocal tragedy. But this notion of not being eligible to inherit the Earth is being extended even to those who oppose abortion. In one rather flagrant example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an interview with Jessica Chasmar, stated…Continue Reading

Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord have gathered to assess how the world’s nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions. Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive. In October came that apocalyptic UN report warning that the world is warming faster…Continue Reading

Amid Veto Threat… Ohio “Heartbeat Abortion” Bill Nears Senate Vote

COLUMBUS (CNA/EWTN News) — The Ohio Senate was expected to pass legislation banning abortion on an unborn baby after he or she has a heartbeat, and there could be enough votes to override Gov. John Kasich’s promised veto, amid questions over whether the proposal could withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. Republicans control the Senate with…Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Court Of Appeals . . . EWTN Wins Lawsuit Over HHS Contraception Mandate

IRONDALE, Ala. (EWTN) — Following a legal battle that has lasted nearly seven years, EWTN Global Catholic Network has prevailed in its lawsuit against the U.S. government over what has become known as the “HHS Contraception Mandate.” In an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit published Thursday, November 29, 2018,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Lord Is Near

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Zeph. 3:14-18a Phil. 4:4-7 Luke 3:10-18 In the first reading today the Lord instructs Zion to shout for joy, Israel is to be joyful, and Jerusalem is to be glad and exalt. The reasons for this rejoicing are threefold: Israel’s judgment has been removed, God has turned their enemies…Continue Reading

ADD Represents D.C. Church… Atheists’ Lawsuit Would Force Churches To File Tax Returns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a church in Washington, D.C. — The New Macedonia Baptist Church — have filed a motion in federal court to intervene in an atheist group’s lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by Freedom From Religion Foundation attorneys on behalf of Nonbelief Relief, Inc., seeks to more greatly entangle the government with religion by unconstitutionally…Continue Reading

The Authority Of Bishops… Can A Catholic Resist A Wrong Teaching Of His Bishop?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the two previous articles we have learned from great Catholic theologians that a layman can resist a wrong decision of a bishop and even of the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. But — and this “but” is very important — wouldn’t such a resistance go against the teaching on papal infallibility?…Continue Reading

The Theological Virtues — Faith

By DON FIER As we transitioned last week from a lengthy treatment of the four cardinal virtues (and a brief overview of sanctifying grace) to the theological virtues, emphasis was given to the fittingness of the term “theological” (as derived from the Greek Theos and logos), for these virtues have God Himself as their Author, motive, and direct object. “Infused…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. For the benefit of those who do not have a computer or library access, could you please give us a list of the Doctors of the Church? I have a book entitled 33 Doctors of the Church, but I think some have been added since that book was published. — B.W., Florida. A. Doctor of the Church is a…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading