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General outline of passions and the struggles against them


21. There are two types of passions: the natural, which come forth from the natural needs such as gluttony and fornication, and the unnatural i.e. the ones that do not have their roots in one’s nature, such as love of money. The influence of passions emerges through the following means: some function only in the body and through the body, like gluttony and fornication, while some appear without the body’s cooperation, like vainglory and pride. Furthermore, some are stimulated from without, like love of money and anger, while others originate from within, like despondency and sorrow. These types of manifestation of the passions’ activities give rise to a further classification, dividing them into carnal and spiritual. Carnal ones originate in the body, nurture and please it; and the spiritual ones emanate from spiritual inclinations and nurture the soul, often to the detriment of the body. The latter ones are treated internally, by reformation of the heart, while the carnal passions are treated with dual medicines: external and internal. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. These 8 passions have different sources and different influences. However, 6 of them (gluttony, fornication, love of money, anger, sorrow and despondency) are related among themselves, so that the excess in one gives rise to the next. Thus gluttony naturally gives rise to lust, lust to love of money, love of money to anger, anger to sorrow, and sorrow to despondency. That is why it is necessary to battle with them in that order, passing from the preceding to the following. As an example: in order to conquer despondency, you must first drive out sorrow; to drive out sorrow, you must first drive out anger; in order to extinguish anger, you must vanquish the love of money; in order to break free of the love of money, you have to subdue carnal lust; in order to crush carnal lust, you need to curb the passion of gluttony. The last two passions — vainglory and pride — are also related: an increase in one of them boosts the other; vainglory gives birth to pride. And in order to destroy pride, you must crush vainglory. At the same time, vainglory and pride are not in any way related to the first six passions, because we particularly succumb to these two, after we have vanquished the other passions. The nominated 8 passions work in pairs in the following manner: carnal lust joins with gluttony in a special union, anger with love of money, despondency with sorrow, pride with vainglory. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Every passion does not appear in one form only. Thus, gluttony occurs in three forms: it either arouses a desire to eat outside accepted hours, or induces to eat to excess without due regard as to the quality of the food, or insists on delicacies. These produce dissolute overeating and indulgence, which engender various mental and physical infirmities. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Fornication has three faces. The first is committed through the joining of one gender with the opposite; the second occurs without the participation of a woman, for which the Lord slew Onan and which the Scripture calls impurity; the third is committed in the mind and heart, of which the Lord said: "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mat. 5:28). These three aspects were referred to by the blessed Apostle in the following verse: "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanliness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness" (Coloss. 3:5). (Blessed John Cassian)

21. There are three kinds of anger. The first is the one that burns inside; the second breaks out in words and conduct; the third is the one that burns inside for a long time and is called a grudge. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Sorrow has two kinds. The first appears after an angry eruption, or is caused through sustaining forfeiture, losses and unrealized aspirations; the second occurs through the fear of one’s fate or from excessive concerns. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Despondency has two kinds. One makes a person sleepy, and the other seeks entertainment. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Although vainglory has many faces, yet it mainly appears in two forms. The first — when we elevate ourselves with our physical advantages and various possessions; while the second — when we have a burning thirst for secular glory due to our spiritual advantages. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Pride has two faces. One is physical and the second is spiritual. The spiritual one is more ruinous than the physical. It especially tempts those who succeeded in acquiring some virtues. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Although these 8 passions tempt all people, they do not assail all of them in the same manner. Thus, for example, in one person the spirit of lust prevails, in another — anger, in some — vainglory, yet in another pride reigns. (Blessed John Cassian)

21. Having established which passion is especially damaging to us, we must concentrate our struggle specifically against it, utilizing all our concern and every effort toward watching and crushing it, every minute directing our arrows of heartfelt lamentations and sighs against it, and unceasingly shedding tears in prayers to God for the termination of this passion that plagues us. Because nobody can be triumphant over any passion while he is not convinced that he is incapable of defeating it with just his own efforts. (Blessed John Cassian)

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