Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our Dominant Passions

1. Among the passions which disturb us, there is one pre­dominant tendency which is our particular weakness. Perhaps we are not aware what it is, but those who have to live with us know it well. It is essential for us to know it also in order to make it a special objective in our spiritual combat.

This information may be obtained by praying earnestly to the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to know ourselves, by making a daily examination of conscience, and by seeking the advice of our confessor, of our spiritual director, and of any sincere friend. It is our predominant passion which most often leads us into sin. It recurs in all our confessions and we have great difficulty in overcoming it. The predominant passion of Cain was envy, which he failed to combat in time, so that eventually it caused him to commit fratricide. Lust was the predominant passion of Mary Magdalen and of St. Augustine and until they managed to control it, it led them into many grave errors. It was because the Apostle Judas neglected to struggle against his own avarice that he became a traitor. There are others who are inordinately proud and ambitious, and still others who are governed by a craving for pleasure.

What is your predominant passion? You must know what it is in order to combat it determinedly, for otherwise it will lead you into one sin after another until you are eternally ruined.

2. Holy and God-fearing people know their own particular weakness. They accept it as a cross and will not rest until they have conquered it with God's help. The battle cannot be won in a day, but in most cases takes a great many years. Often the ultimate victory is not gained until the hour of death.

It has been said that self-love dies three days after ourselves. We are enormously attached to our own ego, and humility is a very difficult virtue to acquire. Sometimes we have struggled for years to gain it and, quite suddenly, we meet with another disastrous fall. It would be easy to be overcome by discourage­ment at this stage, but this should not be allowed to happen. When we fall we should say to God in our repentance: "It is good for me to be humbled." To ourselves we should say immediately: "Let us begin all over again!"

St. Francis de Sales was endowed by nature with a sharp and hasty temperament, against which he fought for many years with great determination and reliance on God's help. Finally, he conquered and came to be regarded as an angel of peace. Nevertheless, even in the later years of his life, he still experienced inward tendencies towards anger, so that his exterior gentleness was really a supreme act of virtue.

3. We can conquer our predominant passion by the following means

(a) Fervent prayer.

(b) A daily examination of conscience, in the course of which we shall discover whether we have made any progress in the way of perfection, and shall renew our good resolutions.

(c) Weekly or at least fortnightly confession.

(d) Daily or at least frequent communion.

(e) Avoidance of the occasions of sin and employment of the necessary means to overcome sin.

(f) The performance of good actions which are opposed to our predominant passion.

(g) Determination to fight and to conquer, because we are

convinced that it is absolutely necessary to do so.

There can be no half-measures, for the only alternative to victory is defeat. If we are conquered, we shall be slaves of passion in this life and shall be everlastingly unhappy in the next.