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23. The Distinction of the Passions

1. The word passion means an undergoing. When sensitive appetite operates, the body undergoes some modification, some change. Sometimes such change is manifested outwardly, as, for instance, in the bright eye and animated manner of a person speaking of what he loves; or in the flushed face and stammering tongue of a man who is very angry. Passion is a kind of recoil or kick-back of the operation of sentient appetite; it is what a sentient being undergoes because of the functioning of such appetite. There are two kinds of passions, and they take their general names from the appetites they follow; thus we distinguish the concupiscible passions which follow the concupiscible appetites, and the irascible passions which follow the irascible appetites. The concupiscible passions are: love and hatred; desire and aversion; joy or delight, and sorrow or grief or pain. The irascible passions are: hope and despair; fear (timidity) and courage (daring), and anger.

2. The concupiscible passions stand related to good and evil simply. Love is for good, hatred for evil; desire is for good, aversion for evil; joy is for good, sorrow for evil. But the irascible passions are related to good and evil under the aspect of difficulty. Hope is for a good in some degree difficult to achieve; despair is for an evil too difficult to avoid; fear is for an evil hard to escape; courage is for a good difficult to attain; anger is resentment of an evil difficult to throw off. As they work out, all irascible passions turn into concupiscible passions: hope and courage, once successful, are turned into love and joy; anger, fear, and despair, when their force is spent, end in sorrow, and sometimes, when they have been mistaken or groundless, they end in joy.

3. Anger is the only passion of the soul which is not paired off with a contrary passion. For anger stands alone among the passions in having no natural contrary. Serenity might becalled a contrary state, but serenity is not a passion.

4. Some passions are specifically distinct (within their genus as concupiscible or irascible) without being opposed. Thus love and joy are specifically different passions, but they can exist together with reference to the same object. Nay, one may cause the other, as love for a good thing attained causes joy in possessing it.

"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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