COR THOUGHTS 272: Redirecting Our Passions Toward True Fulfillment


In this weekend’s second reading, Saint James asks his conflicted audience, “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?” Then he points to the root cause, the war within: “Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” There is a war within the members of our body driven by the disordering of our passions that resulted from original sin. We see the good that we want to do, but we cannot carry it out. In his Letter to the Romans, Paul wonders who will rescue him from this awful situation. Then he cries out in thanksgiving to God for the gift of Jesus Christ (see Rom 7:15-25). Christ does not want us to repress our passions. He wants to help us redirect them toward infinite satisfaction. While it’s true that our passions often draw us toward vice, we become even more lost if we think the solution to this tendency is to annihilate them. As Saint Augustine is often quoted as saying, “He who is lost in his passion is less lost than he who has lost his passion.” Why? Because to lose our passions is to become a non-feeling, non-desiring automaton. The war within ceases not as we tyrannize our passions, but as we allow God’s grace to redirect them toward everything true, good, and beautiful.