Saturday, October 21, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on the Passions

Arabic original here.

The Passions

The chief passions are three: money, authority and pleasure. Authority is itself legitimate, but domination is not legitimate.

Saint John Climacus says in his book The Latter of Divine Ascent, "God did not invent evil. Those who claim that there are evil passions in the soul have erred, having missed the fact that we ourselves transformed the properties of our nature into passions." The ability to produce offspring, for example, is within us, but we have transformed it into fornication. We have within us desire for food, but we have transformed it into gluttony. We have within us the incensive faculty in order to be angry at evil, but we have turned it to harm our neighbor...

We combat the passions by acquiring the opposing virtue and practicing it. We combat gluttony with fasting, pride and selfishness with humility and brokenness of spirit. Love of sin is replaced with love of Christ: "Longing for Christ has extinguished longing for sin."

The Apostle Paul says, "Everyone who strives for the kingdom is temperate in all things" (1 Corinthians 9:25). Saint Macarius of Egypt says with regard to the spiritual struggle in his book of spiritual homilies:

"When one approaches the Lord, he must compel himself for the sake of good, even if his heart does not want this. He must compel himself in order to love without having love. He must compel himself to be meek without having meekness. He must compel himself to pray without having the desire for it... When God sees his effort, He will then give him pure, spiritual prayer. He will fill him with the grace of the Holy Spirit."

"From my youth many passions have fought against me." Beloved! Sins are works of passions and they produce pain and depression in the soul. Sin is the loss of grace.

A person does not become perfect without God. "This world is not enough." Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is denying grace. It is falling into the corruption of nature, according to Saint Athanasius the Great.

Grace is a free gift whose price is the blood of Christ. It is a gift of pure love.

"We have this treasure in vessels of clay" (2 Corinthians 4:7). In order for one to master his passions, he must compel himself, as we mentioned above, to train himself ascetically in abstinence, to struggle and so be purified: this is Orthodoxy in practice. It begins with repentance, with purification from the wicked passions. Then grace is active in us and we are illumined by God's light.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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