THER WILD BEASTS OF OUR PASSIONS
by St. John Chrysostom, fourth century
The beasts of our passions
How frivolous is the man who sees that his house is falling apart and instead of fixing it and shoring it up, he instead takes care of the yard around the house. How imprudent it is of the person who is sick in body and instead of looking for a cure, buys beautiful clothes for himself. This is exactly what we do with our souls. When our souls have become depraved by our passions: through anger, vanity, sick desires and many other evil things, we do not seek to heal the soul. We instead look to live irresponsibly, be hip and appear beautiful to the world. If, for example, a wild bear gets loose from its pen and roams freely in the city, we protect ourselves from its attacks by staying in our homes to avoid being torn apart by its claws. But when our souls are torn apart by many beasts we often remain indifferent to these attacks and continue to feed them by indulging our passions.
In order to keep our citizens’ safe in our cities, we keep wild beasts locked up in cages far away from the parliament building, from the court house and the king’s palace. Yet on the other hand, we humans often allow the beasts of our passions to freely rule our kingly thrones, which are our minds where they create havoc and turmoil with their wild behavior. Our passions are the reason for the inner turmoil of our lives. Our passions make our souls like a city that is being attacked by barbarians. The passions bring confusion to our minds and thought processes. It is like what happens in a bird’s nest filled with newly hatched birds when a snake enters the nest. The birds flutter around here and there fearing for their lives.
It is for this reason that I beg you, bind up these passions, chock them, impale them and kill them. Every evil that exists within us should be banished from us with the knife of the Holy Spirit. When wild beasts are well fed and strong they cannot be defeated. But when they are hungry and weak their wild behavior is diminished. It is only then that we can deal with them effectively. The same thing happens with our passions. He who weakens the passions can easily overcome their power. On the other hand those people that feed the passions cannot defeat them. If that happens to a person he is defeated by them and becomes their slave. (The translator’s note: The things that we use to feed our passions are drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, promiscuous sex, anger, avarice, egotism, gluttony, and greed, love of money, love of worldly possessions and many other passions of mankind).
Translated from the Greek by:
+Fr. Constantine (Charles) James Simones, Waterford, CT, Jan. 28, 2015
Passions that control our lives lead us to despair, fear, anxiety, lack of hope,
depression and many times to suicide. The only hope for humanity is Jesus
Christ, the Lord of life and eternity.