THE MORALITY OF THE PASSIONS
The human person is ordered to beatitude by his deliberate
acts: the passions or feelings he experiences can dispose him to it
and contribute to it.
The term “passions” belongs to the Christian patrimony.
Feelings or passions are emotions or movements of the sensitive
appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something
felt or imagined to be good or evil.
The passions are natural components of the human psy-
che; they form the passageway and ensure the connection between
the life of the senses and the life of the mind. Our Lord called man’s
heart the source from which the passions spring.
There are many passions. The most fundamental passion
is love, aroused by the attraction of the good. Love causes a desire
for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement
finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed. The
apprehension of evil causes hatred, aversion, and fear of the im-
pending evil; this movement ends in sadness at some present evil,
or in the anger that resists it.
“To love is to will the good of another.”
All other affec-
tions have their source in this first movement of the human heart
toward the good. Only the good can be loved.
Passions “are evil
if love is evil and good if it is good.”
In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are
morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage
reason and will. Passions are said to be voluntary, “either because
they are commanded by the will or because the will does not place
41 St. Thomas Aquinas,
I-II, 26, 4,
42 Cf. St. Augustine,
, 8, 3, 4: PL 42, 949-950.
43 St. Augustine,
De civ. Dei
14, 7, 2: PL 41, 410.