Life in Christ
obstacles in their way.”
It belongs to the perfection of the moral
or human good that the passions be governed by reason.
Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the
holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of
images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions
are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the
opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses
it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs
to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feel-
ings can be taken up into the
or perverted by the
In the Christian life, the Holy Spirit himself accomplishes
his work by mobilizing the whole being, with all its sorrows, fears
and sadness, as is visible in the Lord’s agony and passion. In Christ
human feelings are able to reach their consummation in charity and
Moral perfection consists in man’s being moved to the
good not by his will alone, but also by his sensitive appetite, as in
the words of the psalm: “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living
The term “passions” refers to the affections or the
feelings. By his emotions man intuits the good and
The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and
fear, joy, sadness, and anger.
In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appe-
tite, there is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as
they engage reason and will, there is moral good or
evil in them.
Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues
or perverted by the vices.
44 St. Thomas Aquinas,
I-II, 24, 1
45 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas,
I-II, 24, 3.