“Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!”
-The Gospel according to Saint Luke, ch. XII
This is the reading from Morning Prayer today.
Being awake is to remain vigilant. Vigilance is the difference between an excellent and a poor Imagination. A poor imagination begets poor Action, and an excellent one – an excellent one.
So the Imagination needs baptizing. As it is with all things.
When an ugly idea or a sinful image appears in our Imagination, as they are prone to do, we are at first not at fault. Should we let it linger and not cast it out, we begin to play with the idea, at this point Desire begins to be attached to the image. Once desire is attached to this image we call it an Impassioned Image. At this point spiritual combat begins. Should we lose we begin to turn that Image into Action. But we can win by dashing them upon Christ our Rock,
“Happy shall he be who takes your little ones, *
and dashes them against the rock!”
Should we lose the Impassioned Image eventually takes us captive. Captivity is being forced to Act on Images but hating it, as St. Paul says,
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
-Romans, ch. VII
After Captivity proceeds too long and no combat fights it off, one begins to be habituated to those actions and the images that give birth to them. At this point one has lost the fight, and their body and soul are caught up into the habits of the flesh.
Now the Imagination and our Actions have become PASSIONS. That is, the Heart has become habituated to this Desire.
You’ve probably heard many people tell you to follow your Passions:
Don’t ever listen to these people.
The first problem with following your Passions is, all your saying is “I like this, it feels good, I excel at doing it.” Under that criteria for modeling your life good luck ever explaining to someone why they can’t follow their Passion of incest, murder, cannibalism, theft, infidelity, rape, hired mercenary etc. At some point you just have to say “Yeah but those things are bad,” which is another way of saying “I don’t have a sufficient understanding of why I love the things I love or why I do them. I’m like a dog, I just do things that make me feel good.” Hedonism. Or as Christ said,
For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
-Gospel according to Saint Mark, ch. VII
The second problem is that it was precisely our Passions that made us cry out Crucify! Crucify! So when you’re discerning with Prudence what kind of person you ought to be in life, and after that what you ought to do, remember, The Passions are often evil. It is our task to redirect The Passions by training to Love the LORD and our neighbor as Christ loved us. And since most of us aren’t holy, telling someone “Follow your Passions” is most often condemning them to Death. The Intellect must subdue the Passions, not to destruction, but to proper order. Since most of us aren’t that holy we often use The Passions in the pejorative sense in Christianity, for there aren’t many of us that are ordered so well.
And thus Christ’s Crucifixion is called “The Passion,” for he suffered us and the sins of The World. So for the Love of God, the Heart of St. Mary, and all things that are holy, don’t live a life that would repeat this, and such a life comes in many disguises and forms, by “following your passions.”