Spiritual Warfare: The Passions

Not infrequently in the writings of church teachers from the Patristic period, we find descriptions of how the passions and sins are related to each other, one becoming the seedbed for the next.  To rid oneself of sin, one has to find the root cause of the chain which moves us ever away from God.

There may be a ladder of divine ascent that leads us step by step to the kingdom, but there also is ladder that step by step takes us into the depths of sin.

Here is one description of cause and effect relationship of passions to sins, written by Oliver Clement.

“Pride and greed form an alliance in a sort of metaphysical usurpation that annexes the whole being to the ego.

Spiritual writers, especially Maximus the Confessor, speak here of philautia, self-love, self-centeredness, that snatches the world away from God to annex it, making neighbors into things. […]

Greed unleashes debauchery as an expression of sexuality. The two together, to satisfy themselves, breed avarice.

Avarice produces depression – grief at not possessing everything – and envy – of those who possess.

Thus arises anger, against anyone who threatens my goods, or who forestalls me in securing something that I covet.

Pride, in its turn, begets ‘vain glory’, the display of riches and temptations, followed by anger and depression when the sought-for admiration and approval is lacking.”

(The Roots of Christian Mysticism, pp 134-135)