Purity of Heart: The Moral Life
ARTICLE 5 - THE MORALITY OF THE PASSIONS
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1762 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.
1763 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.
1764 The passions are natural components of the human psyche; 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.
1765 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
impending evil; this movement ends in sadness at some present evil,
or in the anger that resists it.
1766 "To love is to will the good of another." All other
affections 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."
II. PASSIONS AND MORAL LIFE
1767 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
obstacles in their way." It belongs to the perfection of the
moral or human good that the passions be governed by reason.
1768 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 feelings
can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.
1769 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
1770 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
1771 The term "passions" refers to the affections or the feelings.
By his emotions man intuits the good and suspects evil.
1772 The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear,
joy, sadness, and anger.
1773 In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appetite, there
is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as they engage reason
and will, there is moral good or evil in them.
1774 Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or
perverted by the vices.
1775 The perfection of the moral good consists in man's being moved
to the good not only by his will but also by his "heart."
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