Tips of the Holy Fathers to combat the 8 passions of man
Tips of the Holy Fathers to combat the 8 passions of man

Why are gluttony, narcissism and irritability dangerous? What is the reason for the constant dissatisfaction with life? And how are passions different from sins? We begin a series of articles about the advice of the holy fathers on spiritual improvement and tell you how the passions are dangerous. Spoiler alert: the main recipe is at the end of the text.

What is passion and how is it dangerous?

Passion Orthodox Christians call the habit of committing sin. If excessive alcohol consumption is a sin, then the unbridled attraction to the bottle is a real passion. We can say that passion is akin to addiction. She pushes a person to commit sin. He may no longer want to drink, use drugs, or quarrel about and without with others. But the passion that has settled in the soul becomes a part of it. And the people around them sometimes begin to perceive a passionate trait of a person as an integral part of their character. The "wicked man" is also the bearer of the image of God. He is not evil, just an unkind attitude towards people is so ingrained in him that he can no longer do otherwise.

The danger of passion lies precisely in the fact that it kills the soul. Alcoholics, lovers of carnal pleasures, greedy money-grubbingers, embittered envious people and narcissistic egotists are actually very unhappy. Passion brings them unbearable pain, from which they are only able to close for a while through a change of activity. But the sinful habit does not go anywhere, and torments the affected soul even more. A person in this state stops seeing God and focuses on spiritual darkness. It is scary to imagine that you can die with such mental pain and be left alone with it forever. This is hell.

What passions are there?


“Their name is legion” (Mk. 5: 9), but, despite this, Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov managed to reduce many passions into a classification of 8 large sections.

  1. Gluttony.In this case, we are talking not only about gluttony, but also generally about ignorance of the measure in anything. The alcoholism we mentioned above is nothing more than a neglected form of gluttony. Instead of moderate consumption of food or food, necessary to maintain strength and health, a person heavily relies on food and drinks, harming himself. And gluttony also opens the way for the next passions. That is why one of the components of Christian fasting is limiting oneself in food.
  2. Fornication. God created man for love, but fornication and adultery trample on this love in the most vile way. Instead of connecting with one loved one forever, these days people often choose the path of fornication. The intercourse between a man and a woman was denominated and ceased to be sacred. Sex has become a subject outside the brackets of marriage these days. But this did not bring any benefit to humanity: we see confirmation in the crisis of the institution of the family, which covered the entire planet, following the collapse of traditional societies and the legalization of fornication in the public consciousness.
  3. Love of money. It seems that everyone has heard about the dangers of excessive love of money. But they did not love the means for which many people in the world of people are bought and sold. It is believed that money opens all doors and gives their owners a number of opportunities. The more money, the more happiness. Alas, in the pursuit of profit, a person loses himself. The glitter of coins blinds people and makes them step over the unshakable foundation of morality. In pursuit of the red ruble, people betrayed each other, maimed, killed, deprived of their fortunes, hated and destroyed families.It is obvious that greed for money, property and a beautiful life perverts human nature, makes him and the people around him unhappy.
  4. Anger. It is sometimes righteous, but it is rare. More often, a person uses anger as a weapon of aggression against another person. We try to justify ourselves by saying that our neighbor forced us to get angry with him. Not really. We already have in our hearts such an attitude towards people that we consider ourselves in the right to conflict with them on any occasion. But this is the beginning of hatred and contempt. An angry person seems to be burning inside with fire, and electric discharges seem to pass through him. There is no trace of peace of mind in an angry heart. And people around you also suffer from the consequences of anger.
  5. Sadness. External factors are introduced into this state of a person. For example, you can be sad that there is no expensive car or there is no way to go on vacation. Maybe even the successes of your neighbor make you worry: and everything is not at all as good with me as with him! And the heart is darkened by such sorrows that we don’t have something or we don’t succeed in something. In fact, we will have everything and everything will turn out that is pleasing to God and useful for our salvation. We only need to look at the events in this prism, and then we will not be sad, but rejoice.
  6. Despondency. Unlike sadness, discouragement is expressed as a feeling of emptiness, sometimes for no apparent reason. As a rule, it becomes the result of sin. That is, the soul feels that its bearer, a person, is not doing anything good. For example, he is angry with someone or fornications. Sin does not lead to the attainment of eternal happiness. But it gives rise to the most nasty feelings in the soul. Despondency can lead to despair, and then suicide is not far off. We can say that despondency acts as a kind of spiritual indicator. With outward well-being, a person does not feel a sense of joy, but, on the contrary, is sad and tormented.
  7. Vanity. The desire to become famous in any way and the desire for praise have ruined more than one generation of people. You can remember Herostratus, who, for the sake of glory, set fire to the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. The attacker was convicted, he had to endure suffering and part with his usual way of life, being imprisoned. His name has survived through the centuries, but it has absolutely no value. Human glory is called by Christians vain, that is, empty, because it does not lead to the Kingdom of Heaven.
  8. Pride. John Climacus wrote that the main human passion is expressed in the rejection of God and the contempt of people. In the center of the life of a proud man is his own "I", and the interests of his neighbors are absolutely not taken into account. God and service to others are of no value to the proud. But this becomes a major mistake because it violates the principle of love. Love presupposes the ability to sacrifice oneself for God or one's neighbor, which according to the gospel concepts is equivalent: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Pride cultivates selfishness and rejects, to one degree or another, the very idea of ​​selfless help to one's neighbor. Pride is the passion of the devil.

How to deal with passions?


Here is what the holy fathers said about the struggle with passions:

Venerable Macarius of Egypt

"With what passion a person does not fight courageously, does not resist it by all means and delights in it, it attracts him and keeps him, as it were, with what bonds."

Saint Gregory of Nyssa

“Passion would not have access to our life if we recognized the good from the very beginning”

Saint John Chrysostom

"It is a great thing to overcome your own passions, but it is much more important to convince others to accept the same way of thinking."

“Rise up against tyranny, pride; rise up against the attacks of anger, against the pangs of lust; and these are wounds, and these are torments"

Rev. Isidore Pelusiot

“Violent and frenzied passions of the flesh must be tamed, made obedient and meek; and if they do not obey, then punish as much as possible"

Saint Theophan the Recluse

"There is a sign that passion is plucked from the heart - when the heart begins to harbor disgust and hatred for passion."

We will tell you more about how the Holy Fathers of the Church advised you to fight one or another of the eight main human passions in our next materials.

The fullness and joy of our life depends entirely on the quality of spiritual life. Passions raging in our hearts not only prevent us from rejoicing, but also push us to commit sins. “This kind is driven out only by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21), Holy Scripture tells us. If you strive to overcome the passion in yourself or help your loved ones, then you need to start with prayer.

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