Amoris Laetitia 148: To Channel One’s Passions

amoris laetitia memeSaint Thomas Aquinas offers an assist here, suggesting caution when we stray into focusing on passion for its own sake:

148. Training in the areas of emotion and instinct is necessary, and at times this requires setting limits. Excess, lack of control or obsession with a single form of pleasure can end up weakening and tainting that very pleasure (Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 32, art.7) and damaging family life. A person can certainly channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way, increasingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfilment that can only enrich interpersonal relationships in the heart of the family. This does not mean renouncing moments of intense enjoyment,* but rather integrating them with other moments of generous commitment, patient hope, inevitable weariness and struggle to achieve an ideal. Family life is all this, and it deserves to be lived to the fullest.

* Cf. id., Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 153, art. 2, ad 2: “Abundantia delectationis quae est in actu venereo secundum rationem ordinato, non contrariatur medio virtutis”.

This certainly seems like a danger, considering how prone so many of us are to addictions and compulsive behavior. For alcoholics, the drink takes over the life. Everybody dances to the spirit of spirits and sustaining the addiction takes precedence over all other aspects of life, especially the one that might tilt the addict outside of that special relationship with the bottle.

In our healthy lives, can we notice that our emotional life and our desires direct us to a commitment to others? Do such moments become shared expressions of love in the face of “inevitable weariness and struggle”? Or do they become moments of escape and narcissism? In many instances, this is a difficult discernment.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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