In our early years, we often experience the forces of lust and anger as two unwieldy movements of heart which tend to cause us consternation and confusion. For some, these two primal instincts can feel almost overwhelming, and it can seem as though the trouble that they cause is almost insurmountable. Movies and television are a powerful testimony to their power to captivate and motivate, as often many forms of media involve a powerful cocktail of either lust or anger (and sometimes, sadly, both).

This can lead to a deep suspicion of our emotions. The danger of such a suspicion is when we begin to try and ignore them as if they were a kind of unfortunate part of our created nature. Or worse, we can develop patterns of repression and denial in which lust and anger always lurk below the surface, surfacing in strange and unexpected ways. This can lead to a kind of rigidity in which we lack the spontaneity and energy of the Holy Spirit.

The path of virtuous living involves a two-fold movement whereby our instincts are educated and directed towards their proper goal. The first movement involves the denial of illicit pleasures which constitute the results of our fallen nature. In this way, our primal drives are inherited in a state of confusion and disorder, and we must begin by denying those disordered passions which will lead us astray.

However, our denial of disordered patterns of thinking and feeling must be accompanied by channeling those same forces into healthy patterns of living. Sexual attraction must be oriented towards service and communion, leading us to deeper relationships with God and neighbor. In a similar way, anger must be orientated towards cultivating an aversion to sin and the provocations of the Devil. In this way, lust and anger must be transformed into powerful sources of vitality and joy, all through the working of the Holy Spirit.

This constitutes the science of the saints. This movement from disorder to order, from chaos to harmony, is the pathway to holiness in which our created nature is oriented to and transformed by God. Thus, our emotions are purified and educated, and our interior life is put at the service of God and neighbor. This prevents our piety from becoming rigid and constrictive, and opens us to the spontaneity of the Spirit.

Confession and good spiritual friendships are important tools that help us walk this path of integration. The more we are able to name and express our experience, the greater freedom we will be able to achieve. Outlets of honest communication are vital because they allow us to see our experiences in a more objective manner. The grace of confession builds upon this natural wisdom and places upon it the merits of Christ. In this way, the natural is carried up into the supernatural, and our freedom is placed at the service of intimacy with God.

#lust #anger #purification