Faith and the emotions PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 August 2017 14:54



WE are told that our faith should be materialized. It should be enfleshed. It should not remain purely spiritual and intellectual because that faith would not be operative given our human nature that is made of body and soul.

We have to overcome that rupture between our spiritual and material dimensions caused by sin. Let’s remember these words from the gospel that describe the severity of this rupture.

One is Christ saying: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt 26,41) And the other is St. Paul saying: “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.” (Rom 7,19.23)

We have to see to it that our faith is truly enfleshed.

Once that is done, we can say that that faith would truly be sealed in our life. We would be establishing in the basic level of our life the unity and consistency that is expected of it.

And how do we enflesh the faith? By working on our emotions and passions. As defined by our Catechism, 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.”

In other words, it is working on our heart, because as the same Catechism tells us, “Our Lord called man’s heart the source from which the passions spring.” (CCC 1764) Besides, passions and emotions are “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.” (CCC 1763) They definitely play an important role in our life.

We have to see to it that the truths of our faith get to settle down all the way to our emotions and passions, and then to our senses and instincts. We have to be wary when we get too doctrinal or too theoretical and too idealistic without seeing these truths really inspiring our emotions and senses and those of the others with whom we are doing some spiritual direction.

Otherwise, we can get alluded to by what Christ said of some leading Jews of his time: “Practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” (Mt 23,3)

If we look at the lives of saints, what we can readily observe is how their piety and religiosity is immediately perceptible even in their external behavior and appearance. There is a certain aura that they exude, somehow indicating that their faith is lived and not simply professed.

That’s why we need to exert continuing effort so that, among other things, these truths of our faith get internalized, assimilated and lived in our emotions and passions. And if we want this faith to get so internalized, assimilated and lived in the emotions and passions of others, we need to present it in such a way as to be respectful always of the emotions and passions of others.

This is simply to follow what St. Paul once said about being all things to all men. We have to be most mindful of the sensibilities of the others and try our best to convey the faith according to how they are without, of course, compromising the essence of our faith.