Power of the Passions

Teaching of Virtue

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Power of the Passions

As taught previously, our passions and emotions are neither good nor bad, but if not controlled, often lead to vice, sin, and emptiness.

Scripture says, “An untamed horse becomes stubborn…” (Sirach 30:8). Meaning, our horses (referring to our passions) must be tamed before a habit of vice is formed. However, if properly directed, they can be the superpowers needed to drive us toward a tremendous good.

This was articulated wonderfully by The Thomistic Institute using the example of a river—

“Picture a powerful river that moves an incredible quantity of water...It meanders this way and that. It floods unexpectedly and causes great destruction…It’s also important for transportation…supports industry in the region…and makes the land fertile for many miles on either side. The passions are like this river. They can be super beneficial and also super destructive…[but] what if we were to dam the river at a strategic point? With a dam in place, you can manage the flow, control the flooding, and enjoy even further benefits like hydroelectric power, a big reservoir, or even a natural recreation area. The virtues are like the dam. The virtues help realize the passions' full potential by channeling their energy into a life of true flourishing.”

So then, become the master of the river within, being strengthened in every virtue—so you may direct the power of your passions to do God’s will.

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Scroll down for the related scriptures, quotes, and lesson plan associated with this teaching.

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Visual Resource

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Related Scripture

“An untamed horse becomes stubborn…” — Sirach 30:8 (CPDV)

“...so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy…” — Mark 12:30 (NIV)

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” — James 4:1 (ESV)

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” — Ephesians 6:14 (ESV)

“Leave behind childishness. And live and walk by the ways of prudence." — Proverbs 9:6 (CPDV)

“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” — Matthew 12:35 (ESV)

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” — 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” — Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” — Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Related Quotes

“Perfection of moral virtue does not wholly take away the passions, but regulates them.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

"...people run into trouble when their passions overtake their intellect. So how do we overcome these troubles? The answer is by virtue." — Dr. Taylor Marshall

“Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable.” — Aristotle

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” — Ferdinand Foch

“Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” — Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

“It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind…” — Marcus Aurelius

“It is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully.” — St. Mother Teresa

“Music directly represents the passions of the soul. If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person.” — Aristotle

“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius

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Lesson Plan

For your family, small group, or personal reflection.

STEP 1: Introduction

Example: "I'm going to play a short video on the topic of the power of our passions. After the video, I have some questions to gather your thoughts and get the discussion started. We’ll then wrap up with a closing prayer."

STEP 2: Watch Video (or listen)

Watch (or listen to) the video of the teaching (cast to your TV via YouTube). If time allows, also read the teaching, related Scriptures, and related quotes.

STEP 3: Discussion / Reflection

  • Our horses (referring to our passions and emotions) are neither good nor bad, but if not controlled, often lead to vice and emptiness. However, if properly directed, they can be the superpowers needed to drive us toward a tremendous good (virtue and fulfillment). Explain what this means to you?

  • What are your thoughts on the analogy of the river and how did it help you better understand the power of our passions and emotions?

  • What are some ways you can better control or leverage the power of your passions to do God’s will in your life?

  • Did any of the related Scriptures or quotes stand out to you (please elaborate)?

  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

STEP 4: Wrap Up & Closing Prayer

Summarize and wrap up the discussion. Then, conclude with a sincere and humble prayer from the heart.

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