I was just pondering the question what does it mean for someone to be “a slave of their passions”(Cathechism"1)? Can someone explain this to me."
Well a way I sometimes describe unruly passions is that they can be uncontrollable or feel like uncontrollable emotions. The passions of lust are passions of attraction that are supposed to be ordered in order to enable attraction for ordered marriage and ordered sexual relations within marriage but lust is the disordered version of it, distorted and taken to a demonic unhealthy level. And the same can be said with any emotion that rules us versus us ruling our emotions. For instance anger. Righteous anger has its place but when utilizing that emotion we must be careful to not let arrogance and disordered demonic anger enter into our hearts and minds. So we must remain humble and acknowledge the truth that a particular passion is starting to spirial out of control and say the simple prayer “Lord prevent my mind from being perverted.” Because the devil is perverse and perverting not only in sexual matters of the mind, heart, and soul but also in any other weakness of our emotions he can prey on. To combat the perversion of healthy passions and thought processes I have found that prayer to be quite helpful and it also has humility at its core because it is you acknowledging a perversion is at risk for entering and you are humbly requesting God to guard you from it.
And if one does not recognize these passions when they start to become unruly, which quite often come at a very subconscious level, they are at risk of becoming slaves of these passions. Because to give the example of lust again, it can turn quite quickly but also quite subtlety into lust when in the beginning it was a simple ordered attraction.
Same thing for money. Ordered passion to gain money for support of family is one thing versus someone who starts to love money just because its money and now they just want more and more and more for no real righteous reason.
It means putting the desires of the flesh before the Will of God.
“I know I should abstain from meat on Friday, but I really want a hamburger.”
“I know I should wait until marriage to have sex, but I want it now.”
“I know I should get up and go to Holy Mass, but I want to sleep in.”
“I know I should help that needy person, but I want to buy _____ or do _____ instead”
The list goes on and on.
I think “a slave of your passions” is more like addictions that you have no control over rather than the beginning stages where you just do what you want or do not put much effort into doing what you know you should do.
Passions are good as long as you don’t let them dominate you, after all it is part of God’s creation. When you let the passion dominate you, you are being a slave of that passion.
We have 2 kinds of passions: concupiscible, and irascible. We have 4 concupiscible passions: love, hate, joy, and sadness. And we have 5 irascible passions: courage or wrath, fear, audacity, desperation, and hope. All are good, but they have to be under the government of Reason and dominion of the Will.
There are 4 virtues that perfect passions, Will and Intellect: Fortitude for the irascible passions, Temperance for the concupiscible passions, Justice for the Will and Prudence for the intellect.
Christ was always in control of his passions, he never lost control of them.
Edit: I tried to translate my notes from when I took Philosophy of Man in college. The vocabulary may vary.
That’s not being a slave to one’s passions, that’s called being a human. Slavery to passions is a much different and scarier thing.
One gives oneself over as it was into the passions that lead one into sin…does not seek virtue etc.
Im confused, because i always thought that a passion is something some one likes doing for example: some one could have a passion towards running or another physical activity, is this the same passion as what you were talking about?
Well it also can mean that as well. But take for instance the example of lifting weights. I used to lift at minimum 3 hours almost every day when I didn’t have any responsibilities. But now if I were to do that I would be hindering my vocation to my family. But also if I don’t do any physical activity at all I could be hindering myself. So there has to be a balance. If I were to let my passion (desire/burning passion) of lifting weights for 3 hours take over I would be unable to take care of my daily responsibilities and in turn could become a slave of it and it could end up being sinful. So yea, passions would also encompass your example of physical activity.