After posting about why I don’t apologize for the “thunderstorms,” I thought it important to point out the importance of continually working to become the saint God made you to be, which makes the thunderstorms less frequent in one’s life, and also explain in a bit more detail about why I don’t apologize for the “bad” things I do during episodes. It is beneficial to read St. Thomas Aquinas’ work ‘Of God and His Creatures‘. It is available online here and here. The Summa Theologica is also helpful, if you can understand it. Read these things when your brain is up to it. Not until then.
We might also take note of these entries at The Catholic Encyclopedia available at New Advent. Some of these may not seem relevant, but they can be.: State or Way (Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive) / Search results for “works of the flesh” / Consideration of Heresy, Summa Theologica / Consideration of Fruits of the Holy Ghost, Summa Theologica / Appetite / Passions / Concupiscence / Free Will / On Continence, St. Augustine /
As with everything on my blog, please take this with a GYNORMOUS grain of salt. I am opining based on my deeper study of the Catholic Faith about the reasoning behind the basic spiritual direction that has been beneficial to me spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It is my opinion only. If what I write here is over your head, I’m sorry. That’s why I added links so that you can dig around and study for yourself.
Book II. Chapter XLVII. That Subsistent Intelligences are Voluntary Agents
GOOD is what all things yearn after, and in all beings there is a craving (appetitus) for good. In beings unendowed with any sort of cognition, this craving is called ‘physical appetite’ (appetitus naturalis). In beings that have sensitive cognition it is called ‘animal appetite,’ and is divided into ‘concupiscible’ and ‘irascible.’ In intelligent beings it is called the ‘intellectual’ or ‘rational appetite,’ otherwise the ‘will.’
The appetite is something we are all born with. It is part of the natural order of the universe. All living things are “ordered” (not forced, but designed) by God to incline toward that which is good for them. Unfortunately, for people with Bipolar Disorder (and other mental disorders wherein people experience delusion), it can seem that this “natural order” is broken, on some level. Let’s look it all over.
From Catholic Encyclopedia:
Two main kinds of appetite are recognized by the scholastics; one unconscious, or naturalis; the other conscious, or elicitus, subdivided into sensitive and rational. From their very nature, all beings have certain tendencies, affinities, and forms of activity. The term natural appetite includes all these. It means the inclination of a thing to that which is in accord with its nature, without any knowledge of the reason why such a thing is appetible. This tendency originates immediately in the nature of each being, and remotely in God, the author of that nature (Quæst. disp., De veritate, Q. xxv, art. 1). The appetitus elicitus follows knowledge. Knowledge is the possession by the mind of an object in its ideal form, whereas appetite is the tendency towards the thing thus known, but considered in its objective reality (Quæst. disp., De veritate, Q. xxii, a. 10). But as knowledge is of two specifically different kinds, so also is the appetite (Summa Theol., I, Q. lxxx, a. 2). The appetitus sensitivus, also called animalis, follows sense-cognition. It is an essentially organic faculty; its functions are not functions of the soul alone, but of the body also. It tends primarily “to a concrete object which is useful or pleasurable”, not to “the reason itself of its appetibility”.
We’re not plants, but human beings, so I’ll avoid discussion of natural appetite and deal only with the appetite of those of us who are able to think on some level. Essentially, we are all born with a desire for knowledge of the truth. We desire, as Aquinas says, “possession by the mind of an object in its ideal form.” That is, we desire knowledge of the truth, or as close to the truth as we can get. That part of us is our appetitus elicitus, or elicited appetite. “Elicit” means to “draw out” or “bring forth.” A baby can elicit truth from looking at a flower. We elicit the truth out of a witness in a trial. So, too, we elicit the objective truth about things in our journey through life, and our “appetite” for this is our appetitus elicitus. We all have it, on some level.
The appetitus sensitivus is our sensual appetite which refers to cravings “of the flesh”, such as a craving for a hamburger or whatever else may gratify our five senses. This is where we get into…you guessed it…the passions.
By passions we are to understand here motions of the sensitive appetite in man which tend towards the attainment of some real or apparent good, or the avoidance of some evil. The more intensely the object is desired or abhorred, the more vehement is the passion. St. Paul thus speaks of them: “When we were in the flesh, the passions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death” (Romans 7:5). They are called passions because they cause a transformation of the normal condition of the body and its organs which often appears externally.
Well, now, isn’t that interesting? I think so. That transformation is my life’s calling, even though I have Bipolar Disorder which sometimes takes away my free will. That transformation should be the life calling of everyone. Our passion offered in union with the Passion of Christ causes the transformation in us that makes us saints.
What are the passions?
The chief passions are eleven in number:
Six in the concupiscible appetite — namely, joy or delight, and sadness, desire and aversion or abhorrence, love and hatred — and
five in the irascible — hope and despair, courage and fear, and anger.
Yeah, all that stuff. All of it.
Things like despair, fear, anger, etc., are morally neutral if they are involuntary.
To explain the passions in their relation to virtue it is necessary to consider them first in the moral order. Some moralists have taught that all passions are good if kept under subjection, and all bad if unrestrained. The truth is that, as regards morality, the passions are indifferent, that is, neither good nor bad in themselves. Only in so far as they are voluntary do they come under the moral law.
Having said that, they are still at the core of my cross. For me, keeping them in alignment with the will of God is part of my cross in life. It is also how I maintain good health, because doing God’s will does lead me along the path of good health…even if it loses me friends. Further, doing God’s will in spite of your passions will bring healing to the bad ones, like fear and anger, and that is how we grow in virtue. This is the grace of the Cross of Jesus in action in our lives as we bear our crosses.
My appetitus elicitus is intact, if you will, but unfortunately, because I have what doctors call Bipolar Disorder, I have a disordered intellect as well as enhanced passions. I experience confusion about what the truth actually is, and so, I am unable to make appropriate judgments. Even as my intellect has a temporary breakdown, my passions go off the charts, which exacerbates things for me. Though I can still reason, I cannot reason at the level that is normal for me.
If we compare reasoning through an issue to cooking a dish, we might consider all the ideas that one might ponder to arrive at a judgment on a matter to be the “ingredients” of a dish, with our dish being our final conclusion. If one ingredient is missing, the dish turns out much differently, and if one idea is missing, my final conclusion about the matter is not correct. I simply don’t have all the puzzle pieces of a problem available to me to put together to reach the solution to problems and questions that I encounter during an episode. At the same time, my passions are driving me this way or that. This is how it is that my free will is taken from me at such times. I am emotionally overwhelmed and confused. In my heart I may be doing exactly what I believe God wants me to do, while on the exterior it appears to others that I have become somewhat demonic.
I’m so grateful Jesus is the one Who judges my heart, and no one else.
Now we come to the appetitus rationalis:
The appetitus rationalis, or will, is a faculty of the spiritual soul, following intellectual knowledge, tending to the good as such and not primarily to concrete objects. It tends to these in so far as they are known to participate in the abstract and perfect goodness conceived by the intellect (Quæst. disp., De veritate, Q. xxv, a. 1).
Oh, yeah. That’s the good part. That’s where the love is, folks. That’s where perfect happiness is. True joy. THAT is where I choose with full reason to make God’s will my own. Ahhh, bliss. And trust me, if you love that part in yourself, you will truly love me when I am in that part of myself, and if you do not love that part of yourself, you will not be able to stand me when I am in that part of myself.
It just is, okay? It just is.
Let’s go on.
In the natural and the sensitive appetites there is no freedom.
Oh, huh? What? No freedom in the natural and sensitive appetites? That’s right. That’s not where the free will is. However, we are not divided. (Ask Sister Helena. She knows about that stuff in the context of the Theology of the Body.) Each of us is one person, and all these parts of us make up the one person we are. As I noted previously, even though there is no free will in the passions, they can be trained by practicing good things. When we focus on development of good habits, virtue comes through the grace of that cross of habit development. This does not mean we will get less emotional about things, but certainly our desires and our joys do change and become more in keeping with God’s plan for us.
It just is.
Here’s a reference regarding moral virtues:
Moral virtues are those which perfect the appetitive faculties of the soul, namely, the will and the sensuous appetite. Moral virtue is so called from the word mos, which signifies a certain natural or quasi-natural inclination to do a thing. But the inclination to act is properly attributed to the appetitive faculty, whose function it is to move the other powers to action. Consequently that virtue is called moral which perfects the appetitive faculty. For as appetite and reason have distinct activities, it is necessary that not only reason be well disposed by the habit of intellectual virtue, but that the appetitive powers also be well disposed by the habit of moral virtue.
My whole life is about walking this path with Jesus. It’s about me and Jesus and all of this that you read here. I haven’t much use for anything else. There is much joy in this walk for me now. I hope it is beneficial to someone reading, but again…take it with a grain of salt.