Tuesday, March 7, 2017

stone faces

Today in A Year with the Church Fathers, St Augustine tells us about emotions.

He says that in heaven, we will experience joy and love, but not fear or grief. As we walk through this valley of the shadow of death, however, we do experience all of the emotions.

During his time, St Augustine was familiar with spiritual and philosophical leaders who prided themselves on feeling nothing. Whether they were actual Stoics or just a similar brand, their Stoic acceptance of life without emotional attachment, giving the bearer a stony face, is not (we learn from St Augustine) the goal of the Christian life.

The glory of God is a man fully alive, St Irenaeus told us. And fully alive does not mean dead to his emotions. Now, of course we want to have our emotions in agreement and working in cooperation with our will and our intellect. We don't want to run amok at the whim of our passions. But God created us with emotions, and He called it very good. Jesus was not averse to giving display to His emotions.

So feel. Experience. Let your life affect you and well up in you and bring you joy, happiness, sadness, and grief. Let the waves of good feelings and bad onto your shores. Don't shun them, because God wants us to be fully alive. And alive means feeling.

God, thanks for emotions. Please help us to unite them with You.

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