FACES OF MAN
What is the origin of those unruly
passions in man? We should never blame our weak human nature of
these because our nature was formed in God's image and
The animals came into this world
before us and we inherited some of their qualities. Our emotions
came from the animals; they are commonly connected with
self-preservation transferred into human life and expressed in the
form of passions.
For instance, a fighting spirit
keeps some animals alive, the pleasure of sex produces fertility;
cowardice saves the timid animal; fear keeps the vulnerable animal
safe from stronger predators, gluttony preserves the obese. Animals
are unhappy when they fail to obtain the pleasure they are seeking.
These qualities have found their way into man. . .but definitely
taken from animals.
But the likeness of God is not
revealed by a spirit of self-preservation, "unless you lay down
your life. . ." God's nature is not characterized by the
pleasure of procreation or by cowardice, greed or dislike of
inferiority. These marks are far from being divine.
It is like a sculptor molding two
different faces in one head. That is human nature. In the vices and
passions it reproduces in itself the signs of the beast; but in the
soul it has the features of the divine beauty. Whatever shines more
makes the man ugly or beautiful.
St. Gregory of Nyssa (pg 44, 192)