The Intellect is Motivated by the Will
In my view, one of the most profound truths ever uttered outside Sacred Scripture comes from St. Thomas Aquinas: The intellect is motivated by the will. We create reasons from our wants. Our minds are formed by our wills.
In various quarters lately I’ve been running into bitter, angry people (not from STA). In spite of my best efforts to offer them hope, they have clung tenaciously to their rancor. Then I was reminded of St. Thomas’ maxim. These people crave their acrimony; they relish wallowing in it. Pride may be tied to it, perhaps self-righteousness too.
St. Paul warns us about this, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk…” (Colossians 3:5, 8). In Ephesians too (4:31-32 ) St. Paul writes, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Certainly Our Lord Jesus Christ shows us that there is a time and place for righteous indignation. Indeed, there are many evils in this world which justify and indeed demand an angry response. However, this must be distinguished from unholy wrath. St. Paul again, “If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
What I’ve been encountering lately is an unquenchable, endlessly critical spirit which is impervious to hope or reason. Granted there is much going on in the Church today to be gloomy about, but the darkness I’ve been seeing in various places called St. Thomas Aquinas’ wisdom to mind.
In my humble opinion, this is yet another reason why The Great Commandment is so crucial. If our fundamental disposition springs from The Great Commandment then our attitude towards evil, suffering, scandals, wickedness, problems, and the like will be pleasing to God. If we are obedient to Jesus’ “Mega” Commandment, we will not give into despair or rage. We will not find fault with everything and everyone. We will have hope.