Desires, in our modern parlance, were known by the ancients as the “passions.” Interestingly, the word for “passion” comes from a root that means to “suffer.” These universal experiences of longing, imagination, craving, and the like, were seen as alien to our well-being and afflictions to be moderated and even silenced. In Orthodox tradition, there is a goal, expressed in Greek as “apatheia” (“passionlessness”). Yes, that’s our word “apathy.” It does not mean “not caring,” but being free from the bondage of the ever-nagging sound of desires hounding our lives.

Our consumerist culture is … intentionally designed to nurture the passions. Indeed, it is structured in such a way that the failure of the passions would result in financial ruin. We live in a world that cannot exist unless we are all governed by our passions. To be an Orthodox Christian inevitably sets you on a collision course with the culture. Everything within our daily lives, indeed, a major portion of our opinions and thoughts are all the result of the reign of our passions. This has become such a dominant force in our lives that it is accurate to say that we imagine our passions to actually constitute our identity. That is a lie.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, From Desire to Necessity