I just finished The Body and Society, Peter Brown’s stupendously excellent book on early Christian views of the body. The book is filled with interesting excerpts from the saints. Here’s one of them:
“The human ideal of continence, I mean that which is set forth by the Greek philosophers, teaches one to resist passion, so as not to be made subservient to it, and to train the instincts to pursue rational goals…. But for us Christians – our ideal is not to experience desire at all.” – St. Clement of Alexandria
Therein lies the problem. Compare it of course with the fabulous Dante – and behind him Aquinas, though Aquinas might not have seen the consequences of his thought – that makes all motion a form of desire, and all desire an impulse toward God. The latter idea is the one I feel, because the God-sized hole in our lives is always indicated by the outline of our desires.