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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sin of Anger

Everyone struggles with virtues to conquer the vices. What does the Bible say about anger? And what are some ways that we can overcome it?

There is a type of Holy Anger that our Lord Jesus demonstrated when he overturned the table in the temple, but that isn’t what we are talking about today.

The Bible has some strong words against anger:
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

Ephesians 4:30-32 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 6:4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

I would say that a definition of anger would be a disordered desire of revenge. We have seen what St. Paul tells us about it, but also look what Jesus says in
Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.

Some of the best advice I have heard is from a book called "The Sinners Guide, written by The Venerable Louis of Granada. In summery he says this:
When this furious enemy assails you, let the following considerations help you to overcome its movements:

  • Consider first the even beasts live at peace with their kind. Elephants to not war upon one another; sheep live peaceably in one fold...Yes even the infernal spirits, the first authors of all discord, are united in a common purpose - the perversion of mankind. Man, alone for whom peace is most fitting, lives at enmity with his fellow men and indulges in implacable hatred. All animals are born with weapons for combat. The bull has horns; the bird has a beak and claws...But man, destined to live at peace with his fellow creatures, comes into the world naked and unarmed. Reflect, then, how contrary to your rightful nature it is to seek to be revenged upon one of your kind, to return evil for evil, particularly by making use of weapons which nature has denied you.

  • In the second place, a thirst for vengeance is a vice which befits only savage beasts. You misrepresent your origin, you disgrace your descent, when you indulge in ungovernable rage, worthy only of a wild animal. Instead of calming his fierce rage by the power of reason, that noble gift which he shares with the angels, he abandons himself to the blind impulse or passions which he possesses in common with the brutes.

  • If someone upsets you, consider how much more God has borne from you and how much he has endured for you. Were you not His enemy when He shed the last drop of His blood for you? See also His patience with our daily offenses against Him, and with what mercy and tenderness He receives you when you return to Him.

  • If anger urges that your enemy doesn’t deserve forgiveness, ask yourself how far have you merited God’s pardon. Will you have God exercise only mercy toward you, when you pursue your neighbor with absolute hatred? Remember that the pardon which man has not merited for himself. Christ has superabundantly merited for him. For the love of Him, therefore, forgive all who have offended you.

Moreover, as long as hatred predominates in your heart you can make no offering which will be acceptable to God, for he said:
Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. St. Gregory said (Moral. 21:16) "We gain no merit from good works is we have not learned to endure injuries with patience.
The Apostles says: Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If you overcome your passion, you gain a more glorious victory than he who conquers a city. Our noblest triumph is won by subduing ourselves, by subjecting our passions to the empire of reason.

The most efficacious remedy against this vice is to pluck from your heart disordered love of self and of everything that pertains to you. Otherwise the slightest word of action directed against you or your interests will move you to anger.

Never act until your anger subsided, or until you have once or twice repeated the Our Father or some other prayer.


dies irae said...

Dude. I finally got to hear the words you have been given on the radio. Thanks for being willing to share them.

God bless you and your family!

Ed Winkle said...

I haven't felt angry so long, I don't remember the last time. When I make the right choices, anger is not near the problem it could be. Good and valuable article, thanks.