To Counteract Anger

If anger is our problem, we must find out why we are easily and often angered, and we must fight, watch and pray to overcome it. Whatever the offense may be, and whoever the offender, we must convince ourselves that God has permitted it in order to try us and to accustom us to practice meekness, thereby to increase our merits. Instead of giving in to the movements of rising anger, we must control ourselves and preserve self-possession, in order not to show signs of disturbance or betray animosity by word or action.

A spiritual writer gives this excellent advice: "Always have within yourself a peaceful retreat where you may extinguish every movement of anger. Thus, after an injury you must not only keep your lips silent, but you must observe an inner silence, and after having calmed yourself, strive to calm the agitation of the one who is angered against you. The memory of injury received must not be constantly renewed." (Dom Van Houtryve, O.S.B., in Benedictine Peace.)

To bring anger into check is to take step toward bringing ourselves into subjection to God. An even temper attracts others and is a guarantee of quiet joy. "A soft answer turneth away wrath." If we are gentle and meek under provocation, we will appease the anger of the other person, who very likely may be upset too. We must always remember: God forbids all vengeance. If another has aroused our anger, we must forgive him from our heart. Our Lord teaches that we should look for an opportunity to show him a kindness, because doing good to others makes us love them, and such an action puts an exterior seal on our inward forgiveness.

We need the grace of God to overcome anger and to practice self-possession at all times. We must often beg God to grant us calmness, tranquility and peace, and call upon Him to help us quickly in moments of temptation.

If we are naturally quick-tempered, we must pay particular attention to the petition in the Our Father wherein we ask: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us," and make efforts to forgive others from our heart. This is the supernatural virtue of patient forbearance, meekness and forgiveness.

Anger is the daughter of offended pride that cannot bear contradiction, and of selfishness that seeks its own comfort and convenience. It is opposed to peace of mind, which is one of the requisites for progress in the spiritual life. Whether it takes the form of explosive irritation or sullen resentment, it has no place in the Christian life. Checking the slighter forms of impatience and irritability will go far in helping to forestall an outbreak of the passion of anger.