Yesterday I witnessed a very bad scene between
a couple. They were yelling like crazy at
each other. Insults floated around angrily.
I was troubled. Does it have to be always
'louder, cruder, ruder, meaner'?
The Book of Proverbs says no. "Good
sense makes one slow to anger and it is his
glory to overlook an offense". And the
Letter to the Hebrews advices us, "see
to it that no roots of bitterness springs
ups and causes trouble".
Anger can be ugly. Like fire it finally dies
out; however it always leaves a path of destruction
behind it. It is like the valve on a pressure
cooker. When it "pops its cork",
it spews all over everyone in its way.
Mind you, anger is not necessarily evil.
Motivated by unselfishness it can be directed
against the abuse of what is right - justice,
However to be angry with the right
to the right degree, at the right time,
the right purpose, in the right way
easy! As they say, anger is just one
short from d-anger. "He makes
mad!" we often say. The problem
is not entirely the other. Pouring
over a tea bag doesn't make tea. The
is already there. The hot water just
out its strong flavor. "Out of
of the heart the mouth speaks,"
Christ says so clearly. Hot-water situations
can not bring anger out of you unless
already there. Besides, to be angry
a weak man is proof that you are not
Anger needs to be dealt with positively.
Otherwise it turns into more negative emotions
like resentment, bitterness and hate.
First of all, keeping anger inside is not
healthy. Saint Paul even says, "Be angry,"
and then he adds interestingly, "…and
do not sin; do no let the sun go down on
your anger and give no opportunity to the
This means simply that once angry, you need
to take action quickly to stop the cycle
before the roots are so deep they are almost
impossible to destroy. As Barney Fife would
say, "Nip it! Nip it! Nip it!"
Confront quickly the person you are angry
with. Make decisive steps of reconciliation.
Ask forgiveness if necessary. Admit that
you have been angry and find it so hard to
deal with certain situations.
When you are calm, if possible, deal with
the real problem. Remember, whether the other
party repents of his wrong or not, you will
benefit by knowing you did the right thing.
Remember also that whoever angers you controls
One simple trick is not to answer an
word with an angry word. It is the
one that produces a quarrel.
3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the
tells the story of the monk sitting
side of the road when he is confronted
a samurai warrior, who demands to know
the difference between heaven and hell
After a protracted silence, the monk
by saying, "You who are so untidy,
hands and feet are covered with dirt,
hair is messy and whose breath is foul,
would ask me of heaven and hell?"
The samurai was livid with anger. He drew
his sword and raised it high above his head
to sever the monk's head from its shoulders,
when the monk gently said "That is hell,"
as the sword began its descent. In that fraction
of a second, the samurai was overcome with
amazement and compassion as he realized that
this gentle monk dared to risk his very life
to give him such a teaching. He stopped his
sword in mid-flight and his eyes were full
of tears. "And that," said the
monk, "is heaven." The Book of
Proverbs (chapter 14) again is so right,
"A soft answer turns away wrath but
a harsh word stirs up anger." If we
could all take a deep breath, work out what
we were actually upset about, and pull our
options for dealing with the things that
make us mad into conscious choice - wouldn't
that be something to shout and scream about?
In his writings Saint Francis de Sales touched
the lives of many. The remedies against anger,
he says, are four. "1. To forestall
its movements, if possible, or at least to
cast them aside quickly, by turning the thoughts
to something else. 2. In imitation of the
Apostles when they saw the sea raging, to
have recourse to God, whose office it is
to give peace to the heart. 3. During the
heat of passion, not to speak, nor take any
action as to the matter in question. 4. To
strive to perform acts of kindness and humility
towards the person against whom one is incensed,
especially in reparation for any of a contrary
"Be not quick in your spirit to become
angry because anger lodges in the bosom of
the fools" (Ecclesiastes 7: 9). The
Boston born poet and essayist Ralph Waldo
Emerson puts it skillfully, "for every
minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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