This begins a seven part series on the seven deadly sins. Today, in part 1 of 7, we start with Anger.
Do you ever get so angry that your face turns red, your blood pressure rises, and you lose control? When this happens, do you ever stop to think about what really causes you to experience such rage?
Anger arises when an evil persists in the face of our resistance or when a good remains beyond our grasp, despite our efforts. 1
Anger is a natural emotion. Even Jesus lost his temper with the money-changers at the Temple. Yet, Jesus’ anger was righteous; used for the purpose of defending His Father’s house. For most of us though, anger arises when we feel unrighteousness crossing our paths. For us then, it is how we deal with it that makes all the difference.
We best channel our anger appropriately when we seek the virtue of Fortitude. This virtue “ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of good” 2. In essence, Fortitude gives us the strength to endure the trials of evil and to pursue the good.
Handling Anger Caused by Evil
When we can see evildoers for who they really are, we see their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We can hold our emotions in check by recognizing from where the evil originates. For example, when we realize that evil borne by another individual stems from abuse or ridicule, then our emotions tend to move from anger to pity, compassion and forgiveness. We replace anger with charitable love.
Handling Anger Caused by A Good Beyond Our Grasp
When we become frustrated because a desired good is out of our grasp, again we seek the virtue of Fortitude to persevere in prayer, and seek God’s will. We wait with patience and the anger subsides. We know that if we do not receive the desired good, it is because God either has something better for us, or the good we wanted, wasn’t really good for us.
So, anger will destroy you if you let it. Therefore, the next time you get so enraged that you feel like you are going to lose control, stop for a second and ask yourself where does it come from, and seek the virtue of Fortitude. Change your anger into charitable love for your neighbor and for God.
We discuss the second of the seven deadly sins, Envy, in part 2 of this seven part series.
1 Schu, Walter. “The Whole Human Person at a Glance,” The Splendor of Love: John Paul II’s Vision for Marriage and Family, New Hope Publications, 2003, p. 70.
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Vaticana: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997, Print, n. 1808.