On the Sinfulness of Anger.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Sinfulness of Anger.
The divine Master, Himself the gentlest and meekest of men, who once said: “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (St. Matt xi. 29), impresses most emphatically upon His disciples and the people who are listening attentively to His teaching, the necessity of the virtue of mildness, and exhorts them with solemn earnestness not to give way to anger, and especially to avoid all outbursts of wrath. Take your stand in imagination among our Lord’s disciples; listen to and meditate upon the words that fall from His lips.
1st. “I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.” (St. Matt. v. 22.) Thus we see that anger against one’s brother or sister, an unjust, uncharitable, passionate desire that evil may happen to him or her, the desire for revenge, a wish to injure one’s neighbor is in itself sinful in the sight of the divine Judge. The soul of him who is angry with his brother has already forfeited the life of grace, has laid herself open to judgment. In speaking of anger we mean passionate, unjust anger. The man who is angry with reason, with good reason, says St. Chrysostom, is not blameworthy, for if no one was ever angry we should have no courts of justice; crime would not be prevented. But he who is angry without a cause is guilty of sin, and justly to be blamed, for what an evil sinful anger is, and how much mischief it occasions! Harsh judgment, desire for revenge, hatred are its offspring. The fire of wrath darkens the understanding and embitters the will. Anger is a temporary madness. How it distorts the human countenance, the features of man, made in God’s image! If one were to hold a mirror before a man who is in a rage he would really be frightened at himself. Now just think of Religious who give way to anger; they are a scourge to their Community, they are like snappish dogs, out of whose way one timidly shrinks. Avoid this sin; struggle against it, if you are naturally inclined to wrath, and remember the words of St. Francis: “Anger and disputes are an obstacle to charity both in oneself and in others.”
2d. Consider how our Lord censures outbreaks of anger, saying: “Whoso shall say to his brother Raca shall be in danger of the council.” (v. 22.) To give vent to one’s wrath in abusive language, unworthy of the dignity of man, is a further degree of uncharity, and therefore deserves a more severe judgment, i.e., a worse punishment. According to St. Jerome Raca is a Hebrew word signifying empty, void of understanding. “It is not right,” says St. Chrysostom, “to call any one empty and contemptible who has the Holy Spirit abiding in him.” Mark that carefully; it is not right to despise, to revile, to condemn any one who is the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is fashioned in God’s image, who was ransomed by the blood of Christ. Beware then how you despise your neighbor, and still more beware how you express your contempt for him by uncharitable judgments or offensive speeches; and abstain from showing these feelings even when your rigorous judgment is not unjust in itself. For, St. Augustine tells us, there is no sin which our brother commits of which we should not be guilty if the merciful hand of God did not constantly support and restrain us. “That man to-day, I to-morrow “one of the old Fathers of the desert was accustomed to say with a sigh, whenever he heard of any one having committed some sin. And the Apostle aptly warns us: “Consider thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Gal. vi. 1.) One of the Fathers was heard to say: “In regard to three different things I judged one of my brethren unmercifully, and into each of those three sins I have since myself fallen.”
3d. Consider how forcibly the Saviour otherwise so gentle speaks when He says: “Whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” In the language of Holy Scripture “fool “is a term equivalent to God-forsaken, or reprobate. If therefore hatred towards one’s fellow man has reached such a pitch that by the use of such invectives as fool, abandoned wretch, one flings at him a curse, a wish for his perdition, the heart of the reviler is so full of hatred that he pronounces his own sentence, he by his own act incurs the penalty of hell fire. You will perhaps say: I am never guilty of that sin, for I condemn no one; but I ask you, is it not tantamount to condemning your neighbor if, actuated by hatred and anger, you take away his good name by your imputations and slanders? For if you did not think him already past hope, you would not ruin his reputation by denouncing him as a reprobate, and you would not apply this term to him if he had not actually committed the shameful deed for which you condemn him. For if you believed that he would amend, or had already amended his conduct, and therefore was not abandoned by God, you would be most careful not to injure his reputation by counting him among the reprobates. “Detract not one another, brethren” (St. James iv. 11), St. James exhorts us, and justly so, for we read that “detractions are hateful to God” (Rom. i. 30), and the Wise Man says: “Hast thou heard a word against thy brother? let it die with thee, thinking that it will not burst thee.” (Eccles. xix. 10.)
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
PRAYER WHICH ST. GERTRUDE RECITED DAILY.
I salute thee, O Heart of Jesus my Saviour, vivifying and immutable source of joy and eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, furnace of pure love; thou art my refuge and shelter, Thou art all to me. O loving Heart, fill my heart with the same fervor which inflames Thine. Bestow on me those abundant graces of which Thou art the source. Let my soul be always united to Thine, and let my will be continually subject to Thee. I have but one desire, that is that the rule of my actions, the object of my thoughts and sentiments, be Thine holy and infallible will. Amen.
Jesus, who art meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thy heart. (300 days indulgence.)
Sweet Heart of Jesus, enkindle me with Thy love. (300 days indulgence.)
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us. (100 days indulgence.)
Be loved everywhere O Sacred Heart of Jesus!(100 days indulgence.)
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