Is anger a problem you have to cope with?
Anger seems to be a problem for many persons not only in our time, but obviously of ancient also.
There are as many definitions of anger and its scope, as there are proposal to manage it. But what about the Catholic perspective? Well, as just said above there are many definitions and suggestion of how to manage it.
To deepen a little (incompletely) on the idea of anger, lets just say it is a passion, and outburst, a quite negative rage, a hostility, a desire for vengeance. But, properly, anger seems to be a response to the arousal of an emotion, passion. But not any response, but one grounded in aggression and even hatred. Real anger is not a faint or feeble experience, but a strong desire to hurt someone because one thinks or believes that such someone has hurt you in any way. In this sense, anger is a really a “bad” thing: it goes against Charity. It is a sin. Its characteristics are to be “excessive, revengeful and enduring…the anger which seeks to ‘get even’, to repay in kind, bump for bump, punch for punch, eye for eye, lie for lie…” (The Seven Capital Sins, Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen).
Agape, Christian love, is about willing the good of others and acting upon that decision. Jesus Christ prayed on the cross: “Father, forgive them; they do know not what they are doing. ” (Lk 23: 34) The plan of life for a follower of Jesus is set by Him: Love. And to what extension should we struggle to love? The Lord answers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” Those are not empty or innocuous words. They are a golden key to walk in the path of Salvation.
Two years back, Sister Gertrude Gillette, a Benedictine nun, published a quite interesting book on anger. She investigates four ancient authors: Seneca, Evagrius Ponticus, Cassian & Augustine. They all belong to times long past (1st to 5th century), but as authentic classics the highest excellence of their works makes them as new today as they were in the past. “Four Faces of Anger” is quite a interesting introduction to how this deep thinkers understood anger, and the proposals to cope with it.
In reading the book, one can get a quick glimpse of their unique approaches. Nonetheless, it shows Sister is not quite all familiar with the vocabulary of some of the authors she presents. But, one of the richness of her approach is that anger is seen from the view point of community life, as well as regarding the personal realm.
Particularly, the Catholic authors she studies are little concerned in what anger is from a psychological perspective — though their treatment of anger offers this element . Their focus is placed on how the vice of anger inhibits the spiritual growth of the inner self, is a hindrance to human communion and a serious obstacle to relationship with God.