"'It is better,' says St. Augustine writing to Profuturus,' to deny entrance to the just and reasonable anger than to admit it, no matter how small it is. Once let in, it is driven out again only with difficulty. It comes in as a little twig and in less than no time it grows big and becomes a beam.' If anger can only gain the night on us and if the sun sets on it, which the apostle forbids, it turns into hatred, from which we have hardly any way of ridding ourselves. It is nourished by a thousand pretexts; there never was an angry man who thought his anger unjust."
(Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, No. 8, St. Francis de Sales)The day opens many entryways for anger to infiltrate the soul- little annoyances with a spouse, frustrations with children, problems at work, etc. As with anything, the devil perverts a virtue to trick us into a vice. One's objective sense of justice is muddled when mixed with his pride, and anger creeps into his soul because he feels that he has been rightly wronged by another person, or circumstance.
Sometimes, anger is not even seen for what it is because it does not appear as a passionate tirade, only as a bitter grudge that ones refuses to let go. A hidden anger is worse than a passionate one because it cannot be as easily corrected since the person does not recognize it. He is so used to this constant companion that he is unaware it is even there. Complaints, harbored resentment, cynical comments, and a deep-seated feeling of injustice are some of the barnacles that attach themselves to the grudge he holds. But one must remember that the saying, "you can't take it with you," does not only apply to the material, but the spiritual as well.
So, what is to be done? St. Francis de Sales exhorted his followers to first call upon Christ, just as the apostles did during the storm at sea, when these temptations arise. It certainly is helpful as well to recognize the occasions for when this can occur by quickly praying for the grace to overcome. Just as with any vice one finds difficult in detaching from, the contrary virtue must be consciously and continually practiced in order to root up the evil that lies therein. The great Bishop of Geneva provides more excellent advice:
". . . we must repair our anger instantly by a contrary act of meekness. Fresh wounds are quickest healed, as the saying goes. Again, when your mind is tranquil and without cause for anger, build up a stock of meekness and mildness. Speak all your words and do all your actions, whether little or great, in the mildest way you can. Call to mind that just as the Spouse in the Canticle of Canticles not only has honey on her lips but at the end of her tongue, . . . that is to say, the whole interior of our soul."In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said,"Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth." To be gentle and sincere takes great effort, perseverance and discipline. But, above all, it takes tremendous love: true love that wills the good and happiness of the other above the temporary comfort of oneself.