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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Anger Management

More on anger today as it still consumes my thoughts. I'm not consumed with rage but with understanding anger as an emotion to be controlled or used. The Church teaches that anger is a deadly sin. We are to turn away from it and embrace love or even meekness (according to my Baltimore Book of Prayers circa 1889.) The Christian response should be to turn the other cheek, treat others the way we want to be treated, love our neighbor , etc. We, as Catholics, are tested regularly and given plenty of opportunity to either be angry or Christlike in our daily lives. Just open the newspaper or turn on the TV and you'll easily find 50 ways to be offended by the anti-Catholic diatribe the mainstream media passes off as news . In what instances are we justified in being angry and acting upon that anger? Many people recall Jesus overturning the tables in the temple but how often can we use that example to rationalize our own actions? Are we to always be meek and peaceful to the point of being walked on or wiped out? Where is the line in the sand? When we compare Christian response to Muslim response we see sharp contrasts. When Muslims are offended they instantly respond with anger then top it off with some violence; actions they justify by their religious beliefs. As Catholics, when offended we might launch an email protest or say a rosary outside the offending party's property or maybe we'll write a heated letter. Why? Because while anger is a natural response to a serious offense, violence is never a Christian response. And how easily violence becomes the outcome of repeated, uncontrolled anger; anger left to fester and grow. Anger that consumes, that is not kept in check, is deadly. As Catholics, God gives us the grace to overcome that which is impossible to overcome ourselves. We know that by working on overcoming the initial urge to hate, we unite ourselves with something greater. Total self control or self mastery is not allowing ourselves to by ruled by our emotions, such as anger. I believe it is easier to allow yourself to be angered by an offense and retaliate then to forgive your offender and offer them a sign a peace. In this way, I believe Christianity is the most challenging of all religions. Knowing this, I must questions myself anytime I feel anger or hatred towards someone or something. However when faced with terrorists, child rapists on death row, mothers who kill their children, dictators who massacre their people, I must admit I am at a loss as to the Christian response. How far must we go to forgive these people and forget our anger? If Christ was a pacifist, are we justified in waging wars and electrocuting these people? Because of modern day horrors such as these, many Christians are okay with the death penalty, torturing prisoners and waging war. I am having a hard time figuring out what is right and what is wrong when the atrocities are so great. Emotions flare up just talking about such things. I don't know if I can be a pacifist like Dorothy Day but I have a hard time figuring out when the taking of a human life is justified. If Catholics can not agree upon such things, is their hope for the rest of the world?


shelray said...

I think that many times our anger comes from the frustrations we have with ourselves. The more self-centered, the more we fall short of our own expectations, the worse the anger. This is my perspective gained from self expereince.