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What is Anger?


Happy Monday of Holy Week!

We are on the final stretch of Lent! This week we will be talking about our final vice…

Anger.

This vice tends to have a lot of misunderstandings attached to it. First and foremost, I want to clarify what I mean when I speak about the vice of anger.

Anger is a regular human emotion. St. Thomas even describes it as a “passion of the sensitive appetite” (ST. II.II. Q158. A1). When God created us, he created all of our human emotions as well…and he saw that it was all VERY GOOD (Gen 1:31). When we speak of emotions, they are neither good nor evil. Emotions in of themselves are neutral because they occur without our conscious choice as a natural human reaction.

HOWEVER, what becomes either good or evil is what we do when we become aware of that emotion and act on it. There are many times when something will cause us to be angry…(even Christ himself felt angry – John 2:16-17)…but the feeling of anger in of itself is not sinful. What becomes sinful is how do we respond to that anger. Do we act out of anger and lash out? Do we hold it in and remain in that anger?

Many times we become worried about that and are afraid of even feeling angry. Just like thoughts that come into our head without our control are not sinful, neither are feelings that arise without our control. When we make an act of the will as to how to respond to these feelings or thoughts, that is where it can be either sinful or good, and that is where anger can turn from a neutral feeling to a sinful vice.

Just like the feeling of any vice…if we allow it to grow in us it slowly kills us. Anger has the power to turn into the desire for revenge, where we wish harm on someone else (CCC 2302). If we know that we have a short fuse and a tendency to act out of anger, that is something we need to consciously work on.

Today I want you to pay attention to situations that aggravate you. Maybe you are stuck in traffic, maybe someone even cut you off, maybe you have a co-worker who annoys you, maybe someone said a comment to you that aggravated you, maybe you still hold a grudge against someone. I want you ladies to catch yourselves when you feel angry today. Bring your awareness to that feeling, and yes you can acknowledge that this is how you feel, but know you have a choice whether to act on it or not. Channel that anger, that passion, towards pushing you away from the evil of sin and towards God.

Come Holy Spirit, help us learn how to become aware of our anger and channel it.

Walking together, Sandra

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