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Br. Clement Lepak, OP's picture

If You Are Angry...

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A conversation ends with a sudden: “You’re selfish. I can’t stand you anymore!” 

A phone is slammed down in rage: “AHHH! I’ll never speak to you again!”

Or the icy approach, “Oh, I see. Well, have a nice day.” Then the hurried shuffle away with hunched shoulders, red hands wringing, and plotting revenge. The grudge is on.

How exhausting. How useless. Is it really worth it?

We all get angry and there doesn’t seem to be an easy antidote. We seek calm to alleviate anger, but how can it be achieved when we must confront people at work, at home or at school who get on our nerves?

You may have tried everything with your opponent: reasoning, pleading, threatening. Nothing seems to change your encounters and you feel you just have to avoid them from now on. But have you tried prayer? Seriously, have you prayed for that person, the thorn in your side? Spiritual advisors sometimes ask us to place our enemies under the protection of Our Lord by devoting a period of time to praying for them.

How can this be done? By simply asking God to grant them all the graces He wants them to have so that our enemy or opponent will more deeply know the call to holiness and their hearts will be converted. You might start with a simple short prayer for them, once a day for two weeks. 

We find this promise in Scripture for those who pray for others: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, and this will cure you: the heartfelt prayer of a good man works very powerfully. My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from the wrong way that he has taken will be saving a soul from death and covering up a great number of sins" (James 5:16, 19-20).

Notice that to be in the best disposition to pray for others we must have first confessed our own sins to one another. When we regularly attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation our lives begin to receive the tranquility that comes from order. Our hearts are freed to love God and to pray for our enemies; free to ask God to bless those who persecute us, or at least bother us. We are then able to give others the same consolation we have received from the sacraments.

It is, however, important to point out that anger itself is not a sin. In fact anger can be a good thing if it is directed at removing an evil. That’s why we have anger: to remove an obstacle that is perceived as threatening our own good. Every week during compline, the night office of the Church, we hear: “If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you” (Ephesians 4:26).

So if you’re angry at your cluttered desktop, use some of that anger to remove the obstacles. Clean it! But if you are angry at a person, then “let it be without sin,” pray for their holiness, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to come upon them, for forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. May the Most Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring us holiness and peace.