Sayings of the Saints
  • On Anger

"Whoever is angry with his brother, shall deserve to be condemned by the judgment.
               --MATTHEW 5:13

THOSE persons who are subject to this furious passion are compared in Holy Writings
to beasts; because they imitate their malignity; and that those who are in the habit
of committing all kinds of crime are rightly placed in the category of those ferocious
and carnivorous animals who bear a natural enmity to man.
Quickness of temper, ill-natured, inconsiderate words, violence, calumnies,
reproaches, injuries, blows, and all other disorders, are the result and fruit of anger It
is that vice which sharpens the swords with which men kill each other, that brothers
no longer recognize their own flesh and blood, that parents and children stifle the
best feelings that nature implants in them.

A passionate man does not even know himself; he respects neither age, virtue, nor
kindred; he forgets benefits, and is not moved by aught that is most sacred amongst
men.
Anger is a momentary madness. Those who are most prone to it neglect themselves
for the sake of revenge, and often thereby expose themselves to all sorts of danger.
The remembrance of wrongs that may have been inflicted on them is like a needle
which continually pricks them; their excited minds know no rest until they have
caused some great grief or until they have inflicted some injury on those who may
have offended them; when what they wish to do often recoils upon themselves, and
this is frequently the case.

ST. BASIL

DO YOU not know that when one flies into a passion, trifling things appear
insupportable, and what is the least injurious becomes magnified and appears to be
an insulting outrage. That which we look upon as a little word has often caused
murders and ruined entire cities.
Thus, when we love some one the most disagreeable task appears to be light and
easy; in like manner, when we cherish hate, the lightest things appear to be
insupportable. Although the word or words may have been uttered without intention
of hurting the feelings, we harbor the thought that it must proceed from a heart that
is poisoned against us. St. Paul says, " Let not the sun go down on your anger." He
fears that the night, finding the offended person alone, may fester the wound. During
the day the work and bustle of the world causes his anger to slumber, but when the
night has come he is alone, and he broods over his fancied injuries, and his troubled
soul becomes excited, and passionate anger resumes its sway.

St. Paul, foreseeing this evil, wishes him to be reconciled before the sun goes down,
in order that the devil may not have the opportunity of re-enkindling his anger and
thus make it turn to hate.

ST. CHRYSOSTOM

IF A man cannot help feeling angry, in spite of himself, he can at least try to mitigate
his wrath.
Against that unhappy feeling of anger, we should oppose it by that gentlest of all
virtues, patience. For, if anger should exceed its proper limit, it opens a wound in the
soul which allows itself to be led away, it deadens every proper feeling, thickens the
tongue, disturbs the eye, and, in fact, revolutionizes the whole frame.

Therefore, in dealing with an angry man resist him if you can, and if you cannot, yield
to him.
Would you wish to know how to act when you have received an insult? Do not return
evil for evil; pay no attention to malicious reports, neither be wicked because others
are wicked. The pagans have often quoted a remark made by one of their
philosophers, and which is certainly deserving of praise. His servant having greatly
displeased him by an act of gross injustice, he said to him: "Go, wretched man; how
severely would I not punish you were I not in a passion ! "

David acted in a similar way; he restrained his anger when he felt tempted to
revenge; but he so thoroughly had mastered his passions that he did not answer a
single word to the insults they heaped upon him.

ST. AMBROSE