There are times in our lives when our anger can reach an unhealthy level, breeding severe hatred against a person who has wronged us in some way. This is not the Gospel way of life, and Jesus used strong words against such harmful thoughts, “But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).
The good news is that with God’s grace, we can overcome our anger and practice charity, even when we are tempted to strike out in rage.
Venerable Louis of Granada, a Dominican priest of the 16th century, gave his advice in a book rightly called The Sinner’s Guide. In it, he gives a step-by-step plan for sinners who want to start practicing virtue and be released from their slavery to sin.
The first tip explains how we should think about Jesus and how he has borne so many offenses that come from us.
If it be hard to subdue your anger, excited by an injury from one of your fellow creatures, consider how much more God has borne from you and how much he has endured for you. Were you not his enemy when He shed the last drop of his Blood for you? And behold with what sweetness and patience he bears with your daily offenses against him, and with what mercy and tenderness he receives you when you return to him.
Jesus is patient with us; should we not be patient with others?
Furthermore, one of the reasons we get angry is because of an inordinate love of self.
The most efficacious, the sovereign remedy against this vice is to pluck from your heart inordinate love of self and of everything that pertains to you. Otherwise the slightest word or action directed against you or your interests will move you to anger. The more you are inclined to this vice the more persevering you should be in the practice of patience. Accustom yourself, as far as you can, calmly to face the contradictions and disappointments you are likely to encounter, and their effect upon you will thus be greatly diminished.
Last of all, remember to never act in anger, for when our feelings subside, we will have a much clearer mind.
Never act until your anger has subsided, or until you have once or twice repeated the Our Father or some other prayer. Plutarch tells of a wise man who, on taking leave of a monarch, advised him never to speak or act in anger, but to wait until he had repeated to himself the letters of the alphabet. Learn a lesson from this, and avoid the evil consequences of acting from the impulse of anger.
Do you know how to get rid of anger and stress?
John Paul II’s prayer that love would conquer hatred in America