Published on February 10, 2014
THE MONASTIC TRADITION ON ANGER
Evagrius of Pontus • Soul has 3 parts: rational, irascible, concupiscible • Spiritual life has two dynamics: – Rid oneself of evils from the passionate parts, and of ignorance related to the rational parts – Establishing virtues in the passionate parts and knowledge in the rational parts. • Practical (ascetical) life required before going far in world of prayer & knowledge (“theology”)
Evagrius of Pontus • Anger was natural but as a tool against the evil in oneself, against “demons” – RB Prologue 28 (24-28), 40-41; Ch 4:50-51 • Anger gives rise to false desire for solitude. • Anger irritates us, focuses us on the offender, gives us bad dreams, disturbs peace of mind. • Anger harms our prayer
In the Rule of Benedict ANGER • Prologue 17, 24 • Ch 7, Humility: 44 (5th step) • Ch 69, Defend Another & Ch 70, Strike One Another • Ch 31, Cellarer: 1-2, 18-19 • Ch 40, Drink: 9 (murmuring) • Ch 52, Oratory: 3-5 • Ch 55, Clothing: 21-22 FORGIVENESS • Ch 4, Tools 22, 29-33, 65-68, 72-73 • Ch 7, Humility: 35 (4th step) • Ch 71, Obey One Another, 6-9 • Ch 43, Arrive Late: 7-12 • Ch 44, Satisfaction: 1-10
John Cassian on Cause of Anger • Are we more ready to forgive a stranger than those close to us. Jesus said “if your brother or sister has something against you, then leave your gift at the altar and go be reconciled.” • Instead of dealing with a problem, we give people the silent treatment. – We irritate them terribly and deliberately, but pride ourselves on not getting overtly angry or saying anything hostile. – Cassian quotes Jeremiah: “With our mouths we speak peace to our friends, and secretly we are lying in wait for them.” This, Cassian says, is like Judas’s kiss. • Anger can show in bodily expressions: we quit eating or take sick. • Many people “treat others with a freedom which sometimes borders on outrage; yet they cannot themselves endure to be told anything that is displeasing.”
John Cassian on Handling Anger • Anger clouds our judgment; one can’t be wise and angry at the same time. • Try to be big-hearted. Have such a big heart that the waves of anger break on a shore of love that is wide and calm. • Remember that, even if you don’t deserve the anger or irritating behavior of your neighbor, you do deserve much for all the offensive things you have done. • Practice being patient and not reacting without thinking. • Cassian is trying to control the energy that anger brings.
In the Rule of Benedict ANGER • • • • • • Ch 58, Receiving: 3-4, 7-8, Ch 61, Visiting: 2-3, 6-7 Ch 68, Impossible: 2-3, 5 Ch 65, Prior: 1-10 Abbot: Prologue 26-32 Ch 64, Abbot: 9-16 FORGIVENESS • Ch 44, Satisfaction: 1-10 • Ch 65, Prior: 18-19, 22 • Ch 27, Solicitude for the Excommunicated: 1-5 • Ch 28, Do Not Amend: 4-5
Hildegard of Bingen • Contrast of obduratio (hard-heartedness) with misericordia (mercy) • Obduratio speaks: “I created nothing. Why should I do any work? Nothing interests me except what benefits me directly. Let God take care of his creatures. I will take care of myself.” • Mercy answers: “Stones glitter, flowers give off aroma. Earth ministers to humans. You have no mercy so you are like pungent smoke. I am sweet-smelling; I have so much sap I can help others. My words are like salve for pain. You are just smelly smoke.” • Obduratio comes from a life of frivolity with which one becomes bored. Hildegard says she “writes for the cleansing of souls.”
An old man was teaching his grandson about life... “A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?“ The old man simply replied, "The one you feed." This story circulates attributed as a Native American tale. Research shows it is not. http://tsisqua.tumblr.com/post/17650658915/the-history-of-the-two-wolves-two-dogs-story
Community teaches us about anger In living out the Rule of St Benedict, each will, over the period of a lifetime, be integrated into the lives of the other monks and they into his. • We are spurred on by the example of members of our community and we learn from each other. • On the human level, we can rub each other up the wrong way, have our own convictions as to how things should be done, become angry over a real or imaginary slight. • Community is formed…in small exchanges: how we answer one another, how we anticipate someone’s needs. It is shown by the way we not only refuse to gossip about one another, but by the very way we think of one another. Yet this is all material for transformation in God, who transforms us not only as individuals but also as a monastery. Community Life | St. Anselm’s Abbeyhttp://www.stanselms.org/community.php
How to avoid being easily angered • • • • Balance of work, prayer & reading Labor releases energy & focuses our thoughts Reading fills our minds with good thoughts Prayer connects our heart & mind to God
FORGIVING: CHOOSING “NOT ANGER” THEN “LOVE”
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is an attitude of heart and mind in which we give up our desire for revenge. Instead try to offer the offender benevolence, compassion and love. We give up our feelings of anger, despite the fact that we are entitled to be angry. We give up our obsession and begin to seek peace.
Prayer when you don’t know how to pray Personalize the Our Father … “Sally’s Father, who is in heaven Hallowed be your name in Sally, Your Kingdom come in Sally, Your will be done in Sally…”
Forgiveness draws us closer to God “We are called to relationship with God directly and through others,” Sr. Helen Prejean says. “In seeking to practice forgiveness, we can’t always re-establish relationship or reconciliation with others. A murderer may be denied reconciliation with the families, but God grants it unconditionally.” That is, reconciliation with God is the fruit of
Being ready for forgiveness • • • • • Avoiding anger Turning aside from grumbling and murmuring Turning aside from judging Constant small acts of forgiveness: humility Awareness of how often others must bear with us and forgive our shortcomings.
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