On Anger

Dear Gabriel,

I hope you found these writings useful. I was thinking of putting them into a theme for each week. This week I was thinking on anger.

One organisation is so wasteful and so counter-productive that it always makes me angry just thinking of it. I can be walking down the street and the thought of it can first make me angry enough to cause a rush of blood to the head.

How do we cope with anger? I have been thinking on it all week. Then next day on Wednesday I read those words in Mass from the first letter to St James 19-27:

“Remember this: my dear brothers be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to rouse your temper. God’s righteousness is never served by man’s anger.”

But the problem of anger remains. Not so much anger with other people but with oneself. I had to do a long journey back and forth later in the week. And I was angry two or three times in the day. I was even angry that I couldn’t get any lunch on time – what a silly thing to be angry about.

I think, Gabriel, that one way is to see the issue, the habitual angry issue and veer away from it. Another way is to immediately pray for the person you’re angry with. If you really dislike something, or someone, try saying ten Hail Marys for them. It’s like wading through glue.

On Saturday it was not anger that was the problem but faith. Perhaps because until there is complete faith, there will always be residual anger. And that won’t happen until the day we die, when faith will be consummated or not. We don’t know. Can only hope.

I was at Mass on Saturday and the priest went in for a long explanation of the reading of the Transfiguration. Suddenly I knew with certainty that I did not have his certainty. All this faith of Moses and Elijah left me cold. An angry rationality was rising up.

But later in the Mass, at the Consecration, a great shaft of early winter light pressed down from a high window meeting the clouds of incense rising before it. Then the opposite of a cold reasoning was before me: a happiness in the mystery of the thing.

Perhaps on a cold mountain top long ago, the Apostles were wrapped up in the mystery of a thing during the Transfiguration.

Later still on Sunday I was lying awake wondering whether to continue writing this thing and depressed at lack of any power or even influence perhaps. I decided to pray the Rosary, the bit I like best, the Joyful Mysteries.

When I finished and went to sleep I thought that I would continue but in a different way, perhaps exploring a theme, and I thought too that power is not that important, being true to one’s beliefs and having a voice is.