I have a temper. Some folks are surprised by that, because they never see it. They never see it because I internalize my anger as a matter of course. Why? Because almost without fail I say or do things I later deeply regret if I let my temper loose. I have no desire to hurt others, but that is practically an inevitable consequent of my outbursts.
Experts tell me that this is a lousy strategy. I am inclined to agree just because of the internal costs I pay in absorbing it all. Yet I fear my mouth when set loose in anger. I do not know the answer, but I found the following from St. Francis de Sales to be a little helpful.
It is better, says the same St. Augustine, writing to Profuturus, to deny entrance to just and reasonable anger than to admit it, be it ever so little; because, being once admitted, it is with difficulty driven out again; for it enters as a little twig, and in a moment becomes a beam; and if the sun sets upon it, which the apostle forbids, it turns into hatred, from which we have scarcely any means to rid ourselves; for it nourishes itself under a thousand false pretexts, since there was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust. [Introduction to the Devout Life, III.8; emphasis added]
So I think SS. Francis & Augustine are right. But how to control my anger, then? Well, I suppose I begin by admitting that I can’t control it, and then laying the problem at the foot of the Cross. Different problems, all with one solution. Lord, help.
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