A Year with the Saints – 27 May


The remedies against anger are: 1. To forestall its movements, if possible, or at least to cast them aside quickly, by turning the thoughts to something else. 2. In imitation of the Apostles when they saw the sea raging, to have recourse to God, whose office it is to give peace to the heart. 3. During the heat of passion, not to speak, nor take any action as to the matter in question. 4. To strive to perform acts of kindness and humility towards the person against whom one is incensed, especially in reparation for any of a contrary nature. Saint Francis de Sales

This good Saint was often wrongfully assailed by others with insulting words. To avoid yielding to anger in such cases, he would sometimes think of some good quality they possessed, to excite a sentiment of love for them; or again, he would be silent and let them talk, if he had tried sweetness and courtesy in vain. To a gentleman who had been an astonished witness of his heroic patience, he once said: “You see I have made a compact with my tongue, that when anything is said against me that may excite me to anger, it will beware of uttering a word?” If Saint Vincent de Paul was at any time moved to anger, he abstained from speaking and from acting; and above all, he never resolved upon anything until he felt that his passion had subsided. He often said that actions performed under excitement may appear good, but can never be perfect, as they are not fully directed by reason, which is then perturbed and obscured, and that in spite of all the ebullitions of anger and all imaginable pretexts of zeal, we should speak only soft and courteous words, that we may gain our neighbors to God. Therefore, while the emotion lasted, he made every effort to hinder any trace of it from appearing on his countenance, and if, on rare occasions, there escaped him any word or gesture which might indicate impatience or severity, he immediately asked pardon. One day he spoke with a great deal of decision to a lay-brother who had excused himself under various pretexts for giving lodging to a stranger. Though he had done this with the best intention, and the brother recognized his error, he yet humbled himself for it that same evening, and wished to kiss the lay-brother’s feet. Another time he feared that he had offended a lay-brother by telling him to have patience and wait a little for the solution of certain doubts that he had proposed to him. In this uncertainty he would not say Mass until he had asked his pardon.

When the venerable Monseigneur de Palafox felt his emotions of anger or excessive zeal springing up in his mind while he was giving a reproof, he would instantly raise his heart to God and say: “O Lord, hold fast in this tempest the rudder of my reason, that I may not transgress Thy holy will in anything.”

A great philosopher gave Augustus Caesar this advice: “When you feel any emotion of anger, do riot say or do anything until you have run. over in your mind at least the 26 letters of the alphabet.”

Plutarch tells of a certain king of Thrace who was remarkable for his violent temper and the cruel punishments he inflicted on his servants. One of his friends gave him some vases, which were fragile but beautifully wrought. He gave his friend a handsome present in return, and then broke the vases. When someone expressed amazement at this latter action, he said: “I did this so that I might not come to inflict my usual cruelties on anyone who should break them.”

MLA Citation