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home : commentary : columns February 22, 2019

Taking anger by the horns

By Father Eugene Hemrick | Catholic News Service

Wherever we look, anger is on the rise and is calling for a deeper look at its anatomy.

Anger, which is one of the seven capital sins, is often painted as evil. Psychologists would advise, however, that we take a closer look at it before condemning it completely.

Anger can be good when it addresses a disorder that needs immediate attention.

My dad was a very patient man and could put up with almost anything. One day his anger stunned me when he caught a dishonest merchant trying to pull the wool over his eyes. The confrontation that followed corrected the situation and hopefully helped the merchant to reconsider his honesty.

Anger possesses an energetic prompting that sometimes is required to address wrongdoing, injustice and malice. Ironically, lethargy and failing to take responsible action to correct an evil is also a capital sin.

Anger is evil when it spawns revenge and the desire to create harm and disorder. It is the opposite of kindness that prompts us to be well-disposed toward others, life and God, and to work toward restoring order.

Today we are experiencing a rise in incivility in which ill-disposed people are out to get others. They not only mirror anger at its worst, but exhibit a disposition that takes the heart out of reconciliation and efforts at creating unity.

In his book "Power and Responsibility," Father Romano Guardini implored our postmodern age to develop greater interiority to deal with today's challenges that threaten our kindness. He called us to meditate, become more reflective and prayerful about destructive evil influences like anger that are invading our times.

It is so easy to succumb to lethargy and let the daily spirit of anger, incivility and revenge enter our homes, workplaces, government and Churches. Father Guardini cautioned that this is no time to give in to matter-of-factness and to feel this is a natural part of our life.

On the contrary, it is a time to dig deeper into our interior, to reflect on the status quo and how it is destroying the God-given order for which God created us. In the best sense of the word, it is time to become angry at that which is taking the very heart out of our life.

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