” BE SLOW TO ANGER.”
(Epistle of Sunday. James i. 17, 21).
St. Jerome says that anger is the door by which all vices enter the soul. Let us implore God to
preserve us from yielding to any strong passion, and particularly to anger. For he that submits to
such a passion is exposed to great danger of falling into grievous sin against God or his
neighbour. Let us look on Jesus Crucified and we shall not dare to complain.
St. Jerome says that anger is the door by which all vices enter the soul. According to St.
Bonaventure, an angry man is incapable of distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong.
The anger of man worketh not the jus tice of God-(James i. 20). He that submits to such a passion
is exposed to great danger of falling into grievous sin against God, or his neighbour. Thus, when
we receive an insult, we must do violence to ourselves and restrain our anger. Let us either answer
with meekness or let us remain silent; and thus, as St. Isidore says, we shall conquer. But, if
you answer through passion, you will do harm to yourselves and others. It would be still worse to
give an angry answer to a person who corrects you. St. Bernard says that some are not angry though
they ought to be indignant with those who wound their souls by flattery ; but they are filled with
indignation against the person who corrects them in order to heal their irregularities. Against
the man who abhors cor rection, the sentence of perdition has, according to the Wise Man, been
pronounced. Because they have despised all my reproofs . . . the prosperity of fools shall destroy them-(Prov. i. 30,32). Fools regard as prosperity to be free from correction, or to despise the admonitions they receive; but such prosperity is the cause of their ruin. When you meet with an occasion of anger you must be on your guard not to allow anger to enter your heart. Be not quickly angry-(Eccles. vii. 10). Some
persons change colour and get into a passion, at every contradiction : and when anger has got
admission, no one knows to what it shall lead them. Hence it is necessary to foresee these
occasions in our meditations and prayers; for, unless we are prepared for them it will be as
difficult to restrain anger as to put a bridle on a runaway horse. If, however, we have the
great misfortune to permit anger to enter the soul, let us be careful not to allow it to remain.
Jesus Christ tells all who remember that a brother is offended with them not to offer the gift
which they bring to the altar without being first reconciled to their neighbour. Go first to be
reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift-(Matth. v. 24). And he who
has received any offence should endeavour to root out of his heart not only all anger but also
every feeling of bitterness towards the persons who have offended him. Let all bitterness, says
St. Paul, and anger and indignation … be put away from you-(Ephes. iv. 31). As long as
anger continues, follow the advice of Seneca : “When you shall be a11gry do nothing, say nothing
which may be dictated by anger.” Like David, be silent, and do not speak wh n you feel that you
are disturbed. I was troubled, and I spoke not-(Ps. lxxvi. 5). How many,· when inflamed with
anger, say and do what they after wards in their calmer moments regret.
It is necessary, of course, to remember that it is not possible for human weakness, in the midst of
so many occasions, to be altogether free from every motion of anger. No one, as Seneca says, can
be entirely exempt from this passion. All our efforts must be directed to the moderation of the
feelings of anger which spring up in the soul. How are they to be moderated ? By meek
ness. This is called the virtue of the lamb-that is, the beloved virtue of Jesus Christ. Because
like a lamb, without anger or even complaint, He bore the sorrows of His Passion and Crucifixion.
He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a larnb before his shearer, and
he shall not open his moiith-(Is. liii. 7).. Hence He taught us to learn of Him meekness and
humility of heart. Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart–(Matth. xi. 29).
Oh, how pleasing in the sight of God are the meek, who submit in peace to all crosses, misfortunes,
perse cutions, and injuries ! To the meek is promised the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the
meek, for they shall possess the land-(1\fatth. v. 4). They are called the children of God.
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God-(Matth. v. 9). Some boast
of their meekness but without any grounds ; for they are meek only towards those who praise and
confer favours upon them, but to those who injure or censure them they are all fury and vengeance.
The virtue of meekness consists in being meek and peaceful towards those who hate and maltreat us.
With them th….t hated peace I was peaceful-(Ps. cxix. 6).
We must, as St. Paul says, put on the bowels of mercy towards all men, and bear one with another.
Put ye on the bowels of mercy, humility, modesty, patience, bear ing with one another, and
forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another-Col. iii. 12). You wish others to
bear with your defects, and to pardon your faults; you should act in the same manner towards them.
Whenever, then, you receive an insult from a person enraged against you, remember that a
mild answer breaketh wrath-(Prov. xv. 1). A certain monk once passed through a cornfield : the
owner of the field ran out and spoke to him in very offensive and injurious language. The monk
humbly replied : Brother, you are rignt; I have done wrong; pardon me. By this answer the
husbandman was so much appeased that he instantly became calm, and even wished to follow the monk
and enter into Religion. The proud make use of the humiliations they receive to increase their pride; but the humble and the meek turn t e contempt and insults offered to them into an occasion of advancing in humility. “He,” says St. Bernard, “is humble who converts humiliation into humility.”
“A man of meekness,” says St. John Chrysostom ” is useful to himself and to others.” The meek are
useful to themselves because, according to Father Alvarez, the time of humiliation and
contempt is for them the time of merit. Hence Jesus Christ calls His disciples happy when they
shall be reviled and perse cuted. Blessed m·e ye when they shall rrevile you and and persecute
you-(Matth. v. 11). Hence the Saints have always desired to be despised as Jesus Christ was
despised. The meek are useful to others, because, as the same St. John Chrysostom says, there is
nothing better calculated to draw others to God than to see a Christian meek and cheerful when he
receives an injury o:r an insult. The reason is because virtue is known by being tried; and, as
gold is tried by fire, so the meekness of men is proved by humiliation. Gold and silver are tried
in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation-(Ecclus. ii. 5).