We live in a culture so besieged with anger that it can be very difficult to imagine life without it, and so we often try to justify our anger.  Anger is an emotion which is not in itself wrong, but which, when it is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, becomes one of the seven capital sins.  Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment (Catholic Catechism, 1765, 1866, 2262).  Left unresolved, anger often manifests in negative emotions and passive-aggressive behavior that can destroy personal, professional, and spiritual relationships.  Passive-aggressive personalities harbor resentment, stonewall others, create confusion around them, fear conflict, and have difficulty communicating their feelings openly and honestly.  This type of behavior usually stems from a person’s low self-esteem and insecurity.  Steps 4 and 5 of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement asks those in recovery to consider whether getting rid of angry feelings and passive-aggressive behaviors would be more helpful than finding ways of holding onto them.  Start by making a list of individuals and institutions with whom you are angry – be honest about old hurts, disagreements, and frustrations.  Some have found it helpful to use the Ten Commandments when examining their conscience.  Then, approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, sharing with the confessor the feelings and behaviors that have kept you distanced from God, “admitting to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

St. Francis de Sales writes:  “The scorpion which has stung us is poisonous when it stings us, but when it is made into an oil it is an excellent remedy against its own sting; sin is shameful when we commit it, but when it is changed into confession and repentance, it is honorable.  Contrition and confession are so beautiful and sweet-smelling that they efface the ugliness and dissipate the stench of sin.”

With prayerful best wishes
Fr. John Mahoney