Moderating Anger

Father Frassinetti writes: “As St. Thomas says, all wrath is not bad; and there is a just anger. ‘Do not imagine,’ says the holy doctor, ‘that anger is a passion which is to be compared with pride, or envy, or other such things as of themselves are always evil and abominable.’ Anger, he goes on to say, is a passion necessary to man.”

“‘Anger is the instrument of virtue,’ as St. Gregory the Great adds. The evil of anger consists in being angry without sufficient cause, or in being angry beyond measure. Whoever is angry in a just cause, and with moderation, acts well, not ill.”

“St. Thomas reminds us that when anger is just, and regulated by reason, the disturbance and agitation caused by it are not in any way sinful. Hence he teaches us that well-regulated anger is not opposed to the virtue of gentleness, and that this passion (of course most perfectly kept in its proper order) is likewise to be found in the Divine Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Our Lord Christ Himself was angry several times, particularly against the Pharisees, on whom (it is written) He looked with anger (Mk 3:5).”

“Anger is a passion, like love, which when it is just and moderate is good, and when it is distorted and immoderate is evil. . . . In love, as well as in anger, we can commit, and do commit, faults. . . . We must, then, distinguish bad anger from good. Evil anger is that which is awakened in us when inordinate self-love is wounded, or when there is no just cause for being angry, or when, though there is a just cause, it passes the limits of due moderation. Just anger is that which, without overpassing the boundaries of due moderation, is excited in our hearts at seeing offences committed against Almighty God, duty transgressed, virtue trodden down.”

“The various natures of all the sons and daughters of Adam are, each of them, in one way or another, defective and inclined to evil. The grace of God is sufficient to correct and amend every natural disposition, even the worst. Confide in Him, watch over yourself, and, whatever natural disposition you may happen to have, you will become holy.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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