Taming an Irascible Nature

Arrest of Christ by Master of the Evora Altarpiece

Father Frassinetti writes: “You have, perhaps, a very irascible nature? This means that, when there is anything to be angry at, you easily become angry.”

“When you are surprised by anger on account of some misfortune, some injury, some wrong or affront, suppress it as soon as you discover it. You should not be angry about these things, which God permits for your good, to keep you detached from the world, confident in Him alone, and above all things humble. I say ‘as soon as you are aware of it,’ because so long as it is unintentional, however bad it may be, it is nevertheless not a sin. Then when it comes on you because you see offences offered to God, duties transgressed, virtue vilified, and you feel still more angry because these things have been done by those who are placed under your authority, be content to bridle it, that it may not in an unruly manner overpass the limits of what is just and right. . . . A just anger is a fire that is necessary to give warmth and life to our zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of our neighbour.”

“If you have an irascible nature bridle it according to the teaching of reason and of faith, but console yourself with the reflection that you are the more naturally disposed to the more lively and powerful operations of the holy love of God. In the mean while do not imagine that you ought to deface this your natural disposition, and transform it into its opposite. Such an undoing, such a complete alteration, you ought not even to ask from God. Ask Him rather for grace to make good use of your natural disposition, taking care that you are never angry without just cause, and that even your just anger never overpasses the limits of your duty. You may then rest assured that your natural disposition, however irascible it may be, will cooperate excellently well in bringing about your sanctification.”

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

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