In my most recent article for Catholic Exchange I discuss the beginning of my own Lenten journey and life-long journey to confront sinful anger, which I have battled since childhood.
For this Lenten season, I finally decided to confront one of the deadly sins that has beguiled me since childhood: sinful anger. Over the years my anger has waxed and waned, but it has been an ever present struggle and a constant sin for me to Confess. The reasons for why this anger developed doesn’t matter so much as how I learn to deal with it now. Lent is a time to reach deeper into holiness and that means confronting our deepest vices, so that we can live in conformity with the virtues. For me to go deeper into Christ I must learn to abandon sinful anger.
Anger can come about for many reasons: the state of the world, past hurts, childhood, chronic pain or illness (this may very well be mitigated depending), hormone issues, habit, and a variety of other reasons. The common denominator is that we are the only ones with the power to banish sinful anger from our lives. It is very difficult to parse righteous anger from sinful anger within ourselves because the passions have such an integral part to play in our responses. I have often claimed righteous anger when it was clearly sinful anger that occurred within me. In order to help me on my Lenten journey and the journey I will walk for the rest of my days on this earth, I picked up a copy of Fr. T.G. Morrow’s wonderful book, Overcoming Sinful Anger. He cuts right to the chase with the title and he doesn’t mince words in the book either. He provides the fraternal correction far too many of us need, even though it is difficult to confront this ugliness within ourselves. The pain, humiliation, and struggle are necessary, but will be rewarded.
What is Sinful Anger?
Chapter One of Morrow’s book begins with a couple of clear definitions of sinful anger. Anger in itself is a feeling of “displeasure” typically. Feelings are neutral, it is how we respond to them that matters. Anger in the beginning is an emotional response and not sinful in itself. Quoting Henry Fairlie in his book The Seven Deadly Sins Today, the first definition of sinful anger is:
Anger as a deadly sin is ‘a disorderly outburst of emotion connected with the inordinate desire for revenge’…It is likely to be accompanied by surliness of heart, by malice aforethought, and above all by the determination to take vengeance.
Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.