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April 20, 2016 + Remedies for Senseless Anger, Part 2

by St. Mark the Ascetic

From the time that Christ came to dwell with us, man created according to God's image and likeness is truly renewed through the grace and power of the Spirit, attaining to the perfect love which 'casts out fear' (1 John 4:18) - the love which is no longer able to fail, for 'love never fails' (1 Cor. 13:8). Love, says John, is God; and 'he who dwells in love dwells in God' (1 John 4:16). The apostles were granted this love, and so were those who practiced virtue as they did, offering themselves completely to the Lord, and following Christ with all their heart throughout their lifetime.

April 13, 2016 + Remedies for Senseless Anger, Part 1

by St. Mark the Ascetic

Now let us say something about the senseless passion of anger, which ravages, confuses and darkens every soul and, when it is active, makes those in whom it is easily and quickly aroused behave like beasts. This passion is strengthened particularly by pride, and so long as it is so strengthened it cannot be destroyed. While the diabolical tree of bitterness, anger and wrath has its roots kept moist by the foul water of pride, it blossoms and thrives and produces quantities of rotten fruit. Thus the structure of evil in the soul is impossible to destroy so long as it is rooted firmly in pride.

Do you want this tree of disorder - I mean the passion of bitterness, anger and wrath - to dry up within you and become barren, so that with the axe of the Spirit it may be 'hewn down and cast into the fire' together with every other vice (Matt. 3 :10)? Do you want the destruction of this house of evil which the devil builds in your soul by continually using as stones various plausible or senseless pretexts, whether material or mental, and by constructing its foundations out of thoughts of pride ? If this is what you really want, keep the humility of the Lord in your heart and never forget it.

Chaplain's Corner + Annoyance is Routine; Anger is a Killer

by Fr. George Morelli

Most of us know very well that daily annoyances are a normal part of life. I am sure we all have our own personal list of everyday nuisances.  Most of my own personal favorites have to do with drivers and driving. For example, drivers not using signals, backing out of parking spaces and not moving at a green light, top my list. .All events that we view as annoyances are seen as such because of personal rules that guide the way each of us looks at life. These rules may be likened to a colored lens that gives a hue to the events that are occurring around us. Cognitive science and clinical practitionersi would have us understand that the emotional reaction we feel is due to our psychological interpretation of what is happening around us. Furthermore, in the case of daily irritations such as those mentioned above, it would also be that when people or events are not the way I want them to be, I see this as a catastrophe of some type, something more than 100% bad. Re-evaluating events to discern how actually catastrophic they really are has been found to be helpful in keeping emotions in a ‘normal’ range.ii

July 9, 2014 + On Having Firm Resolve Not to Become Angry

From Abba Isidore

Isidore the Priest was a monk of Scetis and early companion of Macarius (the Great). He is mentioned by Cassian as one of the heads of the four communities in Scetis.

2. A brother asked him, 'Why are the demons so frightened of you?' The old man said to him, 'Because I have practiced asceticism the day I became a monk, and not allowed anger to reach my lips.'

3. He also said that for forty years he had been tempted to sin in thought but that he had never consented either to covetousness or to anger.

7. Abba Isidore said, 'One day I went to the market place to sell some small goods; when I saw anger approaching me, I left the things and fled.'

Revisiting that Kindness and Forgiveness Are Next to Godliness: Even in Church

by Fr. George Morelli

The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings (Ps 144: 17)

Even a casual reader of the articles I write cannot help but notice the spiritual emphasis, based on the example of Christ Himself, that I place on kindliness, forgiveness and Godliness. (Morelli, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b) Therefore, it should come as no surprise how spiritually upsetting a recent opinion piece by a Russian journalist which was forwarded to me:  

One value that the . . . Orthodox Church does not have enough of is kindness and compassion. The upholding of ritual and rules often supplants genuine feeling and compassion. Among Orthodox priests there are many who would sternly tell a woman, “cover your head” in church, oblivious to the fact that the woman is trying to calm down her crying child and has no time to find or readjust her headscarf. A sad young woman who comes to a church to seek solace may hear: “You can’t wear trousers here.” I have witnessed such scenes myself and I can imagine how many souls have been turned away by such uncharitable severity. As long as the . . . Orthodox priest does not become a shepherd first and an administrator second, the faith of many . . . will remain a dream and not a source of spiritual fortitude.i

What a sad account about some who are supposed to pastor the people of God! Now I would like to dismiss such stories as isolated incidents or mere accidents. Unfortunately, I myself have been subjected to similar treatment by hierarchs and priests, and I have witnessed laity being similarly treated. Regrettably, I have also heard numerous complaints from pious individuals visiting parishes and monasteries describing very similar situations.

Chaplain's Corner: Anger - The Boomerang Emotion

by Fr. George Morelli

The display of anger is so common that it frequently goes unnoticed. Rather, it has become  the  expected response to any slight, no matter how trivial or harsh, given to someone by someone else in society.  Some "getting back at" or  "vengeance" is the norm. No one is exempt, parents, coaches, athletes, referees, police officers, teachers or those acquitted of a criminal offense. Interestingly, a recent news report noted that displaying anger at subordinates, especially combined with the use of scatological words, has also become the required norm to be an effective leader.  []

Psychologically, anger occurs because we perceive ourselves to be "intruded on" to the extent that it justifies aggression, vengeance, and retaliation.  To display this level of anger we have to have to see ourselves as very 'important.' St. Basil tells us "Anger nurses a grievance. The soul, itching for vengeance, constantly tempts us to repay those who have offended" [St Basil the Great, Homily 10]. I am so important, so above others that I have the "right" to act uncharitably toward others. Note that I am making an important distinction between annoyance, which in fact could motivate a useful adaptive response such as being more focused or trying harder, with real anger.

There may be some who would perceive angry individuals as effective leaders, but, in general, psychologists have found damaging boomerang effects for anger displays: relationships are fermented, people will tend to retaliate; it cognitively distracts from solving problems, and even if what I am angry about has some truth to it, my over-reaction lessens my credibility.

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