St. Paul mentions outbursts of anger along with several other sins, including fornication, jealousy, enmity, and strife. He concludes with this warning: “I warn you as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:20–21). What could be further from Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount, to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43)? He said, “I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the fire of hell” (Matt. 5:22)…
We have all encountered people who explode when they feel angry. It baffles me how often this sort of anger rears its ugly head in marriages — even in allegedly Christian marriages. The damage done by this behavior is huge. A raging father or mother or child is torture for just about everyone in the family, including the angry one. This is another behavior that’s incompatible with being a Christian.
I am often surprised to discover Christians who pray ardently, who receive the sacraments regularly, who even attend Mass daily, and yet have an anger problem. “If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).
Some even say, “Well, if you’re [of ethnicity X], you’re going to get angry a lot.” Not so! Rather, if you’re a Christian, you will work very hard to find a way to cut back on your anger dramatically. For the real Christian, it’s not where we’re from that counts the most, but where we would like to go one day. Explosive anger is not something you want to have with you when you leave this planet. It will profoundly dampen your ability to enter the Kingdom.
If you have a problem with exploding anger and you want to be a Christian, you absolutely must work hard to overcome it. You cannot simply say, “Well, that’s me,” if you want to be friends with the Lord. Granted, perhaps most angry outbursts are not mortal sins because sufficient reflection is absent. But choosing not to strive ardently to overcome hateful outbursts is usually done with full knowledge and deliberate consent of the will and so could well be a mortal sin. As with many serious sins, if we are really trying to overcome them, we can be close to God. If we are not trying, we can’t. [Taken Father T.G. Morrow: Recognising Sinful Anger ]
In recent days, I’ve been in conversation with a variety of friends (and enemies!) about anger; when it is useful, when it is good or not-so-good, when it is, or might be, sinful, and since Pope Francis hasn’t been on a plane recently (that I’ve heard about), and thus we have a gap in the “Francis Latest” Department, I thought it might prove to be an interesting topic for discussion. The topic isn’t simply about being angry, though – that’s too easy – but about holding on to anger, even allowing it to turn to bitterness. Is there a cure? Help!