But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance.
(Gal 5, 22-23)
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON ANGER
Anger is sin and comes from human pride. In Greek the word “sin” literally means “to miss the mark.” For Christians the “mark” (goal) of our life is to live in communion with God. Not basing our everyday actions in communion with God, we “miss the mark” and we sin.
An angry person can do great harm to others and to himself/herself, precisely because of the intensity that goes with this strong emotion. It is necessary to recognize the Christian difference between virtue and sin. We can say that virtue is every positive thought, deed or action of ours done in the name of Christ, while sin is every negative thought, deed or action of ours done in the name of our ego. Our human nature is weak and to have a healthy spiritual life, we should always turn to Christ the Savior.
Overcoming anger is a lifelong lesson
Modern society emphasizes the need for a healthy life and most commonly centers around physical activity. It is very good decision to take care of our body, but it is also very important to take care of our spiritual health, that is, our salvation. The Gospel readings confirm that Christ emphasized the need for man to beware of sin and sinful thoughts. Moreover, Christ tells us that sin begins in thought. This idea was strongly developed through the monastic experience of the Orthodox Church.
A combination of various circumstances leads to an angry reaction. Sometimes we will think well but react badly. Making someone else sad with our angry reaction is in fact a sign of our weakness. In order to avoid an overemphasized (emotional) reaction, in which our mind cannot rule over emotions, we should try to avoid verbal conflict. Our Christian goal is to overcome these passions. Defeating pride is the hardest spiritual exercise but it has numerous spiritual benefits. Meekness or tolerance is an opposition to anger.
Spiritual advice / confession
Having a spiritual father is the most rewarding thing in our church life. The main role of every spiritual father is to pray for his spiritual children. A priest will encourage us to pray since prayer is the first and basic spiritual means in the fight againts anger. Prayer is the best solution for any stressful situation. Sincere and strong prayer will bring meekness (tolerance), a virtue that overcomes every angry situation. In addition, confession is therapeutic tool for problems and issues we face in everyday life. Before going to confession without justification or self-pity make a prayerful examination of your conscience regarding all things.
Text prepared by: Deacon Jovan Anicic, Director of the Department of Christian Education of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America, Lessons for St.Sava Camp 2020.