"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Intoxicating Cup of Anger

In life as it is now, it is impossible to have perfect and lasting peace. It is natural, considering our sinfulness, that discord and quarrels appear among people; but that does not mean that once having quarreled we should remain in perpetual strife. We have sinned! We have quarreled! Now, let us be reconciled!. . . Unfortunately, few are those who make peace after a fight and return to living like brothers. Even fewer are those who forgive their irreconcilable enemies from the heart and put up with them. Too often strife remains among people to grow and gain strength until it brings them a harvest of eternal death. There are then three kinds of relations possible between those who have quarreled: 1) strife, 2) mutual reconciliation, and 3) long-suffering and forgiveness for the enemy who may be irreconcilable.
Let us first look at the case of mutual animosity. Why do people usually quarrel? – for being insulted by hurtful words, because of rumors and slander, for posts and jobs, for money and property, preeminence and honors. Whatever the reasons for the quarrel may be, the animosity created by it begins to poison the soul unrelentingly. The Poor man once having surrendered to strife loses sweet spiritual peace and is tormented by malice and helpless anger. He becomes restless and nervous, and burns with a satanic hatred; happiness leaves his heart. He seeks a way to get revenge and thinks that he will regain peace only after destroying his enemy. This, however, is only one of the devil's lies: the evil one is inducing him to commit more and more crimes which fail to give him peace and make him even more miserable. When looked at from the outside, the cup of anger seems full with a drink promising satisfaction; but when we drink it, the intoxicating liquid only stuns us for a moment until we carry out the revenge, and afterwards it may lead us to despair and moral exhaustion.
Thus, once deceived by the devil one seems powerless to overcome his anger and again seeks to be drunk with its giddiness, finding some perverted pleasure in the deep sorrow which anger brings. If anger is not uprooted in time – while it is still a small sapling with weak fibers in the earth – it is not easy to be defeated later, when it becomes a large tree with strong roots; then it turns into an incurable satanic venom. This is why the Word of God advises: Let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil, (Eph. 4:26-27); otherwise, if you once lose control of the fire, you will never be able to put it out.
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Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev, The Meaning of Suffering, and, Strife and Reconciliation (Saint Herman Brotherhood, 1994) pp. 66-68.

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