St. John of the Ladder on Anger

johnclimacusladderI continue with some thoughts on this important subject. This is taken from the great spiritual classic, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (chapter 8). There are a number of very worthy insights – quite similar to those found in Met. Jonah article referenced earlier.

As the gradual pouring of water on a fire puts out the flame completely, so the tears of genuine mourning can extinguish every flame of anger and irascibility. Hence this comes next in our sequence.

Freedom from anger is an endless wish for dishonor, whereas among the vainglorious there is a limitless thirst for praise. Freedom from anger is a triumph over one’s nature. It is the ability to be impervious to insults, and comes by hard work and the sweat of one’s brow.

Meekness is a permanent condition of that soul which remains unaffected by whether or not it is spoken well of, whether or not it is honored or praised.

The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the lst, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing.

Anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you.

Irascibility is an untimely flaring up of the heart. Bitterness is a stirring of the soul’s capacity for displeasure. Anger is an easily changed movement of one’s disposition, a disfigurement of the soul.

Just as darkness retreats before light, so all anger and bitterness disappears before the fragrance of humility.

Some unfortunate people, who have a tendency to anger, neglect the treatment and cure of this passion and so give no thought to the saying, “The moment of his anger is his downfall” (Ecclesiasticus 1:22).

Comments

  1. says

    I see what you mean (after re-reading it). I think it’s a translation issue. Meekness being more or less a “universal” condition of the soul that defeats anger. Though as a virtue, it is quite possible for the virtues to be formed (by grace) as permanent aspects of the soul, I would think. It would be a very advanced spiritual life.

  2. Mrs. Mutton says

    Useful and sobering. In an earlier post, the one from Metropolitan Jonah, one response raised the question of anger on another’s behalf, and I wish you could address this in a future post, since I suspect that many of us struggle with the matter of how to use anger to defend an innocent third party without sinning.