More Thoughts on Anger

Let me revisit the earlier thoughts on anger. We all know the dark side, but what about the bright side of anger. St. Maximus the Confessor, taking his queue from long established platonic thought, understands the intellect (Greek nous), the highest faculty of man through which we attain enlightenment, to have three great powers. The first is intelligence (logikos), the ruling aspect of the intellect, which acts a lot like the search engines of our computers. It is hungry for information, and is always searching. The second is desire (epithumētikon), a natural power of longing by which we are driven to find fulfillment. The third is the incensive power of the intellect that fights to attain our desire and anything that gets in its way. In fact, this last power is a form of anger. When these three powers and unified through love in aspiring to God, we grow in our union with God. If you can, get vol. 2 of the Philokalia published by Faber and Faber, 1981, and see pp. 193 & 202.

The point here is that we cannot grow apart from anger. By nature, I get angry with anything or anyone that gets in the way of my will. This is the anger of this world. If we redirect our anger against those things within us that keep us from God and weigh us down, e.g. love of this world, idolatry, an inordinate love of my own opinions, fear, etc., we become stronger in spirit. We must see anger as a strong spiritual recourse and by God’s grace learn how to deploy it in a constructive way.

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