Introduction to the Devout Life


Here are some of my highlight from this Catholic Classic:

Chapter 8: On Meekness Toward Our Neighbors and Remedies Against Anger > Page 207
But this deception may be easily discovered , for despite all their shows of meekness and humility, in response to every little harsh word spoken to them or the smallest injury done to them, they puff themselves up with unparalleled arrogance.

Page 207
However, if, after being stung and bitten by detractors and enemies, we become proud, swollen with rage, and spiteful, this is a sure sign that neither our humility nor meekness are true and sincere but only apparent and artificial.

Page 208
It is better, ” says the same St. Augustine, writing to Profuturus, “to deny entrance to just and reasonable anger than to admit it , even in the slightest way , for once it has been admitted, it can be driven out again only with difficulty. It enters like a little speck but in no time grows into a great beam.” 58 Thus, if anger can find a way to last until the closing of the day, allowing the sun to set upon it—something expressly forbidden by the apostle (see Ephesians 4:26)— it will turn into hatred, which is profoundly difficult to remove from our souls, for it nourishes itself upon a thousand false pretexts, since no angry man ever thought his anger unjust.

Pages 209-210
After this meek effort, practice the advice given by the aged St. Augustine to the young bishop Auxilius: “Do what a man should do. If what is spoken of by the man of God in the Psalms befalls you, leading you to say, ‘My eye is troubled with wrath’ (Psalm 30:10, Douay-Rheims), have recourse to God, crying out with him as well, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord,’ so that he may stretch forth his right hand to crush your anger.”59 I mean that we must invoke God’s aid when we find ourselves excited to wrath, in imitation of the apostles when they were tossed by the wind and the storm upon the waters, for he will command our passions to cease and great calm will settle upon our souls (see Matthew 8:24–26). However, I warn you that our prayer against present and pressing danger must always be made calmly and quietly, not violently, and this advice must be observed in all the remedies against this evil. Moreover, as soon as ever you perceive that you have been guilty of acting with anger, repair the fault immediately, through an act of meekness toward the same person against whom you were angry. Just as the sovereign remedy against a lie is to own it and speak the truth on the spot, as soon as we perceive we have told it, so too an excellent remedy against anger is to repair its damage instantly by an act of meekness. For, as it is said, fresh wounds are the easiest to cure.

Pages 212-213
For example, if I were strongly resolved not to yield to the sin of vanity but then fell into some great instance of it, I would not reprove my heart after thus: “How wretched and abominable could you have been, after so many resolutions, to allow yourself to be so carried away by vanity? Die with shame, no longer lift up your eyes to heaven, you blind, impudent traitor and rebel against your God,” etc. Rather, with a reasonable and compassionate countenance I would reprove it as follows: “Alas, my poor heart, behold we have fallen into the fault we had so firmly resolved to avoid. Oh! Let us rouse ourselves and put it behind us forever. Let us call once more upon the mercy of God and hope that it will assist us to be more constant in the future. Come, let us once again set forth on the way of humility. Take courage! From this day onward, let us be more on our guard. God will help us, we shall do better.” With these words of critique, I would build a firm and constant resolution never again to relapse into this fault, using the proper means to avoid it, seeking the advice of my spiritual director. Nonetheless, if anyone should find that his heart is not sufficiently moved by this mild correction, he may use sharper and more severe reproaches and corrections, in order to rouse it to deeper dismay, provided that after he has thoroughly blamed and chided his heart, he finish with some encouragement, turning his grief and anger to a sweet and consoling confidence in God, in imitation of that illustrious penitent who, seeing his soul afflicted, encouraged it, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

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