Back in the Gnostic phase of my journey to the Catholic faith in the 1970s, I worked for a couple of years at the Swedenborg Library and Bookstore then located on Newbury St. in Boston.
I can’t remember where my friend Denise and I found this saying—it might have been framed and hung at the head of one of the stacks or found in the front section of one of the old books there. It went like this:
Enter the path
There is no grief like anger
No pain like passion
No deceit but sense
For me personally, the “no grief like anger,” still resonates with me. Getting angry is something I resist because it makes me feel terrible. I hate feeling out of control and prey to my reactions and passions, (no pain like passion) especially negative passions. I hate the feeling of having handed over power to whomever has angered me. If someone is successful in getting me angry, I do not recover quickly. Not that I hold grudges, but it’s that humbling feeling the devil has won and I’m lying wounded on the spiritual battlefield and helpless to get up. Of course, God never leaves us there, but there is sometimes a gap between our experiencing our utter, humbling weakness and dependence on Him as the source of all Good, and our deliverance and healing.
I also know how much damage has been caused me by people unloading anger onto me, that I make an effort even when I am angry to “sin not” so as not to inflict on people the damage that comes from letting lose with my judgments.
Interestingly, there are people out there who feel better after they have discharged their anger. I was speaking with a friend who told me she used to be like that until she received some deep healing that now prevents her from boiling over. She told me she would vent her anger, and lo and behold, she would feel fine afterwards. She said she did not understand then why others around her could not move on the way she did; it was only later she came to understand the damage she inflicted still resonated in the lives of those around her.
There are other more subtle forms of anger I wish to eliminate from my life. One is the temptation to frustration, to giving way to the feeling of frustration.
The other is venting anger, frustration and annoyance, even with close friends and confidants. It is a form of cursing, and I wish to be free from even the desire to fall prey to this sin.
Venting, blowing off steam, can be pleasurable, but it is grace-robbing and I would rather the love, joy and peace of Christ than the nasty little pleasure of venting.
The “no deceit but sense” part of the saying does not have much meaning to me these days, except perhaps if I look at it in terms of “Let God be true, and every man a liar” and how the truths of God’s Word often seem to contradict what our senses will tell us.