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(c. 360 - 435)

What are we to say of those whose anger is not bounded by “the going down of the sun” (Eph 4:26), but is prolonged for several days?  They may say they are not angry, but in fact they show that they are extremely so.   They do not speak pleasantly [to the person they are angry with], nor address them with ordinary civility; yet just because they are not actually seeking revenge, they think they are doing no wrong.  But since they are unable to show their anger openly, they drive its poison into their hearts and secretly cherish it there….  Wrath that is nursed in the heart, although it may not injure others, excludes the splendid radiance of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes… we claim to need solitude, as if we should find the virtue of patience in some place where nobody provokes us.  We think that the source of our anger is not ourselves, but others.  While we lay blame on others, we shall never be able to learn patience…. Our improvement and peace of mind does not depend on another's will – over which we have no control – but lies rather in our own control.  We… should not enter the desert as a way of cowardly flight, but for the purpose of divine contemplation.  For whatever faults we bring with us uncured into the desert, we shall find still hiding within us.  Poisonous snakes and wild beasts are not harmless just because they are alone; they cannot really be described as harmless just because they are not actually hurting anybody….  But when they get an opportunity to hurt someone, they produce at once the poison stored up in them, and show the ferocity of their nature….

Recall that when we were living in solitude a feeling of irritation would creep over us against our pen because it was too large or too small, or against our knife when it cut badly…. If we have not acquired the virtue of patience, our angry feelings can equally well spill over on inanimate objects.  The Gospel bids us destroy the roots of our faults rather than the fruits.



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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.