False gods come in many shapes and sizes. As the culture increasingly rejects our Judeo-Christian heritage, we can’t rule out a return to false idols, made of stone. But a false god can also be an obsession so intense that it blots out properly worshiping the one God. Those obsessions are legion, but it is helpful to focus on just one type: our anger.
A curious thing happens as we get older. Our lives seem to compress and we start to lose track of time. Events that seem to have taken place earlier this year might have actually taken place several years ago. Curiously, even distant memories – good and bad – become more present. On Pearl Harbor Day, newspapers showed veterans well into their 90s with faces expressing the pain of grief as they remembered that fateful day way back in 1941.
There is the old joke about Irish Alzheimer’s: you forget everything except your grudges. But it doesn’t only affect the Irish. Anger is easy to understand – most of us know it all too well. It’s there even in childhood. Take a rattle away from the baby, and he throws a temper tantrum. As we get older, we just get a bit more sophisticated in the way we express our anger – when others rattle us.
If we aren’t vigilant, it is quite possible for even petty anger to fester into true hatreds. We are quite capable of allowing a momentary annoyance to become the reason to nurse a grudge.
It’s not that we have a duty to ignore the outrage that comes with injustice. Outrage has its place. For example, the Church recognizes the state’s role in administering capital punishment precisely out of a desire for justice: “Now the [death penalty] punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime . . . give security to life by repressing outrage and violence.” (Roman Catechism) But even legitimate outrage as a result of injustice needs to be controlled and properly ordered.
Read more at The Catholic Thing.