Like a lot of you, I continue to struggle with anger in the midst of all the garbage going on in the Church. Daily revelations of new coverups, not to mention the confusing silence of Pope Francis in the face of serious allegations, continue to fuel my interior angst and fury. In fact, the more I think about it, the madder I get.
I would love to unleash Jesus with a serious whip, like when he cleansed the Temple (Matthew 21).
And while that’s not an entirely misguided desire in these often disgusting circumstances, there is a danger of which we must be aware.
While righteous anger is certainly justified, there comes a point in time in the midst of these kinds of situations when we have to take a step back interiorly. We have to dial back our passions and not let our resentments and rage overcome us.
We must engage the virtue of meekness.
“Meekness?” you ask. “Really?”
Yes! I’m well aware that these days “meekness” is a synonym for “weak.” The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. While Jesus was certainly meek, does anyone consider him a weakling?
Not if you’re sane.
Not only did he go all “Indiana Jones” in the Temple, but his entire life was ordered to voluntary suffering for our sake. If you think the guy who patiently endured incredible torture and an agonizing death on the Cross was some kind of namby-pamby, “he’s always so nice” kind of guy, you’re not reading the Gospel. Even his enemies must have respected what they viewed as incredible strength.
It was actually meekness.
On the Cross, in the midst of cruel agonies, he didn’t rage against those who put him there. He didn’t condemn them to hell. Instead, he prayed for them: ““Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” while they were gambling for his clothes.
Christ was meek.
And I’m not saying that he was simply “being silent and praying” like we’ve been told to do in these current circumstances. That’s not the essence of meekness. Christ wasn’t letting his executioners (or anybody else) off the hook.
It was totally the opposite.
He knew there would be dire consequences for their sin. He knew their eternity was at stake. That’s why his meekness was so necessary. It allowed him to see past the situation and the people causing him harm so as to pray for them, so as to save them.
And that’s what Christ is asking of us.
You see, the virtue of meekness helps us to master ourselves. In particular, it helps us to control our impulses to anger. It helps us to be calm in even the most infuriating circumstances. And this is imperative.
Because if you can’t think straight due to anger, you can’t see things in their true light. You can’t judge correctly about what’s going on and what to do. So meekness helps us see through our rampaging emotions and make wise decisions about how to act.
But it’s even deeper than that.
The only way we’re going to make it through this crisis is via a Church-wide move toward holiness. And by holiness, I mean sainthood.
Treading water isn’t enough. We need to get extremely serious about our spiritual lives. If that doesn’t happen, put a fork in the Church as we know it.
And part of that move toward sainthood means mastering our emotions. Because how can a person who is ruled by agitation and fury, pray? How can a person trembling with resentment enter into intimate conversation and communion with God?
They can’t. As 1 Kings 19:11 says, “the Lord is not in the earthquake.”
Meekness doesn’t crush righteous anger. It controls it. It quells it to the point where it doesn’t affect our intimacy with God. And if we’re not intimate with the Lord, there’s no way we’ll grow in sanctity. There’s no way we’ll lead others into the truth. There’s no way we’ll help heal our Church.
“Let us be very meek toward everyone,” says St. Francis de Sales, “and take care that our heart does not escape from our hands…Perfect equanimity, meekness and unalterable graciousness are virtues more rare than perfect chastity and are most desirable.”
In prayer, the Lord reminded me that while it’s okay to be furious with evil, if I want to be holy, I can’t be ruled by anger.
Yes, I have to fight for justice and truth in the midst of this demonic crisis. We all do. (In fact, I think the war is just beginning.)
But the best way to do it, is by cultivating meekness. So along with St. Francis de Sales, let’s all pray, “Trusting in You, O Lord, I will begin again, and keep the path of humility and meekness.”
God bless you.
P.S. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you might want to check out Episode 80 of the Art of Catholic titled, On the Crisis in the Catholic Church: A Message of Hope.
P.P.S. Pilgrimage to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!
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