Anger Management and the Seven Deadly Sins

April 27, 2018
Dante Alighieri

“Imagine your anger to be a kind of wild beast, because it has ferocious teeth and claws, and if you don't tame it, it will devastate all things, even corrupting the soul.”  St. John Chrysostom

But how do you tame the beast?  Bob McDonald, a psychotherapist, calmly and persuasively explains how in an audio talk on FORMED called Anger and Forgiveness.  But first of all, McDonald explains what untamed anger can do.  Nothing can destroy the peace of family life more powerfully than anger, he says.  It brings on alienation, division, separation, divorce, and broken children who learn that love is not to be trusted. McDonald, who is also a permanent deacon of the Catholic Church, says anger is the most common problem he encounters in his psychotherapy practice and, from his perspective, it ought to be one of the most common sins brought to a priest in confession.  But his perspective isn’t shared by many in his field.  It is staggering to realize, he says, just how much is taught and written about anger by psychiatrists in an effort to excuse it and justify it to a modern world that wants to deny sin.  In a talk that lasts a little more than an hour, McDonald outlines the basic truths about anger and, following these, offers remedies.  Then, in the final segment, he offers what he calls “an unfailing technique” to overcome low moods (a key component of anger) and defeat anger.  He doesn’t just say it works; he guarantees it.   (One more thing.  If McDonald were not a psychotherapist, he undoubtedly could have had a successful career in broadcasting.  His voice is very easy to listen to.)

But anger, as damaging as it is, is just one of the seven deadly sins the Church has warned us against.  Its companions are pride, envy, sloth, gluttony, avarice, and lust.  The redoubtable Bishop Robert Barron discusses these sins – and their antidotes – in Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues, an audio talk on FORMED.  Bishop Barron begins starkly, with what he calls the “most important truth in the spiritual life”: God doesn’t need us.  But, he says, God has loved us into existence.  That’s where our worth comes from.  We’ve all been loved into existence and God wants to bring us to life, to flourish – and to be a conduit for His love to the world around us.  But instead we are wrapped up by our selfish needs, and these needs, these distortions of the spirit – the seven deadly sins – lead to unhappiness.  Bishop Barron is a lover of Dante, and he uses each one of the seven stories of Dante’s Mount Purgatory to shed light on each of the seven deadly sins.  He starts at the bottom of the mountain with what he calls “the deadliest of the deadly sins”: pride. (Antidote: humility.)  With Dante and Bishop Barron as your guides, learning about the seven deadly sins is an easy climb and takes a little more than an hour.