This afternoon I had a long talk with John Eudes. He was very open, personal, warm, and made it easy to talk freely. I talked mostly about my anger: my inclination to become angry and irritated with people, ideas, or events. I had experienced angry feelings toward the easy decision to cancel subscriptions to "liberal magazines," toward feast days that had negative connotations, etc, etc. I realized that my anger created restlessness, brooding, inner disputes, and made prayer nearly impossible. But the most disturbing anger was the anger at myself for not responding properly, for not knowing how to express my disagreement, for external obedience while remaining rebellious within, and for letting small and seemingly insignificant events have so much power over my emotional life. In summary: passive aggressive behavior.
We talked about this on many levels and in many ways. Most important for me at this point seem the following five suggestions:
First: Allow your angry feelings to come to your awareness and have a careful look at them. Don't deny or suppress them, but let them teach you.
Second: Do not hesitate to talk about angry feelings even when they are related to very small or seemingly insignificant issues. When you don't deal with anger on small issues, how will you ever be ready to deal with it in a real crisis?
Third: Your anger can have good reasons. Talk to me (John Eudes) about it. Maybe I made the wrong decision, maybe I have to change my mind. If I feel that your anger is unrealistic or disproportionate, then we can have a closer look at what made you respond so strongly.
Fourth: Part of the problem might be generalization. A disagreement with a decision, an idea, or event might make you angry at me, the community, the whole country, etc.
Fifth: On a deeper level you might wonder how much of your anger has do to with ego inflation. Anger often reveals how you feel and think about yourself and how important you have made you own ideas and insight. When God becomes again the center and when you can put yourself with all your weaknesses in front of him you might be able to take some distance and allow your anger to ebb away and pray again.
These are some of the ideas I took with me from our meeting. John Eudes might have said them in this way or not. But in these words they remain with me. They give me enough to do.
Peace be with you!