anger, Thomism

Can someone help me understand Aquinas’s answer here?

Pride is related in some way to anger. But it is objected that anger asks for justice.

Anger’s object (or tendency, or cause) is something good inasmuch as it regards vengeance. Its object is evil inasmuch as it regards the one to whom guilt is imputed (as guilt is an evil). Anger becomes sinful when it exceeds what is due in terms of vengeance, which often comes from pride.

Anger is a very complicated passion.

Something I am needing to go to Confession concerning is anger and not getting along with my Mother and Step-Father. Things are pretty hectic sometimes. I have been staying with them a bit for a while. And we get on each other’s nerves. I say things sometimes I probably shouldn’t and this is no respecting parents no is it? That’s my situation. So anger to vengence and going to a judge that is just. That’s ok?

Glad you are working with Thomas to navigate your “real life”.
When you are angry, it is because something has been done to you (it is present to your apprehension) by a person, that is contrary to what that person should have done (or not done). Your apprehension of what is justice has been ignored or has been intentionally thwarted (you apprehend that you have either been ignored or have been disrespected). And so you are in a space where there is not the good you thought you should be enjoying, due to the guilt you attribute to this person as injustice. There is sadness, and anger that happen automatically (movements of your appetite for the good you do not have). And anger’s movement is toward vengeance.

If the good you do not now have (due to that person) were something itself “not actually good”, but you only apprehended it as good from your appetite without thinking about what it really is (perhaps your parents kept you from some illicit desire’s fulfillment, because they knew it was really not good, but you hungered for it, then you would still be angry, but your anger was not over some “real injustice” but over some act that impeded your selfishness or sinful desires. To you, “apprehension of good” would be “having something that satisfies the flesh”, rather than “understanding your real being and goal of life”. You still would perceive your parents as disrespecting or ignoring your own understanding of what is good to you, and blocking you from good so perceived. So you would be angry.

In a way, you cannot stop anger. You can only look back at what you wanted and reason about it - was it suitable to where I am going (heaven and union with God), or was the injustice about something that is improper in the first place? If suitable, you could seek justice through some authority (your Pastor, government, etc.), or you could forgive and re-calculate the goodness you will have in this life to not include what was unjustly denied to you. If not suitable, but only the appetite of the flesh, once you repent of that appetite, you can do penance in re-conciliating yourself with your parents (or whomever stood against your appetite’s satisfaction) - you can become friends again because you no longer believe that desire was a good, just, or righteous desire in the first place.

It is pride that keeps us hanging on to anger in the face of a wrong apprehension and appetitive movement toward a union with a false good, not allowing reconciliation.

So, take a close look at the thing you desired in the first place; what are you missing out on due to your parent’s “injustice”? If you keep focusing on what they did, you will remain in anger with no room for forgiveness or any other real resolution. What would justice have looked like, what would you have if they had acted justly in your understanding, and is that situation of “justice” really “good for you”?

Anger may move to justice, but do not forget the words of our Lord:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.(Mt 5)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mt 6:14)

I don’t think as Christians we are called to vengeance, but to mercy.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12)

Vengeance is good inasmuch as it restores due order… which is itself a kind of mercy, since mercy is the removal of an affliction. So, inasmuch as one’s desire for vengeance is a desire to remove an affliction of the other person, it is merciful.

Pride operates here in one particularly slippery way - we think that it belongs to us to reprimand when it does not. Often it is something reserved for God. “He uttered no complaint, but instead offered Himself up to the One Who judges justly.”

The thing with anger and many emotions is that I do not trust them. As has been said here in this thread, YOUR idea of justice. Our idea of justice is imperfect and not what is really reality here. I have seen people do wrong and when they suffer from their wrong doing get angry and make up a fantasy that they were right. We must learn Justice from a perfect being. Who truly knows what justice is.

I would say Justice is the removal of the affliction. And Justice is done on God’s time. But we are too to take responsibility. Hence we have the Judiciary.

Anger, an irascible passion or appetite, is in itself not sinful. As a passion, anger moves us to act. Righteous anger is always directed at evil; one is repulsed by evil and acts to eliminate the evil in their presence within the bounds of justice. (Jesus and the money changers.)

An unrighteous anger is aimed at the good and should not be acted upon but dismissed as it presents itself to the intellect and conscience for discernment.

That quote from Matthew (6:14) I guess this would also go for the confessional wouldn’t it? Maybe only some of your sin would be forgiven. :shrug:

They go together. Justice is a broader concept, since it includes mercy, but it can also cause an affliction. Justice is the preservation or restoration of right order in a community, accomplished through the granting of what each individual and group is due.

This is an interesting article on the subject

I think the way it is supposed to work is that God forgives us first. (like say in Confession). And then because we have been shown mercy for our sins we are in turn supposed to show mercy for others. I don’t think we can be merciful to others if we have not experienced that mercy ourselves. And that true mercy that comes from God. For someone in the world who does not know God and his mercy I don’t think they are as culpable for not showing mercy to others because they have never known God’s mercy. When we pray the Lord’s prayer we ask to be forgiven as we forgive others. I think it is we who know God’s mercy that are more culpable to give others that mercy. Because we ourselves have been forgiven a huge debt. So we should do the same for others so that we can be children of divine Mercy. The parable of the unmerciful servant illustrates this perfectly in Mt 18:21.

So it’s not that God doesn’t forgive us when we come to him in confession and repentance, throwing ourselves on his mercy. In the parable the servant was forgiven his debt. It is just that after we have been forgiven we must in turn forgive others. Otherwise we will not continue in forgiveness.

2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,” and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.

2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,” our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.” If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

I kind of skimmed through this article by Jimmy Akin, but it is worth reading. Some of the material I am unfamiliar with and unsure about.

From a psychological point of view unforgiveness is detrimental to health. People need to eventually forgive even if the offender is not repentant. In the article Jimmy seems to say it is ok to withhold forgiveness until they repent. But I am not so sure about that. What if they never repent? Are you supposed to hold a grudge? I need to read the article more thoroughly though.

What Jimmy seems to be saying is that, while we must be willing to forgive someone if they repent, we are not obligated to forgive if the person does not repent. This seems to be to accomplish the goal of bringing the person to repentance. However, we are to do our best to eventually let go of the anger. If the person never repents we must pray for them, but not remain in anger because that would affect our own well being.

That’s interesting. I have never heard that before. I always thought that Christians were supposed to forgive no matter what. What does anyone else think about the article?

Pride is related in some way to anger. But it is objected that anger asks for justice.
Pride (superbia) is excessive self love. There is an intellective appetite and a sensitive appetite which the pride can derive from, so there are two forms.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica on Pride:

Wherefore aversion from God and His commandments, which is a consequence as it were in other sins, belongs to pride by its very nature, for its act is the contempt of God. And since that which belongs to a thing by its nature is always of greater weight than that which belongs to it through something else, it follows that pride is the most grievous of sins by its genus, because it exceeds in aversion which is the formal complement of sin.


Consequently if the difficult thing which is the object of pride, were merely some sensible object, whereto the sensitive appetite might tend, pride would have to be in the irascible which is part of the sensitive appetite. But since the difficult thing which pride has in view is common both to sensible and to spiritual things, we must needs say that the subject of pride is the irascible not only strictly so called, as a part of the sensitive appetite, but also in its wider acceptation, as applicable to the intellective appetite. Wherefore pride is ascribed also to the demons.…mma/sum419.htm

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica on anger:

I answer that, As stated above (Article 6), anger desires evil as being a means of just vengeance. Consequently, anger is towards those to whom we are just or unjust: since vengeance is an act of justice, and wrong-doing is an act of injustice. Therefore both on the part of the cause, viz. the harm done by another, and on the part of the vengeance sought by the angry man, it is evident that anger concerns those to whom one is just or unjust.

So we can see that anger can take two forms:
*]just: vengence
*]unjust: wrong-doing

The scriptures also say somewhere Get angry and sin not. It seems I would think to get angry and seek Justice. There is nothing wrong with asking for Justice.

Unforgiveness doesn’t affect the other person. Unforgiveness affect the one who doesn’t forgive.

You see this in the atheist who often seems full of anger toward the Christian God while at the same time arguing that he does not even exist. The argument most often used by atheists against God is the presence of evil in the world. I speculate that some atheists have experienced great sorrow as a result of some evil in their lives, and that lashing out at God is a way to** justly **punish God for bringing sorrow into his life.

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