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Catholic Heroes . . . Righteous Anger Against Injustice

May 11, 2021 saints No Comments

By DEB PIROCH

Anger in itself is not a sin. It is how we as humans implement that anger that can lead to sin. If anger itself is rooted in love, it may be used to correct evil. Witness the excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew, when Christ was angered by the misuse of His house:
“Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the chairs of them that sold doves: And he saith to them: It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:12-13).
Why did our Lord find the secular use of His sacred temple so heinous? St. Thomas Aquinas says it best perhaps: “The special effect of the holy sacrifice of the Mass is that it operates our reconciliation with God….So the anger of God may be appeased by the acceptable service thou dost render Him when thou hearest Mass, and by the priceless gift which thou dost offer Him in the oblation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ” (from Cochem’s Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass).
In other words, in the temple we render unto God that which is God’s.
Righteous anger is a virtuous reaction to sin, malice, and evil. In society it has become so much the norm not to judge that we forget the biblical teaching that says admonishing the sinner is a spiritual act of mercy. Christ said come to Him as little children.
St. Eulalia of Meridia was only age 12 when she snuck out of hiding to oppose the edicts of the Emperor Diocletian. She approached his judge, by name Dacian. When he asked her to simply worship their gods with frankincense, she threw down the god in contempt and spat at the judge. She this was heresy, denying the true Christ, and exhibited righteous anger. The monsters responded to the child by tearing at her innocent skin with iron hooks and setting her afire; a dove flew from her mouth as she expired, terrifying her tormentors who ran away.
What of St. Peter, who cut off the ear of the soldier fetching Christ from the Garden of Gethsemane when His hour was come? “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus” (John 18:10). Some scriptural writers interpret this gesture by Peter to have been righteous anger. And perhaps so it was. But given that Peter was fearful, like the other disciples, had he lashed out in fear or self-defense perhaps, rather than righteous anger? In the end he was crucified upside-down for our Lord, so we are hardly worthy to question the holder of the keys to the Kingdom.
“And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh” (Matt. 18:5-7).
One would think that more saints would have shown righteous anger than did not. Outrage at the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, of insults flung at the Blessed Virgin, and so on. But in fact, every sin is harmful to our Lord and peace, what we crave, seems so often a sign the saintly exhibit under pressure by the grace of the Holy Ghost. Almost as if they could stand at the mouth of Hell and remain untouched.
Children in a way are a sign of this, being the most innocent of human beings and the closest to God. Padre Pio once stated: “When you see a soul that announces abortion as a benign act, you will know that the prince of darkness reigns in it and that it is in danger of eternal death.” He held that not only was abortion the taking of a human life, but prophetically, foretold our day when shrinking population would mean abortion was “suicide,” i.e., the horrible destruction of the human race:
“One day, Padre Pellegrino asked Padre Pio, ‘Father, this morning you denied absolution to a lady who confessed to an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate?’ Padre Pio said: ‘The day in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of abortion, it will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see . . . two crimes.’ ‘Why suicide?’ Padre Pellegrino asked. ‘You would understand this [as] suicide of the human race, if with the eye of reason, you could see the Heart [the world] populated by old men and depopulated by children: burnt as a desert’.”
Padre Pio could see that the woman in question was not “truly sorry” for her sin of abortion. Later, when she came to Confession with true sorrow, he absolved her.
And then Pope St. John Paul II, having been born in the arms of freedom, lived under both Nazism and Communism and had no tolerance for Marxist thought. In 2012 former President Jimmy Carter published a book, KIV Lessons from Life Bible. In an interview at that time, Carter said that he had exchanged harsh words on the topic of liberation theology with the Pontiff. We can be sure that the Pope had a great many arguments for Carter, who was clearly out of his depth.
One has to look long and hard to find any instance where the Pope showed any outward indignation, though. In 1983, during the papal visit to Nicaragua, Communist-based Sandinistas who were trying to take over the regime heckled and interrupted the papal Mass, forcing the Pope to stop. Angry, he held the cross aloft saying the Church, too, was for peace. The complex struggle included dissident Catholic priests who supported the Marxists and, not surprisingly, liberation theology. When Marxist priest and Cultural Minister Ernesto Cardenal knelt for a blessing during this trip, the Pope lectured him on obedience, told him to get right with his bishop and removed his faculties for administering the sacraments. Actually, every priest who thought he could combine diametrically opposed Christianity and Marxism had his faculties removed. Marxism is unsustainable with Catholicism.
We all seek faith, hope, and charity. Charity is often mistranslated these days as “love.” But there is a theological difference. The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy. And while charity suggests love as the end goal, it includes benevolence and fraternal correction (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1829). If we find ourselves in the momentary throes of righteous anger, let us funnel the emotion as it should be used and then squelch the feeling as quickly as possible.
“If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. . . . And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians).

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