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'Abandon Your Anger?' - AECI Lenten 2021 Reflection

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

AECI – ‘Abandon Your Anger?’

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Ash Wednesday:

The Season of Lent provides an opportunity for us to reflect on our attitudes and our behaviours in reference to the 'call of the Gospel' and to the 'ministry of Jesus Christ'. It can also provide opportune moments to consider the language we use in our communication with others. Our words and our verbal responses to situations often expose our own deep desires, fears and priorities. And moreover, the language we use can highlight our inner frustrations and our anger.

In these short daily reflections we hope to consider how damaging it can be to ‘hold’ - or to ‘store’ - anger over a period of time, and to have no 'release for' - or 'freedom from' - the type of anger that can cause damage to ourselves and to the people around us.

We will be focusing on the broad themes and the key words within the AECI prayer outlined below. The daily reflections will ask us to look honestly at a range of issues, touching on ideas within different religious traditions. They will, however, return to a central focus - namely the 'quiet, compassionate presence' that informs and infuses our hearts and minds in gentle ways through prayer and stillness. It might be that you choose to use the prayer on a daily or a weekly basis. Or merely keep it in mind over the next six weeks.

Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth Of The Trinity) provides a helpful understanding about how we might approach prayer and meditation. She writes, ‘…when I say prayer, I do not mean reciting a vast quantity of vocal prayers every day. I mean the elevation of the soul to God through all things’.

So, let’s begin!

O’Spirit of God ... Guide us in the triumph of humility Over competing worldly identities Steer us towards the joys of trust Away from indiscriminate and recurring fears Direct us to a quiet, compassionate presence To know the gifts of love Free from the noise of blame and of strife There, to abandon our anger, frustration, restlessness Before the light of each dawning day


'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 1:

In the days ahead we shall consider some types of human anger in more detail and ask ourselves if it is necessary, or indeed healthy, to try to 'abandon' strong feelings of anger that might arise within us. For today’s reflection it is sufficient to make two succinct points:

It is vital to recognise that human anger is more often than not related to other resonating human emotions. No one emotion is in isolation. There can be a complex interplay between our ‘chronic’, or our long lasting anger, and the mass of other feelings that we experience over time and that affect us on a conscious or on a hidden level - feelings of loss, of frustration, of confusion, of loneliness, and of fear.

Secondly, it does seem that our ‘chronic anger’ becomes more apparent (to ourselves and to others) when we are most physically, emotionally or mentally drained, or when we are at a 'low ebb'. Why do you think this is? Can our spiritual insight and dimension help us to manage better any long lasting anger we feel? The type of anger that ferments and builds over a period of time then rises to the surface and catches us all off guard!

We come before God in a moment of silence and we ask for Him to 'guide us' ... to bring a sense of balance into our day. Individually and collectively, 'anger' is never too far away from where we are. May this period of Lent help us to unlock some of its root causes.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 2:

It is widely recognised that certain types of controlled human anger can indeed be healthy, and even influence change. The profound injustices and inequalities across our world today demand a response. Empathetic anger, expressed on behalf of others, can bring new awareness and increased empathy.

In the twentieth century the Pankhurst sisters, the United Nations, Liberation Theology and the broader 'Justice and Peace' movement have all been examples of this 'empathetic anger' and voiced angry tones! In recent months we have seen the 'Black Lives Matter' campaign demand real answers from people in positions of authority.

There does appear to be a pattern. 'Don't get mad, get organised', goes the old motto. Those pressing for change do often recognise the clear limitations of anger alone. A new method or focus - a strategy for political or social or communal change - supplants the anger and takes root over time. New energy and new people are drawn to the cause. As Martin Luther King writes, 'If you only have anger, the anger will paralyze you. You cannot do anything constructive.'

Then there is the type of anger that is in response to a single incident, without the undercurrents of deeper hostility or rage. This 'momentary anger' (sometimes called 'incidental anger') allows us to share our discontent or our disapproval and return to a pattern of positive relationships with others fairly smoothly. Of course this is not always the case and deeper issues and tensions can easily surface in the one 'incident'. Overall however, these 'types of anger' are in marked contrast to chronic forms of anger, to vengeful or volatile anger which we shall explore later.

Perhaps the key here is to consider the impact of any type of anger on others, but also on our own true inner character. Elizabeth of Trinity was able to regard each circumstance and incident in life as an indicator or a signpost guiding us towards a more honest take on our fragile existence. Our true essence becomes so easily entangled or lost in the world.

If events and experiences begin to take a negative hold, we can try to adopt a position so as to pause and to look afresh on the complexity of our emotions - with compassion - a sort of 'spiritual recall' if you will. And it is through observing this precious dimension of ourselves that we might rise above any lingering gloom or anger and 'triumph'.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 3:

As Day 3 and Day 4 of the first week of Lent fall on a weekend, we thought it might provide a good opportunity to run a short activity so as to reflect a little more on the anger that we hold individually and why.

During the course of recent years, there has been a noticeable hardening of attitudes around the prevalent issues of the day. Greater information on news stories that we may find troubling or upsetting is now right at our fingertips. Social media forums are sadly used to share and to promote 'anger filled' posts and even openly 'hostile' material towards others. We may have felt the 'red mist' rising at times, or seen the destructive and energy sapping power of anger unfold. We may have watched someone we love change before our eyes and felt afraid for them.

One simple way to measure or to gauge our own anger is to take a small stone and place it on the palm of one's hand. If we imagine the stone somehow carries our passive anger (the anger that is 'unseen) we might, in the course of a short minute or moment of silence, consider if the stone begins to feel lighter or heavier? Does it bring up something hidden or uncomfortable within you?

Alternatively we might take a safe and solitary walk out into our nearby park or quiet space where we can feel alone and use an accompanying stick on our short journey ( a gentle way, of course!) to try to gauge what anger might lie beneath the surface. To what extent do you feel angry or perturbed by any issue – personal, professional or political? With all that has been happening in recent months around the 'Covid 19' pandemic, have your circumstances left you feeling annoyed and even exhausted with a certain level of 'anger' building up over time?

Whatever approach you take to exploring your anger, please remember to adopt a 'compassionate' position or perspective once you have done so and return to the 'here and now'. It is only a short exercise in honesty and you have sought to open yourself to God's 'guidance' through honesty in the words of the Prayer.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 4:

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks explicitly about anger and how it might distract or influence us at the expense of much more important things: ‘When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift’ (Matthew 5:23-24). We can lose sight of the precious glimpses of 'holiness' that surround us as we become more and more bothered and cross about one aspect of our life and our relationships.

The Sermon on the Mount is a body of moral teaching that points towards how we might do things differently and lead with a deeper compassion and a purity of heart. It is radical in that it sets out a vision of a world based upon our own inner potential.

Looking at the above quotation, can we begin to think of our own gifts and our qualities and how easily we lose sight of them in moments of anger and rage? Over this weekend we might be reflecting hard on our own internal anger and its damaging and distracting impact, but do take the time also to consider how reconciliation and release from lasting anger might just allow your many gifts to flourish. If we are to be in a genuine 'relationship of Love' with God, we have to hold no barriers which can fester through animosity.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 5:

'Launch your soul on the waves of confidence and abandonment' (Elizabeth Of The Trinity)

One of the true gifts that we might begin to detect throughout this Season of Lent is a new perspective on 'time'. We strive consciously to shift ourselves a little away from the noise and the pace of ordinary life, so as to view our own life journey in relation to something deeper and more profound. During Lent, we are again in 'the wilderness', exploring solitude and humility away from the habits of the world. This naturally might lead us towards a greater readiness to 'let go', or even 'to abandon', an aspect of our lives that has limited or troubled us.

It can be a balance on occasions between holding this 'sacred time' alone and framing it in the company of others. Our lives are so busy with family, with work pressures, travel, household chores, the school run! Yet we essentially need the time (...and the courage!!) to come to ‘know ourselves’. 'Nosce te ipsum' was a favourite saying of Pope John XXIII! As we still live with the many restrictions in place around 'Covid 19', we are perhaps finding this to be more true than ever.

Experiences, events, ideas, lifelong hopes and dreams, can pull us all in various directions, and speak loudly over 'time' to the human heart. However, we might equally need authentic periods of 'abandonment' or 'release', so as to take stock on our future direction, and to care for the unique 'soul' that is ours.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 6:

Tomorrow we shall begin to look in more detail at some of the key words within our 'Daily Prayer' that we offered in our Ash Wednesday reflection.

For today it is sufficient to consider the question as to how our chronic or accumulated anger might escalate if it is not addressed or checked. A volatile or vengeful anger can ‘bubble’ beneath the surface. In the midst of daily stresses and challenges (...perhaps like those thrown up by the recent pandemic!), this sort of chronic anger can take root, become steadily more evident and explode dramatically with dire consequences. We may be aware of any lingering anger we hold - or we may be getting to that point. We may feel we can manage our lingering anger - or we may similarly be getting to that point - but we do run the risk of it defining our past, our present and our future if it is not dealt with compassionately and honestly.

There is one further point for reflection. In leaving our chronic anger to intensify it can, in time, come to diminish our true character and our confidence. This apathy towards the anger - the reluctance to tackle the causes of our irate feelings - then becomes itself a new source of frustration and of rage.

The Buddha conveys the danger of neglecting a deep rooted anger when he says: ‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else—yet you are the one who gets burnt’

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 7:

So far, we have looked at some categories or types of anger, sought to define what we mean by ‘chronic anger', and reflected on our own levels of anger and their possible harmful effects.

Hatred is often associated with a vengeful or a deep rooted form of anger against an individual, a particular community or nation. We can see some of these more dangerous and provocative displays of targeted hostility in our world today - towards race, ethnicity and gender - and the 'hateful' language used, once again, can spill over onto social media and press platforms.

In the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, read by the many Cross of Nails Centres committed to the principles of peace and forgiveness across the world, we read of ‘the hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race and class from class.’ Public outbursts of anger can be fuelled by polarised positions dominating and characterising particular events and issues. An outlet for anger might be to share in the very 'anger and hatred' others feel towards others!! However, are the things that 'divide us' really greater than the things that 'unite us'?

The same Coventry Litany begins with the words, ‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’. To take that step backwards, to examine our emotions and become aware of our own failures and limitations takes a degree of conviction and of humility. One week into our Lenten reflection there is an opportunity to speak these words with new awareness and insight, 'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’.

We might feel that we live in a complex, an angry and confrontational world at times, but is this the world that we wish to see ‘triumph’? Humility can be a tool by which we come to see that another world is possible.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 8:

'O, Spirit Of God, Guide us in the triumph of humility'

Our focus today turns to the notion of 'humility', in particular an appreciation that our quest to be closer to God involves being fully open on our part to God's grace and support in transforming our thought processes and our behaviours.

Jesus asks that we come to recognise the ways of a loving Father and learn in that abundant love. 'How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us' (1 John 3:1). However, what is involved in the process of knowing ourselves deeper and accepting our frailties and our limitations? Perhaps prayer and developing a pattern of gentle and gradual strength building can help. The words below from the CS Lewis Institute provide us with some insight and a sense of the challenges we face as we strive to grow in humility:

'To put on the mind of Christ, we will need to make a firm decision to ponder, understand, and adopt Jesus’ way of thinking; his values and attitudes must become ours. His strong emphasis on humility and meekness and his example of it must take hold of our thinking, our desires and our conduct. We must admire his humility and want it for ourselves. For this to happen, we need to earnestly and regularly pray for the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, for it is impossible to do it in our own strength'

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 9:

Humility might be easier to observe than to practice in this often busy and restless world. To take a step back and to reflect on the contribution we make to the lives of others and consider afresh our limited role in the 'grand scheme of things' does not always come easy. There are vital tasks to be completed, we set targets and hold ambitions, we want fast and up-to-the-minute news and information, our social media profiles need to be updated! These can all alter our mood and our emotions.

We might miss that gentle and that healing side to our lives if we fail to look up from time to time and to see that we are part of the true mystery and the being of the world .... and that not knowing, and not completing our (..often? ) self-constructed targets, is sometimes okay!

The New Testament scholar, JB Phillips, writes on the importance of humility in a wonderful little book called 'Making Men Whole'. He suggests that it is the one quality that helps us learn more about our (...small, but significant!) role in God's purpose. Humility deepens an openness to the divine, instills 'teachability and flexibility', and these are what he describes as our essential 'inner resources'.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 10:

Throughout these weeks we are trying gradually 'to tap' into something which is both healing and renewing, that is able to 'release' us from any overwhelming anger that we might be carrying or that circumstances generate. It is a journey in search of this 'Presence' ... with a capital 'P' if you wish!

Granting oneself the proper space, with a focus on the 'stillness' necessary to ensure a calm heart and mind, is one key to unlocking our anger and finding this 'Presence'. An AECI friend talks of 're-imagining a mountain space', another 'a practical prayerful atmosphere'. In the right space humility then becomes a helpful means of lessening the intensity and the pressures that overwhelm us. We come to accept that we cannot 'do it all' in the midst of particular concerns and frustrations.

It is within our scope to change some things. And yet we must acknowledge where we need a deeper level of support . For JB Phillips this is where he emphasised 'an invasion of the Spirit' to breathe afresh and renew our perspective.

Today can be a day to 'embrace' someone or something that helps to restore our balance and our place in this troubling world - a partner, a parent, a pet, a tree or flower, a prayer, a 'peace within'! All are gifts close by. Coronavirus restrictions have certainly reduced our options to physically 'embrace' others, but we can look again to pinpoint those precious qualities nearer to home.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 11:

Today, we can perhaps reflect some more on the many models of humility and sincerity that we find within world faiths and in the course of our common history. Men and women who have wrestled (..and triumphed!) with aspects of their own inner personalities, so as to forge new direction for themselves and a profound hope for others: Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, St. Francis Of Assisi, Martin Luther King Jr. the list continues...

As a Carmelite nun, Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth Of The Trinity) looked to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a source of inspiration and influence. The opening words below of Mary's 'Song Of Praise' (The Magnificat) reveal something worth noting. That our inner essence or soul, can indeed capture something of the eternal, sense a 'stirring, new panorama' on this life, through a quiet calm and humility:

'My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour' (Luke 1:46-47)

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 12:

For the following few days we will examine closer the next key word from our Daily Prayer, suggested in our Ash Wednesday reflection. We hear a lot within our political and social discourse today about the term 'identity' . How might you understand the term? Many other concepts might spring to mind when we consider what has influenced and shaped us, and those around us, through the years. We might reflect on 'background', on 'belonging', 'belief' and 'nationhood'. We might think about notions of 'allegiance', of 'faith', 'tradition' and 'culture'.

In his New Testament 'Letter to the Ephesians', St Paul is insistent that we bring fresh light on our identity through a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ. The 'old self' is to be cast off, and a 'new self' in true and rightful relationship with God is to be put on. To cast off the 'old self' can only be an option when we show a combination of patience and a determination to examine the 'old self'!!

With such deep and burning passions in our hearts and such active and anxious minds, this is no easy feat! Our identity might well be rooted in the things that we have striven and struggled for. It is indeed shaped by experience and by our fellow human beings. We might even feel angry at this suggestion of a 'new self' when we are content with the old one.

Today just take the time to consider the word 'identity' alone and its relevance to you, to the here and now.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 13:

Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth Of The Trinity) was aged just seven years old when her father, Joseph, a captain in the French military, died suddenly in 1887. Her grandfather had passed away earlier that year and these family bereavements precipitated a move to the city of Dijon. All very formative experiences for one so young.

Anger, of course, has its own role in the grieving process. Our words and our actions seem so inadequate when the loss is so stark. We cry and mourn and it is exhausting. Our weariness fuels other emotions. We often look out alone onto questions of mortality, attachment and absence. From the little we know of Elisabeth's early life, it seems that Elisabeth's mother and her daughters bonded together after their loss and with a deep, ongoing respect for the fragility of life. Again, at this time of the 'coronavirus pandemic' we are conscious how true this indeed is today.

Something very elementary can take hold in our grief, and anger is that immediate outlet for our confusion and our hurt. We read of countless outbursts of anger from Elisabeth in her younger years. However, in spite of lengthy bouts of struggle and sadness, we can come to see that our lives, and those around us, do count for something. We can glean a new perspective on love, on intimacy and friendship as we grapple with the 'weight' and the 'sound' of grief. We can renew our confidence.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 14:

Elisabeth Catez died aged just 26 years old in the Carmelite monastery at Dijon. In one of her last poignant letters she expresses her great wish 'to keep souls in this great silence within, that will allow God to communicate and transform them'.

It is perhaps unusual to regard 'silence' as an important element of our identity or in the development of human character. But what is silence? Can it transform us? How do we enter into it? And how might it affect our future direction and purpose?

For many believers silence doesn’t just calm our emotions like anger, it reduces the 'swell of emotion' and offers balance and strength. It allows us to understand more gradually the nature of 'Presence' and draws us into a companionship with God where we can re-examine our selves, safely and compassionately, in the light of love.

If our anger is the sharp pointed rocks, jutting out from the seas, with waves thrashing against them, then our silence is perhaps the gentle pool of water in the shelter of the bay. Can you picture these two images...the jagged rocks and the gentle bay? Are you one or the other? Are you somewhere between the two?

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 15:

Today we turn again to the wording of our Daily Prayer (from the Ash Wednesday reflection) and consider carefully the phrase 'joys of trust'. What is it that can bring about a positive and an uplifting (...even joyous!) impact on our mental and our spiritual health?

Some of our anger might stem from a deep desire to uncover and to affirm what we regard as a 'truth' that is obscured to others. We might feel that people do not know the broader picture, that they listen only to selected information, that they are blinkered to the reality of a given situation. Some of this might indeed be true, but in such instances we can easily become absorbed in the moment and try to force the issue, to vent our feelings in a confrontational way.

Perhaps we could modify our approach and simply state that we have an 'alternative to offer', a 'different perspective'. Perhaps we could focus more on the joys of 'the practical' over the 'theoretical' (just as many people have pursued new interests and hobbies throughout these 'lockdown' periods). Perhaps we can check our 'own truths' from time to time, in prayer and silence, and look to lead by example instead of a cross word!

In Hinduism there is the notion of 'satyagraha' - or 'truth force'. We might find that we can simply make a judgement and 'trust' in the capacity of a truthful position to eventually emerge. A simple, quiet, trustful relationship with the Spirit of God could unlock a delicate predicament and release some of the pressures that we place upon ourselves.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 16:

'Trust' demands that special quality of 'patience'. Yet how difficult a task it is to remain patient at times when our annoyance and our frustrations begin to bubble away. We perceive injustices. We seek to root out the problem. We challenge the misguided views of others. We want to get things 'off our chest'.

Of course, there is a place for this. We need to voice our feelings. However, are we fully aware of the 'layers of anger' that can grow and take hold within us? Is chronic anger not an accumulation of deep feelings around different pressures and circumstances that we experience? It is most important to see patience as a 'curb' or a 'regulation' on any spiraling anger. A means of steering us back to the essential focus of our lives.

The prayer of Spanish mystic, St.Teresa Of Avila, offers some insight into the path of patience:

'Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away:

God never changes. Patience obtains all things Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices'

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 17:

For our reflection over the weekend we can consider in more detail the words of Psalm 27 below. The author writes of 'a stronghold' that withstands fear and trouble.

On reading it carefully (noticing what arises within you as you read it. And perhaps a second or third time noticing what words and phrases grab your heart and your mind), ask yourself two direct questions:

What recurring fears might the author have in mind?

How, and where, do we 'take shelter' from deep anxiety and the fears that can come to dominate our daily life?

Psalm 27:

'The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, It is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life

To gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock'

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 18:

Fear and anxiety can seize us so unexpectedly and with such force. We may today be worried in some way about those precious people close to us, or about future uncertainty or loneliness. Perhaps about a painful experience repeating itself. This last year during the coronavirus pandemic our anxieties have been heightened with constant guidelines and restrictions being issued around shielding, self isolating, symptoms and testing.

In the suggested psalm over the weekend we read of feelings of 'besiegement' and 'the day of trouble' ahead. It is sometimes said that fear is wasted or misplaced energy. Does fear hold you back in any way in your life? Does it add to other frustrations and pressures that you might feel? How do you work to be free from fear? Is it a case of taking small insightful steps in the right direction as the author of the psalm suggests?

Our fears, like our anger, may at times need diversions or distractions to stop them escalating. The psalmist asks only to 'gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple' (Psalm 27).

Can we hold an image of beauty and peace before us, so as to clear our hearts and our heads from any random or recurring fears? Can we feel more 'sheltered' in our honesty and truthfulness once we come before God? Moving forward might even involve finding a sort of 'hiding place' in prayer or in the natural world so as to renew our 'confidence'.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 19

In the 'parable of the pearl' in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus describes the transformation of a merchant man on discovering something far beyond worldly wealth: 'When he had found one single pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it' (Matthew 13:45-46).

Perhaps we can apply this parable also to the precious aspect within ourselves. What the world throws at us, and the influence and attachment that it has upon us, can distort our own dignity and self worth. This particular AECI journey through Lent asks us to consider the value of our unique soul afresh again.

Moving forward from fear, from any damaging anger and frustration takes a large dose of courage and belief. If we have old habits we must confront them. If we feel overburdened we must seek to lift the load. Yet we must first commit to seeking 'the one pearl' of contentment, inner joy and compassion.

Elisabeth Catez felt deeply that God - in the broadest sense of that word - is working within us, sometimes struggling, sometimes liberating, always present and presently guiding. That we stumble and drift away from God is without any dispute. And our deep lying anger issues can easily lead us away, potentially for lengthy periods.

Tomorrow we shall begin to focus specifically on those central words within our Daily Prayer, on the phrase 'a quiet, compassionate presence'. Simply dwell on their potential meaning in the context of your life today.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 20:

'Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries', teaches the Dalai Lama. 'Without them humanity will not survive'. There has always been a strong focus on 'compassion' in Buddhist teachings, but what if we were to explore a little more the 'necessity' of compassion in our lives.

We know that complexity and restlessness can take us far from the source of peace. Anger can build on anger. So, in our reflection today we aim to view 'compassion' as that gentle motion of re-direction and of return.

Perhaps there is an underlying point here about pausing and reconfiguring. Compassion can be a 'holistic' care for all creatures and their various struggles and trials in our world. Care for their plight, their loss, their doubt and their anger. Care for 'Creation' in its entirety you could say! By caring we somehow affirm a truth over and above the pain and suffering experienced. And self-care is part of this broad picture.

Anger can so often be centred on 'changing' the things that we feel need to change. Yet it is changing ourselves that lies within our control, and compassion allows for honest and lasting change to merely 'flow in' as we appreciate the importance of 'compassion' in everyday life. Do you hold a place of 'quiet and compassionate presence in your life? You might find that it is more important than ever as challenges arise. 'Quiet' is hard to come by, but we must try to seek it out on a regular basis.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 21:

For today's focus, let us return to a question that might still be unresolved from an earlier point on our Lenten journey, around our deep desires to change the things that we feel need to be changed (be they on a 'personal' or on a 'structural' or 'societal level). Namely: 'How do you tackle injustice and wrongdoing without anger?'

The AECI prayer above asks for guidance and direction in order to fully 'know the gifts of love'. There is much within Christian theology and history that has been written over the years about the specific 'gifts and fruits' of the Holy Spirit and their powerful impact on re-shaping our lives.

Cardinal Anders Arborelius, Bishop of Stockholm, in his most recent book, 'Carmelite Spirituality', writes: 'It is only thanks to the gift of the Spirit that we can grasp the true identity of Jesus.' He suggests that we are evolving and 'growing' as individuals of faith by understanding the terms 'relationship' and 'dependence' in completely different ways when fully open to the Spirit. The Trinity is shaping our attitude to the broad scope of things - justice and injustice, good and evil, life and death.

The Spirit 'awakens love' and 'refreshes the soul'. In this sense it replenishes our resources in the face of any unfairness and injustice we encounter and allows us to work in a diligent way for real transformation, avoiding some superficial or instinctive reaction to circumstances. The Spirit like a wind 'brings movement', writes Cardinal Arborelius. It informs us and opens our hearts to 'new inspirations' in the face of challenges. In contrast deep anger can tell us only what we already know ... and can keep us locked in frustration and unease.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 22:

In the same book mentioned above, Cardinal Arborelius of Sweden, dwells on the merits of remembering short phrases and rhymes that can help 'cheer us up' and so avoid us becoming 'prisoners of the past'. Our worries can so easily fuel our angry responses. 'Most of us do not live here and now', he writes, 'in our thoughts we are busy ....or worried about what could happen'.

He suggests regularly repeating the short rhyme 'now - Thou' to ourselves so we can come to recognize the power of the present moment and address God directly - 'heart to heart'! In your own time you might try it .....simply say the words below with an attention and awareness of their scope and their sound - and to the space that lies between your speaking them both:

'now - Thou'

Mantras, or repeated words and phrases, used this way to deepen a sense of calm and compassion within, can be a helpful tool in balancing our emotional welfare. Again religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have used mantras to inform worship.

Alongside our own prayers this Lenten journey , we might seek to add some simple words that 'direct' us to greater potential and insight and free us from chronic anger. Mantras can express a level of trust in our true selves and our trust in a higher spiritual power. Here are two possibilities which can be used slowly in a gentle repetitive pattern. Allow the words simply to rest on your lips and your hearts.

'This is a moment of suffering; suffering is a part of life; may I be kind to myself and give myself what I need'

'You are the width of compassion You are the real source of my compassion You are the seas of compassion'

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 23:

If a person feels stuck in protracted bouts of anger and finds it very hard coping with, or managing, a specific incident or event where they felt that they were wronged, they might come to develop a 'petrified' or a 'hardened' anger. The person concerned might await an apology or seek some means to right the wrong done. Feelings of bitterness and isolation can escalate easily.

Part of the solution might lie in exploring our potential to forgive. Although it must be stressed that this can be both a complex and a lengthy process and involve some acknowledgement and recognition of pain and distress caused beyond our emotional responses. Some of this 'pain and distress' might indeed be historical.

Psychologist Peter Sacco (author of 'What’s Your Anger Type?') writes, 'You've got to realize that the anger isn't getting you anywhere. You can choose to forgive them once and for all...and by doing so you'll forgive yourself'. The act of forgiveness is then a courageous and practical step we take for ourselves and in so doing the grip of anger loosens.

Of course, at times, this is extremely tough to practice, however we can look again to world faiths to find some inspiration. Each 'Surah' (or chapter) of the Islamic holy book the 'Quran' begins with reference to God's 'compassion and mercy'. Knowing something of these qualities ourselves helps us to know more about God's intimate 'Presence' in the world. They are another means perhaps to lift the heavy burden of lingering anger and 'lighten' the load we carry through our days.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 24:

As a Carmelite nun, Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth of The Trinity) held a strong belief in this detectable 'Presence' of God. This might be understood as as a healing or an enabling 'Presence' (....or both!) or in terms of a growing awareness of the sheer mercy and 'abundance' of God within our daily life of prayer and of faith.

We can indeed be led by this loving movement. Carmelites therefore place great emphasis on those conditions of stillness and solitude by which we come to know of this intimate 'Presence'. An earlier Carmelite author, John of the Cross, has written of this sense of the sacred very close to us:

'How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart, where in secret you dwell alone'

Sometimes it is this nearness to God that gives us the strength and the encouragement to carry on, to overcome the obstacles and the difficulties that we face.

Despite a troubled early childhood Elisabeth Catez recognized, in the three Persons of the Trinity, a 'dwelling place' to rest and to renew herself. She believed that we can be 'drawn towards' the voice of God and open ourselves to divine transforming action, leaving anger and fear behind us, so as to start afresh. What wakes in our hearts today? Can we sense the 'gentle' movement that offers new pastures of peace and contentment?

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 25:

In our recent daily reflections we have looked in more detail at concepts like 'trust', 'compassion' and 'presence'. All such ideas can free us a little from issues of concern and preoccupation and help us 'to overleap our mental powers' for a safe space ( the Dominican Meister Eckhart conveys it!) allowing for a different course of thought and action to flourish, something far less intense and dangerous as chronic anger. Something maybe even closer to our true selves.

Our Daily Prayer mentions specifically 'the gifts of love'. What might these be? How are we to keep sight of them? The honest answer may be that they are more numerous than we could ever know, and that it is only through ongoing insight, determination and vigilance that we can identify them and uphold them.

Today we have such vast opportunities to travel, to explore the wonders of our natural world in all its diversity. We might be blessed with the gifts of great friends, of fun loving children, of devoted parents or of adorable pets. There is the joy of literature, art and music (Elisabeth Catez was herself an accomplished pianist). We can pursue our talents in sport and in exercise. Throughout lockdown and curfews these 'gifts' have soared to our attention as we adjust to new restrictions and continue to make meaning in our lives despite the very testing circumstances.

It is our deep and shared hope that we can again (in time and in safety) communicate effectively with others - with a genuine desire to listen and to learn, to ease a heavy burden, to hold another's hand, to tell a funny story or a joke. Even whisper the name of the source of all these precious 'gifts' around us. We must remain 'vigilant in love' at this time of shielding, of self isolation, vaccination programmes and increasing medical research.

'You will never be commonplace if you are vigilant in love', writes Elizabeth of the Trinity.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 26:

To step aside from the root causes of our emotional intensity and our harmful anger, and to seek out what Albert Schweitzer called a 'reverence for life' takes continual personal effort. This is not unlike when we try to master a new hobby or an interest. It requires both patience and persistence. Prayer can have a specific role here in replenishing our spiritual resources and energies.

In fact, for some people, managing their anger means finding an obvious 'outlet' for it. Walking, running, individual sports like tennis, swimming, skiing, fishing and boxing, new interests in cookery, painting or gardening, can all provide a person with an opportunity 'to divert and to dilute' the hostile feelings that they might hold.

What interests and hobbies take you away from any moment of rage? Can you look to build those activities firmly into your routine? Are these interests another element in us recognizing the many 'gifts of love'?

Brazilian footballer Pele once remarked 'The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning'. When so much can overwhelm us, it is worthwhile refreshing our souls with a sense of what we have and what we can overcome.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 27:

' from the noise of blame and of strife'

Another element of our research at the AECI is to look deeper, and to question if necessary, the impact of 'modern day noise' on our emotional and our spiritual well being.

Here we are particularly thinking about the many consumer and technologically driven demands upon us and the streams of daily information, opinion and communication that not only clutter up our email and our messenger inboxes, but also our minds and our sense of true purpose.

Today we can attempt a small exercise for an hour or two at a convenient time:

Become aware of the sounds and the noises that surround you. Do some sounds make you feel more at ease than others? Now, merely observe the 'noise' that you have some control or influence over and the 'noise' that you do not, or can not, have any influence or control over. Try to just observe this balance or imbalance.

Now, try to distinguish between the sounds that have a soothing and positive effect and those that could be classed more as a nuisance or a distraction.

Remember the exercise is around 'awareness'. Let us take the necessary time sometime today to grow in this awareness as to the impact of sound and noise upon our mood and our behaviour.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 28:

Be it the din of heavy traffic. the background music in the local shopping centre or the energetic conversations and outbursts of others, we can have little influence on the noises that surround us.

And then there are the much more 'subtle noises' that play on our desires and on our fears - the promotions, the advertising, the financial schemes, nuisance phone calls, political campaigning, leaflets and literature through our letterbox, new technological devices and appliances forcing their way into our lives.

Of course, for many people their homes and their holidays provide some 'respite' from such an influx of noise and we surely grow to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy influences upon us and find strategies to limit 'unwanted noise'.

In terms of our Lenten journey around our individual and our collective anger, it is sufficient today to note three aspects or modes to noise:

1) Outer noise - that which is external to our own thoughts, to our feelings and our beliefs and concerns the immediate environment around us. 2) Inner noise - that which is internal and concerns our own priorities, perceptions and preoccupations. 3) Stillness - that which gives the appearance of the silent and the noiseless and concerns a personal freedom or detachment from any discord and friction.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 29:

It is this 'inner noise' - our internal pressures and priorities - which can so often stir up our discontent and breed angry or irritable responses to particular situations. In our next steps we are going to consider where feelings of 'blame and guilt' might lie amidst our interior life. However, we do so knowing a little more of that precious 'source of compassion', the quiet and gentle 'Presence' that gives us the space for new perspective, that refreshes us as we enter a more 'trustful' relationship with our divine teacher.

American author and poet Peter McWilliams wrote, 'Guilt is anger directed at ourselves - at what we did or did not do. Resentment is anger directed at others - at what they did or did not do'. Resentment and guilt then could be seen as two sides of the same coin, based on perceptions of human failure and weakness. It is maybe a very old coin that keeps finding its way back into your pocket, your purse or wallet! It just hangs around and most of the time is of no value in terms of currency or exchange. Yet we keep hold of it, and it can re-appear at some moment to throw us out in our daily routine.

In learning to live with guilt and to avoid the 'inner noise' of blame, we learn to live within our own skin. We seek out what is beautiful and what is of worth. The old coin of guilt and resentment we shall deposit safely in a private space so it no longer interrupts the flow of our day and muddles our thinking. We are all fallible and we are capable of all hurting ourselves and those around us.

Today, focus on your breath alone and on the gentle wind in the morning or in the afternoon air. Maybe in the night air below the stretch of the stars. Try to imitate the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Let the breeze blow away our over emphasis on the past. Calm one's restless mind and breathe in the present moment.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 30:

When we are locked into anger and frustration for days on end it can take a heavy toll. We come to see life each and every day as a fight or a struggle, rather than a gift. We can become cynical and gloomy about the future. We can exhaust ourselves.

We have considered over this Lenten reflection some of the ways that can help us to move the 'cogs of hope' once again and to restore a sense of confidence. Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel and, as we explored earlier in the week, it can provide a genuine escape from the paralysis of ongoing 'blame and strife'. Often, it is ourselves we need to make allowances for. We can quite easily becoming 'angrier' because we responded to a situation with anger!

In the Book of Isaiah, it is as if God speaks directly around the power of forgiveness and repentance, so as to break the cycle of chronic anger. The words offer welcome reassurance that God will be alongside us to prize open a place for humility, for tenderness' and for inner 'revival'. We read in Isaiah 57:

'The high and the lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry' (Isaiah 57:14-16)

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 31:

So far in this brief Lenten journey together we have explored ideas around humility and personal identity, we have considered how our anxieties and our fears - although very real - can prevent us from moving forward with confidence and deeper trust, and we have thought about our unique gifts and the sense of 'Presence' that can lead us to new 'pastures of plenty'.

We have also looked at 'inner noise' and 'outer noise' - everyday demands and pressures that all contribute to what psychologists might call 'cognitive dissonance'. In the readings of the Gospel leading up to Easter, we might also become more aware of the 'noise of power' that Jesus directly tackles in his ministry. The Pharisees continually confront Jesus with claims that he deviates from 'the law of Moses'. Yet Jesus recognizes that it is their own ambition and hold on others that lies behind their hostile words. They fail to 'see' because they are locked in power games.

Today, we think only of 'stillness' from strife and from endless striving. Carmelite Spirituality encourages us to see in nature genuine parallels with movement and growth in our own lives. Can we be as 'still' as the flower that comes into full bloom this Springtime? Can we be as 'still' as the setting sun over the landscape, or as 'still' as the heron on the banks of the lake? Just for those few moments, we might hear the echo 'Quiet; be still' from the Gospel pages upon our own impatience and upon our own anger.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 32:

'Stillness' can feel awkward and difficult to imitate. It is hard for us to be present in the moment and to 'release' our bodily and mental tension. Perhaps it is easier to think of ourselves as 'abandoning' our dominant forms of thinking and behaving for a brief period.

Pictures and images can often help. You may have your own image of 'stillness' that you could use today to help calm those inner tensions and quieten the over active mind.

Amidst the busy daily schedule, here is one image that you could try to hold as a 'screensaver' in your memory.

Picture yourself right amid the scene. Amidst Creation. Before the light of the dawning day:

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 33:

Although we have used the title 'Abandon Your Anger?' for this Lenten course, we must now consider if it is a necessary or realistic target to suggest such a thing.

We can place checks upon our anger, come to know the different categories of anger and their triggers, even uncover some of the underlying causes of our hostile and confrontational behaviour, but to 'abandon' anger completely seems really tough, if not unachievable!

There is a very famous quotation from the classical philosopher Aristotle around anger, which can provide more food for thought on this matter:

'Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power, that is not easy.' (Aristotle: The Art of Rhetoric)

The quotation points out the importance of balance and proportion when angry. And yet from our Lenten course, we know that with certain anger types we can lose a sense of the 'right degree' and the 'right purpose'.

With vengeful and volatile anger - and other forms of chronic anger - how realistic is it to follow Aristotle's advice? Was he also perhaps referring to a specific type of anger related to civic and political matters, which is constructed within carefully selected language? A balanced approach to anger might mean a balanced approach to words and to behaviour, one where we are in fact free and able to learn more about ourselves.

There is an important point worth considering here. In the words of Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth Of The Trinity), we are seeking to ride the waves of both 'confidence' and 'abandonment'. We are aiming to slow down on our hasty and angry responses to life's circumstances, so as to find the time and the boldness to know ourselves more confidently. We are learning that a small degree of sincere self-knowledge can help us to make healthy adjustments. It can become an influence on others and upon our own true direction. In other words...even a little 'abandonment' from time to time, might go a long way!

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 34:

We are now in our last week of our 'Abandon Your Anger' Lenten 2021 programme. We have covered a broad range of topics and considered different sources around the central issue of human anger and rage.

There are just two final types of anger that are worthy of a mention. The first we are calling 'inherited anger' or 'historical anger'.

We cannot fail to be touched by the lives of others. As children we are malleable and impressionable souls, finding our way in the world but exposed to strong human emotions from those around us. As we grow, we listen, we learn and we discern where problems and solutions may lie.

And yet we encounter certain issues that we are powerless to affect. We see the impact of war, of pain, of purposelessness, of addiction, of isolation, of illness on those that we love, and inevitably one of our responses can be to grow angry or hostile to the ways of the world and its cycle of suffering. The coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought such issues to the forefront of our mind.

This 'historical anger' comes from a mind-set that identifies 'a human legacy' of failures, of loss and suffering. More so, our growing anger can lock us into that mind-set, confirm our deepest fears and hold us back from new paths of discovery.

In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus is 'deeply moved in spirit' by the sight of those friends who mourned the loss of Lazarus. He openly wept. Yet, in the miracle before Lazarus' tomb he affirms 'God's glory' before the very same group of people. We are human because we feel so deeply, and still we can hold to a path of faith and understanding.

Is 'inherited anger' just a part of the human condition? Is it merely an existential question about our finite and incomplete nature with which we have to grapple? Whatever your thoughts, we should be aware that it nevertheless can seize us powerfully at stages of life.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 35:

The last type of anger to consider in this Lenten programme is again related to the 'technological demands' and the 'subtle noises' that have become an all too familiar element of our daily lives. It is the anger brought on directly by, what some might call, 'information overload'.

There are so many means of human communication in the modern world. Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic our 'text messaging', our 'whats app' groups, our 'snapchat', our 'facebooking', our 'emailing', our 'internet ordering' were becoming dominant forms of communication. One AECI friend mentioned that with more increased use of 'contactless payments' we are in fact able to pass through the bulk of the day without any conversation or low level interaction with another human being.

It remains to be seen how this will play out in the aftermath of our 'lockdown life'. It is unlikely that family contact and friendships will solely be conducted over 'Zoom'! However, it is worth mentioning that from morning till evening we do soak up information in so many forms from our various devices. We strive to stay ahead of the game, keep connected with those we love and care for, and feel a need to stay 'informed', and often for good reasons.

However, certain information contradicts other information, certain information disguises people's true intentions, certain information sparks an emotional response at a moment we least expect it to, certain information can lead to greater confusion and less clarity. These reactions can come to generate fury and anger over a period of time, an anger that we have somehow 'lost a focus' or a 'pre-existing balance' in our lives. We can find it hard to get motivated, to set priorities.

There is much to reflect on here. How do you still retain a focus through a mass of information? Can our individual and collective faith guide us? Is the voice of 'the Good Shepherd' sometimes the one we don't recognize because of the overriding noises and voices of technology?

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 36:

Today we turn to the final line in our Daily Prayer: 'Before the light of each dawning day'.

On any trip outdoors over the weekend, aim to see the rich and the diverse colours in our natural environment. From the flowers and the trees to the rivers and the lakes. Take a good look at the sky and the sun. The moon and the stars. Consider how the light touches and awakens all in its path. See the gentle beams of light glisten and glimmer before you.

Whatever happened yesterday or the day before or in some phase of time before now, leave behind. Remember the simple rhyme or mantra 'now-Thou'.

Feel the presence of colour and of light and breathe with a sense of new beginnings. Know that your mistakes are behind you. Let any anger you feel slip away. It has no hold over you. Touch something of colour in nature that attracts you. If you wish you can whisper the words 'O, Spirit Of God'.

Just as Meister Eckhart urges: 'Be willing to be a beginner every single morning'

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 37:

Today marks 'Palm Sunday' in the calendar of the Church, the day we recall the entry of Jesus and his disciples into the city of Jerusalem. In an air of expectation and hope, the crowds greeted him as he arrived on a donkey, some waving giant palm leaves.

It was soon after his arrival into Jerusalem that we read of Jesus visiting the Temple, and, in a clear outburst of anger, turning over the tables of those trading there:

'He entered the the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts' (Mark 11:15-16)

How should we understand this show of anger by Jesus? Does it reveal to us his human dimension? If we are to consider the above reading alongside our Daily Prayer (from our initial Ash Wednesday reflection) we might notice how a pattern emerges.

The traders are encouraging 'worldly' wealth and status. They are playing on the 'fears' of people by encouraging such competition. They have replaced the 'quiet, compassionate' space of the Temple with the 'noise' of the market and their greedy and disorderly ventures. In their 'striving' for profit they have overlooked that the foundation of the building is, in the words of Jesus, a 'house of prayer'.

The episode in fact highlights many of the reasons we do grow angry. It is, as if, these all 'converged' at that one moment before the eyes of an omniscient figure, such as Jesus. He was horrified at how far people had drifted. He was seeing just how spectacularly we can - each and every one of us - fall into a rhythm of self interest and pretension.

Displays of anger, at particular times and in particular circumstances, might indeed be justified and entirely necessary to 'shake' people from their damaging behaviours. Yet, we don't all hold the insight and the awareness of our Lord before human failure and human 'sin'. Lesser things can indeed make us cross! This we should keep in mind throughout Holy Week.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 38:

The actions of Jesus in the Temple are part of his prophetic message around the dangers of worldly power and of wealth. His anger is clear, but targeted at reasserting the importance of the Temple in the lives of ordinary Jews in Jerusalem. He knows that men, women and children fundamentally need the 'sacred space' of prayer, silence and worship.

Outbursts of incidental or empathetic anger have not been the main focus of this short Lenten course. We have kept our emphasis on chronic anger, which can be marked by a disturbing sense of 'outer and inner noise' affecting an individual over time. It is as if there are various 'layers of anger' that build and build and then spark a confrontational or hostile response.

In Shakespeare's play 'Coriolanus', Volumnia utters the words:

'Anger's my meat. I will sup upon myself, and so shall starve with feeding'

This is the anger that fuels more lasting anger, where any expression of fury and rage within us does not satisfy our intense feelings. In fact we come only to seek more damaging expressions (to oneself and to others) when a chronic anger begins to take a hold.

Today, consider the news stories that come your way - by word of mouth, newspaper, radio, internet and TV. Aim to see if a person's lingering anger lies behind any of the prevalent stories. Try not to explain it, just observe if 'chronic anger' is there in some form, as a factor within, or at the root of, a current news story that you might come across.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 39:

In all the world's monotheistic faiths, we are presented from time to time with images of a furious and an angry God, a God that reacts to the waywardness of human beings. Yet there is a recurring focus on redemption, on 'completeness' through a life served with trust and truth in mind and in heart. We are presented with a compassionate and a merciful God that leads us gently away from evil and from harm. The harm we might do ourselves.

In many cases it is through the beauty and workings of the natural world that our eyes are opened. If we see ourselves as part of nature, listen and learn through it, value renewal and growth, we can have that proper perspective on creation, balance and order. This is why we need to show our concern, and indeed our anger, on issues such as climate change, damage to ecosystems and the harm that disposable plastics and waste can cause.

Perhaps the book of Jonah in the Old Testament, is worth a mention. As Jonah fumes around what he perceives as God's inaction with the inhabitants of Nineveh, it becomes clear that God has simply moved on. God attempts to illustrate the point of care and compassion shown by offering Jonah a small plant to nurture. But he fails to notice it amidst his deep lying anger. His mind is still racing. It is what we miss out on at times of lingering anger that should most concern us.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Day 40:

Today is our last entry in the Season of Lent before what is known as the 'Easter Triduum' (there will be reflections on Easter Thursday, on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday)

So, a big thank you from the AECI for sticking with this Lenten programme entitled 'Abandon Your Anger?'. We hope that you have found it both thought provoking and of some relevance.

As human beings we will naturally disagree, we will quarrel, we will fall out, lose our temper and we will grow angry. We can express that anger in controlled ways, yet in ways that are peculiar to our inner character - our feelings and our perceptions. That is part of healthy human relationships. A longstanding, seething anger that takes account of little else, is something quite different, and it can have a broader impact.

We have considered in these reflections how our chronic anger might be linked to the idea of 'transformation', how we might deeply wish that the world - and our personal lives within this finite world - were different, even modified in some way. Faced with injustice, with fear and with loss, we can grow in fury as we feel increasingly that 'nothing will ever change'. A genuine sense of 'grief' can lie behind the more serious outbursts of anger.

Yet with motivation and self-awareness, we can (...and we must!) seek to change ourselves and forge new pathways into the future. Have we not seen some evidence of this already as people have responded to the 'coronavirus pandemic' with fresh purpose? This way we can shift the focus away from our anger to our inner potential, our inner beauty. We can allow something sacred - the soft words of hope, of thanks and of prayer - to crystallize within us.

Writing about the young and the then quite troublesome Elisabeth Catez (Elizabeth of the Trinity), Joanne Mosley writes '...a visible transformation took place in Elisabeth's behaviour … she made use of her 'iron will' to combat her 'iron will'. Is there a message in here for us? Can we use our determination and energy to quell those moments of deep, lasting rage? Tackle our strong 'self will' head on with a different vision of ourselves?

It is with the Spirit of God - the 'Advocate', the 'Helper' - that we might try. And in 'trying' we take the first, perhaps wobbly and uneven steps, on the road to overcoming, to settling within our own skin, and to potential 'transformation'.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Easter Thursday:

Keeping in mind all that we have covered over the last 6 weeks, we shall suggest a reading of a short Biblical passage and consideration of a subsequent short question for Easter Thursday or 'Maundy Thursday', and the same format for Good Friday and for Easter Sunday.

Read Matthew 26:1-5 on the plot to kill Jesus. The passage mentions the fear of a 'riot' or of a 'disturbance' if Jesus was arrested during the period of Passover.

What 'information' and 'noise' is affecting the attitude and judgement of the religious leaders in the account given? Think about the role of 'outer' and 'inner' noise, about their positions of 'power' and their long held 'identity' within their existing religious framework. Consider the previous incident with Jesus and the traders at the Temple.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Good Friday:

Again, keeping in mind all that we have covered over the last 6 weeks, we shall offer a short Biblical reading and a short question for Good Friday and the same format for Easter Sunday.

Read Matthew 27:11-26 on Jesus' Trial before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. Here the decision is made to crucify him, yet we notice many factors are at work.

How might anger deepen and grow amongst human beings operating in groups? Consider how influenced we can be by the persuasive powers of others. Reflect on the role of 'noise' and of 'blame' in the account given, and on the 'silence' of Jesus at this most testing of times.

'Abandon Your Anger?'

Easter Sunday:

Keeping in mind all that we have covered over the last 6 weeks, we shall offer a short Biblical reading and a couple of short questions for today, Easter Sunday.

Read Matthew 28:1-10 on the Resurrection of Jesus. Think about those words uttered twice in the passage 'Don't be afraid'. Consider in what ways Jesus might be 'going ahead' of us. Do you feel that life without deep rooted or long lasting anger is possible?

The Resurrection is a challenge. It challenges us to take a bold step outside of our mental and our intellectual constraints. Can we be filled with 'holy joy' at this Eastertide, with a sense that all ahead of us is filled with new and with harmonious potential?

It is in that Christ-like peace where we can perhaps overcome, not just our anger, but our preoccupations, our grievances, our resentments, our past concerns and our ties to old behaviours. We can tread softly in his ways.

We can now read with confidence:

'If you do away with the yoke The clenched fist, the wicked word, If you give your bread to the hungry, And relief to the oppressed, Your light will rise in the darkness' (Isaiah 58: 9-12)

A Very Happy Easter and Thank You!


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