There is only one sin, that of despising anyone. – a desert father
Rage is idolatry. When I rage, I play God. Rage is delusion. The raging person treats his own dissatisfaction not only as another’s crime, but a crime of such magnitude as to cease to see another person as valuable. In fact, in rage, one ceases to see the other person as a person, and so really ceases to see the other person at all. Rage is blindness. It blinds me even to myself and to all other things, leaving me in a room of shadows. Rage is the exaltation of my convenience and comfort to the most important thing in life, the interference with that as the greatest crime, and the Violator of this presumed ‘divine’ law as the ultimate criminal. It is then a form of human sacrifice on the altar of my own ego. Rage is satanic murder. When I rage, I am guilty of blood in my own name, and all blood is innocent by comparison.
Anger is murder. Anger is the loss of vision of another person as a person. It is therefore an abandonment of the angry person’s own humanity. To become angry is to become bestial, killing wildly and indiscriminately, affirming and making me responsible for the death of all mankind and so of the death of all things. St. John Cassian explains that there is no righteous anger either; to become angry is to be possessed of the passions and lose any pretense to righteousness. It is casting off the likeness of God, and repelling the Holy Spirit. In anger I become simply wrong, no matter what the perceived cause. I must say then with the Centurion, “By my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault.” If I fall into anger, I must recognize it as a fall, and must not let the sun go down upon my anger. I must realize the rift between myself and God that is wrought by anger, and leave my gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled to my sibling, which every person is, owning the wrong, and not accusing him, but taking the responsibility. I must do this, even if the other person is not Orthodox, and must not fail to do it because someone is close to me and presumably should understand and tolerate my faults. There can be no blaming the victim for murder, no excusing the murderer because he knew or did not know the victim.
Defiance is witchcraft. To defy what is right, or rebel against those exercising rightful authority over me, or thumb my nose at those to whom I must submit, even when that submission is mutual, is false religion. I commit false religion when I rebel, and defiance makes my religious actions a mockery. For this reason, the Lord would not suffer Saul, who could not rule himself, being a subject of his own passions, to be the Lord’s anointed to rule over Israel. The prophet Samuel said to King Saul that “To obey is better than sacrifice,” but that the Lord had rejected Saul as King “for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” To the degree that I might rightly expect others to submit to me, to yield to me, to prefer me, unworthy as I am, I must rule myself and submit to others, yielding to and preferring them whom I must see as more worthy than I. Anything less is illegitimate, and is false power, the kind of power that amounts to witchcraft – the raw power of my will and influence over others. It is the magic of dominance, which has no part with Him who does not overcome my will, though He created it.
When I struggle with these faults, I must pray for help. I must not give way to these passions, but actively fight against them. I must not let them wash over me and rule me and control my life. We were not meant to be slaves to so crude an aberration. I am a pawn of the enemy and slaves of death if I do not overcome, conquer, subdue these passions, and live in synergy with Christ. Salvation, as St. Seraphim says, is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. I must not defy, quench, and repel Him with rage, anger, or defiance. I am set free in Him.
We must each defy Death, repel the Enemy; conquer ourselves, in triumph over the passions, destroying the power of the Serpent who led us in the garden. We must freely choose the grace of the Trinity. When we feel the temptation to justify ourselves, we must realize this is the path of blindness and deafness. If we feel the temptation to shift blame, we must realize we are about to be lost and turn back again to the Lord. When we are lured by the notion that this is ‘normal’ or ‘only human’, we are about to fall into heresy, denying the Incarnation, and must quickly turn to Christ who became man, so that our minds are not darkened. — Catechetical Letter 4/5/2006
The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian: O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.