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Did the saints ever lose their tempers?

When we struggle with anger and irritation, we tend to think that we’ll never be saints.

“Would you have me lose in a quarter of an hour the small stock of gentleness which I have been painfully amassing for the last twenty years?”

Thus spoke St. Francis de Sales, the spiritual director of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, when she urged him to be more stern with some folk who were interfering with the construction of the convent of the Visitation Order.

St. Francis de Sales was so gentle in his disposition that no one would ever have known that he had a naturally quick temper. He had identified his proclivity to anger, worked on it, and gradually mastered it. He was not perfect, but he pursued perfection, and it showed. His spiritual approach—illustrated in such classics as Introduction to the Devout Life—has assisted countless souls in their journey to sanctity.


St. Jerome, too, had a fiery temper—a natural result of an intense personality. He even got into some arguments with St. Augustine (they later patched things up). But Jerome knew his fault and strove to conquer it—and did severe penance for it. It is said he carried around a stone and beat his breast in reparation for his sins.

St. Thérèse is honest in her writings about the temptations against charity which she experienced at Carmel. In The Story of a Soul, she tells of the manifold irritations and contradictions she met in community life. She transformed them into stepping stones to holiness by viewing them as opportunities for grace.

Being a saint isn’t about being flawless. It’s about working on flaws—and using them as opportunities for perfection. If you’re honest about your faults and take concrete steps to correct them, you’ve already taken a giant leap toward sanctity.

Overcoming Sinful Anger is an almost-pocket-sized guide for working on anger. In this handy work, Fr. T.G. Morrow will help you to identify the root causes of anger, learn how to deal with them, and heal relationships affected by anger. A must-read for anyone struggling with anger (we’d venture to say that’s most of us!). Order yours from The Catholic Company today!

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